KASHKA with PROGRAM, BRENDAN PHILIP, JESSICA STUART FEW, GROUNDERS and THE THING IS as part of SOUNDCLASH at Harbourfront Redpath Sugar Stage (235 Queens Quay West), Saturday (July 13), 1:30 to 10:30 pm. Free. See listing.
The period after your long-time band's demise can be one of the most difficult for a musician. But Kat Burns isn't one to sit still.
When Forest City Lovers ended in 2012 after six years of making gorgeous orchestral folk-pop records and touring steadily, the frontwoman immediately refocused on her solo project, KASHKA, a more electronic affair.
Before long she'd teamed up with local producer James Bunton to collaborate on an alluring debut full-length, Vichada, which came out last summer. A follow-up is due in November, with Leon Taheny in the producer's chair.
"I took my time with the new one, and we came back a few times to overhaul it and cut out the songs that didn't fit," says Burns. "The sound is folkpoptronica, a term coined by my hometown [Whitby] newspaper: slightly edgier, with more organic instruments, but treated with electronic production."
Burns wrote many of the songs in transit, experimenting with a mobile recording set-up to capture ideas while on the road. Many are about loss, family history, love and hurt.
"Lyrically the album is pretty intense for me, but it felt like a tremendous catharsis to record. The goal was to make something that represents hard work and hopefully stirs the listener."
Getting nominated for Harbourfront's SoundClash Award has been a confidence booster. The award honours forward-thinking, cutting-edge Toronto musicians and is exposing her music to a wider audience even if she doesn't take home the $5,000 first prize.
As for Forest City Lovers, Burns, who's also a talented visual artist, admits to missing playing the songs, hanging out in the van and the familiarity of it all.
"I was scared of bringing it to a close, and frankly it's still not fully closed in my mind, but it was done out of necessity. My band members went back to school, had a baby. I just kept going.
"As a creative person, I have to challenge myself to start fresh sometimes. Often, inspiration hits in times of uncertainty, or you see things through a different lens. Those moments are important."