Karrnnel is one of the most original and decorated musicians, known for his authentic compositions of fiddle music around the world. With 300 songs composed under his belt, he will be releasing his brand new solo double album Crazy Old Man and SKMB this upcoming Fall season on September 13. Want to know more about how he established himself as a unique musician? Read the interview below!
How did you get into music and fiddle music? When did you know you wanted to become a musician? What kind of revelations did you have along the way during your career?
Everything music for me comes from my family. Long before I was around, my dad was a musician (accordion, fiddle, guitar) and had a prairie dance band for years called the Melody Ranch Boys. Because of this, there was a lot of music in my family on both sides along with musical friends always coming over to visit and jam. Add this to the fact that both of my sisters started playing fiddle, and that was the recipe– music in the family and musical heroes in both my sisters. I was hooked.
I really had the musical dream for years and years growing up, but it was not until after I finished playing my 2nd year of Jr. A hockey in Notre Dame (in Saskatchewan), that I came to the realization that music was what I wanted to pursue. At that time, I was all encompassed with hockey and pursuing the goal of getting a college scholarship for hockey, but all the while spending my spare time playing music. Once the year finished, I realized that music was where my passion was. But after talking with my parents, they convinced me that I should go to school and get a degree and have that to fall back on. So, I quit hockey and enrolled in Civil Engineering in Saskatoon, SK. Four years later and with all my spare time dedicated to music, I started my pursuit of a career as a musician.
There is much more to the story, but the real precipitant to getting my musical career from a local musician to that of a touring recording artist, was a recording grant I received from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. That was the real tipping point for me. Revelations seem to keep coming constantly for me as a musician. I don’t think they will ever stop as long as the industry continues to change. But one of the major revelations that I still mention in conversations with fellow musicians today came as a result of a chat with a friend and the drummer from my first solo album, Matt Atkins. He is a fantastic drummer in the country music world and his advice about hard work led me to my understanding of how the music business is a business and if you are pursuing a career as a musician, treat it like a business. And like most all businesses, people and relationships are of the utmost importance.
Tell us about your upcoming solo double album Crazy Old Man and SKMB. What can your fans expect, or even new listeners? What was the inspiration behind the album?
First off, the double album is 100% original material and really tells the story of my life so far. Life, love, loss. When I look at the songs on the albums, it brings memories, stories, feelings, and all the accompanying emotions. Every aspect of the album was decided with purpose. For example, the fact that there are nine tracks on each album was on purpose. It represents the number 99, which was my dad’s favorite hockey player’s number. No need to mention his name, is there?
Crazy Old Man is the first album and I always say is kind of my solo record. It is approximately ½ instrumental and ½ songs, and I imagine it as a cross between Gary Clark Jr, Snarky Puppy, and Natalie McMaster. If you don’t know those bands I recommend it! SKMB is an album of songs I wrote with three guest singers. My favourite singer – my wife Amy Matysio – sings three songs along with a duet. A good pal and singer/guitar player extraordinaire Joey Landreth sings three songs, along with the duet with Amy. And another good friend, blues musician/magician Ken Hamm sings two songs on the album.
The idea for the album is similar in concept to Santana’s album Supernatural, however with the fiddle and copper fiddle being the main solo/backing instrument. I think anyone who hears these two albums is in for a ride. It is a diverse body of work that I am proud of and excited to share with as many people as possible. The inspiration behind the double album was based around the contrasting idea of creating a massive original music recording project in a time where the industry seems to be focusing on singles. I guess this is my attempt at shining a light on the story an album tells for an artist. It is more than a collection of songs. It is a curation of art that tells a story, memory, emotion, or life experience.
What do you hope people will feel or take away when listening to your music?
I hope that people will feel. I want them to take away an emotion and hopefully attachment to one or more songs. In a time where music seems to be thought of more as background noise than a purposefully created art piece, I hope people take the time to listen and feel even a sliver portion of what I put into this music. Music is subjective, so I hope my music finds its subjects.
Do you have a memorable fan story on how someone has reacted to your songs?
Having a very young fiddle player and singer do a cover of one of my songs after I played it for them only once, was something I will never forget.
What do you think is the most important part of creating music and being a creative person in general? What is the most challenging for you personally?
On a more grand level, I think maintaining a focus on how creativity is all around us and is the driver of all things in life. Creating life with a partner, creating friendships, creating solutions to problems, etc., all stems from the single idea of creativity. I try to surround my self with creativity outlets in everything I do, not only music. For me, creativity is something like a language and transcends a singular creative outlet. I find the more I practice being creative in all things, the better and more natural it feels and consequently the wider my creativity can get.
Who are your favorite musicians right now? Can you give our readers some recommendations on artists they should be listening to?
I am a big fan of Robert Plant, Gary Clark Jr, Snarky Puppy, Jack White, Chris Stapleton. In terms of recommendations of artists that I think should be a household name – Begonia is absolutely mind blowing, and The Bros Landreth are killer.
Imagine you could choose to have any super power. What would you choose as your power and why?
Along the lines of more traditional super powers, I would choose to have the ability to fly. Being able to see the earth and humanity instantly from a higher perspective would be magical, not to mention it would save a lot of flight costs to gigs. Terrible joke I know……..