Post SXSW: Ewan Kay, Our In-House Rockstar, Tells Us What’s Best.

Posted by Lindsey Cepek, April 25, 2013

We are always so proud to tell the stories of our amazing team here at Drake. With so much happening in our own four walls, it’s hard to keep track of what the talented team is up to; other than taking over the world elsewhere. Find out what Ewan Kay, our in-house rock star, is up to.


Lindsey Cepek: Aside from making the best quad-lattes on Sunday mornings, what is your role here at the Drake Hotel?

Ewan Kay: Ahh, officially I am a bar back; but I help out where I’m needed.

LC: But you’re primarily a rock star, yes?

EK: Haha. Ya, I guess so.

LC: Did you always know that you were going to be rock star?

EK: No. I’ve always been into music though, I grew up with musicians for parents, surrounded by mostly jazz and classical. Both of my parents were prolific in the Canadian music scene.

LC: I find it entertaining how causally you are able to say that… So, did your musical talent come naturally or did you take any formal lessons?

EK: Well, my dad tried to teach me, but I was so stubborn when I was young. I finally started trombone and piano lessons at the ripe age of four and have been playing ever since.

LC: What do you play now?

EK: I still play trombone for the band Donlands and Mortimer and just finished recording for Austra’s upcoming album. I mostly play keyboard and lately I’ve been working with guitar and bass for other personal projects. I’ve been doing a lot more writing too.

LC: So you’re basically a one-man-show?

EK: Oh no. I suck at drums. You can write that.

LC: Did you feel pressure to pursue a career in music, being that your parents were so influential in the industry?

EK: Actually, no! Music is the only thing that I feel like doing. But it’s cool, because what I do is completely different from what they’ve done for Canadian music. They were involved with projects like the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, very Jazz focused, so: very different.

LC: What’s your favourite genre then?

EK: So hard to say, I’m so schizophrenic when it comes to listening to music; even the projects I’m involved with. Donlands and Mortimer is alternative-art rock, I love to experiment with sound and listen to everything. I go through phases: whether it’s hip-hop, jazz, or especially right now, I’m totally binging on indie music. I use the term ‘indie’ in its truest definition. Right now there are so many interesting projects in development. Being on the road, I’ve met a lot of different people who are involved with very different music scenes. Whether these individuals are participating or creating - these are the people that are going to define the next generation of music in North America.


LC: So you took a break from the Drake to play at SXSW this year, didn’t you?

EK: Ya. It was my first time playing at the festival, let alone travelling to the South Western part of the States. I went down and played keyboard for the band Moon King; It was amazing – thousands of bands, unreal people and so many great shows. I loved the city, 6th Street is the main strip for shows- but I made it a point to explore past the chaos and go concerts in some other great parts of the city.

LC: This wasn’t your first tour though?

EK: Nope, Third.

LC: When you’re on the road, who else do you tour with?

EK: Bands like Empress Of – A project coming out of Brooklyn and one of my favourites right now. The tour before that was with Twin Sister and School of Seven Bells. My first tour ever was alongside Gardens and Villa.

LC: I can only imagine what touring was like – Wild?

EK: Actually, it was pretty tame. Wild nights happen but our bodies take a beating and we get so unhealthy on tour. We drive to every show and our diet turns into mostly fast food. If we see a Whole Foods we try to stop and get our veggies in. Being at a festival like SXSW is a totally different experience though… pretty crazy. I got to meet a lot of very talented and interesting people, people who are super involved with projects that I’m excited about. A lot of my friends and familiar faces were there too: everyone from Austra, Doldrums, Tasseomancy, Diana, Blue Hawaii, Braids, Johnny from Tegan and Sara. I got to watch Death Grips, Mykki Blanco, Thurston Moore, Azari + III and so many more. To see my friends play multiple time… That was the best part.

LC: Best fast food?

EK: McDonalds because they have free Wi-Fi. They let you loiter – I loitered.

LC: Worst?

EK: Taco Casa… The worst [expletive] garbage in the world. It’s like re-re-refried beans. The worst.

LC: Duly noted. Favourite city?

EK: Austin. I would move there – But I don’t know yet. I’m going on tour with Moon King and Born Ruffians soon. We’ve got 36 dates, all across America, so who knows!

LC: Who’s going to make me my hang-over latte?

EK: Haha, I’ll be back for NXNE… When I get back I will be focusing on other projects including Donlands and Mortimer; which I’m really looking forward to. It’s basically a bunch of awesome musicians who play in other awesome bands- that have all played together since high school. We’re all very busy, but very dedicated. Actually, we just released our new album New Mythology, in January – In the Drake Underground. Very successful.

LC: Very full-circle of you.

EK: Haha. Yep.


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