The Best Summer Releases from the SJ Scene

song of the summer

This has been an amazing Summer of musical releases- from both household names to local acts playing around The Bay. Due to global warming a decent part of my Summer has been indoors listening to local songs from some of my favorite acts until the murderous yellow star of our solar systems takes it’s rest on the horizon on our side of the equator to terrorize China. And seeing how I listen to a lot of local music, here is my current Summer playlist of music coming from SJ.

Capture.JPG

Lena Nelson

Track: Fireworks

Release: Fourth of July

As much as I enjoy the more breathy, inventive style of singing brought on by the age of social media artists, there is something refreshing about hearing a track from a strong vocalist who is not perched behind their production or lofi engineering. The first single from Lena Nelson’s Fourth of July is entitled, “Fireworks”. It is a strong r&b number with a smooth jazzy keys over a fast-paced track all produced by Nebulous.

As on the nose as a track entitled, “Fireworks” released on the 4th of July is, Nelson has delivered a very solid R&B performance, which is included on this list only shortly after my first listen. It mirrors a Kehlani song in terms of the final product; its confident, sexy, and easy on the ears. It seems that she performs with a neo soul band, so I’m curious what her other tracks will sound like. It will be exciting to see what direction Nelson decides to venture into.

jay summer.JPG

Jay Summer

Track: Mania

Release Date: July

I couldn’t have a piece on SJ’s summer of music without the aptly named Jay Summer, the sleeping giant of the San Jose music scene. He has expertly crafted a string of releases starting with February’s excellent, “Clutch Burning” and now, the pulsing fever-dream of “Mania.” Summer’s sound exhibits strong influence from artists such as Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, and Rex Orange County. His songs have a freshly-painted quality that matches his dreamy West-Coast-Livin’ aesthetic, but he also carries some surprisingly weighty social criticism in his sharp lyrics, often musing on the predicament of growing up a small-town New England kid, finding himself in the shiny excess of Silicon Valley.

His first few releases uses motifs of cars and has a cynical take on modern consumerism over summery instrumentals that radiate Channel Orange vibes. Like his influences, he has great vocal range that goes well with his inventive production choices- it is refreshing in a landscape of dreary anti-pop. His r&b takes a more indie rock feel, chords ring through his songs and he uses vocal pitching to deceive the listeners.

The Come Up has enjoyed his releases, even using one of them for our last video bump for a show.

His newest single Mania is probably his most promising release- and I think he knows it. A droning vocal plays throughout that sounds like Thom Yorke’s end to “Daydreaming”. It seems that he is tapping into a abstract sound with his r&b, edging into Jame’s Blake quirky-engineering territory. Mania feels like a down spiral- a song of decadent brand-laden lifestyle, combined with religious allusions to lands of milk and honey and praises to the most high. It seems Jay Summer has found his sound just in time for July.

I’m not sure of the end result of these releases- whether he is going to drop a full ep, album or visual component- but we’re enjoying this series of songs.

kylah symone

Kylah Symone

Track: How does that sound

Release: July

Kylah Symone is probably one of the most promising rappers in the city, even standing out among her peers of SJ Hip-Hop collective, TankShit. She has proven it over the past years under her former alias KB Howard. Her flow is dope, her writing and handling of any instrumental is impressive. She varies from classical hip-hop, emotionally heartbroken tracks, to tracks “How does that sound” which is less about the lyrics and more so showing her ability to flow on a beat.

Dreamawake’s production on the track is great as always. A booming bass plays over a bombastic trap beat. “I had to work on my worth” Symone raps over the production, her flow fast paced and hungry. The song feels like a triumphant return to form and the SJ rap commnity is hype about it. It seems like Symone is reinventing her style under this new name. I’m excited to see if this solid start leads to new releases of the same style, or if Symone decides to surprise us…again.

young tsukune.jpg

Young Tsukune

Track: Weed and Shorty

Release: July

Young Tsukune played for The Come Up 3 show and he enthralled our entire audience that night. Seeing his incredibly soft voice come from such a quiet and timid person reminded me of watching my first Spooky Black video. His music tends to be bubbly and fun, even when it centers around heartbreak and headaches. This track serves as a balance of his handling of cadence and flow and demonstrates how his voice can make a crowd melt.

Because artists love being compared to contemporaries, I would say Tsukune combines the new age trap pop sound of Lil Yatchy or Uzi, with lofi beats and cloud pop vocals similar to Shiloh Dynasty. Because he has been performing for a long time as a rapper, Tsukune has a better grasp of his breath and delivery, giving him one of the most unique sounds in San Jose. This puts him ahead of the curve of a new genre of rap associated with less- how to say- production-dependent acts. While producer, Dream awake and Young Tsukune are a match made in heaven, his androgynous voice blends well with this guitar laden lofi track.

mitchell

Mitchell

Track: Every Devil’s Got His Angel

Release: July

Riley introduced us to Mitchell over the weekend. Hailing from San Jose, Mitchell’s demo releases a garage rock sound that coalesces blues with the modern garage rock sound. It has the feel of a new-age lofi rock, but if you were to strip the psychedelic effects and production. San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County have a kinship of this sound molded from acts like Sic Alps, Ty Segall, and The Oh Sees. Mitchell takes these garage rock sounds and adds a more bluesy feel to tracks. It feels a bit cinematic because he lets the instrumentals fill the song versus layering them with pedals and vocal effects.

For demos, these feel like fully realized songs, especially “Devil Feels Like An Angel”. It bounces to slow burn and hits a chorus that reminds the listener of Mitchell’s more pop sensibilities.  I have a feeling Mitchell and others will help grow the garage rock sound to the SJ music scene. And eventually they will be performing at shows that will attract all sorts of fans- aging hipsters who drink quadruple IPAs and 15 years old who wear cuffed mom jeans and smoke Marlboro Reds.

Artist: Matinee Global

matinee global

Track: Adna Kaw

Released: June

Adna Kaw feels like a colossal project, it could be the various genre blending, it could be the pacing, or the credits on the song. A bit of recent trend for reasons I don’t know, but people are into having large teams of people to create projects. This is important for reasons I will cover in my next piece. But Adna Kaw -Which is Wakanda backwards- is a well versed ride that goes into dark alt-hip hop production to a slower alternative rock break. The execution seems a bit forced at points, but the racially tense vibes over percussion that have an African trap feel make up for the change switch ups that occur.

It feels like Matinee Global plans on making waves in San Jose- possibly by the end of Summer time. We will see what comes of this.

Like our list? Good, go follow the links and support these SJ artists. Hate our list? Well what are you doing here then?

Do you feel like your friend or loved has been wrongly robbed from their spot on the playlist? Submit your work, so we can give it a listen. Riley is writing a list of some of his favorite bands, so be on the lookout for that. Until then, keep your ear local.

And be sure to see our show August 4th at Uproar Brewing.

Come Up Episode IV: A New Hope Recap

A shoutout to everyone who supported the show and made another unforgettable night with The Come Up IV: A New Hope.

Our opener  IPA (an acronym for band members Ian, Pablo, and Angelo) provided smooth hip hop inspired jazz music as well as great inventive improvisation. They created amazing renditions of hip hop and music that brought the crowd together.

After introductions and IPA’s performance, Co-hosts Riley and Isaiah discovered that the fish-netted lamp leg- a precious centerpiece to The Come Up stage- was missing! It turns out it was stolen by our neighbors and show rivals from Tournamentertainment, who host their own show the same time we do across the street. (They also donate to the National Association of Baby Seal Clubbing*). Isaiah ran across the street, lightsaber in hand, to face the culprits of this crime.

 

In the meantime, Riley continued on with the show, giving away lightsabers to those in the crowd who proved themselves worthy by answering lightsaber trivia.

IMG_5357

Cohost of Tournamentertainment and alt-right blogger* Adira Sharkey showed up with our precious leg lamp in hand that her show stole from our stage. Riley, believing the hatchet was buried, foolishly handed her a lightsaber. While Riley turned his attention to the crowd, like a good host, Adira literally stabbed him in the back. Adira slayed Riley in front of the younglings in the crowd. She then preceded to rant about her inferior show across the street.

We continued on with Ryan Sudhakaran, who had a hilarious bit that ranged from Americans appropriating cuisine, role playing with his girlfriend, and the modern dating scene for Indians.

 

Alan Frenz took the stage soon after to dominate with an amazing entertaining hip hop performance. It was the first rap group to come to the stage, replacing a DJ with a full band with guitars, keyboards, bass, guitar, and Al acting as the lead vocalist. The crowd and The Come Up crew loved the performance by the band.

IMG_5493

IMG_5509

San Jose powerhouse Socorra gave a pure rock and roll performance with her immense vocals and equally impressive guitars. Socorra has been a supporter of The Come Up and she is part of a lot of great work in San Jose, including the SJ Songrwriters, which provides a space for songwriters to share their work.

IPA returned to stage with Come Up with Riley McShane to perform together, making the band Rye IPA (get it?). And after Riley exited the stage, IPA played us off into the warm Spring night.

It was a night with great beer provided by Uproar Brewing, warm weather, Star Wars music, lightsabers, more kids than usual, and great creatives both on and off stage. Thank you for Uproar Brewing, Exhibition District, and the artists for making such a great night. We will see you on May 17th, as well as the rest of the summer. Let’s keep making it happen.

*Some of the fact regarding that horrible show across the street have not yet been confirmed, but the statements are back by reputable people who definitely are not just Isaiah and Riley.

Noise in Enclosed Spaces: A Talk With Eastern Westerner

I watch as Eastern Westerner clears away boxes of plates, chairs, racks, and miscellaneous kitchen equipment, while simultaneously setting up their instruments. I was insistent on showing up to their band practice before the interview. I expected the practice would be in the main room of SOFA, which is the second story office space of an establishment below. The main room of SOFA touts a view of First street, has couches, a spacious practice space, and stacks of records. This space was also the stage of secret shows back in the day and is ideal for our photography

But instead of lounging in spacious main room of SOFA with a view, I am cramped in between some shelves, chairs, with the fear that I will knock something fragile over if I sneeze. The band mates seem bothered, “You’re getting your private show,” the guitarist and vocalist Lucas jokes as he tunes his guitar. I was getting a genuine kick out of seeing a band play in such a strange space.

BookScanCenter_2 (1)

“We’re practicing back here so we can play later,” their drummer John Carlo explains. He limits his drum kick due to how cramped the space is. Typically the band practices in the main room around 10 o clock to adhere to cutting off noise around 11. But they are starting a bit later, so they have to practice further away from the window as to avoid noise complaints.

Someone grabs a small lamp to put of the center of the band, which I use as a light source when writing. In all seriousness, it is a unique experience listening to a band perform in such an enclosed space. A young artist once said atmosphere is essential to music. There is no sign of discomfort when they begin to play; the only thing apparent is their chemistry.

Eastern Western is indie noise-rock band from San Jose. The band does not have any releases available, so a description is necessary. To be more specific, EW is a sort of post-punk band with noise rock influences that are reminiscent of Sonic Youth, Bedhead, Fugazi, and local noise rock band Duster. Their songs play out in the same vein as their precursor: Abrasive guitars that drone, minimalist drumming, and either guitarists Lucas and Aaron finish with the song with some low lyrics that work as another instrument. It is dissonant at times, which keeps you enthralled. Music that is simultaneously ambient, but works in melodic enough to demand attention.

bookscancenter_5.jpg

BookScanCenter_1 (1)

Lucas breaks his D string during their session, “It’s not an essential instrument,” Lucas says and he passes a cigarette over to their newest bass player Josh, who is the brother of fellow vocalist and guitarist Aaron. They proceed to do an improvised song. Once they go into the jam session, it is reminiscent of Dreamdecay; their drumming is aggressive and precise, the guitarists switch between rhythm and lead. I tell the bassist Josh that his bass playing reminds me of Interpol, I band I religiously listened to when I started learning how to play bass back in high school.

 

Without released music, you have to catch Eastern Westerner at a show to know what I am talking about. In a time where anyone can release their music on Soundcloud and Spotify, and typically do, it is refreshing to have a band focus so much on their live performances and chemistry. I’m the only present person watching and I insist the band play as long they want. Lucas uses the opportunity to offer suggestions to Josh’s playing. “I’ve been playing bass for about a month,” Josh explains, but is enthusiastic to play with the band. The chemistry and camaraderie between the artists is apparent. They are image you strive for when one of your friend suggests starting a band.

IMG_9823[1]

The group formed when John Carlo and Aaron started jamming together in one of the first times they hung out with one. another. That eventually evolved into the crafting of their sound. “This is the first band that I’ve been in,” John Carlo mentions to us. He played bass in high school and has only been drumming for roughly a year. John Carlo, Aaron, and the former bassist had a BBQ, which no one showed up to because they forgot to invite people. Aaron decided to invite Lucas last minute and they jammed and the chemistry just worked out.

The band’s inception was not a mindful process. John Carlo brings how Aaron process of finding new band mates was through random trial and error.

“Aaron would be like ‘you know who would great in the band? This random ass person I haven’t spoken to in six months” John Carlo jokes. They crack some jokes about how they struggled to find a good bassist. Somehow it was only recently Aaron thought to ask his own brother. This organic process of forming the group is probably one of the main factors that contribute to their rapport. Also half of the band is related.

IMG_9841IMG_9829

“Finding a bass player was the hardest part,” Aaron explains, “you want bass to be interesting, but you want it to, you know, follow the drums.”

“Josh is one of the humblest guys I know,” Lucas adds, “And one of the best baristas in the city.” Which is true, swing by Social Policy and see for yourself.

Songs usually stem from Aaron and Lucas creating concepts and playing off one another.  A process, that is organic and inclusive, from how they casually describe. There isn’t the kind of toxic egoism that you see in a lot of bands, “It’s hard to say,” Aaron admits when I ask about the band’s songwriting process. “It just happens.”

IMG_9826[1]

Each individual member of the band has pretty common origins stories when it comes to how their passion of music developed. Names like Zeppelin, AC/DC, and The Beatles get brought up I ask them what bands inspired them to pursue music. “There is this band Duster,” Josh mentioned, “they were one of them [inspirations] go to right off the bats. Elliot Smith, Alex G. A lot of sad stuff mostly.”

Duster is not exactly an infamous band, but their significance is apparent in indie rock scene and young SJ artists. “San Jose legends,” Aaron mutters.

But in reality, Easterner Westerner sound is formed by their contemporaries. They embody the aggressive and no wave style of Dreamdecay and Sonic Youth, who are the pinnacles of the genre. And they also remind me of Darto, a band based in Seattle who are beloved by artists in SJ. They mention over bands of similar genres like Leer, Breathing Patterns, Vancouver band Dumb, and San Francisco band Deerhoof, which inspires John Carlo’s drumming.

“There use to be a festival in San Jose called Think and Die Thinking,” Aaron mentioned, “They use to put them [music festivals] on at Billy DeFrank LGBTQ community center. There would be shows every summer back.” Aaron mentions that he discovered them back in 2010 and that’s how he discovered acts like Darto and was exposed to the scene. Think and Die Thinking, a D.I.Y. punk collective that provided all ages for the community, disbanded recently decided not to put on future shows.

 

“I’ll never forget when I first heard Darto,” Josh says. He going to see some friends perform a show and Darto was doing a last minute show.“They [his friends] were like ‘stop what we’re doing, fucking Darto was about to play’” Josh tells us, “and I was like ‘Who is Darto?’”

IMG_9830[1]

It is one thing to support and listen to local acts who exist in your scene. It is another thing to have them influence your musical style. That’s how communities build their unique sound.

Doing The Come Up I have to be mindful of the former collectives that create the platforms that we used to put on live shows and bring life in the scenes in SJ. The band continues on about former house shows and events that shaped their community and musical tastes of bands. They also bring up the hardcore and punk acts they see at locations like Gingerbread House.

Lucas brings up other movements happening across the Bay Area, “There is a dude named Jeffery Chung [of Unity fame] that is spearheading a queer movement in Oakland,” Lucas explains, “they organized a queer, skateboarding thing. They also run a screen printing press and it’s pretty cool.” (It is cool. Peep the New York Times article on it. ) He is not clear whether or not Eastern Westerner hopes to emulate that kind of movement. But San Jose’s music and art scene is going through an identity crisis and fellow Bay Area movements are essential aspirations at the moment.

I discussed this with Jonny Manak, of Jonny Manak and The Depressives, who told me about the scene in the 1990s. In the story where I discuss the scene, he brought up exactly how the underground hardcore and punk scenes were sustained by consistent shows.

He offered this advice, “Got a house with a basement? Throw a show! Got a gas generator and a remote area? Throw a show!…All you need is electricity and a place to do it. It doesn’t have to be an official venue to make it fun.”

This same sentiment was echoed by Eastern Westerner, which are descendants of two previous generation of SJ independent music. Their performances more about what spaces are offered to them and how to make them an experience. EW mentions that they have a strong support system of local creatives made up of performers and artists who were part of a previous generation of indie rock.

“We can thank Stephanie Cheng, for promoting shows,” Aaron says. He started going to shows happening in 2010 “We’re lucky to have The Ritz, even if it is 21+.” Staples in the community help build spaces for smaller, DIY moments and shows. Though they are infrequent, everyone in the band agrees that the scene is strong. It makes sense they feel this way; they are bred from the scene. Josh kind of glances over at his brother and this band he’s been initiated in “I’m stoked to play with you guys, because it’s a unique sound.”

Lucas mentions how music shows use to exist in studios in Mountain View, but they closed down due rising cost of Google buying out storage space. “We had really good shows there,” Lucas explains, his tone sounded a bit frustrated, “but then Google bought the warehouse next to it. The landlord couldn’t do it anymore.”

IMG_9844

Aaron used to work in warehousing and laments on the decline of secret shows. “One of the clients for a warehouse and holding I work for is Google. And what they store in there is miscellaneous office materials…cubicle walls, panels, it had been there for five plus years.” Essentially music shows were being effected by tech companies driving up rent costs to store their staplers.

The Bay Area, and California as a whole, lives in the post Ghost Ship era of music and art performances. Housing is somewhat affecting bands abilities to put on shows. There is a specific kind of energy that Eastern Westerner creates with their music and it’s something that cannot be captured on records. The desire for creating unique, DIY shows with amazing experimental music will keep the scene alive.

The band comes off more youthful when discussing the recent history of San Jose scenes. Maybe because they are trying to capture the spirit of music that they discovered as teenagers.

Aaron brings up the most essential post-punk, experiment noise rock band that put San Jose on the map. “All of San Jose’s musical hopes and dreams rested on Smash Mouth,” Aaron jokes, “And Smash Mouth failed us” We break into laughter. Even a band as legendary and critically acclaimed as Smash Mouth will not save the DIY scene. It will require several artists and acts like EW who inspire their contemporaries and future young aspiring artists.

One of the greatest appeals of seeing a performance of a band like Eastern Westerner, is that you can tell they are a good time making music with one another. They make good music for the sole purpose of putting shows for each other and their friends. Small shows are intimate and it creates a sense of belonging and make it worthwhile. The night with Eastern Western was filled with beer, random conversations, music, and laughs. Things that cannot truly be captured or recorded.

 

Eastern Westerner will be performing May 9th at Cafe Stritch.

 

This story was written by Isaiah Wilson.

Polaroids shot by Isaiah Wilson

The good photography was done by Leopoldo Macaya.

The Come Up 2 Electric Boogaloo

Image uploaded from iOS

 

Tonight The Come Up 2 Electric Boogaloo is happening! It’s going to be an exciting night of unique music, hilarious comedians, food, drinks, and celebration of the local San Jose music scene.

Below is a quick bio of our lineup as well as links to check out their music, our interviews with them, and other content.

Kiva Uhuru

IMG_7444

A well versed performer, guitarist, and vocalist, Kiva is a singer songwriter whose music consists of a blend of modern indie rock akin to Alabama Shakes and The Districts as well as new age soul similar to Hiatus Kaiyote or Kehlani. She has a well polished unique sound that comes from constantly performing at shows, open mics, and busking. You can check out our recent interview with her here. 

Reign LaFreniere

IMG_5311

A young filmmaker and musician, Reign is a indie rock artist’ who possesses the spirit of early 1960s folk and blues. His music content tackles identity, loss, taking action, and is a refreshing take on classical forms of blues and folk. You can find his music here and check out our interview with Reign here.

Normtronics

IMG_8758

 

Normtronics is a music producer who combies an early 2000s Dillaesque production style and combines it with instrumentals and breaks that sound that they’re derived from both jazz even a bit of house on his earlier works. He breaks away from the common lofi sound saturation modern production and pursues a style that heavily samples an array of genres. He even ties a classic hip hop drum pattern style with sampling that sounds it’s cut from deep house. Nujabes and Dilla influences are strong in his music and you can listen to his new beat A Rusty Egg Breathes New Life here. 

 

Jimmy Flynn

A Sacramento native currently based in Santa Clara where he is attending Santa Clara University. He is a talented filmmaker, actor, and comedian.

 

Aviva Siegel

Outside your wheelhouse: An interview with Kiva Uhuru

IMG_7684

In the age of social media, people are developing their own personal brands. It is rare to find a musical artist’ without a Soundcloud, Bandcamp that showcases their talent. If you live in a city and frequently check out local music shows, someone is bound to show you their Soundcloud and Spotify. No matter how the music sounds, it’s exciting that people are willing to put themselves out there and share their music to strangers.

And having an online presence certainly helps when we are looking for artists to perform for our future shows.  But if when you’re trying to find out where to find great local music, the open mic scene in San Jose is another great way to meet amazing performers and artists. That is how I met Riley (The Come Up co founder), Meridian E and Marley Hale, (who both performed at our first show) and it is also where I met Kiva Uhuru, a multi talented performer who will perform at The Come Up 2 Electric Boogaloo later today.

Kiva Uhuru is a talented 20 year old guitarist and singer-songwriter who doesn’t have any recording works, except for some Youtube videos someone else posted of her performing. It is apparent her time and energy has been spent on building her craft rather than developing a brand around it. She has a strong soulful voice that has an aggressive presence even when she is crooning an R&B style song. And because she spends so much time performing live, she has developed an intelligence for playing for an audience and making unique events out of her showcases. When she is not performing, illustrating, or writing poetry, she is pursuing her education as a Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Major at The University of Berkeley.

Meanwhile I had to look up how to spell  enginerng  engineering. I’ve known Kiva for a few years. She even performed at one of The Come Up’s Sofa Session shows. So I had chance to talk to her about her craft, balancing work and school, and her plans for her music in a Q&A style interview.

 

The Come Up: What was growing up in San Jose like?
Kiva: It was so boring until I graduated high school. I didn’t see much of the city at all and pretty much split my time solely between school and home, which was in South San José. I was a part of the nerdy,  flamboyant misfit troupe most of my life: either loitering with other moody outcasts, or trying out radical ideas and personalities on-line. Graduating to the art scene on SoFA Street was both the obvious natural progression as well as a welcome shift in scenery.
The Come Up: What person(s) inspired you to pursue music?
Kiva: Honestly, the people who inspire me to pursue music are actually the people who tell me they enjoy my music and my sound. I would be playing music and performing at open mics for the rest of my able bodied life just because I enjoy it so much it’s almost compulsory. My favorite musical influences are to thank in part for sparking that desire, but the encouragement of others keeps me pushing for a bigger stage.
The Come Up: We recently interviewed one of our other performers Reign, who goes to an art school and is pursuing film. Being a high school student going to an art school, committing to music is within his wheelhouse. I was doing music and film in high school too. But you’re a Engineering student at Berkeley, which is famous for its rigorous academic coursework. How do you balance academics and your artistic endeavors, when they seem so juxtaposed?
Kiva: I think the most honest answer I can give is that there is no balance, it’s a lot of burning the candle at both ends, playing catch up, and hoping I land on my feet when I don’t practice either skill enough. However, just like Reign, I’ve been doing this since high school. The main difference is that the stakes are higher, and my enemy is not how different my interests are, it’s that there are only 24 hours in a day.
The Come Up: What’s the difference between the Berkeley music scene and San Jose’s?
Kiva: Not to knock Berkeley’s music scene, but since SF/Oakland/Berkeley are so close together, and arguably have fully articulated scenes with multiple very heavy hitters in every genre, from open mics to underground hip-hop to the DIY scene; the magnitude of options produce heavily fragmented microcosms that can feel really isolating. One has to work hard to be a known entity, and then break into each microcosm almost one by one. However, if you do befriend someone who’s been at it for a while, 100% or the time they will connect you to right people. It’s hard to navigate in the beginning when it’s hard to parse who’s in it for community and who’s in it just to be looked at for a moment.
On the contrary, San Jose is smaller but so much more open and accessible. If fact, with no business cards or spreadsheet of musical contacts and spotty attendance across the board, I feel like I may be one of the least community oriented of the frequent open mic-ers in San José (but I’m working on it.)
The Come Up: We originally met at Caffe Frascatti when you were performing an Open Mic. When and why did you begin performing open mics?
Kiva: A teacher at SJHS actually had me open for him at Frascati when I was a senior and after that I was sorta hooked. I really love performing, I love to jam with other musicians, I love coffee and being outside late at night. It was a no brainer.
The Come Up: You also busk as well right?
I do! It’s a great way to get rid of any lingering stage fright or other forms of being self conscious.
IMG_7476
The Come Up: It is unique and awesome that you are known more for your live performances. Is there a reason you focus more on live music?
Kiva: I have a fear (or distaste) of recording so deep it may have subconsciously contributed to ending my last relationship (he was a sound mixer/master/producer.) Beyond that I just enjoy the ephemerality of performance and feeling immersed in a moment with the audience.
The Come Up: You once did an improvised song at Cafe Stritch’s Go Go Gong Show where you made an amazing song out of words people said in the crowd. *Do you remember the words that came from the crowd that you used?
Kiva: I do not recall, especially since I’ve wheeled that party trick out a handful of times since. However, I do remember the contents of the song were absolutely foul and shan’t be repeated.
*(Full disclosure this was a leading question. I know exactly what that topics she sang about that night and out of respect for Kiva’s privacy I will keep it to myself.)
The Come Up: I guess that’s a skill you develop from performing live and busking. As you know, we have comedians who perform between musical acts during The Come Up. Do you have any interests in comedy?
Kiva: I do, I’ve been gaining speed as a comedian, much more slowly since it’s a secondary interest, and because it’ll become a lot more feasible after I turn 21.
The Come Up: Do you have plans on releasing any music in the future?
Kiva: My goal for 2018 is to have an album by 2019.
IMG_7444
The Come Up: What topics or subjects inspire your music?
Kiva: Heartbreak, self-doubt, desire. I like to take things that have happened to me and stitch them together with the thread of the common, cliché singer-songwriter themes.
The Come Up: Your musical style reminds me of Alabama Shakes, Hiatus Kaiyote, Hozier, and other soulful musicians who carry their music with raw, emotionally potent vocals and lyrics.
Kiva: Damn, thank you. Each of those artists are big influences.
The Come Up: What do you regularly listen to (or watch) that inspires your songwriting/composition?
Kiva: I read poetry, share stories by the campfire, and search for new music to cover to update my “toolbox” for writing my own songs. I’m mostly inspired by my own feelings and personal events, so I might watch a home video, have a little cry if I need to, and then start trying to pen something together.
The Come Up: I hated when people ask this question when I was a student. I still get this question and I still hate being asked it. So I’m going to ask you this question.
Kiva: I’m ready.
The Come Up: Okay fast forward to your senior year. You earn your degree. An engineering degree from one of the top schools in the country. Where do you go from there?
Kiva: I’m still considering moving to Ireland and working on music and film there, I just applied to a consulting accelerator, I might try to challenge Jeff Bezos for the throne in hand-to-hand combat over a waterfall. It’s really just about wherever the opportunities open up first.
The Come Up: You’re definitely an inspiration to me for your dedication to your studies and your many creative projects. What message do you have for young artists like yourself?
Kiva: First of all, thank you. In means a lot to me to know I inspire you, I can’t thank you enough for your support and for putting me on. Like I said earlier, part why I do this is because amazing, wonderful folks like you believe in me. To the young artists: never forget where you came from, practice humility, especially because you are asking to take up space, and use your singular, unique voice because it is your most abundant resource and simultaneously the most valuable.
The Come Up: Any advice for other artists who are also students?
Kiva: Do what you just to stay sane and to keep close to the whetstone, but don’t drop out. You’ve come too far to only come this far.
IMG_7359
Kiva will be performing tonight at The Come Up 2: Electric Boogaloo tonight March 2nd at Uproar Brewing at 9pm. You can catch her at open local mics in the Bay Area.
As always, all photography was done by the enigmatic Leopoldo Macaya.