By Matt Harrison
“Caw-Caw-Gee?” imitated frontman Jacob Brodovsky, as he gave me an idea of how some people pronounce the name of his band, Kakagi. The correct way, he assures me, is “Ke-Ka-Gi.”
The group is made up of four lifelong friends, two of which, drummer Max Brodovsky and the aforementioned singer/guitarist, Jacob, are siblings. Jesse Popeski and Jonathan Corobow make up the other half of this four piece folk-rock group from Winnipeg.For the sake of answering the one question most fans of the band have been asked at least once, Pronounced Ke-Ka-Gi is the name of the group’s first EP, released in November 2016.
The band admits to having gotten the idea from Lynyrd Skynyrd who, in 1973, released an album called Pronounced Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd in order to get ahead of any prospective mispronunciations. This commonality is the last point at which Kakagi draws similarity, or inspiration from the Florida rock mob of yesteryear.
The seeds of Kakagi are sewn deep within the rich culture of Canadian music. With inspiration coming from Chicago’s Wilco, Toronto’s The Band and Winnipeg’s own Neil Young, Del Barber and The Weakerthans.
When asked for less formal inspirations, each member of the group turned to their father. Jacob even went so far as to say “[Mine and Max’s] dad was a real music nut.”
Being exposed to scores of varying music at a young age will unquestionably allow an individual the opportunity to aim their life’s trajectory in that very direction. However, none of the members of Kakagi I spoke to can attribute their desire to create music to any one person they knew growing up. They can all agree they began playing instruments at fairly young ages, but there wasn’t a lot of music at home, save for what came through the stereo.
Still, Jacob says he’s wanted to play in a band since he was two years-old, “in diapers, with a little toy guitar”
Despite their roots being deeply furrowed in Winnipeg, the namesake of the band comes from elsewhere.
“We used to go to summer camp” Jacob told me prior to a show held three days before Christmas at the Handsome Daughter. “We’d do canoe trips through the back lakes of North-Western Ontario. Kakagi was one of the lakes and I have a big map of that area on my wall.”
When Jacob received a call saying his band was welcome to play their first show the group still didn’t have a name. “I was just staring at the map when I got the call so I went with Kakagi.”
The choice to assemble Kakagi was born almost as quickly as the very name of the band. After spending time playing with a group in Toronto, Jacob came home to Winnipeg with a plan already in mind.
“Basically the idea was to come home and make a band as soon as possible.”
Having Max come home from Guelph around the same time and already having been in a band called Radiation with his brother and Popeski, the pieces of the new project fell together. “It all came together pretty quick,” Jacob explains. “We started playing together last fall and our first show was in January .”
When asked who does the songwriting for the group all eyes turned to Jacob. When decoding his process, Brodovsky told me he likes to sit down for a couple hours at a time and just “put words on paper.”
“Sometimes it’s not very good,” he went on to say, “but I find that’s the most effective exercise. I find, also, listening to music that I like helps.”
With 10-12 originals written and two or three waiting to be released, the band is hopeful they’ll be able to release an EP by next fall. In the meantime, Kakagi is happy with where they’re at and where they’re headed. They agree that they become better with every show and find themselves becoming more comfortable on stage as they become attuned to playing with one another.
What Kakagi brings to the Winnipeg scene is an informal folk-rock flavour that’s explicitly Canadian in audible fluidity and melodic harmony. Kakagi symphonically weaves personal poetic lyricism into a wreath of familiar vibes that can be understood from multiple perspectives.
This writer has no personal connection to Spadina Avenue, like the one in the song “Spadina Streetcar,” but I have my own Spadina; as does everyone.
Greater than the literal message of the song is the familiarity of home and the people in it. This is the depth and profundity of Canadian music. This is Kakagi.