|Philip Kummel – Jackson Square rooftop, 2012
Local singer-songwriter Philip “Pip” Kummel has been writing and developing his unique style of music for over twenty years. He was nominated for a 2012 Hamilton Arts Award in music, and won the inaugural Central Ontario Wire Songwriter Award in 1999. Kummel describes his music as “jazz-pop.”
He comes from everywhere, having worked, lived and performed “all over Western Europe, Czechoslovakia, Korea, all over S.E. Asia, and of course all over Canada.” Kummel’s exposure to other musical cultures and sonic palettes has opened his ears to lots of possibilities for his own music. Nevertheless, he traces his first musical urges back to the seventies when he would lift Led Zeppelin tunes for his own enjoyment. Kummel is intrigued by the fact that his son is being influenced by the same music, and yet is taking the extra step of writing it down in tablature.
Kummel at the present records his own music in his home studio. He is now working on his twentieth album. He says, “I didn’t start recording at home until I got the Boss 600 multitrack unit, three years ago.” Prior to that he recorded at the Gas Station (Dale Morningstar (Dinner is Ruined) and Don Kerr (Rheostatics)); Comfort Sound (Toronto as well); Backlash Studios (Ian Osborne, legendary Peterborough sound guy); the studios of J.P. Hovercraft (Max Mouse and the Gorillas); Joe Hall (of JH and the Continental Drift); Beau Dixon (the Kitchen studio, Peterborough); the studios of Oh (Seoul, Korea); Knobman Studios (Mark Robinson , Brampton); and the CJUT basement 24 track recording studio with well-known rock producer Rob Sanzo.
“Having no label support, I hired all these people and their equipment myself,” says Kummel.
When describing the songwriting process, Kummel says, “I think you have to stay active and engaged as a person to keep yourself tuned and able to write. For example, by travelling. Usually a chord progression arrives, or a melody, then I work it up from there. The words usually, but not always, come last. Like Jimmy Webb. It’s jazzy ’cause there’s jazz chords and it’s pretty mellow, too, although rhythmic.”
|Festival of Friends 2005 – with sideman Ken Ramsden
Connecting with his audience is paramount. Kummel admits that for his genre of music, which could be described as a “micro-niche,” the audience is small. But that is no deterrent. “Songs like Ennui Cafe and Someone Wants You Near seem to connect everywhere in the world that I play. Once, playing a tiny club in Seoul, I won over a cover-tune-demanding audience by continuing to play after a tipsy audience member had accidentally opened a bottle of beer all over my guitar neck (the beer fridge was directly behind the “stage”). The owner came up, apologized, and cleaned the guitar mess up with a towel with me continuing to play the guitar and sing all the while.”
So what’s next for Pip as he pursues his music in Hamilton? “I’d really like to find an agent to help with bookings. I enjoy playing live gigs, but I feel that things unfold in a more businesslike manner when the venue and I work with an agent. I love to play live, so all fair offers will be considered. People at live gigs will notice lots of guitar work, interesting melody, poetic lyrics – stuff that took 30 years to arrive at. I’ve pretty much got my own sound now – that’s what people say in the audience, too.”