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Global adventures

- Pacifika, part of the Harmony Arts Festival's World Music series, Saturday, Aug. 6 at 4 p.m. on the Pacific Arbour Garden Stage in Millennium Park (15th Street at Argyle Avenue). Free. Info:

- Pacifika, part of the Harmony Arts Festival's World Music series, Saturday, Aug. 6 at 4 p.m. on the Pacific Arbour Garden Stage in Millennium Park (15th Street at Argyle Avenue). Free. Info:


"We get to really show our true colours onstage," says co-founder and guitarist Adam Popowitz. "In the studio, you have so many colours to use and paints, so the album sounds perhaps more like a global adventure, where live, you are restricted to the instruments and tools you have onstage. So it's limiting, but at the same time that's more fulfilling because the sound is really focused. We have a little adventure onstage as well, it's nice just taking the tools you have and creating this bigger than life sound. . . . We're not the kind of band that just stands there and hopes people pay attention. We kind of need to bring people out of their seats."

Pacifika - whose 2010 release Supermagique received a Juno nomination for world music album of the year, was named by iTunes USA as the best world album

of 2010 and is now up for a Western Canadian Music Award, also in the world recording of the year category - is among the artists taking the stage at this year's Harmony Arts Festival. The District of West Vancouver's 10-day summer cultural celebration kicks off today, offering a variety of events and activities along the municipality's waterfront. Pacifika is making its Harmony Arts Festival debut, and is set to take the Pacific Arbour Garden Stage in Millennium Park on Saturday, Aug. 6 on at 4 p.m., part of the festival's world music series.

"We live in Vancouver and we hardly play here so we always love it when we get asked to play a cool thing like this," says Popowitz.

He lives in Coquitlam and his bandmates Silvana Kane, vocals, and Toby Peter, bass, call Port Moody home.

Born and raised in New Westminster, Popowitz got into music at an early age, beginning guitar lessons at age five. In Grade 8, he started a band with his brother, who played drums. "That's where I met Silvana," says Popowitz. "So Pacifika actually started when Silvana and I were 14."

The first incarnation of the band was called Big Bottom Swing and they played music inspired by bands of the time - U2, Sinéad O'Connor, The Smiths, The Cult and The Cure included.

"We were children of the '80s," laughs Popowitz. "We were very, very young when we started, but those were our influences. It was more New Wave, UK-driven. Nothing like Pacifika."

Popowitz and Kane took different paths for a while: for example, he played in Mollies Revenge and started his own label Rear Window Song & Sound; while she sang with the West End Girls and pursed acting. In 2003, the longtime friends and musical partners reunited once more, beginning to pen songs. This time around, they looked to their early musical influences as a guide. Popowitz had studied classical and flamenco guitar while a child; and Kane, born in Peru, was raised on folkloric songs.

"When we started writing together in 2004, I had just finished doing a couple world music records, Armenian and a polka record believe it or not, so it just came natural," says Popowitz. "Another project I was in, called Yve Adam, we were using a drummer named Elliot Polsky who plays with Pacifika a lot (he'll be playing at Harmony Arts), he introduced me to this whole world of global percussion because he played with so many Canadian world music artists. He was kind of a bit of a muse for me using all these world percussion instruments. So when Silvana and I started demoing all of our songs, they started going towards a world sound and Silvana just naturally was singing in her native tongue: Spanish. Even though we're getting all these world music nominations and awards, it's not really world music, we call it global pop or alternative. We don't really consider it world in the traditional sense."

Pacifika has released two studio albums thus far, their 2008 debut Asunción, followed by last year's Supermagique, which they recorded over four months in the fall and winter and features songs in French, English and Spanish.

"It felt like 100 rainy days and nights," says Popowitz. "The sound, is us, being locked in this room together, taking more chances and just experimenting and you never know what you're going to get."

The one guiding light was that they already had a name for the work, the result of having spent a lot of time in Quebec after the release of their first album and feeling grateful for the strong degree of support. "We went into the studio knowing that we were making a 'supermagique' record," he says.

The members of Pacifika have a big year ahead of them, as they're in talks with a European record label to promote the band overseas. After that, they plan to start writing their next album, with a tentative release in 2013. In addition, Popowitz and Kane are currently working on a solo album for her, a tribute to all of the divas she grew up listening to in Peru, like Susana Baca. As well, Popowitz is continuing to release on average two to three records a year on Rear Window.