Stream: Kan Wakan, ‘I Had to Laugh’

Kan Wakan
Kan Wakan

“I Had to Laugh” is the latest stunner from producer/composer Gueorgui Linev, the mastermind behind Kan Wakan, who announced today via a new album trailer plans to release the triple-LP “Phantasmagoria” in May. The album is the follow-up to 2014’s “Moving On” and includes the two singles Kan Wakan released last year, “Molasses” and “I Would.”

The Bulgaria-born Linev’s shape-shifting compositions, incorporating elements of trip-hop, psychedelia, rock and classical music, are backed here by the Sofia Philharmonic. The painterly orchestration and subtle electronic flourishes on “I Had to Laugh” elevate what at its core is a piano ballad into something you might hear at the end of a epic foreign film. Guest vocalist Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun, Only You, the Bomb) does the rest — “We dance one last dance in your living room / slowly we said goodbye,” she sings, nearly ending up in a puddle of tears. In some ways, it’s the “moving on” after “Moving On.”

“To me ‘I Had To Laugh’ feels like a changing of state from one reality to a new. An end of an era,” Linev says of the song. “I had this piece of music recorded on an upright piano. Rachel and I … got together one night just to see how we vibe. I had sent her this other idea and she was riffing off of it and then I played her the music to ‘I Had To Laugh.’ Suddenly, it felt like the energy in the room shifted and we had landed on something we both felt very intensely in the moment. She began to sing right away and I remember feeling weird at first … like how could this sound sexual and sad at the same time, how can I be feeling lonely but overwhelmed with this beautiful nostalgia.

“We talked a bit about what we were feeling and she asked me, what is this about? I said, you sing the first thing that comes to mind and we’ll shoot for the stars and see what happens. I felt like she was saying things that are meant to be taken ironically and poking lighthearted fun at the denouement of a relationship. A few months down the road, I was lucky enough to work with the Sofia Philharmonic on another project and had the opportunity to get the symphony on the track, and from that point on it felt like it took on a life of its own.

||| Stream: “I Had to Laugh”

||| Live: Kan Wakan plays Feb. 18 at the Bootleg Theater. Tickets.

||| Previously: “I Would,” “Molasses,” live in 2014 at the Troubadour