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World Music Features


By Lissette Corsa
Published August 18, 2008

British Columbia doesn’t necessarily register as a locus for cross-pollinations of Latin pop, jazz, electronica, neo-flamenco, new wave, dub, and Latin-American folk music, but the Vancouver-based trio Pacifika delivers all that and more, spinning a tapestry of sound so alluring it’s hard not to be enveloped by the infectiousness of it all.

Finding commonality in their differences, these three kindred souls—Peruvian-born singer-songwriter Silvana Kane, Barbadian-raised bassist Toby Peter, and Canadian guitarist Adam Popowitz—cemented their musical bond by concocting a global pop brew that could reach as many corners of the world as have influenced their sound.


Asunción (Six Degrees), the band’s debut, emanates a mellow, sun-splashed vibe that’s more in sync with a balmier part of the planet—one where the subtle oceanic melancholy of the Mediterranean and the percolating grooves of the tropics hold sway. But don’t expect the members of Pacifika to claim roots in any single place, music scene or movement. More than anything, they feel deeply committed to the ties that bind them.


“Outside of our musical relationship, we all really like each other,” Kane asserts, her coy manner of speaking sounding not unlike her singing style, “so that just extends into the studio. I think more than anything we’re excited by each other’s musical flavors. What the three of us are up to is most likely a result of our dynamic and our individual characteristics more than the place where we’re recording.”


Kane, Peter and Popowitz all received musical training at an early age. Kane grew up playing the violin in a family that emphasized music and the performing arts. “My dad was like a closet composer and a classical music freak,” she says. Meanwhile, Peter had also spent his childhood learning to play the violin. At 13, he discovered the bass via a brief encounter that would foreshadow his union with Pacifika. “I had a bunch of friends, and we were all budding guitar players,” Peter says, “but there was no bass player. Somebody had to play the bass, so I volunteered. That was the moment where everything changed for me. I don’t ever remember learning how to play the bass, but it was just a natural thing for me from that point on.”


The soca, calypso and dub reggae rhythms that rippled through Barbados became an organic part of Peter’s musical milieu, though he wouldn’t realize it until later. “I’ve had lots of musical lifetimes,” he says, explaining that Caribbean music didn’t captivate him until he left the region. “It washed over me. Dub poetry is something that I revisited much later. Growing up, I wasn’t really interested in it, but hearing it all the time, it took root somewhere.” After he relocated to Vancouver, Peter signed with a major label while in a band that later morphed into a backup group for Canadian rap artist and producer K-Os.


Popowitz, a self-described child of ’80s new wave, grew up listening to h