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Posted April 17, 2014 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Karmin: They’ve come a long way

Karmin
Karmin

A good year in the making, Pulses, the debut from the dance-pop duo Karmin, certainly seems stocked with hits. Songs such as the infectious “Acappella” and “I Want It All” have already found their way into the dance clubs. According to group members Amy Renee Heidemann and Nicholas Louis “Nick” Noonan, the band’s live show is more organic. We talked to both of them — “We usually try not be on the same interview because we can’t stand each other,” Heidemann joked when asked how we lucky enough to get them on the line together — about the album and tour.

Talk about how you first met and what made you initially think you could form a band?
Amy: It wasn’t until four years into our relationship that we lost all senses and we started to work together.

Nick: I was a jazz player and she was a singer-songwriter and also working as a wedding singer. We were doing odd jobs, but we had gone to this great music school and got this amazing music education. We figured we should use it so we figured we’d jump in, quit our jobs and start loading things on YouTube.

Talk about your upbringings a bit.
Nick: I was into classic rock, and I was a jazz guy. Amy was super into R&B.

Amy: I was raised on classic rock too. My dad bought me my first guitar and taught me about the Beatles and the Stones. I was a weird child who listened to R&B music. I was one of the only kids in my Christian town in Nebraska who was into Brandy and stuff like that in the ’90s. I wasn’t allowed to hear a lot of hip-hop because those albums had parental advisory stickers on them. My grandfather was a pastor so it was a very conservative household. I was exposed to rap through features in the R&B songs. Brandy would have Mase on her single or Mariah Carey would have Jay-Z. I knew about rapping but didn’t ever think I would be rapping.

How does your formal training translate to the music you ended up making?
Nick: It’s definitely helped, especially for the actual performing. We’re very old school, and we don’t want to have everything choreographed. We want to rely a little bit on our instincts and have it be a little raw. It affected a lot of things. We wanted to make sure we have the knowledge and can use it if we want.

You started making YouTube videos. Talk about what that experience was like. Did you know they would blow up?
Nick: Not anything like they did.

Amy: We had really wild dreams and hopes for the YouTube channel. It was really just a way to get our music out there. We didn’t have money to tour. A lot of the clubs in Boston were for rock bands. We were this acoustic street corner band. We’ve come a long way. The YouTube thing was a surprise. We were only up there a few months when everything exploded.

How did the music make its way into the clubs?
Amy: In the clubs must have been after we signed with Epic. Once we started making more produced stuff, dance remixes started coming out.

Your appearance on Ellen in 2011 had a huge impact. Talk about how that came about.
Nick: We uploaded the “Look at Me Now” cover on Tuesday and the following Monday we were taping the show. We weren’t sure we could even remember all the words. It was stressful and intense, but obviously it helped catapult our career.

How did she find out about the band?
Nick: Her friends sent the producer the link. They gave us a call and wanted to see that we weren’t totally insane and could be on the TV show. We got the screening call and then just showed up.

What was the process of making the album like?
Amy: It was over a year of recording sessions. We got to work with a lot of the producers we wanted to work with and Nick did some of the production himself. It’s the most Karmin of anything we ever put out. The theme of the album was that the honeymoon is over and the real work begins. It was up and down and that’s why we called it Pulses. It even has a couple of sad songs on it.

How’d you get it to sound so cohesive?
Nick: That’s one of the biggest challenges. Whenever you go in, everyone is thinking single. We just wanted to make something good. That was mostly because we took more of an active role in the production. The producers have to let us. That can be a struggle. That was pretty much that we had to take that by the balls so to speak and make sure that it made sense.

Given that your singles have been so successful, what made you want to make a full-length?
Nick: It’s the romantic notion of it. We wanted to be able to put out an album.

We thought we weren’t a band until we put an album out.

I like that intro. What made you reference Geronimo?
Nick: That started off as a full song. It was an idea that Amy had. It was this whole Geronimo big vocals chorus song where you’re jumping off the mountain or something.

Talk about the title. What does it suggest?
Amy: “Pulses” was the first track we recorded. We never heard anything like it. It was like this pop rock chorus with elements of hip-hop and drums. There are some Coldplay elements to it too. It was a cool discovery for us sonically. Every session, we used it to show it was the sound that we had to go for. It was later that we realized the whole album would be called Pulses. The tour is even called Pulses.

Talk about the live show a bit. What can people expect when they go to see you play live?
Nick: This is the first time we’re coming to town with an album actually out. That’s a good thing. The live show is way more rock-oriented live than what people anticipate. It’s more like a No Doubt show than a Katy Perry show. There’s a lot of different instruments and sweating.

Amy: Crowd participation for sure. It has that its ups and down. You feel like you’ve been on a ride after the show. We have guitar, bass and drums. Nick plays trombone and drums and all type of keyboards.

Have you always been comfortable in the front person role?
Amy: Very comfortable. I have home video tapes of me putting on concerts at age 7.

Have you thought about what’s next?
Nick: It’s pretty much been hang on for dear life. Amy is starting a makeup blog. We’re definitely not focused on recording again yet.

Upcoming 2014 Tour Dates

4/6

4/8

4/9

4/12

4/13

4/15

4/17

4/18

4/19

4/21

4/23

4/24

4/27

4/29

4/30

5/2

5/3

5/5

5/7

5/8

Dallas, TX – House of Blues

Houston, TX – House of Blues

New Orleans, LA – Civic Theatre

Atlanta, GA – Center Stage

Orlando, FL – House of Blues

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution

Nashville, TN – The Cannery Ballroom

Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore

Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall

Cleveland, OH – House of Blues

Covington, KY – Madison Theater

Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom

Milwaukee, WI – The Rave II (Downstairs)

St. Louis, MO – The Pageant

Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom

Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s

Omaha, NE – Slowdown

Worcester, MA – Assumption College Plourde Center

Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall

Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex

 


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.