The Keen & The Kind mine family archives for their compelling new single and video Joseph — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
The first preview of the Winnipeg band’s upcoming sophomore album The Things We Don’t Know, Joseph ushers audiences into vocalist Violet Vopni’s lineage, sharing the story of her great-grandfather Joseph Huppe.
“Joseph was born in 1900, fought in WWI in 1916, and married my great grandmother Jenny in 1923,” Vopni says. “They had four children, Harold, Allan, Doris and my grandmother Beatrice. Joseph was Métis but, being born 15 years after the Northwest Rebellion, he was forced to keep his identity a secret. I think he kept his secret to avoid being sent to a residential school; Métis people were known in those days as being ‘in between’ because of their combined French and Indigenous lineage, so Joseph’s story is one that’s common to Métis people born in the last 135 years.”
Vopni, who serves as The Keen & The Kind’s lead vocalist and songwriter, penned the sonic portrait to shed light on how moments in history can ultimately affect us as people hundreds of years later. “Joseph struggled through alcoholism, he struggled to find where he belonged and, ultimately, he left the family; we do not know what happened to him,” Vopni shares. “What we do know is that he left a woman to raise four children on her own in the 1920s and ’30s, and those children subsequently went through traumas of their own — Allan died in WWII, Doris was murdered, and Beatrice became an alcoholic and was married to an abusive man.
“Beatrice passed that trauma to her only child, my mother Kim, who in turn passed that trauma down to me,” she reflects. “So we know a lot about the people Joseph left behind in the world — his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren — but we don’t know a lot about him. This song is about how his life affected the lives of so many others; it’s about who he left behind, and the wounds that cut so deep.”
The quintet of Vopni, Clinton Giesbrecht, Kevin Cote, Alana Giesbrecht and Stephen Chubaty released their debut album Unacknowledged this year under their former moniker Nineteen. The band — whose expansive range encompasses easygoing upbeat pop, groovy smooth jazz, thought-provoking emotive folk and more — are putting the finishing touches on The Things We Don’t Know, set for release in June.