mighty music

Kauan: How to master Musical Storytelling

Kauan returned to release the band’s most ambitious album to date: Ice Fleet. The album comprises a 43-minute-long opus dedicated to the terrific story from the 1930’s northern shore of the USSR, where a flotilla of frozen ships were suddenly found by geologists. The story is based on real letters, articles and events, and the album is separated into seven narrative chapters carefully described with an included libretto. Together with the album, the band penned a 40 page tabletop RPG adventure to interact with the story.

Metal Digest had a chat with the band about life in Estonia, Ice Fleet and unique RPG adventures.

Welcome to Metal Digest!

It all started in 2005 when the band’s leader (who was born in Russia but
they are currently located in Estonia) decided to fill in the gaps in a city
lacking a music scene. After 16 years do you find that the music scene has
evolved/changed/improved?


I never wanted to fill any gaps in my city’s music scene. In fact, there were some
bands in the extreme scene, Ural is full of talented people. It’s just very hard to
“keep the wheel moving”. I started a project because I wanted to record the music
we both (me and Alex Borovykh) composed. It suddenly triggered Solitude
Productions, who wanted to release it. And in three years I left my city.
Back to your question, nothing has been changed after 16 years. Everything looks
and feels the same. Of course, it’s totally subjective because I’m not living there for
11 years, but it looks like things are not going anywhere.


How is life in Estonia for a metal musician? What are the pros and cons?


I can judge only for a few months. I have been living here before COVID came here,
but music-wise, Estonia feels dead to me. No big active bands and no big shows.


Feels like the whole extreme music scene lives in a shadow from Finland, where
every village has its own black metal formation.

I have no hopes and expectations from Estonia, and all music activities will be related to Finland. Fortunately, it’s just
80km away.


Back then you adopted Finnish for your then unnamed project, not just for its
sonorous qualities, but because the meaning of the language, spoken by so
few, wouldn’t color the listener’s interpretation of your music. Clearly, you
have a very specific vision of your target audience. How would you describe
the ideal listener? In other words, who do you write music for?


No, I don’t have any target audience. It’s just my selfish idea to use the language
as an instrument because it’s a simple tool to move the focus from lyrics to
melodies.

I never approached kauan, and its music as a marketing activity, so I
never formed any “listener portraits”.

According to our shows, I see very different
faces in a crowd, and I’m happy to know that kauan has so many fans of all ages,
all globe, and all music tastes.


Let’s talk about ‘Ice Fleet’. What’s the back-story here?


The album is based on the true story of an unidentified fleet discovered in 1930 in
northernmost Russia, completely frozen under the permafrost with the crew and
passengers’ bodies grotesquely preserved.


Together with the album, you penned a 40-page tabletop RPG adventure to
interact with the story. How unique! How did you come up with this idea?


I’m a big fan of ttrpg for a few years now. It felt natural for me to try to merge
these two arts. Ice Fleet has an open-ended conclusion and tabletop roleplaying mechanics, all the freedom to build your own story and experience the whole thing
with your friends. We put all our souls into this project and spent months
playtesting it, so hopefully, you’ll enjoy the result!


Any other types of merch that we should look out for?

From the confirmed list, we’ll have t-shirts and tote bags available. If RPG
adventure gets enough attention, maybe we’ll come up with a standard 7-piece
dice set.


Throughout the years you’ve mastered musical storytelling. What advice
would you give to young bands trying to figure out how to story-tell through music?

Hmm, that’s a tricky question. Two ways are coming to my mind:
  1. If you have no music written so far – find a story that thrills and blows you
    away. Get the instrument in your hands, set up an FX that inspires you (big
    reverb in my particular case), get thoughts about the story in your mind,
    click on “rec”, and start playing. Keep doing it as long as you can, and
    maybe you’ll catch it.
  2. If you have some melody sketches in your “untitled” folder. Close your eyes,
    listen to them, and try to bring some pictures in your imagination. Which one
    comes to your mind? Maybe it’s a greenfield? No? Windy shores? Okay!
    Look, who goes there? Is it a young boy? No? Old woman? Good, what she is
    doing? Oh, she collects the stones. Nice, now got the story, answer more
    questions, and you’ll get the context.

The main thing is to get the first image
in your mind (any landscape which fits will work, no matter if it’s trivial or
never-seen-before) and find something moving there. Zoom-in to this moving
part and try to understand what is it/they doing


Until we meet again,
Chelf .

Stream the single: https://open.spotify.com/album/6TC6I0…

Pre-order the album: https://kauan.bandcamp.com/album/ice-…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artoffact/

Bandcamp: https://artoffactrecords.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/artoffact

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Donate: https://paypal.me/artoffact

Come on in!

Metal Digest is an online music magazine specializing in rock and metal. It is aimed at the mobile market, who can get their fix whilst on the go. Whether you walk, drive, fly, sail or teleport make sure you do it with Metal Digest, bitesize heavy metal rock and metal news, reviews and interviews for when you’re on the go.

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