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Twisted, Bent & Confused…in a Good Way

SF Station (SFS): The name Kapakahi is Hawaiian for "twisted, bent or confused". How does this reflect the personality of the band?

Kapakahi: It is a perfect representation of the music that we play. All four of us, now five with our emcee, are from different geographic and musical backgrounds. We have taken our own personal experiences in life and music and brought them to the table. When you bring us all together, the product is a twisted and bent form of music that is new and exciting. You hear what we like to call reggae-fusion, which is a mixture of reggae/ska/latin and hip hop…if that’s not kapakahi, then I don’t know what is.

SFS: Kapakahi formed two years ago in the Mission District of San Francisco. How have your surroundings and the band’s different cultural backgrounds influenced your sound?

Kapakahi: I think you can hear a lot of SF in our playing. The music scene in San Francisco really lets new and different music thrive. We are also doing a lot more hip hop, which is huge in the Bay Area. I really think that SF is one of the only places that you could find the mixture of musicians and attitudes that it takes to make Kapakahi a successful band.

SFS: How much influence does Mike’s native Hawaii have over your song writing technique and the band’s mixed genre?

Kapakahi: Since Mike’s the singer, his background has an undeniable influence in the music we play. You can hear the island vibe from the first song on the album to the last. It’s nice to hear, especially when you’re a band member and living in SF, with all the fog and generally mediocre weather…it’s almost like an escape!

Plus, when we take Mike’s lyrics and apply it to a song, we’re really switching it up. The song “Africa” for instance -- when Mike plays it acoustically, it sounds like an acoustic-reggae song, but when the band gets its hands on it, you hear an almost hypnotic, tribal groove that’s fused with an element of rock.

SFS: You perform a lot in the Bay area -- what kind of energy do you get from the local crowd and do you notice a following in one particular area?

Kapakahi: Our home base is the Matrix Fillmore…we play there a couple of times a month. We don’t really tell people when we play there, so the word gets out by word of mouth, which helps build a tight knit community at that venue. The more we build up our network here in SF, the more familiar faces you see at shows. We just recently started throwing a monthly party with two other local bands: Bayonics and Manicato. It’s called “Deep City Roots” and happens the 1st Friday of the month at El Rincon. Live music and DJs come together and we bring in bands from other cities (LA, Portland, Seattle…anywhere) in hopes of exposing our fans and friends to music from other areas, thus solidifying the music scene here.

SFS: Do you have a favourite venue?

Kapakahi: We enjoy playing at spots like Elbo Room, Red Devil Lounge, Café Du Nord and Slims to name a few…Outside of the Bay Area, we’re huge fans of the Temple Bar in Santa Monica and Pipeline in Oahu.

SFS: Often you have guests feature at your shows like Lansky and female MC Adinda. How do they enhance your sound during a performance?

Kapakahi: They give us a whole new sound and really open Kapakahi up to a new fan base. We take Lansky on tour with us now and he will do maybe three songs or so in an hour long set. We’re working on more tunes with him and we’ll be going into the studio to record a couple of tracks with him within the next couple of months. Adinda has been sitting in with us on “She Could Be the One” almost since the beginning…it’s always great to have a female vocalist on stage with you, especially one that can lay down a good flow like Adin! That dynamic between male and female on stage makes the live show much more interesting…and people pay attention when there is a girl on stage rapping. You don’t really get that a lot with live music. Anytime she’s around at a show, you can be guaranteed that we’ll be calling her up on stage.

Kapakahi perform Dec 29th at 8:30pm at Rickshaw Stop's New Year's Eve Weekend Bash. Tickets are $10