If we take into consideration everything these three are up to, being in a band somehow doesn't fit the bill.Nevertheless,here they are – with one album behind their backs and plans for a follow up.
Martian Tabakov and Martin Penev are artists, whose names are well known to contemporary art aficionados in the country and whose projects always provoke a multi-layered interpretation. Manchester-born Andrew Anderson went through "a shitload" of bands before settling in Sofia. He's also a freelance journalist, has a solo project with a recent album called "Queasy Pieces" and is one of the staff at English-language bookstore Avrtikl.
From a group that until a few years ago was closer to a novelty act (their homemade kimonos being a regular part of their live show) KAKE? have steadily established themselves as regulars on the scene. There wasn't a specific moment when they all suddenly felt like they were a real band they say. Whereas before their onstage antics were a priority in order to cover up their lack of musicianship, nowadays they reckon they've got something to offer in both departments. This isn't a band that just turns up to play some songs, then packs up and leaves.Here you get accordions, dolls, stuffed animals and then there's Andrew – rapping in Bulgarian!
According to Martin Penev, from here on, the band can take many and different forms. "KAKE? can be anything: theater, film, opera."
KAKE?'s debut album ZLE! came out a year ago (The band's name and the album's title translate to "HowAreYou?" and "Bad" respectively) accompanied by a video for "Throwing" - a song that best represents the group's collage style: Anglo-Bulgarian absurdist lyrics with humor that doesn't seem to lighten the mood of the music, but on the contrary – takes the listener to a gray area where he's not sure if these people are taking themselves too seriously or not at all.
"We forgive all those who don't get it," says theology graduate Martin Penev, while Martian reckons "euro boy ethno folk post punk" is the closest to a definition of their sound.
We fail to meet them before they play an outdoor show at "100 chairs" that ends up being cancelled (again) due to heavy rain (again). Instead we go to their creative home, studio "Belka", which they share with designers, artists, and illustrators such as Valentina Sharra, Victoria Staykova, Mila Yaneva - Tabakova, Petar Sapundjiev. It's a studio, a place of creative chaos and a mini artistic community all at the same time.
"To what degree it's going to be a gig and to what extent - a performance, it all depends on the crowd, the ambience and the space. When we play here at "Belka", for example, we've got everything at our disposal, last time we even overdid it with the smoke machine," says Andrew. "At a recent gig the people at the front weren't into what we were doing at all. We got the message when we played the song "Do You Respect Me?" and the response was a resounding "no", so we cut the jokes."
What he finds impressive about Bulgaria is that the audience always wants more, whereas in the UK people prefer shorter and more effective performances. "I was used to people telling me to get off the stage, so it comes as a nice surprise when I'm playing with KAKE? and the crowd wants more. When it's not going so well and they want us to bugger off, I get this all too familiar feeling. I'm so used to rejection."
To what extent can a foreign listener get them and their schtick? According to the band, the language barrier is less and less of a factor nowadays, and as an example they cite the popularity Turkish music is currently enjoying, and the energy of the concerts speaks volumes – it's not every day someone makes such music while wearing a kimono. According to Andrew, "we just have to target the more discerning audience, snobs always have more money anyway."
An EP with several songs written at the time of their debut should be coming our way in the very near future and later this year they'll be going in to record their second album.
So, how do they write songs? Sometimes the initial spark is a joke that the three of them take in different directions...or it could just be the classic jam session idea moulded into shape.
One of the new songs, "Vegan in the Night", was born after Penev reflected on the way the night is such an often overused symbol in poetry when talking about romance and darkness. "I wondered what the saddest thing was, and suddenly I imagined a vegan walking alone at night, unable to find food, not even a kebab bribe at an election."
In this line of thought, the band have one final message: "If we can't fight corruption, then at least let us all have access to it."
KAKE?'s "ZLE" album is available on all streaming platforms, as well askakebandofficial.bandcamp.com. They will make a third attempt to play "100 Chairs" on July 15. Also taking the stage will be "Almost Nasekomiks", a group in which, after the death of Andronia Popova – Roni from "Nasekomiks", Sandi Daniel, Georgi Donchev and Misho Yosifov will be reunited on stage.