By Peter Cronin
The Rapid Rise of Kadawatha
With roots that run from Sweden to Sri Lanka and a wide-ranging musical vision to match, the man and the band known as Kadawatha make music that effortlessly transcends boundaries of both genre and geography. After scoring a spotlight-stealing coup as the surprise opening act for rockers Paramour and Tegan and Sara this summer, the band is back in its Scandanavian homeland completing the material that will become their anxiously anticipated debut release.
“When people ask me what genre Kadawatha is, it’s really hard to answer,” says songwriter/guitarist/lead vocalist Daniel Kadawatha. “The sounds will change – I’m right now using more acoustic, organic sounds – but the melodies and the harmonies will still be there and that’s the signature of Kadawatha.”
Kadawatha’s soaring, atmospheric music is indeed fueled by melodies and guitar-driven arrangements that challenge your ears even as they stick instantly in your head. The adoptive child of Swedish parents, the young Kadawatha came to music – and vice versa – at an early age.
“My father bought me a guitar when I was 6, and right away I understood how to visualize music and somehow control it,” he says. “It just came natural for me.”
After spending his formative years building his vocal and guitar chops to the level of the music he was writing in his head, Kadawatha naturally gravitated to a growing music scene around his small hometown. With local players, guitarist Jacob Milton and bassist Andreas Edstrom, he formed progressive rock outfit Monoflare. Following the breakup of his first band, Kadawatha set his sights on a solo project, essentially cutting himself off and burying himself in the work.
“I bought a trailer,” he says, “A little house on wheels for 50 bucks. I parked it at a friends’ farm, painted it and made a home studio in there. I worked days and at night I recorded songs. That’s where Kadawatha started.”
Realizing he’d need a band to bring his new music to life, the singer/songwriter called on his former band mates and Kadawatha was soon playing showcases around the region. A big fan of hard rockers Switchfoot, Kadawatha managed to get a few songs into the hands of lead singer Jon Foreman. The songs eventually made their way to Paramour guitarist Taylor York. A friendship was formed, and next thing he knew, Daniel Kadawatha was previewing his new band and his new songs in front of adoring, arena-sized crowds.
“As a musician and artist you always wonder, ‘How do I get my music out there?’” Kadawatha says. “Now people are asking me how I did it, and it’s a question that’s so hard to answer. I don’t know if you call it luck or just meant to be, but the music has done the work.”