Kahana is the musical project of Alan Lee, who plays all the instruments and writes and records the songs at his home studio near Southend-on-Sea.
Having written and recorded dozens of songs back in the late 80s/early 90s on a Fostex X-26 tape machine, a near 20-year musical hiatus was broken in 2011 with the recording of a five-song collection of mostly acoustic-based instrumentals. A few further songs with vocals were put down, but without any real direction until early 2013.
The breakthrough was the belated purchase of Television’s “Marquee Moon”. The basis of that album – essentially two interlocking electric guitars, bass, drums and vocals – became the inspiration for a new minimalist approach. In March 2013 a new track called “So Long” became the first product of this approach, and further tracks followed through the year as the “Soft Landing” album took shape.
A makeover of the home studio environment and the purchase of a Roland electronic drum kit at the start of 2015 saw an improvement in sound and production quality as another set of songs emerged during the year destined for the second album “The Way It Goes”.
The Kahana sound is based around two or three electric guitar tracks, usually played on the Fender Telecaster, bass guitar, drums and vocals. Keyboards are used sparingly and only when necessary, and acoustic guitars have not featured – at least not until the very last track recorded for “The Way It Goes”. The aim is a kind of post-punk/new wave sound, spiky, angular and exciting, to feel as live and spontaneous as possible given the one-instrument-at-a-time recording process.
As for the name Kahana – it was adopted during 2013 having been spotted while watching season 4 of “Lost”. It was the name of the freighter anchored off the island, and seemed an ideal name for the fledgling musical project. The “Lost” connection also inspired the aeroplane iconography around the “Soft Landing” album.