Interview with Kalen & The Sky Thieves

kalen

Kalen from Kalen & The Sky Thieves sat down and talked to AudioFuzz.com.  Kalen is amazing.  Just read this interview.  Also, listen to their new single, “Bluebird”.
1.  How long have you been writing music?  How and when did you pull together the Sky Thieves?

I wrote my first instrumental piano piece when I was 11. It was called “The Storm.” It was in D minor, the saddest of all keys.
Wayan Zoey, KST’s drummer and I had been playing in a previous project, Kalen & The A-Listers, before forming The Sky Thieves just over 2 years ago.This is an excerpt from our bio: Jay Giacomazzo, Will Hanza, and Wayan Zoey met as musical competitors. Despite being bested by Will and Jay, Wayan sought to turn the opposition in to a coalition and the three began jamming together purely for the enjoyment of playing with like-minded people. Concurrently, Kalen had reached out to Wayan in regards to providing the rhythmic drive behind her performances. A fortunate side effect of Wayan’s tendency to overbook himself was the chance encounter between Kalen and the as-yet unnamed trio of instrumentalists. Following an abbreviated courtship, all four members of the band found themselves saying “It’s not you, it’s me” to their other long-term commitments so that the Sky Thieves could be born.
2.  Where do you get the ideas for your songs?  Are they based on real-life experiences?

Most of the time they’re based on real relationships and situations. As I tire of my own head, however, I am more and more drawn to writing fantasy and off of others’ stories, band jokes, the news, etc…

3.  I noticed a darkness to your music.  Are you a sad person?  Or are you like me, happiest when I’m sad?

Hmmm…I wouldn’t say that I’m a sad or happy person, necessarily. Either one is pretty uni-dimentional and not very honest. What I can say is that I try to project positivity and keep things buoyant in many aspects of my life. Music (and art in general) became the place where I felt like I could express the whole other part of the spectrum, the darker rooms of feelings without burdening people in my everyday life. It’s something I need to express because it’s something I feel.

4.  Who were some of your main influences?  Who do you listen to today?

I don’t really see other musicians as my main influences. Growing up in the woods influenced me. My love for exploring the city influenced me. My love of visual arts influenced me.
Musically, however, I was shaped by my mother’s records. She was a Woodstock child and big into music – her library ranged from The Beatles to Jefferson Airplane to Joan Armatrading to Stevie Wonder. My piano teacher growing up got me into Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. My first love got my into old school Ska. I was huge into old funk during the time of my first main musical project in NYC. I really listen to everything.

These days, I still listen to a lot of older music but I also try to keep things current. I’ve been finding a lot of new great music through my bandmates and through a friend’s playlists: Found Tracks music. I also bartend at Brooklyn Bowl, so I’m able to see a lot of acts that way.
What’s really fun about KST is that each of us comes from such a different musical background with overlapping but different interests.

Jay comes from the punk/emo/hardcore scene, Wayan has deep jamband roots, and Will comes from the Psychedelic Rock, Zep/Floyd/Hendrix school. That comes through in our arrangements, and now that we’re writing more collectively, it’s coming through in the writing, too.

5.  Do you believe that some singer/songwriters are better when they are unhappy?  I heard PJ Harvey writes her saddest songs when she happy.  How do you feel about that?

The only major songs on the album are the saddest so, there’s that…
I’m not sure. I think there is a vulnerability that’s accessed when feeling low. And, vulnerability is honest which is necessary for most good songwriting. I think there’s often less urgency in writing when everything is good because there already feels like a sense of communion and connection at those times. When we’re low, we’re often disconnected and lonelier. It’s at those times that there can be real salvation in making music because it connects us to something bigger than ourselves which is healing.

6.  Do you think that the American public will ever realize that they are being cheated by shows like American Idol and The Voice?

I don’t know if they’ll ever feel that. It’s about craft and stardom and, ultimately, entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with competition and nothing new with competition as a form of entertainment. It’s not art but nor is it claiming to be. However, I do think it comes at a price as it’s become such a powerful vehicle for musical stardom. We live in a world that wants to grossly oversimplify and polarize. Art, I think, is the great antidote to this: it’s subjective and it’s meant to usher in conversation and discussion. It’s meant to challenge and not simply satisfy. That is not the intention of shows like these nor is it what the viewers hunger for. Basically, if you want a McDonalds cheeseburger and you get a McDonalds cheeseburger, you’re probably not going to feel cheated. Na’mean?

7.  What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?

Weird is such a general word. I’ve had terrible weird things that’ve happened and wonderful weird things that’ve happened. Hmmm, let’s keep this light… (if you want to be sad, go and listen to my songs. JK). The weirdest band show was at a public square in Boston for a bunch of BMX riders and small children in red tutus on the hottest day of the summer.

8.  Are there any questions or any information you want to share with AudioFuzz?  If you were a dog, what type of dog would you be?  And, lastly, do you believe in parallel universes, maybe one in which Kalen is actually a nightclub singer like Doris Day?

I’d be a wolf, not a domesticated dog. I’d be known for my tremendous howl and my adoption of other animal species. In a parallel universe, I’m probably a wolf. Or, a flamenco dancer and traveling gypsy. I’d find the Sky Thieves and we’d journey together.
Anything else to share? Yeah. Check out my band! Our debut LP,Bluebird, came out on Ropeadope Records (DJ Logic, Snarky Puppy) in the fall. We also just completed a music video for ​”Bluebird.​”​And, if you’re NY based, come out to Mercury Lounge on March 27th.

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