All Access With Karmin
Oh to be young and in love! With a heaping helping of talent and determination, lots of Internet buzz, and music mogul L.A. Reid in their corner, Karmin have become one of 2012’s breakout performers. PopCrush hung out with the band during their performance at Los Angeles’ thriving outdoor plaza The Grove, as they prepared to open the evening for former ‘American Idol‘ winner Jordin Sparks.
The couple was first discovered when they began covering songs by other artists and posting videos online. The tracks started picking up momentum, but with their take on Chris Brown‘s ‘Look at Me Now‘ (featuring Amy’s fast-rapping attitude on Rhymes’ part in the song), they really started to garner attention, even from Brown and Rhymes themselves, who both made contact after seeing the video. “We’ve talked to a good amount of the [people we’ve covered],” they add. “Nicki [Minaj] was very [supportive]. All of them are supportive, which is great. It could have been like, ‘Why did you ruin my song?'”
It’s been an interesting journey for the two Karmin members, as Heidemann and Noonan were both part of the music scene. At the time, Noonan was exploring the jazz trombone as his instrument of choice. He says with a smile, “It is the sexiest, most promising young career type to ever go into.” But even though they ran in similar circles, it took a while before they started talking. Heidemann says, “He was kind of a party guy and I was the Christian girl.”
Even with their musical background, their attraction for each other preceded the band. Noonan says, “We were just in a bunch of other people’s groups doing other music and wanted to keep it in house.” While they were fine on a personal level, there was at least a little concern of how they would work musically, but Heidemann recalls, “The first time we wrote songs together, we weren’t Karmin yet, we were just doing it for school projects. There was an arranging assignment we had to get done and it turned out really cool and we were like, ‘We must have something,’ because we had worked with other people and it wasn’t nearly as productive.”
At the time of our date with Karmin, Heidemann had just found out that she was a finalist for this Rolling Stone ‘Women Who Rock‘ poll, and alongside Noonan, was preparing soundcheck with the show still a few hours away. But, being that The Grove is an outdoor venue in the midst of a shopping center, there were not only Karmin fans dropping by early, but also a rather large amount of foot traffic stopping as the infectious sounds started to echo throughout the area.
“I was honestly just expecting to go out there and test the microphone and be like, ‘Great!’ or ‘I need more of this or that in my ears!,’ and we got out there and there was a small crowd,” says Heidemann. “We were like, ‘We should really be performing right now. This is a big crowd.’ It started to get bigger.”
Noonan says the dedication of the fans goes to levels they never expected, as Heidemann was recently given a Dunkin Donuts gift card and a ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ DVD (which Amy says she’s already watched six times) after a fan noticed in an interview that she had mentioned her love for both.
Amy recalls one of her favorite moments, telling us, “We met a girl who said she had brain surgery, and she told us that we were on her ER playlist. So she was listening to us before she went into surgery, and I… I didn’t even know what to do. I just started crying. That’s one of my favorite moments.”
One of the things that’s made Karmin’s music so relatable to fans so far is their ability to put themselves out there, and not just in their easy-going, nice-to-meet-you manner, but also in the songs they sing. Their recent hit ‘Brokenhearted‘ was based out of their first meeting at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, while the new single, ‘Hello,’ which also doubles as the title of their EP, really tells the story of their journey together. The couple state, “It’s the whole story, from the beginning through coming from Nebraska, we meet in Boston, the whole nine and it’s pretty much saying, ‘Hey, we’re Karmin. We’re your new favorite band. Nice to meet you.'”
In addition, the pair talked about their run of odd coincidences happening with their public appearances. They made their ‘Saturday Night Live‘ debut as word of Whitney Houston‘s death started to spread, and their recent ‘Good Morning America‘ performance happened as the world was waking to the news of the shootings in Colorado. But in both cases, Karmin and their show-must-go-on attitude prevailed to solid reviews.
It was during the lead-up to ‘Saturday Night Live’ that the couple put their band together, and their bassist actually had a hand in some of the production work on their ‘Hello’ EP. The couple auditioned the musicians, and Noonan tells us he did geek out a little bit at the resumes of some of their players. The pair also marvel at the musicianship of their full lineup, and say there’s a lot of fun talk during shows going on in the in-ear monitors, with a little showmanship making it fun for all.
Noonan says the energy is where it should be before the show, and of tonight, he explains, “We feel good … Sometimes the only issue will be having too much energy or if you don’t have kind of like that excitement right before, it’s just weird. If you don’t feel anything, you should be a little excited, you know.” That excitement takes over as the group is greeted with people as far as the eye can see. On this night, their performance is a short one. They open with ‘Hello,’ as Heidemann’s stage presence immediately captivates the crowd and her sing/rap style hooks the audience right in.
The Chris Brown cover ‘Look at Me Now’ follows, with Heidemann seamlessly working her way through the tongue-twister minefield of raps within the track and showing some serious skill along the way. That was followed by ‘Crash Your Party,’ a good-time anthem that dates back to their beginning of their career, and finally the breakout single ‘Brokenhearted’ leaves the crowd with some ear candy that will be stuck in their head for days to come.
As for what’s next, Noonan says it’s still their desire to tour the world and they’ve got a lot of places left to hit. Meanwhile, in the lead-up to their Grove concert, they were able to spend a few days in a Los Angeles studio where they’ve been working on fresh material. Heidemann reveals, “What you heard with ‘Brokenhearted’ was great, but I think [the songs are] getting more urban, like I mean a little bit edgier and even a little bit quirkier, but in a way that you haven’t quite heard yet.”
Watch the Karmin ‘Hello’ Video