Kama Tala - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
When I was maybe thirteen I saw three friends performing in a battle of the bands competition. I was floored by the performance. After the show I asked my buddy if he’d show me a few things on the guitar. He leant me an acoustic guitar and I played it until I had calluses on every finger. A few months later I had the chance to sing a song with those fellas and after that night I sort of became a member of the group. After that I began writing and recording music on a tape recorder and showing my ideas to the band. By the next year we started to write music together, recorded an EP, and were performing whenever we could. The band expanded over time and we stayed together for 7 or 8 years after that. We grew a lot together as musicians and several of those musicians were featured on the debut album. I still jam with those guys and I continually learn from them to this day.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
There have been many awesome moments over the years, but having several songs featured on 101WKQX in my hometown of Chicago, IL was quite a thrill. I grew up listening to that station religiously and it kind of felt like everything was coming full circle.
What has been the high point of your music path?
The past two projects, ‘Before the Wind’ and ‘The Wayside’ were recorded during the craziness of covid and during some tough times personally. I poured my heart into each project and I was humbled by the list of musicians who came on board to help. I think the feeling of getting those tunes out into the world after a period of solitude was quite essential for me on a personal level.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
My process has changed over the years. I used to sit down with a guitar and a notebook and write a general song structure and lyrics at the same time. Obviously there was a lot of refinement that came afterwards but that was generally how my process worked. Once I started writing more than just the structure and lyrics to each song, I would often record a demo version in Logic so I could write each section in a fuller form, with guitars, bass, drums, keys etc. This process worked well while writing the singles off The Wayside. When it comes to writing lyrics I am constantly writing and rewriting. Often times I’ll have a melody in my head and a concept in mind and work backwards from there. Other times I’ll come up with a line while driving in my car or at work or even when I'm dreaming. I'll often sing ideas in the car and add lyrics on my phone when an I have an idea. Sometimes it comes easily and other times it can take months to find the right lyrics for a song. Once I reach a point where I feel like I have the message I’m trying to convey I record demo vocals to explore melodies and refine each line.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
There is so much good independent music out there that it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. The industry is truly guided by the listener these days which is quite incredible and unique. It’s all about exposure I suppose, so that’s been the goal with these recent releases—just get the music to as many ears as possible and see what sticks.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Paul Simon. He’s a legend. Or just to be a fly on the wall in a Bela Fleck & the Flecktones session. I can’t even imagine.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Practice is everything whether it be alone or with other musicians. Practice brings the necessary tightness to the music. Learning how to listen to others when you are in the groove is essential, but also communicating verbally what the goal of a song is or a section or a breakdown is critical. It’s all about being on the same page whether in the studio or on stage.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Probably ‘The Wayside’. There was a lot I needed to get off my chest at the time. I was holding on to a lot of anger and shame and feeling like at the time—in a cultural & political sense—that no one was listening to each-other, yet everyone was shouting. It was maddening. It was a challenge to write because it was multifaceted. It was deeply personal but also about Nathanial Hawthorne and his life as well as a reference to his novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’. It was a challenge to find a balance between the nerdy literary stuff about Hawthorne and the novel, the current political landscape, and my own personal experiences and feelings—and all the while—trying to make it upbeat and catchy. I didn’t want to come across as preachy or coming from some moral high ground, which was tricky because I thought it necessary to include some religious undertones. I spent countless hours making sure every word mattered and I hope it came across in a way that didn’t offend anyone but simply made them think. I tried to convey a range of emotions and take the listener on a journey as the story progressed. Ultimately 'The Wayside' is about one’s own convictions and a reminder that there is always two or more sides to every story. It’s a song about disenfranchisement & confusion, hope & forgiveness.
What's coming up in the future?
I’m really looking forward to returning to the studio and getting back on stage to promote the new music.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
You can check out the music on any streaming service or for more information go to https://kama-tala.com
About Kama Tala
Hailing from Chicago, IL, Kama Tala is an amalgamation of styles and influences. Soul, Rock, Pop, Jazz, & World music are all woven together on Kama Tala’s debut album Before the Wind. The 12 track album, released on 03.07.21, is a personal look at the human condition with each track offering a unique flavor of emotion. There is a lot of stories to tell, with many themes revolving around contrast & perspective. Lead composer Earhart calls it “…a juxtaposition of ideas” and explains, “…to me, the most compelling stories have range. I try to write about darkness and light simultaneously. That duality is what feels most real to me, so I try to invoke that push and pull when I craft a song.”
Kama Tala completed their second project, 'The Wayside' in the spring of 2021. Critic Rita Alcott writes, “…there is a potent combination of lyrical sophistication and a haunting, yet mesmerizing beauty in The Wayside." She describes the album as, “…a collection of upbeat rhythms laced with visions of hope.”
Amelia Vandergast of A&R Factory writes,
"If you could imagine what it would sound like if the Smiths was a Caribbean pop outfit, you will be able to get an idea of the jangly magnetism contained in Kama Tala’s recently released single, ‘Honore’. The Chicago-hailing artist crosses borders and merges everything from soul to rock to pop to jazz in their sun-soaked tracks, but that’s not the most notable facet of Kama Tala’s talent. The ingenuity largely stems from the seamless melding of the genres while never detracting from the accessibility of his sound. But the true distinction comes through their heartfelt vocal delivery."
Travis Erwin of LA on Lock adds,
"There is an optimistic energy and spirit about this track from Kama Tala that lifts the song and makes it impossible not to fall in and sing along. A bit of island flair and a dash of Paul Simon brings it all alive."
Kama Tala is looking forward to performing in the summer of 2021 and is continuing to write and record new music for the upcoming release. For more information please visit Kama-Tala.com
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