Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Covers and Kawehi

TCS - Robot Heart: Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana (covered by Kawehi) from Kawehi on Vimeo
Music covers and controversy go hand in hand. And I'm more a culprit of keeping this couple alive more than anyone. One of my first blog posts on here, in fact, referred to Leona Lewis's attempt (and I wouldn't call it much more than that) at Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) 'Hurt'. An undeniably great voice but the take was nothing much than a commercial butchering.

Yet where most disdain lies is actually in the use of sampling rather than covers. When artists take the catchy  choruses etc. of others, contemporary ignoramuses the world over consider these defiant fresh hits amazing when, actually, the only thing that begs any attention is what was snatched from their predecessors. Tupac did it with 'Changes', taking Bruce Hornsby's iconic piano work, and I still struggle to grasp what Derulo did to Imogen Heap. Shocking. What's even more frustrating is most of these arguably distasteful covers place central dominance on the previous work they're sampling and, by doing this, arrogantly imply it's theirs, leaving our poor naive listeners appreciating the large matter of the song that actually isn't the work of their jumped-up city boy with more snapbacks than talent.

They're not necessarily bad songs, but I think what pisses most people off, certainly including myself, is more the lack of appreciation for the parents that nurtured some of these ugly babies. If it's your bag, fair play, but hark back to the old boys once in a while, do your research: albeit it's often to no avail to our younger generations, but it's those musicians who did the real groundwork.

Sorry, I digress. Covers, not sampling. Clearly with covers the original work cannot surpass unacknowledged which is always refreshing. And the obvious beauty is getting to hear great music in a different light. For me, what's paramount to a cover is that, for all the new takes that ensue, the central element of the work should still be that of the original.

And this is where my newly found friend Kawehi comes into play. I discovered her through Esquire a couple of days ago and, oh my. It's been relentlessly on loop. I'm a sucker for loving artists who work with Ableton as I can truly relate to how complex it is to progressively build such a rich depth. And she's hit the nail on the head. On the first listen you'll wonder where it's going; but as it all builds together it'll delightfully hit you like a tonne of bricks. And then to top it all off, she's got one hell of a pair of lungs on her.

I write this in reference to her take on Nirvana and the late Cobain's 'Heart Shaped Box' (above). She's covered one of what Esquire described as "the uncoverable" and simply does so from her home...halfway through a large bottle of red. Her voice is slightly unrefined in places and if you listen closely you can catch her out; the same goes with her keys being oh-so slightly out of time here and there. But hear me out, I'm not just being pedantic: this is what's great about her covers (and sorry, I know it's petty I'm raising these tiny faults at all). To me, her covers become all the more warming through this relaxed approach. You get the impression it's her pleasure that prevails over her listeners. Late evenings, wine and a jam. I remember doing very much the same thing when I recorded DJ sets in my teenage bedroom with friends...although I daresay - as much as I may like to flatter myself - my old techno collection didn't sound half as epic as this.

Seek her out. She's yet another musical Youtuber, but unlike her fellow try-harders, she not only allows a different sound to the work, she let's you know you're still listening to the original which, if you ask me, is what it's all about. Whilst you often come away from covers thinking "God, I prefer the original", with Kawehi it's more likely to be "God, I love Nirvana".

Kawehi's website can be found here. She's covered a lot of other great work which is definitely worth checking out also.