Interview – The Karpinka Brothers

By: Tara Thompson

The Karpinka Brothers hail from Saskatoon and they are gearing up to release their new album, You Can Count On Me, on September 4th. This will be the third full length release from the group.

Can you introduce yourself for the readers who may not be familiar with you and your music?

Aaron: We are a band made up of two brothers who are proudly independent musicians. We pour our hearts and souls into the writing and performing of our music and our objective is to make people feel happy when they see us live.

Shawn: We are two brothers who are the best of friends, hoping to spread joy through music to as many people as we can, from playing care homes to bars and everything in between.

What was the writing process like for this album?

Aaron: I usually come up with either a verse or a chorus melody which I give to Shawn. He then writes the rest of the melodies. He usually tackles lyrics and I fill in the rest with guitar parts. Like sprinkles or frosting on a delicious cupcake.

Shawn: I would sit on my own and finish ideas that my brother would show to me, and then we’d come together again to create our harmonies. We try to keep everything even between us for writing contributions.

You say that this is the first album to reflect the two personalities between the two of you. Why did it take three full length releases to get to that point?

Aaron: That is mostly in a lyrical sense. There were two songs on this album where I wrote the lyrics where traditionally Shawn had wrote most of them in the past. They just came out that way and I think I was exercising some demons. Expressing some hurt I felt in my heart and it was very therapeutic for me and helped me bounce back.

Shawn: It’s just taken time to grow as a songwriting team where we are both expressing ourselves equally. Our songs are from our hearts and very personal, and I think we’ve just reached a point where we are encouraging of each other to express what we need to. It helps that we get along so well.

Many albums take quite some time to record but You Can Count On Me was recorded in just two days. How did you manage to get 11 songs down in that short amount of time?

Aaron: We couldn’t afford too many days in the studio. It’s a savings plan! Just kidding. We like to pride ourselves on capturing the vibe and happiness in the room when we play and we feel too many takes drain that out of us and it’s not what we are about. We play music because it’s fun. It feels good. We take pride in what we do but are not perfectionists by any means.

Shawn: We’ve learned to take the snapshot of where we’re at and move on. We had so much fun making the album live in the same room with the band for the first time, and I think you can even hear it in the recording too.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming tour?

Aaron: I’m excited to connect with people and put smiles on their faces. Also I can’t wait to see parts of the world I’ve never been to! I’ve never been to New York City and we have a show there!

Shawn: I’m just so excited to be touring coast to coast for the very first time, and to play as far away as New York, a city I fell in love with on my honeymoon there.

What songs are your favourite to play live?

Aaron: I like playing them all and just enjoy the happy place I go to when performing. There is nothing more beautiful than a room full of people smiling, getting along and dancing together.

Shawn: It really changes with every show, and it’s whenever I see a look on someone’s face that says they relate to what we’re singing, and maybe they even start singing or dancing along. I love whenever that happens.

What’s your most memorable fan experience? 

Aaron: I like when people come up to me after a show and tell me ‘I couldn’t stop smiling that whole set!’ I’ve heard it many times and it makes me feel so happy. Like we are doing what we set out to do!

Shawn: We were once asked to play with a group of people who struggle with mental disabilities and who meet to play songs together, and in their song book we were incredibly honoured to find one of our own songs.

Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Aaron: I would love to have Leslie Feist’s voice on one of our songs some day. It’s something I just think to myself when I hear her voice. She’s one of a kind.

Shawn: Jay-Z. Or Beyonce. Or both.

Since we’re all about Canadian music, who are your favorite Canadian bands/artists?

Aaron: Ron Sexsmith is a songwriting hero of mine. I have all his records and have seen him play live around 10 times. I also really admire Bahamas, Basia Bulat, Joel Plaskett and from a young age our Dad said ‘If you want to learn how to write good songs, listen to Leonard Cohen.’

Shawn: We had the honour of playing at our hero Gordon Lightfoot’s show once, where he asked our mother, “Are these guys any good at all?” So I would say him.


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