Q. and A. with Kava Kava of Britain

Q: Tell me about the origins of this band and how you came together.

A: The original line up met at University in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. We shared a mutual love for deranged partying and all kinds of music.

Had a few releases on UK labels, for example Delerium Records (who established acts like Deadflowers, Porcupine Tree, Praise Space Electric) and my own label Chocolate Fireguard. We’ve toured all over Europe and played some pretty amazing festivals including Glastonbury Festival,

Cork Jazz Festival in Ireland, Trutnov Festival (Czech Republic) Rockmarkt (Belgium). Toured China too. In 2007 I managed to get us on at SXSW in Texas and that lead to us being licensed by New York label Midnight Swimming- founded by publicist Paula Amato from Pai Media.

Q: To the unfamiliar readers, talk about your sound a bit. Does the term “psychedelic funk” fit accurately? Maybe “electronica” fits better? How would you describe your music?

A: I’d say right now we are rock / electronica with added soul and psychedelic vibes! Its true to say that Kava Kava started out as a psychedelic funk band. UK mag NME referred to us as this, saying the music was like a cross between George Clinton and King Crimson (Discipline era). Early on we played gigs with bands like Porcupine Tree (but were probably a bit too freaky and funky for their audience).

Since then we’ve developed the sound to incorporate electronica and dance genres. Our music is now very much at home in clubs and festivals.

Q: What are some of the elements you use to make such a unique (i.e psychedelic) sound? Sampling, bass, etc. Talk about how you use the various tools.

A: Fundamentally the band is a 4 piece rock band set up- vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Most of the album was recorded in home studios using Cubase and Logic so it was really exciting to be able to add beats, real strings and brass sections, extra keys etc. Some of the album was recorded at Faust Studios in Prague. We then mixed the tracks down in various studios based in the North of England.

Q: It is said that the band has a ‘revolving lineup.’ Would you say that is accurate?

A: I get musicians where I can, some are recruited in parks others from shopping malls. Seriously, we all do other projects, for example I’m singing for a lot of drum n bass projects at the moment eg Hospital Records acts London Elektricity, Logistics etc and recently with Tak over in Japan. I try to keep it the same line up for Kava Kava but we go out live as a six piece, which is quite a large line up – so there’s a pool of musicians especially brass players…….

Q: What has the transition in moving from Britain to the States been like? Living here now? Just touring here? Etc.

A: We are still living in the North of England! Wouldn’t mind spending some time in NYC or the Bay Area though!

Q: How did you end up with songs on the show “Weeds” and the XBOX 360 game “stoked”?

A: In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to have been at a few music conferences in the States, sometimes with my own label Chocolate Fireguard or repping a few other music projects that I’ve been involved in. Kava Kava’s first synch to US TV was “Weeds”. Over at at SXSW I had a few beers with Amine – the first series music supervisor and she was interested in using “Don’t Stop The Music” for the very first episode. Happy days there really. It’s a dream for bands to get the chance to air their music in cult TV shows. “Weeds” was a particularly good show. I think it got a Golden Globe, right? This placement introduced us to the world of Synchs. We’ve worked with placement Agents who have helped – tracks in shows like “Dirt” (Courtney Cox) and “John From Cincinnati” followed. Also raunchy Hollywood independent film “Boys & Girls Guide To Getting Down” It’s amazing for us to get in a show like “John From Cincinnati” when the only other tracks are from peeps like Bob Dylan, TV On The Radio, Kasabian, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Joe Strummer, U2, Muse etc and its really helped draw attention to the band’s music. This year it’s been good to get our music into video games. Again meetings with contacts at conferences secured our music into the snowboarding game “Stoked” and last month “Bank Job” became a free track in iphone app “Tap Tap Revenge 3” which I understand is pretty good coverage.

Q: The new album came out this summer. I just finished listening to it and am completely blown away. What has the response to the album been? What have you been doing to support it?

A: Thank you very much for that response. Appreciated. This particular album has only been released in the US so far, although a few singles like “Tic”, “Bank Job” and “Don’t Stop The Music” have been released worldwide on itunes already. The reaction has been very positive, lots of great US press but we are itching to get back to the States to do some touring in support of it. Any ideas?

Q: Talk about some of the lyrical concepts on the album. Have a favorite song or lyric?

A: I’m feeling “Bank Job” right now. Lets face it, we’ve all been taken for a ride over these last few years! Also “Forwards” – we all need some love. If you find yourself in a situation where its repeatedly the opposite, then it’s time to move on or change your surroundings.

Q: I am a metal head at heart, but I also love my experimental/psychedelic stuff. The album grabs me immediately with the start of “tic.” How do you come up with sounds like that? From there, what made you decide to lead off the album with that track?

A:With you there – us Kavas are partial to a bit of metal now and again too. About the sounds in “Tic”……….. at one point the band was based at this old run down house in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. The house was a bit depressing – none of us had any money, but it was good because we could make a lot of noise there. The opening sound you hear on “Tic” is actually the sound of the taps and pipes shaking the house! We ran the water from the taps to the point when the pipes were making the worst possible noise and recorded them. It was a really nasty sound. From hell in fact. Jason manipulated this sound in the sampler! One of the reasons why “Tic” opens the album is due to the great response we’ve had from it being in shows like “John From Cincinnati” and “Dirt”. The single, which I released on itunes on Chocolate Fireguard Records has done well in the States and we’ve enjoyed some really nice contact with people in America via the Myspace site who keep telling us they love the track …. So I figured it was a good idea to start the album with it.

Q: “Clarity” has drawn a lot of attention. What do you think it is about this song that draws people in?

A: Thats good to know. I think having a video helps. Michael Slavens directed this for the label Midnight Swimming who are releasing the album for North America. I’m also hoping the track is more immediate than others have been in the past. Being self produced, we have a tendency to write longer songs, but “Clarity” is just over 4 minutes which is something of a breakthrough for us! I think lyrically its pretty straight forward and hard hitting too. I worked on the beats with Gav Whyte from “Nursery of Naughtiness.” I think the change of groove on this track gives us a different feel and it sounds pretty fresh. Christophe B helped us mix this one down in Manchester.

Q: “Everything” rocks pretty nicely. Tell me a bit about how that song comes together.

A: Elements from a jam around a simple blues lick from Matt (Guitars). I changed the rhythm, added the vocals and a load more keys, organ sounds. Worked with Jason on the acid sounds and he worked the beats in – this time manually. The track was mixed on my laptop with the help of James Reid (Blue Amazon / Darcadian).

Q: What is the future of this band? What is next?

A: World Domination! Off to play some gigs in Switzerland soon. We’d love to tour the States. We had such a great time at SXSW but that was a while ago. I think U2 should offer us a support next time they tour your Stadiums.

Want to know more about Kava Kava? Find them here:


Watch their video here:


Stay tuned for more from Kava Kava, here as always, in the Continuum.


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