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Kesem – Interview


Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)

PD:  How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Josh: For me I’m always searching and pushing myself to write music I would enjoy listening to, and also make songs that are better than the last, or capture a different feeling at least.

Jay: Individualistic. Well, at least attempting to be. Everything has been done before, but it is all about doing it your way, putting your own personality into your style of playing.

Scott: Constantly evolving. Every project I do I try to make it different than my last. Every drum beat I write I try to make sure it’s somewhat different then every other song. It can be exhaustive especially for my band members 😁

 

PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.

Josh: We come from a variety of backgrounds and most of us are from California. My first concert as a kid was Pink Floyd, way after Roger Waters left when I was in 1st grade.  That definitely left a mark on me.  From there I rebelled with punk, then evolved into atmospheric stuff like Unwound, Fugazi, etc but always had this fondness for Prog music.  I’ve played guitar and been in punk and heavy bands since I was 15.  When Jay mentioned he wanted to start a prog band, I jumped at it because I had been wanting to join something more challenging, even if I had to switch from guitar to bass.  

Jay: Thankfully my Dad raised me on good music like Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, etc. and he took me to see Stevie Ray Vaughn when I was 9, from then on I wanted to play guitar. Around 11 I started taking lessons, and got into heavier stuff like Thrash and Death Metal. The rest is history.

Scott: My parents were hippies so luckily music was very prevalent in our home. My older sister had gotten into punk rock and started taking me to shows in the early 90s. It’s been downhill ever since. 

 

PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?

Josh: Personally I get influenced from music, movies, books, and with the case of the latest album, politics which has never happened with me before.  For Music I have way too many influences to list from many genres, but swapping to Bass I have been getting influenced from John Wetton, Chris Squire, Jannik Topp and Joy Division era Peter Hook.  Moving to Bass from Guitar, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to build as much atmosphere as possible in my writing.  Luckily we are all like minded in trying to make some intricate music, so when I come in with something everyone layers on the atmosphere.  Post-Terra was written during the pandemic, so the isolation, frustration, political strife, ended up influencing the concept of the album vocally.  I would also say that we all influence each other by someone bringing in a part, or jamming and songs form with everyone contributing.

Jay: As far as personal musical influences bands like Gong, Chrome, Birth Control, Zeni Geva, Acid Bath, Faust, John Zorn, etc. etc. But inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. I have come up with riff ideas while sitting on a rock by myself in the hills.

Scott: My biggest influences are Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, Dave Lombardo from Slayer/ Fantomas, Clyde Stubblefield from James Brown and Elvin Jones most notably from John Coltrane. As far as lyrics go I leave that up to Josh haha. 

 

PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?

Josh: To keep pushing myself to break habits and make songs that don’t sound like the last recordings.  Lately I have been trying to write songs with the vocals in mind, which I have never done.  I have always written with the music in mind first, and tacked on vocals after or right when we go into the studio to record. The next album, I’m going to be trying the opposite, we will see how that goes..

Jay: To make good music with my friends. “Success”, however one chooses to define it, is relative, as long as we are enjoying ourselves. Whether we are playing a small DIY backyard show or a larger venue packed with people, that is all that matters in the long run. Of course we definitely won’t complain about those packed venues!

Scott: I’ve had so many ups and downs playing music over the years that I really try not to expect much and just try and be happy writing and playing music that I’m proud of. That being said, like everyone else I’d like to try and see how far we could take our music. 

 

PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?

Josh: On our upcoming first album Post-Terra the proudest moment was singing instead of full on screaming.  Hearing Ben harmonizing too, it’s opening new doors.  Overall this album sounds bigger and I’m proud of what we all accomplished together, pushing out of our comfort zones.

Jay: I am going to agree with Josh on this one. I am extremely proud of what we accomplished on this record. It’s an album that I never thought I would ever be a part of. Much respect to the rest of the band and to the mighty Paul Roessler for helping us make it a reality.

Scott: Ditto with the above statements. Since we wrote this during lockdown it was amazing to see these little musical seeds come from our mind and be fully fleshed out in the studio. I just can’t wait to share them with everybody. 

 

PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?  

Josh: Thankfully since we all have been in bands, we have some help in this regard with people that we have either played with or worked with in our previous bands.  The part we think is fun is hearing from people this wasn’t at all what I expected (I hear that a lot from people that know Jay and his Noise projects) and they are actually into what we are trying.  

Scott: That’s the beauty and the curse of the internet. You can be just some person that gets huge out of nowhere or you can be a band like us that has to try and push to make a dent in the fabric of social media platforms. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged but you gotta do what you gotta do. 

 

PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?

Josh: I’ll let someone else answer this one, I just go where they tell me to play.

Scott: Sometimes we get invited, sometimes we have to book it ourselves. We are in the midst of booking a small tour now towards the end of summer. 

 

PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?  

Josh: Records are always going to be a ritual to me, since I was a kid digging through my dad’s record collection, putting it on, and going over the whole cover.  I will never stop listening to records for albums I think are worth the cost to buy them.  However, I’m not opposed to digital, streaming and downloads because it makes it easy to put something together on my phone for a car trip or drowning out people when I go outside.

Jay: To each their own. Records have their benefits, CDs have their benefits, streaming has it’s benefits, etc. I do wish Spotify paid the artists more though.

Scott: Personally I’m a huge record nerd. When I’m at home all I play is records. When I’m at work or driving somewhere I use Spotify or youtube. It’s just the way of the world. Hopefully someday they actually pay artists what they are worth. 

 

PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?  

Josh: Starless from King Crimson would be my choice.  The way it starts with so much atmosphere, builds, gets dark, and comes back to the first part again.  It’s a full atmospheric journey that makes me stop whatever I’m doing to take it in.

Scott: The Misfits- Hybrid Moments. It’s literally a perfect song. 

 

PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?

Josh: I’m not even sure what it is now.  Ever since I started it’s always been a selfish thing for me, to make something I want to listen to and I never really got into a radio station.

Scott: Yeah I agree with Josh I’m not even sure what the music industry even is these days? It seems more like a Bank where if they like what you’re doing or they see that they can make a profit somehow, they will loan you some money and almost always you become indebted to them and then they end up owning you and controlling you. I’ve always liked the business practices of DIY labels like Dischord records. I think more labels should run their businesses like them.

 

PD: So what are you working on at the moment?

Josh: We are about 5 songs into our next album, and trying to get back to playing shows, going on tour.

 

PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music online? 

Josh: Post-Terra pre-order should be going up later this month with the album coming out in the fall.  The album will go up here along with our first EP from last year:

https://sentientrecordings.bandcamp.com/

https://kesem23.bandcamp.com/releases

We also have the following areas to get updates:

https://www.instagram.com/kesemband/

https://www.facebook.com/KESEM23

https://twitter.com/kesemband

Kesem links:
Band/Artist location – Los Angeles California
Facebook – Bandcamp – Twitter – Instagram –
Check our page for Kesem


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