Vancouver, B.C.-based singer-songwriter Todd Kowaluk has been working on his unique brand of indie folk for a number of years, infusing ‘90s-influenced indie rock and pop with a higher message since his EP, Love Can Set Us Free.
With his new single “Enough Is Enough,”, Kowaluk found himself exploring that same topic without realizing it.
Kowaluk had the catchy, Paul Westerberg-esque indie pop guitar riff laid out four years ago but may have been setting it aside for when he cracked the conceptual code of the old adage “enough is enough.”
Kowaluk explains, “For me, as a songwriter, the question I kept going back to was ‘how does this song end?’ That questioning made me want to evolve the song, find a brighter ending, hope for a new beginning, a higher version of myself. I wanted to be a better human somehow, and hopefully in the process a better songwriter.”
A protest song, “Enough is Enough” utilizes humor as well as a simple, contagious guitar riff and a chorus-first structure to hook listeners, getting them to begin thinking about the concept of when something becomes too much.
Intrigued, Tattoo.com chatted with Todd Kowaluk to discover more about how “Enough is Enough” came together, his gear, and his tone.
What three things can’t you live without?
Air, water, coffee.
What inspired your new single, “Enough Is Enough?”
I remember it was around the time of the trucker’s convo when Canada declared itself to be a communist country. That was just about the time I finished writing this song. But what really inspired me was the opportunity to work with Dave King. I had the riff and even the words ‘Enough is Enough’ back in the days just before ‘Love Can Set Us Free’ was to be released but not a complete song. He suggested finishing ‘Enough is Enough’ and recording that. So I jumped at the opportunity and spent the next several sessions at the studio just writing and working out all the bits. Trying to find verses that made sense and fit with the chorus was a whole thing on its own. And the ending was a lot of trial and error. But you know… The song’s not sung till the words are done … THAT’S THE RULE.
Where are you from?
I was born in Edmonton Alberta but have lived in Vancouver, British Columbia most of my life and would definitely call the YVR home.
Did your hometown impact your aesthetic?
Edmonton … No probably not.
Vancouver, however, likely did in many ways. The OCEAN the BEACHES the MOUNTAINS the fact that it’s advertised as SUPERNATURAL BRITISH COLUMBIA… we are spoiled rotten here from the sheer beauty of the Land. Vancouver is very much a multicultural diverse city. Walking on the seawall on any given day you will likely hear at least half a dozen different languages being spoken. I really like that for some reason.
How did you get started in music?
I was 7 or 8 years old when I started taking guitar lessons. I found it quite challenging to keep time … but with a lot of patience and practice, I eventually got it. My Music teacher, Mr. Rienheart, ended up buying several copies of the music to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and started teaching it to several of his students with all its different parts in private lessons and then when we were well practiced .. brought us all together in the same room at the same time and we all played our parts together and it was just crazy magical for all of us. I don’t think I will ever forget that experience. Thanks, Mr. Rienheart!! Thinking back on that experience he was likely teaching more than just music.
Are there any special recording techniques you use in the studio?
Try to keep it simple and have clean tracks to start with.
Let’s talk gear for a moment. Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using?
My main guitar is Taylor GS MINI KOA that I absolutely LOVE and even more so in the studio. I have more recently purchased a Les Paul Hollow body that I am really enjoying playing and getting great sounds from. I use a Bose System II both as a PA and for amplification. I am also planning on purchasing a Bose S1 Pro+ busking amp in the next couple weeks.
Has your tone changed over time?
Lately, I have been playing with just voice and using my guitar very sparingly and also using the guitar as a drum – both the body and deadened strumming of the strings for a beat. At times, it can get quite dramatic and impactful and that is the tone I hope to continue moving towards. It’s kinda raw and naked.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
Mostly real-life experiences. I get inspired by so many different things it’s hard to pin down. I would have to say that Music and Movies have both influenced and inspired me in many different ways and I have drawn from both mediums.
What is your definition of success?
Your willingness to learn… your ability to get up again… Because life is going to put you through some stuff, and you are likely going to get beat up some along the way. Having the ability to pick yourself up off the ground, brush yourself off and do what you need to do to move forward in your life is invaluable and necessary for growth. I am very interested in growth, you know.
Which artists do you think are just killing it right now?
I would say Olya Sonica…look her up on Spotify. I think she very much fits with the above definition, and I like her music a lot. BOB DYLAN rocks my world always but even more so these days… his new album ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ changed me somehow! It’s an amazing record. I have not seen his new documentary ‘Shadow Kingdom’ but it’s on my list. I also think very highly of Dan Mangan. His new album ‘Being Somewhere’ is out now. You should go and listen to it. You’ll thank me later.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
A New Song … I hopefully (fingers crossed) will be back in the studio with Dave King SHORTDOCKLONGWALK later this fall.
I have several videos from last year’s sessions at the studio that I have been planning on releasing over the next few months and one video that is a total blast from the past. Will see if that actually happens but I think it would be fun.
I would like to make a video for my current single ‘Enough is Enough’ but have not figured out the funding of said project…but I do know who I would like to work with so I got that goin’ for me anyway.
Thanks so much for your questions! CheerZ.