Kan Wakan | On Creativity | Interview
Photo By: Emilio Guerra
“For me, creating music is more of a physical presence – Often I find that in order to feel inspired or creative in any way it’s less about looking for inspiration visually and more about just being ready to feel and receive and capture whatever it is that is flowing through at any point in the process. I would say it’s definitely more auditory than visual, but once an idea is present and I’m not listening to it critically and just enjoying the sounds, I definitely see a visual accompaniment to all of it.”
You might be wondering why I’m writing at length about someone so far away from Brooklyn, NY. You’re also probably just angry because you’re standing on a platform station huddled around a mass of disgruntled New Yorkers waiting for the train; but let me take you on a little journey to ease the hyper-specivity of locale and introduce you to Kan Wakan for a moment.
Kan Wakan, is the moniker of producer, composer, and otherwise known as the ‘synth scientist’ named Gueorgui Linev. His multi-instrumental mind works overtime producing illustrious film scores by day, and creating harrowingly beautiful songs by evening. Picture this, (and I hate to even compare) but, yes, compare what Massive Attack and Zero 7 did for broody minimalism. Remember those days? I do! I can still feel the weight of their refined craft if I close my eyes enough and harken back, I feel limitless. But at this rate though you could consider them grandparents of said world, and their next to kin looks/sounds more like Gueorgui Linev.
He’s great at this art-form because he has his hands in both the spirit of the late 20th century and the existentialism of the modern song, emboldened and unchained by a wild curiosity in emerging audio technology. The result does sort of sound like a budding ‘synth scientist’ or rather a scientist of the entire form.
For those curious about the details on his professional whereabouts, this began with his debut Move On two years ago, garnering nominations on a few Best Of Year lists. 2016 led the 27-year-old Bulgarian-born musician (now living in Los Angeles) to explore the magnanimity of his original works reception.
With his new single, “Molasses” and triple LP Phantasmagoria soon on the way, this marks the first time Linev has incorporated multiple guest vocalists in his work. The contribution by vocalist Elle Olsun is deeply touching to the core, as heard on the aforementioned song “Molasses.”
Having produced music for and worked with the likes of Moses Sumney, the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, & Thundercat, this year – 2017, is moving Linev like some talented producers into the role of songwriter. Taking one listen to “Molasses,” one cannot help but think that it in a way lives up to the name; dripping down on your ears like gooey soot. It’s how we came to discover him as i’m sure you have or will soon enough.
Like most artists, if they’re lucky, it’s why we explore where their work began, and furthermore, where they as the artist begin. It must be my lucky day than as Gueorgui is joining ElevtrTrax for a conversation on his craft below, I thank him for his honesty and insight, I hope this conversation not only leads you to a new artist’s work to discover, but provides a window into the mind of both producer and writer; both of which define Gueorgui’s identity and shape the way he approaches songwriting as a craft and art-form.
“I’ve always had an interest in film music. One of the first things that people say about my music is that they think it’s cinematic and lends itself well to visuals. I don’t believe this is intentional, but perhaps there’s something subconsciously driving me to create music that ends up being perceived as aesthetically cinematic.”
Nadeem – So “Molasses” seems to have been widely received, it’s a powerful track no doubt, takes me back to when Massive Attack was doing something in a way that was totally out of the box for the time, it’s something similar in ways to what you’re doing on your new single. Can you walk us through some of the vision that led to this song?
Kan – “Thank you, I’m grateful for the reception. Most ideas that I end up turning into songs start out as simple piano or guitar loops. Usually if it’s engaging enough to hold attention as a continuous loop, it’s worth it to me to develop it further and attempt to shape it into a song, as was the case with ‘Molasses’. Once the vibe and form are in place, I listen to it as a whole and look for ways to break out of the traditional boxes, avoiding pop structure tendencies and stylistic choices that might result from being over-exposed to something. Perhaps that’s where I have something in common with artists like Massive Attack as you mentioned, where there’s a conscious effort to create something beautiful in the traditional sense, and afterwards destroy and reorganize it in a sensible way that still retains it’s core emotional intent, with the risk often being gambling with the listeners attention span. I’m continuously drawn to the human aspect of music and do my best to embrace the natural imperfections that occur — mixing that with electronic elements is something I enjoy aesthetically.”
N – I really love the collaboration with Elle Olsun here, was this a first time for you two? I also understand you’re based in Los Angeles now and Bulgarian born.
K – “‘Molasses’ is the second track Elle and I worked on together. The first one is called ‘I Would’ which comes out in a few days. She is truly a wondrous spirit and every instance of us getting together creatively turns into music that we both really enjoy, and it seemed only natural to try to build on that and share it with others. I’m based in LA, born in Bulgaria and try to balance out my time in between the two places.”
N – What role did the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra play aside from their beautiful contributions?
K – “I was really excited and honored to collaborate with the musicians in the Sofia Phil; sometimes when working with professionally trained and studied classical musicians there is an internal fear and insecurity that anything you ask of them is beneath their level and often not challenging or interesting enough, but this experience felt really different. They were very openly enthusiastic and passionate about the project and it contributed to a great energy in their performances, which is the highest form of compliment I could ever hope for.”
N – Favorite films?
K – “I don’t think I could make a list that I wouldn’t change the next day.. I don’t have favorites, but right now I’m enjoying re-watching Let The Right One In, Run Lola Run and Enter The Void. More recently I liked the Lobster as a whole, including the soundtrack. My favorite good, bad movie right now is probably The Fifth Element.”
N – Many composers of various mediums never plan to do such, was this true for you? Or do you gravitate to whatever interests you?
K – “I’ve always had an interest in film music. One of the first things that people say about my music is that they think it’s cinematic and lends itself well to visuals. I don’t believe this is intentional, but perhaps there’s something subconsciously driving me to create music that ends up being perceived as aesthetically cinematic. I try to go with the flow and gravitate to whatever feels natural and interesting and not think too much about how to label it and where it fit’s into the zeitgeist of modern music.”
N – Do you see in visual mediums as an artist or do you hear in sound primarily? I know this is a subjective experience, i’m curious which of the two is the stronger sense experience for you.
K – “For me, creating music is more of a physical presence – Often I find that in order to feel inspired or creative in any way it’s less about looking for inspiration visually and more about just being ready to feel and receive and capture whatever it is that is flowing through at any point in the process. I would say it’s definitely more auditory than visual, but once an idea is present and I’m not listening to it critically and just enjoying the sounds, I definitely see a visual accompaniment to all of it. The continuous challenge for me is always to try to get better at reinterpreting the music in my mind through a physical medium with my limited abilities as an instrumentalist. Often times an idea might take only a few minutes to create, but capturing it as vividly as initially imagined can be nearly impossible. That’s the fun and the challenge for me, and I’m grateful to be continuously fascinated by the process of creating and expressing music.”