Independent alt rocker Art Kenyon offers his debut EP Cocoon
May 14th, 2012 by Craig Hartranft
On Art Kenyon’s cleverly assembled Sonicbids promo page, the Vancouver, BC based singer-songwriter takes a spirited, tongue in cheek approach in describing the searing, emotional alternative rock energy that infuses the six tracks on his debut EP Cocoon. In part, he writes: “Art Kenyon is fun for the whole family…(but) isn’t recommended for pregnant women (your unborn children may jam out of your stomach)…Side effects include head banging.” His introduction may be lighthearted, but when it comes to his career, he’s dead serious and focused—He has no regrets about dropping out of the University of British Columbia after two years as a psych/philosophy major to pursue his musical goals.
“Ultimately, ideas started circling around me to record my music and leave the university, and, a few years later now, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life,” says Kenyon, who recorded the EP in six days with the assistance of longtime friend Vince Ditrich from Spirit of the West (drums/production), Bryan Adams’ bass player Norm Fisher and Richard Sera (keyboards, engineer). In conjunction with the recording, he also had the opportunity to create an edgy music video for the infectious, hard driving acoustic guitar driven tune “This Girl’s Trouble”—which features the memorable, Lennonesque line “Now I can see, ireevocably- this inevitability- Sue would be the death of me.” Kenyon also won a songwriting award in the the Rock/Alternative category for Cocoon via The Songwriters Association of Washington for The Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest.
Kenyon’s family emigrated from South Africa to Canada during the fall of apartheid due to the fear of raising another child while his father was in the draft. Born in Newfoundland, BC, he has lived in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Terrace, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver Island. Not surprisingly, considering his educational background, he considers: authors, thinkers and writers (from Sigmund Freud to Franz Kafka) as influential to his development as a singer/songwriter as Beethoven, Radiohead and the Welsh alt rock band The Manic Street Preachers. “(German philosopher Immanuel) Kant almost threw me off the boat with the notion that people should never be used as a means to an end, but as the ends themselves,” he adds. “I didn’t need to worry about environments in the same way a psychologist would, as a musician.”
Kenyon has played in many unique environments these past few years, gaining a growing regional fan base with shows on Vancouver Island (The Duncan Garage, The Vault, Logan’s Pub) and in Vancouver (The Roxy, The Forum, The Backstage Lounge, Carnegie Theatre, Rowan’s Roof, The Vanier Ballroom, El Barrio, The Gallery and The Knoll). He currently plays a standing Tuesday night gig at The Corduroy Lounge and Sundays at Darby’s Pub. Other venues beyond the Vancouver area include: M.E.A.N.Yfest, NY at Crash Mansion, the Liqwid Lounge and B-Scene Studios in Edmonton; and Fibonacci’s and Voodoo’s in Penticton.
Key tracks on the album include the groove driven title track “Cocoon” that uses the term as a metaphor for the different barriers that prevent us from growing up and taking life to the next level. It ponders the question: As a young person, will I ever amount to enough even after all I’ve gone through to get this far? Thematically, the syncopated RnB flavour of “Always” and infectious acoustic romp “Tuesday Night” are about the many ironies of emotion, about life lived with contradictions, caring too much for people and situations that ultimately don’t make us happy.
“The songs each reflect on their own theme,” Kenyon says, “There is a broad theme of contrasting emotion and action, also, security and transportation. The continuous ironic jabs throughout the EP show the fickle nature of insecure teenagers, which is what I was when I wrote these songs. My inspirations all come from experience and writing is my favorite part of the day. But sitting in my room all day practicing wouldn’t make me a good musician or person. I like going out with my friends, hearing their stories, seeing other people’s Art. I’m a big Salvador Dali fan and I believe empathy is key to expressing emotion in art. The patterns that present themselves through music were, and hopefully will always be, a mystery to me. It’s a miracle that people with ears that work perfectly can’t hear every note in a drum beat. The phenomenon’s not because the concept of music is overtly complicated. It’s because we need a new way to think of simple things.”
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