(FOUNDING MEMBER/SONGWRITER/SINGER/GUITARIST) – BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
The history of Korsak and Simon’s story in his own words:
“My musical journey began with an early exposure to soul and blues, courtesy of my step-father, who apart from a wonderful record collection also had the good grace to take me to my first concerts.
Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen were amongst the first and were to be followed by a plethora of blues greats from BB King to Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Bo Diddley, Albert Collins and others. Three visits by the incredible Blues Brothers Band were attended and in one, autographs were obtained, a proud moment indeed to shake the hand of people like Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn who had been so important in creating some of my all time favourite songs from Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. A favourite artist missing from this list is Marvin Gaye, although I still remember the moment in my parent´s bedroom at the the tender age of 10, when I heard on the radio that this soul legend had passed on.
Although I always had a passion for singing it was not until fairly late that I first picked up a guitar and started to create songs. During my university time I bought my first guitar and began to pen the songs that would eventually go on to my first album. However it was not until after leaving university and the death of my mother on Christmas Day 1997 that I really considered that I should make music as something more than just a hobby. After a faltering start which accompanied the first hard year after my mother´s passing, things were given a lift by finding my brother on the island of Tenerife after 6 years without contact. This bizarre event which itself was an amazing synchronicity, due to my having no idea of the whereabouts of my brother, or even if he was still on Tenerife when he decided to travel there with a last known address and a couple of photos. I was made aware as I waited for my flight at the airport, that my brother had contacted our family only two days before and that he would be waiting to greet me when I landed. After an emotional reunion and subsequent further visits to the island, I decided to use some of my inheritance to record an album in the studio in the basement of the block of flats where my brother lived.
Gathering ten of my musical friends around me, I took them all to Tenerife in August 1999 and for one week we rehearsed and for the second we recorded. In total 8 songs were recorded with the band and a ninth, dedicated to my mother was recorded with the help of a local guitarist after the guys had returned home. The album was called “Sólo Dos Semanas” (“Only Two Weeks”) and was released under the band name “Groove Canuto”. The band never played together again, for after my experience on this beautiful island in the sun, I decided to leave my home town of Birmingham for a life on the beach.
So in January 2000 I packed all my things and moved to the little town of El Médano in the south of Tenerife and was quickly installed into a beachside residence only 20m from the atlantic ocean.
I began working a musician as soon as I arrived, singing songs with backing tracks, but soon realised that I wanted to play with a live band. And so I formed my first ever gigging band “Groove Natural”, which I got into by advertising my singing talents in a local music shop. When guitarist Rasty Skocik called me with the offer to audition, I jumped at the chance and was soon gigging in local bars do covers of soul and classic rock and a few of my original songs.
The first formation of Groove Natural lasted only a few months before Greek-Hungarian bass player Giorgio and Tenerifian drummer Orlando went their separate ways and were replaced with musical and romantic couple Paula on drums and Marco on bass. Around this time my girlfriend at the time, Leticia, herself a great singer also joined in and for about a year the band performed on the local circuit, mixing more original music with our eclectic selection of covers. We were even asked to record some songs which were to be used alongside songs from the original album in a windsurf and surf movie called “Moving”. One of these songs, “Leave it on the line” was made into a music video which was then incorporated into the movie.
Shortly after this, the band were offered a full-time resident gig in a bar in the tourist area of Las Americas, however, Marco and Paula decided not to continue. I was itching to play live and so after meeting and jamming with drummer Aleks “Stickabouch”, I asked him to join the band. Rasty moved on to the bass and I continued playing his acoustic. This was 2002 and would form the core of the band until today. A number of talented musicians came and went as Groove Natural continued to expand their repertoire and also began incorporating more new songs that I was writng. On this basis, in a short time I sold out of the original 1000 copies of the “Solo Dos Semanas” album and due to having lost the artwork, never made anymore!
I did decide to record a live album with the band in November 2002 and continued to gig and play all around the Canary Islands and even Madrid. One song “Manfred´s Funk” from the album “Groove Natural Live at Vai Moana” was used in a kitesufring film made by Sean Nolan, entitled “Funk”.
Over the next two years the band continued gigging but the make-up was still not right. The band returned to its original trio formation. Meanwhile in 2004 I decided to plunge the rest of my inheritance into a bar-restaurant hoping to create a live music venue in my adopted hometown. Having had no experience in running any sort of business, this venture was a baptism of fire as I wrestled with management and bureacracy, but eventually bore fruit and Manfred´s Soul Café became a benchmark for culture and live-music and had an island-wide reputation for its vibe, attracting some world-class musicians of all genres who enjoyed its intimacy and amazing views over the bay of El Médano.
It was during this time that I first heard and was blown away by guitarist Israel Garcia and asked him to join the band. After discarding “Groove Natural”, the band toyed with various names, almost settling on “Free Feet” but realizing it was a little to difficult for the locals to pronounce and in the end deciding on “Korsak”, my mother´s maiden name and a tribute to both her and my Polish grandfather.
In 2009 the band recorded its debut album, “Free Feet” and since then have sold over 3000 copies through concerts and on a sale or return basis for those who were not able to attend the concerts. Shortly after recording the album I met up with percussionist David Lopez, who had previously played in Manfred´s both with a band and in the occasional jam session. I remember the chance meeting being in the toilet of a club in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, and him expressing a burning desire to play.. music that is! I had already included percussion on the Free Feet recording so it seemed like a natural step to bring it into the live setup. He came and played one gig with us and it was obvious that his skill and vibe would be a great asset to the band.
My time as owner of Manfred´s came to an end in 2009 and from then on the band played regularly around Tenerife and I returned to full-time professional music, playing solo and band gigs.
We continued to get great receptions wherever we played but we all hoped to move a little further afield and begin to take our music to the world. However, after having a couple of touring opportunities including the UK and the Middle East fall through, I moved island to Fuerteventura for a change of scenery and energy, returning to Tenerife every two weeks to play with the band and bringing them over to play on a number of occasions.
In early 2012 I decided it was time to record a new album and once again the band came over to Fuerteventura to record. The new album “Learning to be Quiet” will be released in late 2012. In the meantime we are organizing tours, looking to play wherever we can around the world…live the dream!!!”