We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaden Forsberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaden, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Taylor Fawcett, my co-founder, and I first talked about launching this artistic venture right after touring together in another tenor ‘popera’ group. We were both coming from established solo careers in opera, theatre, and pop music and knew we had the ingredients to do something different in the ‘popera’ or ‘classical-crossover’ genre. So we started brainstorming and, after a few drinks, we made a shared Google Drive folder titled: VOLARE. We added ‘TENORS’ later to help clarify the brand. But, right from the beginning, we knew we were on to something, we knew we were bringing something fresh and different to the genre; both creatively and as a business.
The creative side came naturally to us. So, right after that first meeting, Taylor and I searched for a business model to make sure our creative impulses could be delivered and commercially successful. We are artists at heart and knew that the business side could be our weak point. We ended up looking at Silicon Valley for examples and learned about a process called Rapid Prototyping. Rapid Prototyping is about creating working models as quickly as possible; manufacturing something in the real world to observe it succeed/fail without getting bogged down by preliminary questions and theory. We applied this model across our venture. It means we work very fast; creating first and evaluating second. We joke about how our art is ‘just business’ because the goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to get something up on its feet and in front of an audience as quickly as possible so that we can learn from it and improve. This has informed our ‘culture’ and helped avoid typical conflict that comes from competing artistic impulses. When we reach an impasse, we just make something and decide after we have real-world data (second opinions, audience reactions, consistency, etc).
The other piece we needed before officially launching VOLARE TENORS was a 3rd member. In vocal music driven by harmony, a 3rd voice exponentially increases our range and interest. We set out to find someone who was also a multi-disciplinary artist who could work at the pace we needed. Luckily we found Laren Steppler. He’s a monster on the bass, went to school for Jazz, has a beautiful high tenor voice, and can work and make changes at the drop of a hat.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Officially, our art is part of the ‘popera’ and/or ‘classical-crossover’ genre. All 3 of us grew up loving this music. I actually started taking voice lessons because I wanted to sound like Josh Groban (unfortunately I wasn’t a baritone). Our goal with VOLARE TENORS is to disrupt and make new space within the ‘popera’ and/or ‘classical-crossover’ genre.
As a trio, we have a lot of creative tools. Taylor is a multi-instrumentalist and session musician, Laren is a multi-instrumentalist with a Jazz degree, I act in theatre/music-theatre/film, we all sing, and all of us are arrangers and composers with masters degrees in music. This combined skill set means that, unlike a lot of groups in the ‘popera’ or ‘classical-crossover’ genre, we maintain creative control throughout the entire creative process. We pick our songs, write our shows, arrange the vocals and instrumentals, and record our own backing tracks while also playing and singing live.
We are working to disrupt the ‘popera’ and ‘classical-crossover’ industry. We try to capture what’s so powerful about this music (ie. the intense drama that comes from the contrast between opera and pop) and expand it beyond the same 12-15 songs we’ve been hearing for years. That doesn’t mean we never take on something from the ‘canon.’ However, when we do take on a ‘popera’ or ‘classical-crossover’ standard, we ask ourselves: “is there something about our version that can’t be heard anywhere else?” This creative diligence keeps our music fresh and, I think, innovative in a genre that is not known for pushing boundaries.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, we want to give a shoutout to a fellow Canadian artist, our idol, Celine Dion. All 3 of us grew up obsessed with her music. Celine is the QUEEN of dramatic, operatic, pop music and we listen to her every time we need to drum up inspiration.
But more personally, we want to give a shoutout to all of the teachers, coaches, and mentors that have worked with us individually and as a trio. I don’t know how anyone could keep creating without other artists taking the time to pass on their wisdom and say, “I believe in you, this is worth it, keep going.” Each member of VOLARE has teachers who have been there when things aren’t working, who have revolutionized the way we see our work, and who have seen us better than we saw ourselves. The investment that teachers, coaches, and mentors have poured into each of us is immeasurable.
Becka Andrews Ryan Parker