In Conversation: Kevin Drew

Kevin Drew, right, with Ben Kowalewicz in A&R Angels. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Kevin Drew, an accomplished solo musician and one of the founders of iconic Canadian indie band Broken Social Scene, just wrote a play. He talked to us about loneliness, going to theatre classes as a kid, and why he wants us all to put away our goddamn phones.

On the switch from music to theatre

Everyone’s just trying to transcend, whether it’s forty-seven seconds or three minutes. That’s why you get on the stage.

I was a theatre kid. From grade five on, I would go to the Young People’s Theatre classes on Saturday morning. But by the time I was seventeen I found that musicians were more my speed, and music helped me describe how I was feeling way more. So I went over to that side of the world. For me, music was a more honest and raw emotion to convey on the stage. It’s real. In acting, trying to find the same emotion every single time is beyond difficult for me.

Why technology is bad for the music industry

What it did at first was give you distribution outside of your own world, outside of your own country. It made it incredibly easy to be heard worldwide, but then, eventually, it gave every single human on the planet that opportunity. And all it really ended up doing was clogging the airwaves, and taking away the essential aspects of effort through art. It made everybody focus on themselves. The digital world kind of destroyed art as we know it.

The point of art is to find others through what you love. The point of anything, any passion that you have, whether it’s rock climbing or real estate. You’re supposed to find the ones you want to exchange your words with and watch sunsets with by sharing a similar love for what makes you who you are. Love is now just opinions and FOMO. What’s that really doing for the human race?

How we’re isolating ourselves from one another

There’s a cold front that’s coming in that is separating people from actual connection. Yes, we’re all connected by what we read in the news, and the tweets, and the Instagrams and the Facebooks. You can see what your friends are doing, and your family. But technology keeps you from the actual intimate interaction of being with them.

What I find very interesting is how lonely people are. There’s nonstop interaction available for you, 24/7. And I think sometimes you’re the loneliest when you’re surrounded by the most.

Creating an environment where you’re not allowed to use your phone for an hour and a half is almost innovative in how simple it is. It’s mindblowing how, if you want to change your life, turn your phone off. It really is that easy, but it’s so difficult, because we’re all just addicted.

When I wrote this play, I was so tired of the fingerswipe. Not that I was a part of it, but I was so amazed seeing my younger generation of friends use Tinder and all that stuff. The fingerswipe started to dominate.

I have an analog heart. That’s why I’m doing this play.

On using art to combat these forces

It’s all you got. Gord Downie said: Use it up, use it all up. Don’t save it for anything. You do everything you can, and then you rely on people to like it. To love it. No different than a thumbs up/thumbs down with a photograph.

With Social Scene, I found others who were exactly the same as me, and we were able to cut through and find ourselves a home in this world, and find ourselves people who wanted to listen to us and be a part of our surroundings. That’s what we need. All that you ever do this stuff for is to bring people together. That’s it.

This is all I know. I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a soldier. If the war comes, I’m fucked. This is it: this is my life.

Life’s about risk and reward. It’s really easy to sit and talk about it, and it’s a lot harder to live it. So I’m into the living aspect. It doesn’t mean you don’t have stitches.

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Maija is the co-founder and former co-editor of Intermission. She’d like you to know that her name is pronounced just like “Maya.”