Meet Keith Canisius: sonic wizard.
I must have been living under a rock because I never discovered Keith Canisius until very recently: there I was, browsing through YouTube bumping into the song that was “LSD” which I instantly posted on the group, followed by “The Sea me Feel me” shortly after. I haven’t stopped playing his music since, and if I don’t…”LSD” is often lodged somewhere in my brain. So…. I thought it is about time somebody paid tribute to this sonic wizard who deserves so much more attention than he is getting sofar.
Keith Canisius is an American-born solo artist from Copenhagen, Denmark, who has been around for quite a while in the underground scene under different names and projects like Rumskib, Kippy and Shortwave BroadCaster. Like many other outstanding ethereal/shoegaze “acts” he is signed to Saint Marie Records, the label that is starting to be the new 4AD. Keith blends electronic psychpop, dreamwave and shoegaze/noise: completely unperturbed by the boundaries of genre, he uses and layers various techniques to create an extraordinary distinguished sound.
The material sofar is quite extensive despite the fact that the last proper release was in 2012, but overall, I think I prefer the first album “Ferris Wheel Makeout” from 2008 : it is the most “rough”one of the gems he’s produced.
“The Sea me Feel me” is one of the most magical tracks on the aforementioned album: it builds and swells, dives in and out, and becomes a lake of peace before the sonic waves come crashing down on you. It ends with all layers cumulated in a big finale, leaving you thinking wtf was that! In a good way 🙂 The drumming here is outstanding!
“Opium Pop Ballad”: Has the same mind-blowing effect. It is a real trip, ranging from multi layered vocals over an ambient soundpool, to quickening hi-hats ….. until, at 1:54, we are thrown in a grinding MBV whirpool of pulsating, fast, electro-beats.
The more polished and self-produced “Waves” comes out in 2009 and harbours guest vocals of Isol Misenta ( Entre Rios, Alsace Lorraine, Isol/Zypce) on the stunningly beautiful “Diving Day” and Laerke Askholm on “Getting ready for Summer “. This is where the Sea theme in his music starts featuring strongly. ( see interview)
“This Time it’s our High” is Keith’s 3rd full-length album released on Darla records and is probably the point in which he starts to develop his very own Canisian style, far beyond the former citations to MBV and Cocteau Twins. The psychedelic theme already present in “Opium Pop Ballad” is continued and explored here. The album is prismatic and crazily crammed full of ideas and probabilities like the kaleidoscopic space ocean that is “Imagery“:
“The Oceanic Voyage” I & II : ( 2011) is an extensive collection of recordings compiled between 2006 and 2009 (Darla). The Oceanic Voyage is the first in a series of experimental digital albums of which I features B-sides and early works and II (works from 2009-2011) more of ambient urban impressions of life in the Danish city of Copenhagen.
“Beautiful Sharks” in 2012 is the first album to be released with US-based, new label, Saint Marie Records and inspired by the documentary “Sharkwater” and the work of SeaSheperd. It contains 13 varying tracks among which the phenomenal “LSD” : I simply cannot think of a song (not even by the Shoegaze Founding Fathers) that represents why I love shoegaze/dreampop more than this song does. The delayed guitar on there is so shimmering and reverberating, it feels like we are being lifted above the clouds, to find ourselves in a beautiful, overpowering sea of light. The vocals are flowery and secretive as if we have suddenly stumbled upon a forgotten hidden paradise where our true free nature is revealed.
Short Interview with Keith:
You clearly have a thing with the sea. Is that a big inspiration for your music?
In my youth I lived on an Island called Fyn not far from the Ocean. I spent a lot of time there each summer with friends and family. In general I am and was always drawn to the sea and everything about it. Being a little older now, I enjoy it in a more casual sense. But I like the peace and quietness about it. It makes me feel calm and playful at the same time. It has some honest beauty about it, which I like to try to transfer to the mood of my music. I was more obsessed about it, when I was younger. But I think we will see something else on my next Keith Canisius album.
You have a band to perform live. Do you work with the same vocalists on stage? I hear different voices, is that correct?
I haven’t played a live show since early 2013. I did try having a female backing vocalist in a couple of shows, but in the Keith Canisius albums, it’s only me singing.
Is Shortwave Broadcast your main focus these days? Or can we expect more Keith Canisius material soon?
I love doing the ambient stuff on Shortwave Broadcaster and I will be doing more of it, but I do have a Keith Canisius album almost done. I’m just so much more busy these days than before.
I’m also doing some Synthesizer stuff, but things are moving a little slowly at the moment.
Are there going to be vinyl reissues of Rumskib or Ferris Wheel Makeout?
We talked about it Wyatt from Saint Marie Records and me, but I don’t know yet. I hope so.
You once did a show with fellow Saint Marie signees Presents for Sally back in 2008. What do you particularly remember from that show?
I remember talking to them, It was their first show ever or maybe second. They were kinda nervous, so I tried helping them calm down a bit. They were really nice and we had some good chats. I also remember us all being really drunk and the everybody from Rumskib being bloody tired of each other. We travelled all day to play some little stinky bar with crappy equipment and 5-10 people attending. It was our last show of that mini tour so I guess we were just getting tired. But we ended up having a lot of fun that night anyway, as always!