2020 has been a year full of surprises, some more unpleasant than others, and every month that passes feels like another chapter from a science fiction book. But there are good news amidst the havoc this quarantine has left us with. We are always thrilled to bring new music to all your math-rock-addicted ears, and today is no exception.
Rafa De la Garza and Nick Acker are two lads that came together to play despite the distance, and came up with an exceptionally talented duo: Kaguu. The Mexican-American band is surely young, but that doesn’t mean they are rookies in the genre. Their influences have echoed in the way they write and play their songs.
After releasing two Eps, and giving us a taste of new music with the ‘Yoshino’ and ‘Deku’ singles, today we’re proud to present to you the exclusive stream of ‘Rosewood’, the new album Rafa and Nick have been cooking for the last year and set to be released May 29th. This is a record full of intricate riffs and steady drumlines, but it’s the atmosphere which makes it hypnotizing, soothing in many ways, and you can listen to it here, today, the day before its official release.
But let the chaps tell us all about ‘Rosewood’ and their history as a band. I chatted with them a couple of weeks ago:
Fecking Bahamas: Tell us about the baby steps of Kaguu: how did it all start? Where does the name come from?
Rafa: I guess I can answer this question! Kaguu started in my bedroom in Houston back in 2015. I had this ambition of creating music, trying to find musicians to play and write songs with, but nothing went smoothly until 2017 when Nick and I started talking. I sent him the midi to “Alphonse” through Facebook Messenger, and for some reason he dug it! Halfway through finishing our first EP (Hawkridge), we both decided to give Kaguu a shot and make it a band. And we have been a band since. The name comes from the bird, Kagu. I connected with how that bird lives back during Emo-Young-Adult Rafa era. The bird has only one partner in its life, and when the partner dies, the bird lives by itself for the rest of its life. I felt like that was me with music… kinda cliché, but we all do some cliché stuff at some point in our lives… Hope I’m not the only one.
Fecking Bahamas: Which bands have been an influence for you guys?
Nick: For the band influences we usually split these up and have our own separate answers, as well as collective ones for the band itself! For Kaguu as a whole, I’d say our influences aren’t even bands, but rather composers for video games we have loved since we were kids, and even some that we discovered later in life; a few examples being the great Koji Kondo, Yuka Kitamura, Motoi Sakuraba, and countless other brilliant composers. My main musical influences for me personally would be Periphery, Plini, and TesseracT to name only a few. I can picture listening to those bands for the first time and just being blown away by everything from the drum writing and performances, to the production and structure of this genre I hadn’t even heard of, before I eventually fell down the rabbit hole of progressive music.
Rafa: Yeah, for me is just way more weeby… I like my Japanese music over pretty much anything. Yorushika’s melodies, with Daijiro’s (JYOCHO) skill, with some Elephant Gym grooves, and finally with Yvette Young (Covet) atmosphere. That’s pretty much what I jam mostly. Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to a lot of Prog Rock, Fusion, even some Jazz, but those bands that I mentioned are the ones that have really influenced what Kaguu sounds like!
Fecking Bahamas: How’s the composition process? Do you have any trouble with this living so far from each other?
Nick: Writing and recording online the way we have done, definitely comes with its own set of challenges. I was fortunate enough to have recording equipment set up at my parents place when Rafa initially contacted me a few years ago. The writing process for the first two EP’s was done by Rafa sending me Midi files to write over, then recording drums and guitar, then going straight to production from there. Rosewood on the other hand, was much more collaborative and was really our first attempt at writing music together as a band and not two people over the internet. I think between that, and the shared experiences of our first tour and festival dates, all came into this EP. It’s the proudest I’ve been of anything we’ve done before and I hope our experiences and evolution as a band, come across in this release.
Fecking Bahamas: Tell us about any experience while on tour. Good, bad, anything.
Rafa: The Good, was being able to travel and visit a lot of different cities, meet a lot of different people, and of course, get to play our music live! The Bad, is how stressful the logistics are behind the scenes: the organizing of where we were gonna sleep, carrying Nick’s HUGE ASS Drum Flight Case that weights like 60 pounds everywhere we moved, the loading and unloading after every gig, investing from your pockets cause you don’t get paid till after you play, however, you have to get there to play first. But this is what majority of bands have to go through anyways. We have just been able to do all of this once so it’s a very FRESH experience for us.
Fecking Bahamas: Rosewood strikes as a consolidation of the band. How did you manage to accomplish all this? I mean to ask you about the whole journey as a band.
Rafa: Rosewood was intense. I started composing right after I finished recording guitars for Wistful. “Sakura” was the first song I composed for Rosewood. However, we started with a more proper writing process in the summer of 2018 at Nick’s house in North Carolina. The structures of “Yoshino” and “Deku” were born there. We didn’t touch any of the songs until March 2019; Nick stayed with me for a month in Monterrey, Mexico, which is where I currently reside. We went to a practice studio 5 days a week for 2 hours every day to work on the compositions in person. This was our first time composing music together physically and not through the internet. We finished 90% of the album’s composition by April 2019… or that’s what we thought. We tried to release the album before we went to play in the UK, but it was just very unrealistic if we wanted to have a good album to show people. After we came back from the UK, most of the drums had to be rewritten cause when we played “Yoshino” and “Deku” live for various days, new ideas came flowing to the both of us. So we refinished the composition part by November 2019!
Fecking Bahamas: What’s the future of Kaguu from now on?
Rafa: Hopefully dead.
Nick: As far as future releases go, we have some pretty big ambitions for our music. I don’t want to give away too many details, but for two people that love the art of video games and storytelling through music, it’s something we’re very excited to start working on. Of course, we don’t know how long this will take, so the initial plan was to start playing live shows more often this year after Rosewood’s release, though that seems to be a bit more unrealistic with each passing day. I can’t say that I know what we’ll be doing years from now, but we are currently working on two albums that will be our current passion projects if you want to call it that.
Fecking Bahamas: Any words for the Fecking readers?
Rafa & Nick: Bird up!
‘Rosewood’ will be available everywhere tomorrow, but in the meantime, you can listen to all their music here. Besides, you can get some very cool Kaguu merch here.