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  • Interview: Karmin

    Wed, 19 Feb 2014 09:57:55

    Interview: Karmin - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

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    • Madonna - NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Bryan Lourd and Madonna attend the Great American Songbook event honoring Bryan Lourd at Alice Tully Hall on February 10, 2014 in New York City.
    • Madonna - NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Bryan Lourd and Madonna attend the Great American Songbook event honoring Bryan Lourd at Alice Tully Hall on February 10, 2014 in New York City.

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    "We're in Montana, and we have no idea what time or day it is," laughs Amy Heidemann of Karmin while on the group's current headline tour. "We're going to Cracker Barrel later to get some pancakes."

    Now comes the important question to which Miss Heidemann has the ever-important answer regardless of the fact ARTISTdirect.com didn't know.

    Does Cracker Barrel serve breakfast all day?

    Without hesitation Heidemann smiles, "Oh, fuck yeah!"

    We might not be sure about Cracker Barrel's breakfast schedule, but we are sure that Karmin's forthcoming album Pulses is the ultimate pop record. Heidemann and cohort Nick Noonan rewrite the rule book, weaving together clever rap, eighties synth sheen, big rock bombast, and indie attitude for an album that will make your heart race. Right now, Karmin are bringing these songs to life on tour, which you can't miss!

    In between Cracker Barrel and the tour, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan of Karmin spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about Pulses and so much more.

    What's your approach to making music? You definitely bring together many different genres seamlessly.

    Nick Noonan: We're genre whores [Laughs].

    Amy Heidemann: I was talking about this with my mom the other day. We're pretty lucky that L.A. Reid and Epic let us put out different music every time. A lot of artists out there sound the same on every single. We're definitely versatile. We need to stick with something as we're still a young band and this is our first full-length LP. Our process is to go in with people who we think are talented regardless of what genre they create music in. We usually get really cool stuff out of it.

    You bend the genre to what Karmin is.

    Amy Heidemann: I think that's something pop artists traditionally do. Madonna has songs that sound like rock and others that sound Middle Eastern. You never know what you're going to get. That's the pop artist in us that always wants to evolve.

    What ties Pulses together for you?

    Nick Noonan: Sonically, it's that big gang chorus thing. The whole theme of Pulses is the up-and-down. We designed some iconography for it where it's the symbol for the whole album. There's good shit, and there's bad shit in life. That's how it is. Every song represents a period we were going through while we were recording.

    There's a lot going on in there sonically.

    Nick Noonan: There is. We spent literally hundreds of man hours on some of these tracks. We tried to really hone in on the attention to detail sonically.

    What does "I Want It All" mean to you?

    Nick Noonan: Obviously, it's a very greedy song [Laughs]. We joked that Amy is known as a rapper. We were like, "Screw it. We're not going to put any rap on this single and be known as a singer too" [Laughs]. We definitely wanted a single that was just a vibe. It's that strong Michael Jackson late eighties early nineties with the glass bottle. We thought it would be cool to put a modern twist on it.

    Amy Heidemann: It's different. It's all singing, which is refreshing and challenging at the same time. I've been wanting to sing for a long time. It's a simple song. It's not like 19 sections. It's literally a verse and chorus. It's all about the vibe. We're editing through the last cut of the music video which should be out soon. It's a different feeling. It's not your average thing.

    Where did "Neon Love" come from?

    Amy Heidemann: That song's really sad. It's pretty exhausting emotionally, I would say, especially performing it live. People think it's about a relationship. You can definitely interpret it that way, but it's sort of a metaphor for our career and experience in the music industry.

    It's simultaneously futuristic and eighties.

    Amy Heidemann: People were saying it sounds like an eighties power ballad, which we love. We call it a "mid" like a mid-tempo. Everything is in there from acoustic guitars to actual neon lights buzzing out. We found a sample of neon lights buzzing out. Those are in there.

    Lyrically, is it important for you to tell stories?

    Nick Noonan: Going back to the recording process, it was just us together in the room hammering everything out. Lyrically, we did want to make sure it had more of that storytelling aspect.

    Does that come from the hip-hop side of your influences?

    Amy Heidemann: I've always thought rapping allows you to have a little bit more freedom with lyrics for sure because you can say crazy stuff you might not say when you're singing. It's a little more casual and conversational. We like to save the poetic stuff for the actual singing parts. The rapping helps that.

    Nick Noonan: You have so many more words in rap. There are more ways to twist what you want to say. There's less time when you're singing.

    If you were to compare Pulses to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?

    Nick Noonan: It would be like a Quentin Tarantino movie. It'd be something very visually stunning, a bit aggressive, but also with a light and fun side.

    Amy Heidemann: I think that's a really good answer.

    Maybe Kill Bill?

    Amy Heidemann: Well, that's my favorite.

    Nick Noonan: It's not Inglourious Basterds. There's no Nazis.

    What artists shaped you?

    Nick Noonan: Oh God, there's a laundry list! Of course, there's The Beatles. Production-wise, I went through a whole Pharrell phase where I just listened to Pharrell tracks for six months.

    Amy Heidemann: For me, it's Gwen Stefani and old R&B artists, especially Brandy. She was really influential on me.

    You cover the whole gamut.

    Amy Heidemann: That's why I think our music is so different. We're passionate about so many different styles and artists.

    How are you making this tour different?

    Nick Noonan: It's the songs. We're pretty much playing the whole album live right now. That means it's an entirely new show. We're probably playing seventy-five percent of the record live.

    Amy Heidemann: Instead of "Crash Your Party" and some of the happier tracks on Hello, it's like these dark songs like "Puppet", which is about manipulating someone. It's darker. It's more fun because there are more dynamics to play with. Nick plays like ten instruments so he plays trombone a lot. Then, he does a lot of production tricks.

    Rick Florino

    What's your favorite Karmin song?

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    Tags: Karmin, Nick Noonan, Amy Heidemann, L.A. Reid, Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Brandy, Quentin Tarantino

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