On Friday, February 19, the 44 Gaukel creative space in Kitchener came to life as local DIY rock ensemble KAAJE!! celebrated their debut album release,“Things We Least Desire.”
Hosted by Good Company Productions, the performance was lived-streamed to YouTube. Ticket holders experienced an energetic show from home as the group played the album front to back, featuring heavy hitting lyrics, angsty violin solos, tight harmonies and an escape from reality for a little while.
Inspired by the emo/screamo music of the early 2000s, KAAJE!! proves that this in fact, “is not a phase, mom.”
The independent rock group were good friends before officially forming KAAJE!! in 2019. Jeffrey Fleming plays the violin, guitar and vocals. Matthew Parker plays the drums and vocals. Tyler Cooke plays the bass, keyboards and vocals.
“It was always the intention to release an album together,” said Matthew Parker.
Starting out by playing covers together, the group quickly began writing and creating rough demos of what would eventually become their debut album, released on February 5, 2021.
Before the pandemic, KAAJE!! began building their fan base by frequenting venues in Sarnia, Parker’s hometown and Kitchener-Waterloo venues such as Harmony Lunch and Four Fathers Brewing Co.
“When the pandemic hit, we continued the recording process remotely,” said Parker. “By the time the demos were done, we were able to safely get to the studio to record the drums during the summer, recording and producing everything else from home.”
“Things We Least Desire”
While most of the songs on the album were written before the pandemic, viewers of the release show heard familiar themes ring out true from the past year, highlighting issues of racial disparity, political unrest, failing to create a sustainable future or, to sum it up – things we least desire.
“The album is essentially a checklist of things we’d rather not want to worry about, but things we are motivated to bring awareness to in order to motivate change,” said Parker.
Stand out songs include “Building Coffins For My Kids” about building a sustainable future and “I Can See You’re Sorry Now” which touches on the Canadian “sorry” culture, stressing that you can’t just apologize for something as damaging as our role in longstanding human rights challenges and indigenous issues.
The second song on the album, “Americult” highlights the impact of American culture on society and has received some radio play as well as a feature on the Discover and Uncover playlist on Spotify.
“We care a great deal about the content of this album and as it was independently made, we’re always looking for the most cost effective and creative ways to make the most genuine music possible,” said Parker. “When it came to considering a release show, we reached out to Good Co. as we had seen them do work with some of our friends before and they were more than willing to help us achieve what we wanted.”
The release show
“It’s really nice to be able to play a gig, we really appreciate everyone tuning in,” said Parker during the show. Parker earlier expressed the experience working with Good Co. leading up to the release show.
“When you’re just starting out, you usually just show up and you get what you get and don’t ask questions,” said Parker. “Working with Good Co., we kept finding ourselves saying like, wait – we can do that? We can pick the colour of lights? We can project our band images on the stage?”
Even in a pandemic, it’s worth putting on the show to celebrate an accomplishment in a very hard year. For one night, you get to play live, your fans get to sit back, enjoy a beer and forget about everything for a little while.
Want more KAAJE!!? Follow them @kaajeband on Instagram, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Spotify and more to stay up to date on future releases, merch and more.
Interested in hosting your own release show? Good Company Productions is supporting emerging independent artists with their releases through the pandemic by producing virtual release shows for no upfront cost to the artist. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Photo by Bo Urbina.