WR807 Chuck Copenace

Episode 807 July 05, 2023 00:50:27
WR807 Chuck Copenace
Witchpolice Radio
WR807 Chuck Copenace

Jul 05 2023 | 00:50:27


Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

Ojibway trumpet player/arranger/composer Chuck Copenace has a deadly new single, “Creator”, out now!

This episode features a conversation about the track and the upcoming album, creating an experimental fusion of ceremonial sweat lodge melodies, jazz and electronic sounds, why jazz lends itself so well to spiritual expression, and much more!

Need more Chuck? Check out episode #270 (Feb. 2018)

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company!

Huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast on Patreon! You can help out for as little as a couple bucks a month if you like the show and want to throw some change in the guitar case!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Summer is finally mercifully. Here Manitoba. If you want to promote your band or your team or your business with some fresh gear this season, check out our friends at Divine Shirt Company. Supporting local business is more important than ever in these tough times. So get a made in Manitoba solution to your screen printing, embroidery, heat press, vinyl and graphic design needs over at Divineshirtcompany CA or on Instagram at Divine Shirts and tell him which police Radio sent one of our colleagues, Sam Thompson, who, if you saw him, you'd sort of right away assume he was a hippie. [00:00:43] Speaker B: Get up up your ass and get. [00:00:45] Speaker A: Up on the podcast. [00:00:48] Speaker B: Rich Police Radio. [00:01:04] Speaker A: Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with a guest who has been on the show before, but it's been quite a while. It was a number of years ago. We met in a crowded food court last time and talked about what you had going on. That was kind of the old format, the show. Now, since the pandemic, I've moved everything over to Zoom and doing these remote interviews, which know, you don't get as much background noise, I guess, as meeting people in public. But either way, it's good to have you back on the show. I know you have new music coming out and we'll talk about that for sure. I think the best way to start this off is if you want to introduce yourself and give a bit of background about what it is you do as an artist. [00:01:36] Speaker C: Well, my name is Chuck Copanese and I'm a trumpet player, primarily. And I have a group that I started in, I guess, 2015, and we did one recording and now I just finished another recording last year and this year. And, yeah, I do funky jazz kind of fusion music, maybe experimental, I don't know. It's mostly electronic. It's mostly fused. My background is electronic music from a long time ago and dance music and yeah, I've been in Winnipeg, like, 22 years. I came here and I joined a band called Moses Mays a long time ago. And we toured around Canada and did pretty well. And then, yeah, I was a social worker for a while. And now, as of this year, I'm a full time musician, cultural worker now. [00:02:42] Speaker A: Well, that's cool. That's an exciting thing to happen, for sure. [00:02:45] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:02:45] Speaker A: To be able to do this as your day job, it's great. [00:02:49] Speaker C: Yeah, totally. [00:02:51] Speaker A: So the reason we're talking now is because you have a new single that just came out, and you do have, like you said, a new record coming out later this year. So people may have heard your previous recordings, may have seen you live over the years. You've done a lot of touring, you've been pretty active playing shows and you've been out there and everything like that. But what can you tell me about this new single, first of all, creator, because it's something you just released and obviously you want people to hear it in the lead up to the album. [00:03:18] Speaker C: Yeah, for sure. So, Creator, I wrote this song, actually quite a while ago. It was back in would have been in yeah, I think that would have been 2016, I think was when I first wrote this song. So I've been playing it for a while with my group, but I haven't been able to record up until last year when this song came about. I had just started going to sweat lodges and ceremonies and there are two melodies in particular that really struck me and affected it kind of affected the way I look at music. Just kind of the whole process of getting used to going to sweat lodges and ceremonies for myself was a really strong there were some real strong inward changes that had to happen that happened at that time. And so these melodies, I started being able to kind of internalize them. And I guess when that happened, then when I started writing music, it just kind of I started working with these melodies and forming a song around them. So Creator is one of those tunes. It's a ceremonial melody and it's very well known a lot of people that most people that go to ceremonies around Winnipeg would know the song. So I was able to kind of make a kind of funky jazz, I guess, harmonization to that melody. And yeah, it's been well received over the years. So I'm really happy to finally be able to record it and present it to more people because I still think it's a pretty unique thing that it's kind of more of a jazz funk fusion with Indigenous melodies. And this fusion has been going around going along in a lot of different ways with a lot of different genres of music. I'm happy to contribute to that and just kind of raise awareness of the strength of Indigenous music and the amount of the structure of these melodies. I don't know if the word is, like, solid or sound. I think some people are listening to it now and it's really nice to be able to record it. And I recorded it with Live Off the Floor at Stereo Bus with Paul Yee, and he actually played bass on he's a I don't know if you're familiar with Paul Yee, but he's a world class bass player and he runs a great studio. I recorded the album Stereo Bus, and then I had Scott and Victor and we just kind of came up with an arrangement of that tune for the studio and played it kind of live off the Floor in one afternoon. And then I overdubbed trumpet and me and Paul did some I actually sing on this song. [00:07:18] Speaker A: Yeah, there's vocals on. [00:07:23] Speaker C: Was another that's another thing that's kind of happened over the years. As I've started in different ceremonies, I've started to be able to sing songs I'm starting to get to know, have my own little library of songs that I can sing. It's really good. I really like that. [00:07:46] Speaker A: It's like a cool combination of all of these things you're talking about. I mean, there's obviously the traditional element to it that is very strong throughout and then there is the jazz funk stuff happening. But it also, like you said, you come from an electronic music background and it kind of has this hypnotic vibe throughout, which I think is that underlying melody throughout the whole song that really kind of hooks you in, I think pretty much from the beginning right through to the end, it's this constant sort of groove happening. [00:08:14] Speaker C: Yeah, it's really good. That's probably going to be something like an element of my music going forward. I like really ethereal trumpet sounds and I'm always trying to float with whatever is going on. I'm not kind of type of guy who likes to play really fast and play lots of notes all over the place or whatever. I've always been that way. More of a lyrical player. [00:08:51] Speaker A: It's interesting too, because that song particularly and some of your other stuff too, is very much seems to be focused on atmosphere rather than, like you said, really kind of flashy playing. But then you're playing an instrument that is the lead instrument, all these songs, and then somehow you're taking those lead parts and making them like an aspect of the atmosphere that you're creating rather than being over top of it. Is that something that you're doing deliberately or is that just sort of how your sound comes out? [00:09:19] Speaker C: Yeah, I think I do do that deliberately and that's always kind of been an approach that I have, is to try to be a part of what's going on rather than having to be in front of everything. So everything that I want to play, I always am either trying to react or I'm trying to just kind of support or support the whole idea that everyone's trying to present. Okay. I always want to create a mood or create just something that is easy to connect to or easy to just listen to and have an enjoyable time. [00:10:17] Speaker A: Does that require a different approach to playing trumpet than you otherwise would if you were in a more sort of standard jazz group and you would be having parts where you're the leader or if you're leading a whole song? I imagine I'm not obviously not a trumpet player, but I imagine there's got to be different techniques you're using to blend rather than stand out above everything. [00:10:38] Speaker C: Yeah, there's definitely different ways of playing or approaching the instrument. I think playing in a regular in a more straight jazz combo, you know, there would be more rhythmical, I think like more more percussive playing. [00:11:05] Speaker A: Sure. [00:11:06] Speaker C: And and really contributing to that rhythmical interaction that's going on with drums and the bass, everyone's like or like moving, there's more movement. So you need to be a little bit more speedy and contribute those rhythmical ideas to the rest of the group so that everyone can really take that initial song and make it grow and then come back to that initial melody and go through all the different solos and stuff. So, yeah, I think maybe just there's a lot more percussive element when you're playing jazz. [00:13:45] Speaker B: Sam Close. [00:15:45] Speaker A: Is this I mean, the the sound that you have on Creator, is that sort of a similar feel you have throughout the rest of the album? [00:15:56] Speaker C: Yeah, I think the trumpet on all of the tracks, you definitely have a similar kind of trumpet sound, a similar approach. And yeah, I was basically doing what I do and playing the way that I play. And then I have sax player named Kyle Wedlake who plays with me. He plays on the know, he has a different approach, a different way of playing. But I think all the songs definitely have a mood, kind of a real kind of fusion, laid back, atmospheric kind of feel to it. Okay, sure. [00:16:52] Speaker A: Are there other songs that are using similar melodies and things like this from ceremonial music that you've interpreted or reinterpreted? [00:17:02] Speaker C: There's one more song, it's called The Opening, and that's another melody that really affected me. And it was probably the first melody that I heard at my very first lodge, because a gentleman named David Bud always sings this song at the beginning of every lodge and he's been doing it for a really long time. So I'm sure at my first lodges, which were all with him, I was hearing this song, a that's, that's another one that I was able to sing and then kind of create another song around that melody. And that one I sing it as well and play hand drum on there. And I really like that one. I'm not sure if that's going to be the next single, but I think that one will be coming out soon. Cool as well. But it's another one that I wrote kind of a while ago and I've been playing for people for a lot already. But I guess the idea is going forward, from this point, I'm going to be playing more. I'm going to be playing a lot. So there's going to be a lot of people that are hearing me for the first time and they're kind of unaware of it. I've always just kind of been creeping around in Winnipeg, playing the odd show, just trying to fit it in with having my kids, of course, full time job, all this stuff. So I think moving forward, I think people are going to really enjoy those ceremonial songs or ceremonial fusion songs. There's nine songs and then the rest of the album are yeah, it's hard. I guess they're more typical chuck okay. Style electronic trippy jazz kind of yeah, yeah. [00:19:08] Speaker A: The stuff that the people who have been watching you lurk around Winnipeg for, they're familiar with yeah. Yeah. I was going to ask you about having those ceremonial elements in it. Obviously, part of what you're doing with this is with these fusions of different sounds, is you're introducing that stuff to a wider audience, to people who maybe haven't been to a lodge and haven't heard those pieces of music before in any context. Right. Which is really cool because you're opening, I think, doors that people didn't even know existed. I think a lot of people who are listening to jazz, this is something completely outside of just what they know as far as music is concerned, and it sounds that they're completely new to them. But what has the reaction been to these kind of songs within your own community? I mean, people who are very, very intimately familiar with these melodies, how have they reacted to sort of what you've done with them and how you transform them into the stuff that you're doing now? [00:20:01] Speaker C: Yeah. So far, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback, positive response. Yeah. People have made comments that at the Jazz Fest last year, or maybe it was the year before, one of my friends that I go to lodges with didn't know I was a musician. Okay. Said they were just walking by Market Square and all of a sudden they heard the Creator melody echoing through the whole thing. And I think they wouldn't have typically, if someone's not into jazz and they hear the jazz in Market Square, they might just be like, oh, I'll just keep walking. [00:20:46] Speaker A: It's not for me. Yeah. [00:20:49] Speaker C: But, yeah, they seemed, like, super excited. I went over there and I was like, there was Chuck and you're playing that melody, and I could just hear it, and it was super exciting for them to hear that. And I played at Cinnabon Park. I remember there was somebody that I know from Ceremony that made a video and shared it, and they're just like, it's the creator song. But it's jazz. From what I can tell. It's being accepted for what it is, is just me honoring that melody and playing it with my band, but also just playing it in a totally different setting. And I think it's coming across it's like, yeah, that's a really strong melody, and it's strong enough to hold down the band. And for everybody, it's a strong head to it kind of a jazzy tune. [00:22:00] Speaker A: Yeah, definitely. [00:22:04] Speaker B: You Ram? Sam close. Sam dam sam SA SA sam here's sam sam. Sam SA. [00:29:40] Speaker A: Mean, I know that you you like, you said you're doing some vocals on these songs, which which is which is new. But, I mean, the most part of it, for the most part, it's instrumental. What do you think it is about jazz that sort of lends itself so well to evoking kind of spiritual sort of themes? Right. I mean, it seems like of all genres of music, jazz is one of the ones that is most closely tied into any type of spirituality. But I mean, there's obviously some classic records that are very much in that vein and have that kind of feeling to them, yet there's no words. Right? It's not someone outright saying what this is about, but there's that feeling to it. What do you think jazz has that conveys that so well? [00:30:23] Speaker C: I think it has dissonance and consonants. So with jazz, with the chords, with the reactive nature of it, there's there's dissonance kind of in as well as consonants. You know, there's resolve, there's resolving of melodies, there's increasing your intensity and then letting it go down. And there's just this real flow with musicians that are reacting off of each other. You just have this I've heard a lot of jazz guys kind of even refer it that whole process as a spiritual experience. You're channeling melodies through and that's what people are looking for. You're channeling these melodies through yourself and just kind of like shooting them out there. And there's such a wide palette of expression within the structure of jazz. And I think that's why that spiritual element is there because your mood can affect the way you play, the way you're feeling on a given day. I know this last Jazz Fest I played was the first year that I didn't have a day job that I was coming rushing from yeah, to get to the stage and just like, Is everyone here? And I remember I was just kind of floating around picking up a few things that day and just kind of like thinking about my gig. I made sure that on that day I didn't really have make a lot of I didn't book a lot of stuff for myself to do before the gig. And it really showed in my experience at the Jazz Fest this year, I felt like way more relaxed. I felt like I wasn't dead tired, which happened spiritually. It felt really good. [00:32:46] Speaker A: That's an interesting way of looking at it, too, I think. I never really occurred to me about that. But I guess also because you're reacting to what the other musicians are doing, it's that kind of instant inspiration and channeling your emotions, whether they're your emotions unrelated to the song or your emotions caused by the song and brought on by the song, just like live and direct. And it's that instant sort of what you feel rather than something that's that's already pre written completely. And these are the changes and that's it. Nothing's going to be different. It's played the same time every night. [00:33:15] Speaker C: Same thing every night, yeah, for sure. I think that's the whole thing about jazz because they're playing those songs. There's some of these standard songs that have been played by millions of guys over the years and it's the same tune, but everyone has different takes. You can play these different standard tunes and express new ideas all the time depending on who you're playing with. And the drummer, the bass player, all these things can affect the quality of what's going on. [00:33:51] Speaker A: Well, that maybe brings up an interesting question then. Obviously you have these songs recorded. You played them on the recordings with the band that you had at the time for the recording sessions. But how much these songs change outside of the obvious changes that happened in jazz, if you're going to play these live, I mean, assuming you're not going to have the same musicians, maybe you will at every live show, how much do they kind of shift and change depending on who you're playing with? Is it a very obvious difference from the recorded version to hearing it live, maybe with a different bassist, different drummer, et cetera? [00:34:28] Speaker C: Definitely this song creator, actually, I think overall, my recording is laid back and just kind of like really, every song is kind of within five minutes, or I've kind of made it so that every song kind of moves from beginning to end. I guess with recording that's, the advantage that I have is to be able to kind of shape a song and make it the way that I wanted it to sound or let it evolve. But I've always got this control of when something's going to end and when something's going to start, when someone's going to solo. Okay, this is when we're going to record Victor. And then this part or whatever, when it's live, I think everything just has more energy, for sure. The solos are longer, the drummer has all this room to build up or even change a beat at some point if he feels like it. And then we all have to just kind of go along with that. So the song creator, Live, is actually one of the songs that I really like using as a closing, closing song because I can up the tempo when I'm counting it in. [00:36:02] Speaker A: Sure. [00:36:02] Speaker C: And then it becomes like a real intense kind of ending tune. And then other times I've played it when I play on Saturday, it's just going to be a trio at the Cinnabon Park for Canada Day. Ordo I just did what you told. [00:36:26] Speaker A: But at the time we're recording this, that already happened. Yeah. So we're in the future, we're now in the just it's all good. [00:36:35] Speaker C: What is it? The time. So when I play a trio gig, there's just going to be the three of us. It'll be me, Victor and Scott, the percussion player. So creator won't have that same live energy. So I think it's going to be a really with playing with those two in particular, it's really fun doing the trio gigs because it's a real challenge to build the song and have everything flow. And then Victor has to do a little bit more bass notes on his so so it'll have a whole different character. [00:37:27] Speaker A: That's cool. [00:37:29] Speaker C: Along with all the other tunes, we'll have to build energy in different ways. In other ways. [00:37:36] Speaker A: Do you have a preference for what size of band you'd be playing with or do you kind of just welcome whatever the situation is with who you're on stage with at the time? [00:37:47] Speaker C: I guess my preference is to always have the full band, but people will request the trio and I like having the flexibility of to take smaller to. I'm really happy if Scott Senior can come and play because then it's totally a lot of fun when we go play these little trio gigs and the three of us have known each other for a really long time. Me, scott and Victor. That's who I usually do trios with. Scott I used to play with in Moses Mays a long time ago. We traveled all across Canada together, so I always like having that opportunity to play with, I think I think I really enjoy the trio games, though. I'm looking forward to that on Saturday. [00:38:43] Speaker A: On the Saturday in the past because we blew up the time continuum area. [00:38:59] Speaker B: Sam, Sam, sam dam sam, Sam, sam ram sam San is the actual album coming out? [00:43:08] Speaker A: It's not until the fall, right? [00:43:11] Speaker C: Yeah. I think that's we're going to decide on what the next single will be within the next little while, I think, and then we're going to start kind of gearing up for releasing that. And I'm not exactly sure what it's going to be yet. I might see if I can release something that's kind of more like an electronic sounding song. [00:43:40] Speaker A: Oh, cool. Okay. [00:43:42] Speaker C: But I'll have to discuss year. This last two years, which actually resulted in the funding, like, new development for me was I got a manager, her name is Keeley Kemp, and she has a company in, so I'm getting used to it. But over the last couple of years, I have to get used to making decisions about my musical career with somebody else. It's been a process for me, but the results of having that partnership are super evident. I wouldn't have got the funding for the recording, so they were able to kind of put that time in and effort to get the funding for the recording and get to this spot where we're releasing music. So yeah, I'm so grateful for that. [00:44:43] Speaker A: That's awesome. [00:44:45] Speaker C: Yeah. It's just been a super huge blessing for my career as a musician to be able to with that partnership in place, I feel comfortable quitting my job and moving forward and just saying, okay, well, you're working hard. I'm going to quit my job and start working just as hard as you are. So we're all just kind of just try to get the music out there. For me, it was like I really have been thinking, like, what do I want my kids to see me just in a state of utter anxiety all the time, trying to make money and maybe not playing music, you know what I mean? I'd rather my kids see me growing up as they're growing up as a musician for sure, and that's totally possible to do that and be happy. So far, so good. [00:46:03] Speaker B: You. Sam. Ram. SA. Sam. Sam. Sam. Ram. Sam. Sam.

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