Being a Kodiak Fur fan is an exercise in patience. The moody foursome released its first EP in 2012, performed a couple shows — one downtown at what was then known as the Vagabond — and then promptly fell off the face of the Earth.
“When we first started working together, we didn't really have any goals,” says the band's de facto ringleader Steven Sanz. He focuses on the backbone beat of the songs, while Albert Vargas fleshes each track out with lyrics, with additional input from Zues Muñoz and Christopher Thomas. “People were pushing for more releases, but we didn't know where our sound was going.”
The band re-emerged suddenly in 2015 with a follow-up EP and a performance at III Points. What had started as a halfhearted little side project was now a focused, heightened experience. These days, Kodiak Fur is a well-oiled, cool machine. So it's fitting that the band's latest EP is titled just that, A Cool Machine, the first single from which, “I'll Be Waiting,” could be a nod to the band's own fanbase.
“I think we've matured a lot,” Sanz says. “The sound at first was very video game-ish. Everything was really up-tempo and fun. Now, we're taking the songs a little more serious. We're really trying to formulate full songs and really express ourselves through the music this time around.”
A Cool Machine is dark, brooding, and sensual. It's cold and mechanical, full of electronic drums and trembling, high-pitched synths, but it's also soulful, like a long stare out the window of a moving car. It marks the band's first time collaborating with outside producers, featuring the sonic touches of fellow Miamians Pazmal and LTENGHT's SKUFLE.
The EP's four tracks represent the first half in a rather cohesive 8-track composition. Originally, the thought was a full-length album, but then the band decided it made more sense to break the project into two corresponding EPs.
It was easy to separate. Composed over a year — the first half written in six months, the second half written in the next — both sections were written and recorded in different software programs, but both capture a similar vibe and emotion. A Cool Machine will soon be followed by A Robot Feeling, both titles torn from a single lyric on the track “Right Now.”
The lyrics means something different to everyone in the band. Vargas, of course, wrote the words about his own personal experience.
“He's a very cold-face dude,” Sanz says. “You can't read his emotions when you're looking at him. He's a very serious person, and that's how he's approached a lot of things.”
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For Sanz, it's more a reflection of the band as a whole.
“Our work process is very mechanical. We have a formula that naturally developed, and it works for us,” he says. “We have this chemistry. Even if we're not in the same room together, it just works. We send each other ideas back and forth, and that's how our songs come together. When we're all working on stuff individually, we're all still present at the same time. It's a cool machine. It's an effortless thing.”
Just because Kodiak Fur is taking things more seriously as a band doesn't mean each member has let personal projects fall to the wayside. It's just that each of those side projects brings the band up as a whole. Thomas is a shirt designer, and he's in charge of the band's merch. Muñoz works with film and handles most of the band's video direction. Vargas has a solo musical project called Death in Saturn, and Sanz just got off the road touring as the main producer behind musical artist Steven A. Clark. These side hustles keep their chops fresh, as Sanz sees it, but right now, it's Kodiak Fur season — for real this time.
“I don't want people to give up on us,” Sanz says. “I'm a quality-over-quantity type of person. I know here in Miami to stay relevant, you always have to be in peoples' faces, but that's just not us. I hope people can appreciate us for what we are.”