FYIG recently had the chance to chat with fiddle player and musician Karrnnel about his upcoming double-album. Find out more about this talented musician right here!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Karrnnel Sawitsky – yes that is spelled correctly – and am known artistically as Karrnnel. I am a fiddle player and singer that lives in Toronto with my wife, actress Amy Matysio, and our eight-month-old son Jagger. I was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and grew up playing music with my two sisters (both on fiddle) and my dad (on accordion) as The Sawitsky Family Fiddlers. A few other things I have done while playing music was my focus: I played Jr. A hockey in Notre Dame, I have my Civil Engineering degree, I won male model of the year at a modeling competition (way back), I used to Ukrainian dance, and I love building furniture for our home.
You mentioned you grew up playing in a family band called The Sawitsky Family Fiddlers. What was it like traveling around North America with your family?
It was magic to play music as a family (with my mom there as band manager) but as a kid, I didn’t appreciate it as much as much as I do now. My sisters and my dad were my musical heroes when I was a wee little fella, and that has not changed. Being able to make music and travel playing music with my family was truly magical. I cherish those memories so very much.
How did that experience shape you as a musician?
That was the foundation but also created a longer lasting musical wish to make music with my own family one day. Musically, those early days shaped my musical interests but also really allowed me to try to find my own unique voice as a musician. Since I played music with my sisters that were also fiddle players, I would always try to make my playing just a little bit different, and I think that idea is something that has stuck with me.
You formed a band with three of your friends in 2011 called The Fretless. In 2017, you won the JUNO Award for Instrumental Album of the Year. What was it like to receive that type of recognition for your work?
Honestly, we were so incredibly honoured to be nominated that it was first and foremost so surprising when we found out we won. Once the dust settled from the excitement of that beautiful night, we felt tremendous gratitude for everyone that had helped our individual and band journeys over the years. For me, it strengthened that desire to continue to create my own music and push my art form.
You’re releasing a solo double-album next month. What are some of the challenges of releasing two albums simultaneously?
Well, beyond the budget, scheduling, and logistics, I think at this point in the release I would have to say, trying to explain to people why I would release a double album in the current music industry. That has been a challenge. But keeping along the lines of doing things differently, people start to understand.
When in the process did you realize that you wanted to have two distinct albums and what brought you to that conclusion?
About four years ago, I was writing a song for my wife to walk down the aisle to at our wedding and I knew that I could not sing the song for her at the wedding (I would have been a lake of tears instead of the puddle I was). So, I had my pals Tim and Koady Chaisson (from The East Pointers) sing it at our wedding. I think at that point I realized that I wanted to write songs for an album of guest singers, and since my solo record was already in the works, the idea of the double album was conceived.
Crazy Old Man is a mixture of instrumentals and half songs centered around the fiddle with full band arrangements. What made you choose that route for this album?
Singing and songwriting has been such a new passion for me over the last seven years, I knew I wanted to record a mixture of songs and instrumentals to bridge the gap with my last solo record. Also, I really wanted to create a big band sound a la Tedeschi Trucks Band, for the instrumental tracks.
SKMB is full of songs based on your life experiences. What can audiences expect from that album?
It is really a journey of an album in terms of genre and style. There are songs that are definitively folk rock, rock, country, pop, and many more genres. But all this music is connected via my fiddle and copper fiddle. There are songs about love, death, creative frustrations, moving to the big city, etc.. Over the last few years, I have really been focusing on the idea of purpose and applying purpose to my musical creations, and each song on this album was created with purpose.
What do artists like Ken Hamm and Joey Landrey add to this album?
Ken brings the voice of wisdom to the two songs he sings on this album. It is like each word has a story attached to it and you are left wanting more. Ken is spectacular. Joey is one of my favourite singers and guitar players, so having him on this album brought so much creativity and raw talent to his songs. Hearing his voice bring life to 4 songs that I wrote was absolute magic.
You’re embarking on a tour of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to promote your new albums next month. What can audiences expect from your live shows?
It is going to be the biggest show that I have ever created. A nine-piece band that will feature the music from Crazy Old Man / SKMB, but also some musical surprises that will only happen live. Each show is a journey and event that is unique every night.
What advice would you have for aspiring musicians?
Treat music like a deep-sea diver. Keep expanding the depths of your creativity, but always remember to come back up to the top for the grand perspective.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
Instagram and Twitter: @karrnnel