Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
|"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"|
|Single by Vampire Weekend|
|from the album Vampire Weekend|
|Released||18 August 2008|
|Genre||Indie pop, Afrobeat|
|Vampire Weekend singles chronology|
- "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (Radio Edit) - 3:32
- "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (The Very Best Remix) - 3:26
Digital Download (Rhapsody):
- "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (live) - 3:35
- Ezra Koenig - lead vocals, guitar, hand drum
- Rostam Batmanglij - organ, piano, guitar, harpsichord, backing vocals
- Chris Tomson - drums, guitar
- Chris Baio - bass
- Jeff Curtin - hand drums, shaker
- Wesley Miles - backing vocals
In 2005, Vampire Weekend vocalist Ezra Koenig travelled through London en route to India and said that the trip got him "thinking a lot about colonialism and the aesthetic connections between preppy culture and the native cultures of places like Africa and India." This inspired Koenig to write a short story exploring those connections, and called it "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa", after which the song was named. "Kwassa kwassa" refers to a dance rhythm from Congo (DRC). Koenig told The Daily Mail "The beats make this one of our most African sounding songs, but I think it also sounds Irish. I was listening to accordion music when I wrote it."
The video, directed by British comedian Richard Ayoade (who had also directed the band's video for "Oxford Comma") and set in the 1980s, was filmed in Spring Lake, New Jersey at Kaitlin Files' shore house. It is the first video where Vampire Weekend consciously decided to use a narrative with the band becoming characters, unlike previous videos which were "fairly abstract [with] no narrative". Koenig said he felt there was "a Tim Burton element" to the video, in which the band reinvented their image as goths, "with white faces, spiked hair and black outfits". The characters were created in 2007 by Koenig, who came up with rough ideas and images, and was helped by Ayoade to create a story from them.
Bass guitarist Chris Baio said that the band devotes a lot of time to touring, so "when [they] do something different like this, it is an exciting thing." Keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij said that the band is "interested in visuals, and it's a treat for [them] to get to do this."
Peter Gabriel expressed interest in covering "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" after being introduced to the band by a member of Vampire Weekend's record label, XL Recordings. He said of the song, "I actually do like that song a lot and they've asked me to sing a version of it now which I may well do". In an interview with BBC 6Music, when asked about part of the lyrics which reference him ("This feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel, too"), Gabriel responded, "Well I haven't quite worked that out whether I should be doing that or substituting it with a name". He ended up replacing one of the lines with "And it feels so unnatural to sing your own name" when the cover was released with Hot Chip providing the instrumental.
Koenig said, "that's an idea that's been floated around before 'cause it seems so perfect. But yeah, it looks like it's happening" but stated that the band didn't want to confirm the cover version until it appeared on iTunes Store.
Swedish artist Lykke Li also often performs the song during concerts.
MusicOMH commented that the beginning of "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" sounds "as if imitating 1950s calypso" and described the opening hook as having "innocence [that] adds charm to the track, built on by the breezy vocal." Pitchfork Media said that the song's "instrumentation and bubbly beat evoke Paul Simon's Graceland and "transforms the buoyant spirit of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" to a cheaply (but cleanly) recorded, stripped-down, no-fuss context." Pitchfork Media also said that "the unassuming nature of the production works in Vampire Weekend's favor, allowing subtle pleasures like that sunny falsetto vocalese at the end and the purity of the guitar tone to shine through."
Following the success of "A-Punk" and "Oxford Comma," Vampire Weekend decided to release "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" as the fourth single from the album. Originally released in 2008, the song failed to make much of an impact on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #178. The single was not released in America, meaning along with "Mansard Roof," the single was rather unsuccessful.
|Chart (2008)||Peak position|
|UK Singles Chart||178|
- "The 100 Best Songs of 2008". Rolling Stone. 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Eliscu, Jenny (2007-10-04). "Hot New Kids: Vampire Weekend". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Norris, John (2008-07-17). "Vampire Weekend Looking More True To Their Name In 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' Video, By John Norris". MTV. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- Gregory, Jason (2008-06-05). "Peter Gabriel Unveils Plans To Cover Vampire Weekend". Gigwise. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "Peter Gabriel & Hot Chip Cover Vampire Weekend". Stereogum. 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
- Hogwood, Ben. "Vampire Weekend - Cape Kod Kwassa Kwassa (XL)". MusicOMH. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Richardson, Mark (2007-08-02). "New Music: Vampire Weekend: "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "The Official UK Singles Chart for the week ending 30 August 2008". ChartsPlus (Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd) (366): 1–4.
- Vampire Weekend on XL Recordings - Album page on record label's site