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The Evolution Of Urban Fusion

Candiria's sound is unquestionably unique. On top of Carley Coma's signature vocalizations, the stop/start rhythms and discordant guitar chords, Candiria introduce elements of rap and jazz to their brand of metal, creating a musical style they've dubbed "urban fusion."

Talking with drummer Kenneth Schalk over the phone while the band is in Texas for the SxSE festival, my intent is to find out where Candiria's one-of-a-kind sound comes from.

"The fact that our band is based more on rhythmic exploration and not as much melodic exploration," Kenneth begins, "means that a lot of things in our early days happened rhythmically that just turned us on. We tried to write dance riffs that had more of a unique flavour. We started discussing odd time signatures and polyrhythms, and more-or-less writing beats for the parts that wouldn't necessarily match or be in unison with the music, but be more of a counterpoint. So you'd hear an odd time signature, but if you really didn't pay attention you wouldn't even know. We tried to disguise that initial 'one' to each bar, so that you just feel this wild, rhythmic flow."


"From there, as musicians, whatever you choose to do is going to evolve. From the original days to where it is now, it just kept getting wilder and wilder. You get to a point where you write some kind of rhythmic idea that only fits over a one-bar loop, and that loop is repeated over and over again. We expanded on that, so riffs would start to become four or five bars before they loop again. We just expanded on the whole rhythmic part so that it sounds musical, in a way, and it's very melodic."

"The way I approach it is that melody is nothing more than tone in a rhythmic atmosphere. It's all rhythm first. So when you take a melody, it's really still just a rhythm. It's rhythm first, and then by adding tone and frequencies of sound to it you get your melody. Then you base it within the musical standards of theory, depending on what key you want to choose for the song and everything like that."

It should come as no surprise that even Carley's lyrical structure is unique. His song lyrics are divided into chapters, with each line having an inconsistent number of words. As Kenneth tells me, there's an easy explanation behind the chaos.

"Carley's whole translation of our music has evolved with us. It's pretty intense how he's able to work around us. He's always based it on syllables first, and listening to the songs and listening to the parts. Then he breaks it down into the way he wants to sing syllables, so you'll see one line that, for example, will just have the word 'I' on it or something. He breaks everything down into syllables and then writes the words to the syllables. He creates his own rhythmic layer to the music. We each base ourselves on a rhythmic environment inside one whole entire rhythmic environment, so there's anywhere from three to five things going on at the same time rhythmically."

Evolution seems to be a key word for Candiria. So with their upcoming first release on Century Media '300 Percent Density', I wanted to find out how this band has continued to evolve.


"From album to album you always try to evolve," Kenneth admits, "but I think this album was our biggest leap in evolution. I attribute that mostly to the fact that as a unit we were able to spend a lot of time rehearsing and writing for the album. This gave us a lot of time to become better musicians while we were writing."

"Being out on the road with Neurosis, Isis and Dillinger Escape Plan had a big impact on us, watching them every night and hearing what they're doing musically. There's parts in our songs where we wrote really intense, slow driving parts that have more of an Isis or Neurosis flavour. And watching Dillinger fly around their fretboards, we realized we never really did a lot of fast stuff. It's more along the groove line or dance line type of feel. So we also did a couple really fast things."

Kenneth admits that Candiria's following is basically a metal crowd. So why do they have those elements of hip hop and jazz in their music?

"It's important to get those sounds on our discs," he explains. "Originally it started because we were into so much music. To put out a whole album with just heavy music isn't us. We listen to so much stuff that we want to hear more diversity, so our albums can be a nice journey and not just a barrage of heavy music. We write our heavy music, and what comes after that is a matter of where we are at that point in time and what feels right for the mood of the album."

The first time I saw Candiria live I was already familiar with their material, so I was surprised (and a little disappointed) that, aside from a short jam that had a jazz feel to it, they didn't perform any of their hip hop or jazz live.

Kenneth explains: "It's really tough to bring the jazz environment to the live show because you need other instruments. It's a matter of access to the artists. Even the rap stuff, Carley's done some shit live, but all we can really do is pick a verse or something and groove on the rap feel for a couple minutes."

"Any of the other rappers that have worked with us, we can't get them out. It's tough. To try and find these guys again and phone them, and then to get them available is another thing, and then they'd have to come to rehearsals to make sure they remember their verse and the beat again. . . at this point it's tough. Hopefully some day we can put on a really grand show with some jazz and some rap and everything, just have some great stuff going on, but it's a matter of being able to get all those guys on stage."

The flipside of not playing their other material live is that people who see them live for the first time and pick up their CD thinking what they're buying is strictly metal could be disappointed. Kenneth agrees this happens, but the complaints are few and far between.


"Some people are amazed by all the stuff we have going on, and then we get other people who e-mail us and tell us we have to put more heavy stuff on the album and that the fuckin' jazz stuff has got to go. My position is that if you don't like it, then don't be our fan. If you like our heavy music, then that's cool, but if you don't like the other stuff that we put on our albums, then there's nothing I can do. I can't tell you to be our fan."

"No band should ever go into the music business trying to force people to like their music. You have to like your music for yourself, and if your emotion has to come out of it and you can pour that out onto the people listening or viewing you, then they're going to feel it. If they don't feel it then it's not your problem and it's not their problem. That's why there's a zillion and one bands out there -- because there's a zillion and one people wanting to hear different types of music.


review of Candiria '300 Percent Density'






c/o Adam Wasylyk
3150 Spring Creek Crescent
Mississauga, Ontario

Interview: Paul Silbiger [ ]
Live Photography: [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]

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