CTMS Interview : Karmic Kick

Interview by : Ezelle Louw (@lupaphotography)

For me the discovery of Karmick Kick is a bittersweet experience. This project has been on the go for 3 years already and only now I “get with the program”. They describe their sound best “bipolar ball of positive energy.” Karmic Kick for me equals amalgation. They infuse their different musical styles and backgrounds into what amounts to an unique sound, offering something to all rock lovers alike.

Now that I have confessed my only recent discovery of Karmic Kick, I am jumping  in and declaring my biggest problem with these guys. Why haven’t we seen them live yet? I would love for them to get out and play these tracks in front of a live audience. The only member I actually do know is the talented Jesse Jordan. I have seen him perform live numerous times in his own band. With this knowledge in hand, my opinion is these guys need to get out on stage.

Karmic Kick took some time to answer my insistent questions. Get to know them in this in depth interview, followed by a short review on their second release “Enter Angels”.

Karmic Kick – Enter Angels

Why the name “Karmic Kick”?
After using two different names for two previous albums I felt that it was time to pick a brand name to work with for the foreseeable future projects. A few of my mates living on different continents were in town for the evening and we threw a few ideas around. Suddenly a rather jovial, outspoken individual at the table next to us let loose with a indignant reliving of a specific incident, ending his tale with”…and that was a real karmic kick..” I thought that it sounded cool and that it arrived at the right time. Subsequently, it turned out to embody the music pretty accurately…it’s ambiguous, it kicks and it contains spiritual elements.

How long have you guys been going?
The Karmic Kick concept has been in existence for nearly 3 years. Personally I’ve been playing music since the age of 9 and the individuals collaborating on the last album have similar tales of years’ activity in the industry.

Introduce us to the band?
Karmic Kick is a project that sees the writing process finalised during pre-production and guest artists/team members joining the recording process to fulfil particular roles.
There is myself, contributing the music and lyrics and playing the guitars, bass, drums and percussion.
On the Enter Angels album the following people joined the team:
The vocals were split between Rudolph Keown and Jesse Jordan. This was an experiment that far exceeded expectations; those two are brilliant together.
Melissa van der Spuy played piano/keys and sang on a few tracks.
Jurgen von Wechmar played lead guitars and
Andre Nieuwenhuis sang on Sedes Sapientiae…the evil sounding Latin song.

In 2010 you released a double album titeld “ The skies between / beyond” and now you have “Enter Angels” out, what did you do differently this time?
In essence the writing and recording processes remained the same. The main difference was the actual musical direction. During Between/Beyond we worked on 30 tracks, half heavy and male vocal driven and the other half clean with female vocals. With Enter Angels I had a completely different team in the studio and bar one song, the focus was on keeping it hard, heavy and intense. We also stayed sober and worked a lot faster.

On “Enter Angels” did you use the same producers and where did you complete the recording process?
We used an entirely different setup with this album. Recording took place at Sunset Recording Studios in Stellenbosch with Jurgen von Wechmar behind the desk. I played my very first gig with Jurgen when I was 12 years old so we have a long history and a deeply rooted respect between us. Working with him was a real blessing.

Tell us a bit about the main theme behind “Enter Angels”?
It was a title that birthed itself one morning in free fall as I experienced what is called “the skydiver’s angel”. When you fly/fall towards and into clouds below you, with the sun at your back, you see your own shadow inside a circular rainbow in the cloud. It grows until eventually you fall into and through it. The energy and sense of abundance one experiences during such adrenaline filled moments is inspirational to me and something that I carry into the music I write.

What has been the highlight in your music career thus far?
Making my mother proud.

Who would you still like to share the stage with?

Any plans for upcoming tours?
Nothing immediate but there is ideas with regards to the next European summer.

Rikus Nieuwenhuis – Karmic Kick

If you had to say which song on “Enter Angels” are you really proud of? Maybe one you struggled with a bit more to fine tune than the others?
All the songs on the album really deserved their place. There was not a single song that was squeezed in to fill the numbers, so I am really proud of all of them. A song like Noise Inc. resonates with me for its sheer intensity and madness. Shosholoza grabs you by the skull and Bending Time goes the evil meets angel story telling route…truth is, I love them all.

If you had to describe your sound, what would you say?
Rudolph calls it a “bipolar ball of positive energy”. I guess that’s not far off. It is an energetic power groove. Look its heavy guitars and drums with intense vocal delivery and angelic harmonies.
Rikus I’ve heard you play quite a few instruments, please elaborate for us? Any you still wish to conquer?
I play guitars, bass and drums and like all musicians, will fiddle with what’s in front of me. I’m interested in understanding the piano better for it’s usefulness as a writing tool.

What are you listening to right now?
The cricket. Oh…uhh…Mad Season.

Describe each member in one word?
Rikus: dreamer
Rudolph: power
Jesse: comedian
Melissa: angel
Jurgen: druid

Name 3 “ingredients” it takes to be in a band, except obviously a bunch of talent?
A real enjoyment for making music together
A sense of humour
A car

Are you currently signed to a label? If not who would you like to work with in this regard?
No and there are no real ambitions in this regard. That doesn’t mean the door isn’t open to negotiation but with the change in the music business landscape the focus has shifted away from finding a label to finding yourself. There are of course a lot of positives in signing with a label but it has its downside…like loosing your identity.

Can you remember who your first music teacher was? If you had one?
My mother. We are three brothers and she was a teacher. We all started on the piano before we discovered the joys of instruments that can actually piss the neighbours off!

What would you say to anyone who hasn’t attended a Karmic Kick gig yet?
“Join the club, we haven’t played one yet. But…when you do get to one it will make you want to nod your head violently and grin stupidly.”

What’s next for “Karmic Kick”?
The writing and recording for the next album. Karmic Kick likes churning out new ideas and turning them into a reality of sound.
Talks of playing some gigs at selected venues are also progressing.

On the track “Bending time” who collaborates with you on this song?
What you hear there is Melissa van der Spuy playing the piano and carrying the vocals on the verses with Jesse Jordan doing the background chants and joining on the chorus.

What do you hope to “say” with your music?
Life is a celebration.

Name one negative and positive about the SA music industry?
Negative: for a large part the quality of the actual song writing has decreased, seemingly without the faithful followers noticing. I don’t know whether this is the result of the ever present spiritual depression or because of that irresistible attraction to the darkness. The result is that we experience an equivalent dip in an essential part of our culture.
Positive: more and more bands keep coming out of the woodwork which indicates to me that the desire to rock out is as strong as ever.

Top 3 SA bands at the moment according to you?
I’ll let others be the judge of that but I’ve been impressed by the talents of someone like Leslie Javan and the attitude and skill of Duimpie se Maat.

Which venue haven’t you played yet that you would love to jam at?
Paradiso in Amsterdam.

Where on the social networks can we follow you to keep updated?
You will find Karmic Kick’s music on Soundcloud, Reverbnation, boom.fm and other platforms. There are some video clips on Youtube and you can follow on Facebook and Twitter.
The music can be downloaded from a variety of sources, ask uncle Google.

Karmic Kick – Enter Angels CD Review
This is their third offering , although I cannot comment on previous projects, I’m dually impressed with the maturity of this album.
From the slow boil to eruption of, front man, Jesse Jordan and Rudolph Keown vocals and raging riffs on various tracks, it is clear early that this is a dense emotional minefield.

Tracks that stand out from the get go include “Beat On”, “Providence” and “Enter Angels”.“ Full Moon Solstice” is a guitar-fuelled masterpiece complemented by anxious drums.
Wrapped up “Enter Angels” delivers both in quality, diversity and ensures to leave a lasting impression.

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