Kagu’s sound is limitless, dynamic and yet familiar. Sean Heathcliff speaks about his debut EP release – four tracks each with a distinct voice that will leave you energised yet calm. Drifting through this dreamlike space with an inspiring sense of adventure and vulnerability, Kagu is on the verge of something captivating.
This dreamy illustration is by Sydney-based illustrator Fionna Fernandes. She says the calming ambience was inspired by Kagu’s soft and gentle voice and his instrumentation that is “airy and surreal”. Check out her website here!
HAPPY: Your identity has been quite hidden on social media, that is unless people actively search you up from Snakadaktal days to find out what you look like…that’s what I did. Many artists these days remain mysterious e.g. Montgomery, and even Sia is doing it now. Will there be a time that we can become more familiar with your face?
KAGU: I guess I’m definitely not trying to do a Sia, Gorillaz or Daft Punk thing. I just wanted it to be more about the music and about the artwork – I think they’re the things I really want to push at the moment. I’m also not super keen on the idea of being the face of the band, even though it is my project I want it to be about the music and the visuals made for that music.
HAPPY: What has it been like establishing yourself as a solo artist from a band that is quite well-known. Have you had to work from the ground up, or do you think Snakadaktal has helped you get to where you are today?
KAGU: I think it has definitely helped – in the five years I was in that band I was just learning. Over the years I’ve learnt how to do things, how to write songs, but also I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. I was never going to stop music, I’ve always talked to everybody about that so in my eyes it wasn’t like I’ve started up again. My idea of how I do music is that it’s not like I’m starting and stopping, I just want to create things – I don’t see it as moving from one project to the next project.
HAPPY: So it’s kind of like everything you do is a natural progression from the other.
KAGU: Yeah, absolutely.
HAPPY: So Snakadaktal and Kagu share their similarities…for obvious reasons. Have you tried to do something different with Kagu or do you think being a soloist has naturally led to a different sound?
KAGU: I haven’t really tried to change the way I’m writing. I’ve always tried to challenge myself with writing, but it hasn’t become too much of a push because I think that comes naturally with growth. There are so many music genres or music aspects I really want to dive into, so I think it will all just happen organically. I don’t really ever want genre to be labelled upon music that I do. We felt the same at Snaka, it kind of feels like it limits you and it categorieses you – I don’t feel music should be like that.
HAPPY: So blog writers do their best to describe what your music is like. Is there a particular feeling or imagery that comes to mind when you think about your music?
KAGU: I guess it’s everybody’s choice in how they describe each person’s music, but every song is really different. It’s hard to see it all together as a clump anymore and I think that’s just because I probably see it in a different angle from everybody else. There’s definitely imagery and ideas.
HAPPY: What’s some of that imagery that comes to mind?
KAGU: Well that’s different with each song.
HAPPY: How about your latest single, Human?
KAGU: That’s probably the worst example (laughs). Human was probably the strangest ones I’ve written, it was a very different way of writing and not how I would normally do it. Shadow Of The Window is kind of a perfect example of how I normally write music and it’s got that imagery with it – it’s really a reflective song about the last few years.
HAPPY: What are some artists that you take inspiration from and what is it about these musicians that you try to capture in your music?
KAGU: There’s a ridiculous amount and it always comes down to who do I say. I guess I really spend a lot of time listening to Sufjan Stevens, especially The Age of Adz and M83. Those two in the last kind of year or so have really been influential in lots of ways. I guess not from me trying to make their sound but what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and what they are getting through, I really appreciate it.
HAPPY: What are the sort of things or issues at the forefront of your mind that influences your music?
KAGU: I think a lot. I guess everybody does as well. That’s a hard question. I really love talking and discussing so there are so many things that are in my head, but ones that actually make it into music are more personal things. I try to do more day to day things that everyone does, I try to keep out of political aspects and everything even though that really interests me. Anyways, I don’t want to get into politics (laughs). I don’t believe I have a voice that people should really listen to, I shouldn’t tell people how they should think and everything.
HAPPY: If the EP was a colour, what colour would it be? Blue perhaps?
KAGU: Blue is a colour that would work, but I think a Snaka album is more blue. I feel like the artwork has taken over the colour for me. So I think every song has kind of got its own colour, but the artwork is kind of now the setting for the EP – it’s really quite a canvas setting of white.
HAPPY: Does the artwork resemble a particular image?
KAGU: I did the artwork and again I think it’s up for interpretation, but I quite like how simple it is with the white in the background – it’s still a canvas. I feel like that’s kind of the EP.
HAPPY: What can we expect from a live show? Why should people come and see you!?
KAGU: Because we’re going to play some great tunes for you! Nah, they can come along if they want to come along. We’re just going to perform and try our best I guess. We just want it to be about the music, the space and the crowd. I guess it’s each to their own, each night to its own.
HAPPY: What’s next for Kagu?
KAGU: Hopefully there’ll be another EP, maybe even an album out this year. I hope it’s going to be a busy year, I hope I release some other music as well – there’s definitely going to be something else this year, hopefully soon.
HAPPY: Is there a particular song that stands out for you? Is there one you look forward to playing live?
KAGU: Once again all the songs kind of have their own thing, but I think Shadow Of The Wind out of this EP – it’s one of the few songs I can enjoy.
HAPPY: We’ve already asked you in a previous Q and A what makes you happy, which you said, “A large body of water, cheese of any kind, being productive, silence, friends, smiles, life, space, thoughts and a well oiled imagination.” What’s making you happy these days? Are things the same?
KAGU: All the same things, but I’ve got a bowl of spaghetti in front of me and that’s making me very happy.
The debut EP will be released on March 6 via Liberation Music and in Europe through the Berlin based tastemaker label that Kagu has just signed with, Humming Records. Humming Records have also introduced Europe to other Australian musicians including Cloud Control, DZ Deathrays and the band where it all started, Snakadaktal.
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