Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable rising indie and alternative artists on the verge of success. Meet this week’s artist, the Connecticut piano-driven alt rockers Kalimur:
We recently had the chance to talk to Brett Steinberg, Tyler Berkich, and Alex Trouern-Trend about the origins of Kalimur, their debut album Ghosts We Used to Know, and their take on all things alternative culture. Find out more in our interview below.
"Viva La Vida or Death or All His Friends" by Coldplay, "Continuum"
by John Mayer and "The Fray" self-titled album.
What are your fondest musical memories?
As a band, it was when we played a show in which every band on the bill was hard rock to metal and most people there were metal fans. We went on stage and won the entire crowd over with our alternative/pop sound. As a listener, it was when I saw John Mayer at Madison Square Garden. In his song "Assassins," he did a solo behind his back when the stage lights went dark for a solid 10 seconds and it was incredible.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
The tiny 2008-2010 era of music will always have my heart. Some of my favorite music came out those days. I really appreciate everything from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles to contemporary music, like Imagine Dragons. Each decade adds something new. I love to keep up with new releases and currently am fixed on Mumford and Son's new album "Wilder Mind."
How did you four decide to collaborate into forming Kalimur? What were your musical backgrounds before working together? How is this different from any previous projects?
Tyler and I (Brett) became best friends our freshman year of college. We were neighbors and one of our first bonding experiences was through jamming out. I was doing a solo project the past couple years and he ended up playing some shows with me. We loved sharing the stage together and decided that starting a band was what we both wanted. Shortly after starting the band, Alex reached out to me to jam. He heard Tyler and I play at an open mic on campus and was looking to get into a new project. Tyler and I ironically met him months before at our mutual friend's graduation party. Jonah, who is a really close family/friend with Alex, came about through Alex reaching out to him. We were in need of a drummer with a tour coming up and Jonah learned all the songs in two days. We recently decided to have him as the fourth official member and are really excited about it!
In your official bio you state that your group name has no inherent definition, and it’s a unique word that is continually gaining meaning to describe your own work and sound. How has this helped you in making innovative and distinctly Kalimur music? Do you think it allows you to be more experimental and diverse, since you’re not tied down by a thematic definition or strictly defined aesthetic?
Definitely. We wanted a name that doesn't sound like it's notoriously part of one genre. We want to be our own sound and not necessarily be pinned down to one genre, because truth be told, I believe we are a hybrid of a couple different genres and that allows for more experimentation and freedom.
Something we find interesting here at IndieBeat is how the base city of artists impacts their creative process and sound formation. How has the North East, specifically Connecticut inspired into developing your sound? How would you describe the music scene?
The Northeast is very pop/punk driven and I think, as great as the scene is, it's inspired me to really stick to our own sound. I've grown up loving Coldplay, John Mayer, Billy Joel, The Fray, etc. and that's influenced my sound greatly. I've really come to appreciate the fact that we sound pretty distinct from most bands on the scene. Not that we're better or anything, but we are different and that's something to be proud of.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
It can differ, but for the most part it starts finding a chord progression usually on a piano, sometimes a guitar. Once an interesting progression is found the melody comes after, then the lyrics. Still, sometimes a lyric idea or theme can lead me to seek out different types of progressions/melodies/etc. Sometimes I will produce a track and then come in and write the melody and lyrics. I like to challenge myself with different writing techniques to keep things fresh.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
-Social media has been an extremely powerful tool for us. It's an incredible opportunity to get our music out in unprecedented ways. There are people all around the world who have listened to our record, which is just insane. It adds a lot more clutter, but ultimately good music with hard work rises to the top and allows for more artists to make a living. I believe streaming services, like Spotify, are a clever way of adapting to the new environment of file sharing. It's also interactive, for people can share their playlists, and that can help the rising indie artist build a name for themselves. Still, I do believe that music - like any other piece of art or property deserves to be bought. Those who want to support the artist will always buy their music though, or contribute in other ways - tickets, merch, etc. I also do like the idea of those who genuinely can't afford music somehow getting to listen to it. The problem lies more-so with those who CAN afford to buy music, but refuse to do so. I'm guilty of that sometimes. I saw an interesting interview with Philip Glass who said that there will be art either way because artists have a need to express themselves and people take advantage of that. Whether or not people continue to buy music, artists will always be creating. It's a problem in our society though – the undervaluing of music in a monetary sense.
Whenever we write, we always tell a story and express an emotion that evokes visual elements to it. We like to keep the music-making and video-creating processes separate from one another, but the lyrics and melodies we write definitely influence the music videos.
What motivated you to start filming vlogs to stay in contact with your fans? Is this an attempt to bring the music into a more visual and personal level?
That's a big part of it. We want to connect with our fans any way we can. If not through the music and shows, then vlogs are another fantastic way of letting our fans know what we're all about. As a big music fan myself, I love it when I can get an inside look into an artist I like listening to. It adds a whole other element to who the artist is and what they're all about.
You all are getting degrees in areas other than music, from molecular biology to communications. What does the future look like for Kalimur? Are you going to continue to pursue music while taking different career paths or are you concentrated on making music first and having your degrees as secondary/side options?
We are equally invested in pursuing music and getting our degrees, but once we graduate, we are still going to be pursuing music with more intensity than ever. We all love to learn and we see the long-term value of getting a degree, but our ambitions regarding music are extremely big.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
For me (Brett), Coldplay because they've inspired me to become a songwriter and musician. They're a big reason why I love music, especially alternative. The sense of hope that they emanate and the beautiful compositions they record is such a source of inspiration; for Tyler, Ed Sheeran; for Alex, Hey Rossetta!; for Jonah Streetlight, Manifesto.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
We recently released our debut record "Ghosts We Used To Know" on April 21 and have been promoting that with many shows. We are also working on a musical that I, Brett, wrote. It'll be put on June 26-28 at Toquet Hall in Westport, CT. We are also writing and recording a ton of new music, which we are excited about!
Can you tell us a bit about this musical you’re working on? Are you incorporating the band aesthetic and essence in this project? How has the Kalimur creative process helped you in developing this musical your other projects?
I started writing "Absolute," my musical, over two years ago. It's been a long time coming and since Tyler and Alex are playing in the pit band, I'm sure their playing styles that you can hear on the record and at a show will be heard, but the music was solely written by me before the band formed. We are all extremely excited to be working on it though! It's being put on June 26-28 at Toquet Hall in Westport, CT and tickets are only $5.
Finally, a question we ask all of artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
I am loving "Clocks Go Forward" by James Bay and "The Wolf" by Mumford and Sons. I would suggest listening to A Silent Film. They've been around for a while, but I can see them getting big soon - definitely worth your time. Also, Chris Ayer, Greg Holden, Civil Pilots, SHEARE are all fantastic.