Kiven Music is the Loch Ness Monster in a Serene Sea
By Nicole Hanratty
Posted February 23, 2013
Taken in by the “Hope and Smoke” track on their new 1840 EP that is reminiscent of RHCP’s “Venus Queen,” I couldn’t wait to see Kiven’s live show and have a chat with these three boys.
Kiven is Tyler Demorest, (whom grew up in San Diego then moved to Orange County), Danny Schnair, (from San Francisco) and Matt Cohen, (an OC native), all USC graduates who met in college. Get the three on a conference call and you will probably laugh more than anything else but in the interim it will become obvious that you couldn’t pull three more different personalities together.
Talking to me on the dreary weathered day in Los Angeles of February 5th, the three opened up the conversation by telling me they love the “coffee weather” that was masking my preferred sunshine. “You’ve got beach weather like 362 days out of the year,” Matt laughed. While he’s basically right–and I do love my Starbucks–on that particular day I was just craving a little sunshine.
Now LA transplants, the three feel differences in music influences and roots is “kind of what brings our sound together,” said Tyler. “I think everyone as they write and create are influenced by everything that impacts them in their life; what they listen to, what they see, what they’re experiencing and I think to experience and listen and like different things helps kind of shape original sound.”
Genre labels don’t stick well to this band and that’s the way they like it. Tyler explained, “Genre restrictions are always to me kind of frustrating cause it’s like ‘oh we’re post alt indie this rock…'” We laughed because he’s right, music used to be a little less category specific and more up to the listener to interpret. Tyler continued, “We’ll have songs that are epic rock ballads like Muse straight going for it and then we’ll have more intimate songs that are really kind of being piano and maybe a guitar then it grows into a more linear piece that goes upward.”
Releasing their 1840 EP this month meant the band had to choose sounds that represented themselves but indicated that in a full length album we may hear even more diversity. Matt said, “I think we said last night during practice, it’s like we put out a three piece now and we’ve had to pick from songs we’ve written. …Things we weren’t even planning on doing have just come about throughout this process. The time and everything that you get to put into full length is just a total different beast actually.”
The band enjoys the different way fans connect to their music and in particular we discussed my comparison of “Hope and Smoke” to “Venice Queen.” Said Danny, “We can say one thing that we think it is and then it’ll mean something different totally to somebody else. We’ve never heard the Chili Peppers thing before, but it meant something to you and that’s why you were able to connect to our music and that’s awesome. That’s what makes this whole thing cool, what makes this whole world of music go around. People find their own ways of connecting with it.” He added, “I love that song by the way. I’m a Chili Peppers fan.”
So I gave up on making the three guys classify their music and threw them for a complete loop instead. I asked them, “If I were deaf–couldn’t hear a thing–what imagery would you show me to describe your sound?” And to no one’s shock all of their answers were as different as the colors in the rainbow. Matt tried to get away with, in his words “that old artist answer,” and said, “I think it depends on the song too.” Then added, “Goddamn this a cool question.” We gave him a minute to think.
Danny replied, “I was going to say–you guys are going to laugh at me for saying this because it’s a typical Danny answer–but I’d say just white color. If you think about white light is, white is everything all of the colors in the spectrum put together you know? I forget which artist did it, but the pinpoint on the canvas. You’ve first got to do that. You put the pin point on a white canvas and people will start seeing different colors. They’ll see just a spot on the pinpoint, but they’ll see a whole world come to life from it.”
“I tend to gravitate toward ocean imagery a lot of the time,” Tyler said. “I guess to kind of paint a picture, sometimes it can be very calm and placid and beautiful and other times it can get all stormy and in your face. …Even with some of the writing, I like to go out into the ocean if you will of this vastness and try to make sense of it.”
Then we put Matt on the spot and made him answer. “Loch Ness monster … just a beast,” he said laughing. “It reminds me of what we are writing right now and I was just thinking some of our songs are beasts of songs and … yeah, I’ll stick with the Loch Ness monster.”
So the picture the three members of Kiven painted me was innovative, serene and, “What do I take from the beast?” I asked them. Matt’s answer, “You can put my Loch Ness monster in Tyler’s ocean.” For someone who started out trying to evade the question with “it depends on the song…” Matt nailed their sound dead on and it’s making waves across the country.
This past October of 2012, Kiven played CMJ in New York and were written up by Entertainment Weekly as the number two of five bands in the article titled “5 great indie discoveries from the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City”. With SXSW on the horizon, Tyler said they are hoping “to just take total advantage of the experience like we did at CMJ. We went to CMJ with the intention of putting on great shows, meeting new people and kind of taking it all in and I think that’s kind of the goal again at South By.” I’m certain based on the way the band lit up the room at the live show I saw them play at Central SAPC in Santa Monica and how just chatting with them brightened my sunless day, Kiven will do that and more.
KIVEN ON THE WEB
KIVEN ON THE ROAD
Nicole: When you guys are out on the road, which obviously starting in San Francisco and getting to South By are you driving or flying?
Tyler: We’re going to be back in the mini van out at South By.
Danny: Sienna baby.
Nicole: Who’s the first person to fall asleep?
Tyler: I’m going to go with Matt.
Nicole: I hope Matt’s not also the driver.
Matt: No, that’s Danny.
Nicole: Who’s the first person to be hungry?
Matt: Probably me. I’m a snacker.
Nicole: What song title best describes your personality?
Matt: “I’m Savage As Fuck” by Andre Nickatina
Danny: “Little Lion Man” Mumford and Sons
Tyler: “Booyah Achieved” by Minus The Bear
ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE
Matt: If I’m in a lighthearted mood, I’d go for Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, but if I’m in a serious mood I like movies like “Memento.”
ARTIST AT CMJ KIVEN LIKED
Said Danny, “They were really cool. That was something that was really memorable for us that we were lucky to be able to catch.”