Trakan

Trakan

 Chicago, Illinois, USA
SoloRockSinger/Songwriter

Trakan is a community-oriented indie rock songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Chicago. His growling vocals, poetic complexity and varied instrumentation remind many of Frank Black, Nick Cave or Tom Waits.

Biography

Trakan (pronounced "TRAY-kin") is a community-oriented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Chicago with a growing catalog of indie rock releases. His first record, Opening Soon Under New Management was a DIY full-length album from 2007, and his sophomore effort, Powder Kegs Beneath Dagger Trees, was a mini-record released in 2012. A new record is in post-production and scheduled for release in 2015.

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Style and Comparisons
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Trakan’s throaty vocals, intensity, poetic complexity and sardonic wit have led to a number of comparisons. Tom Waits, Frank Black (The Pixies) and Nick Cave are frequently mentioned. He also lists Bruce Springsteen, Paul Westerberg (Replacements) and David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven) as inspirations.

Stylistically, Trakan’s songs are rock-forward and passionate, occasionally dark, and usually introspective, with plenty of pop hook, country twang, and exotic instrumentation to keep things interesting.

Lyrics on both records are in English, but to the delight of some in Canada and France, he also likes to add French lyrics to his stories from time to time. Female vocal cameos regularly sweeten his agitated growl.

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Do It Yourself Spirit, Alliances with the Music Community
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Trakan is a multi-instrumentalist who embodies a quintessential do-it-yourself “indie” work ethic. He writes the songs and performs much of the instrumentation on his recordings. Even more, Trakan produces and engineers many of his professional-quality recordings, codes the website (he is a techie by trade), provides most of the graphic design, and organizes the project’s largely web-based marketing.

When a promotional or musical task does venture out of his comfort zone, he enjoys tapping Chicago’s art community and building collaborations. The recordings for Powder Kegs Beneath Dagger Trees feature 17 different cameos, and include notable performances by Deanna Varagona (Lambchop, Vic Chesnutt, Yo La Tengo, M. Ward, Bobby Bare Jr.) and Rocco Labriolla (Joe Pug, Van Ghost).

The live line-ups also tend to fluctuate show-to-show. When full-band, the project currently features fiddle, piano, and banjo, whereas in the past, cello and accordion rounded out the orchestration. Combined, over 35 musicians have helped Trakan record and promote his two records. Many others have supplied artwork, including his wife Veek, who contributed paintings to both albums’ liner art.

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Trakan’s Causes and Community Service
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For a stretch, Trakan referred to his street-level approach toward community building, music, and art as “ROGUE,” an acronym for "Representative of Grassroots and Underground Entertainment," but he became discouraged by the sudden and coincidental overuse of the term in the mainstream media, corporate branding campaigns, and in the political arena. So now he simply walks the “grassroots” walk without a fancy acronym.

Some of Trakan’s songs were written while volunteering sound design and songwriting for Livewire Chicago Theater, a storefront theater company on Chicago’s north side.

He also actively supports community-level causes. For instance, he worked with Chicago Public School students, as teacher/volunteer/map maker, during the production of Powder Kegs Beneath Dagger Trees, culminating in a role as co-producer, promoter and organizer for a benefit concert that successfully drew funding and attention to non-school tutor/mentor programs in the summer of 2010.

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In his own words on his www.trakan.com website:
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“I am a community-minded rock musician and songwriter from Chicago. My songs are a dynamic mix of stories that wander from love lost and workplace oppression, to innocent observations on the weather - all forged with deep supernatural and psychological curiosity. My new CD tells the story, in my own very personal way, of the adventure I had while assembling my new second collection of songs. I genuinely hope you like it.”

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For more information, contact trakan at trakan@trakan.com, and visit the well-stocked and maintained website www.trakan.com , a website he built and maintains with his own two hands.

Lyrics

The Bridge

Written By: Trakan

I was the best dancer in Switzerland.
They didn't want me to stay.
Could see it in their eyes.
Not worth picking a fight at the time.
I graze here among dandelions.
Sometimes weeds get confused.
Well, just like flowers in May,
The summer comes, blown away.

Just say, “A friend of a friend sent me”
If you're still feeling trapped.
Emotion just underground
And stuck in a vent.
I'm powder kegs beneath dagger trees.
I'm fireworks on the bridge
And every day here like these
Are only days not like that.

Well supersize that scotch.
Killing the cells I don't wanna need and numbing that look in my mind.
I'm standing over the edge.
I'm on a bridge to integrity and leaving the weeds all behind.
I'm getting ready to cross this time.

Voulez-vous rester, monsieur, ici sur ce pont?
Preféréz-vous, mon ami, traverser ce pont?
Avez-vous des ailes et du feu dans votre sang?
Pensez-vous qu'on doit laisser les mauvaises herbes, cependant...

Avez-vous, monsieur des regrets ou des sentiments
Laissez-les emprisonés, et affamés, au bas du pont.
Si vous avez des poches blues profondes et plein du monde,
Vous risquez, monsieur, de tomber par dessus ce pont.

Well this story's getting so cold.
Acoustics are so different at night but my hearing's just fine.
Metamorphosis was a lot less fun the first time around
And I’m finally picking the fight.
I'm stuck out here in the tide, trying hard to swim back in to you
And leave all the weeds all behind.
Trying hard not to drown,
I guess I’m gonna just have to see now
If I shoulda jumped in.
I shoulda learned how to swim.

Summer

Written By: Trakan

The south side smells like toxic waste.
The north side simmers in decay.
Cherished season of life, city dying again.
Diseased bugs dance a waltz in the moonlight.

Some big fat building sweats on me.
A population boom of cars out in the street.
And I am the world's largest trash can.
Some kid tosses a plastic bag into the sunlight.
Summer.
Well, everyone loves summer.

The air is my heavy burden to bear.
The jackhammers cut right through me.
They don't care.
And my buddy, the alley, smells like piss today.
A tourist steps on my head to rush back into line
Summer.
Well, everyone loves summer.

Mother Nature menstruates.
I'm downstream.
Scary death riders try to kill everyone.
Smell the ass of the city swimming on the water
And just be happy you're back on the beach again
This summer.
Well, everyone loves summer.

I will lie on the curb and drink it in.
I'll spend another day with all my homeless friends.
Cherished season that hates black won't go away.
The devil raises his glass and makes a toast
To the summer.
Well, everyone loves summer.

Jackknifed Truck

Written By: Trakan

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the ground.
I have a woman I love her, we'll be forever bound.
See that cloud up ahead? The dog drinking?
Well the cloud up above that one is me.
Chained by this ugly misfortune 'till she gets here and rescues me.

The road was all bent and icy,
Static filling my head on that day.
With all of the grace of a Jackknifed Truck,
I couldn't get out of the way.

The noise is all gone. It's ironic.
Now it's me that can't make a sound.
I sit with my lover in the silence, trying to tell her I'm still around.
Who'd have known when you pass from the static,
There could still be so much jealousy?
Her friends telling her to go out now and find a new lover,
'Cuz get this! I'd "want it that way."

Well I scream, "Hey! I can hear what you're saying
And I don't in fact want it this way."
And with all of the grace of a Jackknifed Truck,
I'm stuck as they drag her away.

Well you can't control the static
And you can't predict a damned thing.
As soon as I just stop trying, I'll be able to rest peacefully.
She'll move on and she’ll find a new lover.
That bastard, yeah, he'll soon replace me.
Well I'll deal with that punk and her backstabbing friends
When time brings 'em all crawling to me.

Well, the road was all bent and icy,
Static filling my head on that day.
With all of the grace of a Jackknifed Truck,
I couldn't get out of the way.

I scream, "Hey! I can hear what you're saying
And I don't in fact want it this way."
With all of the strength of a Jackknifed Truck,
I'm stuck and I can't get away.

Discography

2012 - Powder Kegs Beneath Dagger Trees, Independent Release (DTM002)
2007 - Opening Soon Under New Management, Spade Kitty Records (SK025)

Set List

* Up to 70 minutes of original material.

Track Listing:

1. The Bridge (2:47)
2. All I Need (3:12)
3. Valarie (2:54)
4. Long Way From Home (2:54)
5. Walking The Plank (2:52)
6. Cab Six Six Six (2:52)
7. We'll Be Strangers (2:13)
8. Peter The Great (4:39)

1. Summer (4:14)
2. * Emotional Genocide (3:43)
3. Fisher Song (5:02)
4. Here Comes Julie (1:55)
5. A Fool's Lament (3:20)
6. Rue St. Jean (4:21)
7. Jackknifed Truck (4:54)
8. Anne-Marie (3:35)
9. * Chronic Dylsexia (4:22)
10. Kiss My Ass (2:38)
11. High In The Bathroom (3:51)

* NFA - Explicit Lyrics