Over the last two years, the Codas has become one of my favourite bands from Kingston and luckily we were able to sit down with vocalist and guitarist, Braden from the band. He introduced us both to the band as well as his personal experience in music. We asked Braden what first got him into music, in which he explained that his parents were a big influence through their appreciation of a variety of genres. “Growing up we always did music appreciation and on the weekend we’d listen to different records and stuff like that. Eventually my parents, you know, put our whole family into piano lessons.”
While Braden initially disliked piano lessons, his interest in music peaked when he got his first guitar. “When a guitar was put in my hands, that’s when things really took off,” he enthusiastically shared “My dad got me a guitar and that just changed everything. You know, he gave me an MP3 with a bunch of songs and then I started playing around with it.”
We asked Braden what the best advice he had been given as a musician to which he answered, “To not take things so seriously.” Music is a competitive industry that often causes a significant amount of stress for performers to constantly be releasing new music. Braden holds that things will come naturally. “If you take things too seriously then you aren’t going to jump at the opportunities that really matter. Not to say not to work really hard, but it’s working hard so that opportunities will come and then you take advantage of those opportunities.” Something to take from Braden’s advice is that everything will always pay off in the end.
Early on, Braden began performing with bands in Kingston. Initially, when Braden was twelve-years-old, a few cover bands had heard about his guitar playing and invited him to come play with them. “I’d go up on stage and start playing with these vetaran cover bands in town so I was just the kid that showed up and they were like ‘watch this kid shred.’ I had not put out any solo works or any albums or anything before The Codas.” The Codas were Braden’s first venture into producing original musical works.
Growing up, Angus and Braden were hockey friends from hockey from their hometown in Kingston. Over time, the two had lost touch, but reconnected years later while Braden was living in New Zealand. “ I was putting guitar and singing videos up on my instagram and [Angus] messaged me and was like ‘yo, whenever you get back we gotta start writing some stuff and get some stuff together.’’ As soon as Braden returned to Kingston, he and Angus had a successful writing session. This is captured by Braden as expresses, “We were vibing pretty hard so we were like ‘let’s start something.’”
With a guitarist and drummer, the two had to search for talented musicians to join their band. At that time, Angus had been studying jazz drumming at Humber College. While studying, Angus had known Isaac for his talented bass playing and invited him to jam with them in Kingston. According to Branden, “Honestly [finding Isaac was] one of the best finds; Isaac is such a talented bass player it is ridiculous. He has such a talented mind he can just play circles around anyone.” Braden explains that they are especially lucky to have such a talented bass player for there are slim pickings for bass players, especially good ones.
Drummer, Angus, and guitarist, Braden, were familiar with Mike as he is known around the Kingston community for his piano skills. He describes Mike’s talent as Braden says, “He’s a really good keys player and can hop up on stage with anybody and just pick it up. He’s a really integral piece to our group and really good at rounding things up.” Having Mike involved in the group has been beneficial as his talent allows the musician to be able to explore more musical features, such as composing songs with a synthesizer. While all group members are extremely talented individually, their music is able to come alive when performing together. Braden explains that their group chemistry allows them “to go off of each other in improvising and stray from what our recorded tunes are like so it’s pretty fun.”
The members of The Codas strive to not be boxed into any particular genre. When asked what the motivation was in considering this as a motivation, Braden responded, “A lot of our influences right now that we’re trying to push into is R&B and soul style. When we released “Anomaly” and “Chasing Sun,” that was more rock and soul. Then we put out the “Acoustic Sessions,” campfire tunes kind of thing.” Composing “Strangers” was a way of switching the narrative of the band. “It went a little more into funk territory, and has R&B elements as well. I’d say we’re more R&B influences, but a modern take.”
What makes The Codas different from other bands is their ability to maintain their individual integrity by writing songs that are true to their own tastes and experiences. “We’re trying to keep musical integrity, writing integrity and just have fun with it really. We try to think of our band as just trying to have fun with music and if people like what we play then that’s cool, we just vibe with that, if they don’t then that’s cool too.”
The individuality of the band is seen through its name, “The Codas.” Braden describes that a coda is when a piece is coming to an end and then enters an extended piece. Drummer Angus, came up with the name with the philosophy that “each player is that extra piece; we’re each an extension type of thing. We alone are talented and we can play our music and stuff by ourselves, but together we’re a whole extra piece.”
Creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely difficult due to various restrictions in social gatherings and performing live. We asked Braden how the pandemic has impacted their creative process and how The Codas have adapted to it. Before the pandemic, Braden explains that he and Angus would spend time jamming in his loft. They began “playing some real slow stuff and we were like ‘damn this is really slow.’ Instead, we just began making something more upbeat and just having fun with it.” For the song, “Stranger,” the two began with the initial guitar riff and would add to it over time. In fact, they did not write lyrics to it until a year later.
This creative process has changed amidst the pandemic. Since the members cannot gather, they have each been creating music with recording software at home and sharing it with the band. In addition, they meet on Zoom to speak about what music they have explored if anybody came up with any interesting ideas that they want to push further. According to Braden, ”Producing music during the pandemic has a weird creative process right now. It doesn’t feel particularly natural yet because but it’s about learning to live with it and making it as enjoyable and as effective as possible.”
When asked about the meaning behind ‘Stranger’, Braden described the inspiration behind the song as “a daydream love affair in a way about this stranger you’ve never talked to or met.” and mentioned that it was sparked by an experience the bandmates had had when they were out for dinner.
As mentioned earlier, the band works hard to maintain their integrity in their songs, which means the songs tend to resonate with their creators. When asked about which song meant the most to him, Braden responded ‘Anomaly.’ Braden said he wrote the song about “living differently, not necessarily following the path that everyone seems to follow,” which is reflected in his own life experiences. Speaking on those experiences, he said people were surprised when he swapped Kingston for New Zealand after high school instead of taking the more conventional route.
Since the start of the pandemic, musicians have really had to adapt to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, especially when it comes to gigs and performing. Despite other artists adapting to the pandemic by live-streaming performances, Braden noted that the band “are not particularly a big fan of live streamed concerts.” Instead, they want to focus on “moving forward with consistently releasing, so that when we are able to play shows, when we are able to tour, that we’ll be fresh with new material and on a roll.”
Before the pandemic, the band had played shows in Toronto, Ottawa and of course, Kingston at venues like the Toucan and Ale House. The band sadly had a number of shows cancelled due to COVID-19 in Eastern Ontario and Montreal but Braden is optimistic “that once we’re out of this, that we’ll be able to book similar shows.”
Looking forward, Braden says they have a cover for Drake’s ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’ releasing towards the end of February. Looking further down the line, Braden reiterates “we’re working on material right now and we can kind of release consistently this year. A lot more consistently than we’ve had in the past.”
During the interview we decided to take a break from the band’s questions and do a real deep dive into Braden himself and ask him some hard hitting questions such as “do you sing in the shower?” Braden laughed about it first before telling us that “I mean sometimes yeah. I mostly hum but then if no one’s home then I’ll belt.” When we asked him what his songs of choice were he stated “random stuff. I don’t ever sing people’s songs, I just go off the cuff.” However when pressed about the times he does sing other people’s work, Braden mentioned soul artist Michael Kiwanuka.
One of the harder questions we had for Braden as a musician was who he would most like to collaborate with, dead or alive? For living artists Braden named Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) because “I think his ideas are pretty out there and I would just love how he creates.” While for dead artists Braden chose Jimi Hendrix “to learn a thing or two” despite “feeling bad about sitting next to him, out-shredding me.”
When asked about which artist he would most want to open a show for, Braden chose John Mayer since “I could sit back and watch him play afterwards” and “maybe Leon Bridges cause it would be cool.”
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: THE CODAS