By Danni Bauer
CALGARY — “I am pretty sure my grandma is scared of the mountains, but isn’t telling me.”
So begins Copperhead guitarist Kirill Telichev. He is currently in Banff showing his grandparents that came in from Russia what Alberta has to offer; his bandmate Liz Stevens has joined the conversation via conference call. She provides the wavering, dark vocal lines and warm keys for their avant-garde folk rock project; he plays the psychedelic blues licks. They, along with their bandmates, are on the verge of releasing their full-length debut. Formed in 2014, Copperhead also includes bassist Amos Bradley and drummer Kane Bender.
“I was laying down some vocals for a previous project about five years ago with Kirill,” begins Stevens on their origins, which stretch back further than their official formation. Telichev is a well-known Calgary-based music producer; he is also one-fourth of local alternative rockers The Suppliers.
“I started playing and sang a song I had been working on with a more folk-like vibe and he came in and started playing around, and was like ‘why don’t we do this, and then this,’ and then he recorded it.”
That first song was the gentle and cascading track “Waiting,” which is anchored by the warmth of Stevens powerful soulful croon and minimal instrumentation.
“We both knew we had something, and we decided right there we needed pursue it,” Stevens notes.
Despite their minimal recorded output, Copperhead won the 2014 Calgary Folk Fest Songwriting contest with their song “Heavyweight,” a full band track with a groovy, reverberating style and clacking drums. Eventually, a bluesy solo dominates. The win landed them on the 2014 rendition of Folk Fest to perform the song, they were invited back to the 2015 Calgary Folk Music Festival line-up for a performance and three workshops.
“I don’t even know what to say, everyone has been so kind and receptive to what we are doing. Everyone is just too damn nice,” Stevens says of the experience. “Folk Fest was surreal, it was amazing to be involved in all the workshops. It really pushes you in you ability to alter your sound to fit what is happening.”
Their upcoming self-titled album features both songs, along with four other tracks. Recorded and produced by Telichev at Audities Foundation Studio, it was captured entirely via tape machines and will be available on CD at first, although the band hopes to do a “limited run of vinyl” in the near future.
“You surrender some flexibility when you track to tape, but I’m a big fan of the way it colours the sound. Having demoed this album digitally, it was interesting to see how the analog configuration injected more personality into our tracks,” explains Telichev of the choice, who says the choice was made to achieve a “warm, throw-back texture.”
This texture is heard throughout Copperhead’s soul infused debut. The sound is honey-soaked sound and pleasing. Music purists, prepare to melt.
Copperhead will release their self-titled album on September 30th at The Plaza in Kensington. Contact the band directly for tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org.AB, Alberta, Copperhead, The Plaza Theatre