Tell us about yourself.
Kyna: Well, the four of us are all decently easy-going musicians. I’m on vocals, Josh on guitar, Chris on drums, and Alex on bass. We started as friends hanging out playing beer pong and eventually decided to musically marry each other with The Go Ahead. I come from Los Angeles, being raised in the shadow of my father, Ray Wise. I always wanted to act but being a young woman developing in Los Angeles proved to be really hard on my self-image. The bay area became the place for my regrowth and education. I’m a pretty well-adjusted kid, now, no matter what the guys may say! Josh, Chris, and Alex all grew up together in Palo Alto. Chris attended San Francisco State University (as did I) and would go down to UC Santa Cruz to play shows with Josh and Alex. The three of them have always found a way to maintain their friendship since they were 12 and I just sort of started crashing the party starting in 2008. Best mistake I’ve ever made.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
Kyna: I’m the kind of artist that hates everything I do until I’ve mastered it. It takes me a long time to master anything because I have a hard time focusing. I’ve checked my phone nineteen times since I began responding to this question.
Tell us about the genre of your music.
Chris: We’ve always had trouble defining our style of music. Alternative rock would probably be the closest label for our music but we’re not even sure we fit into that mold. Maybe 90s rock is a bit closer?
Tell us about the story behind your song.
Alex: “About to Burst” started with us screwing around with an idea that became the chorus. We sat on it for a bit while we worked on other ideas. I was in a creative slump and wasn’t very happy with what I was writing. It seemed like I kept writing the same song and it was getting frustrating. I went back to the chorus idea and kept humming the guitar melody. Then, the lyrics came to me very quickly. I was stuck in a creative bubble and couldn’t escape but the guitar melody finally got me out of the slump.
But then, I hit another hurdle. We came up with a verse part and I was back in the damn bubble. I couldn’t come up with anything. I showed Kyna my chorus and explained what I was going for; what themes I wanted to address in the verse. She then ran with it and within about a week she had all the lyrics written. What I take away from this story is the theme of writer’s block was resolved due to collaboration. It just needed a fresh set of eyes and ears.
Kyna: I was going through some really hard anxiety and the concept of trying to move on from the same song resonated with me. I was desperately trying to get out of the routine I had created for myself. It was self-destructive, self-sabotaging, and the behavior was seemingly circular. I constantly felt like I was in a whirlpool. I’d kick myself when I was down for not being able to get up, which is such a mean thing to do to yourself when you’re depressed. A tool I keep in my back pocket is allowing “the day” to feel all these negative feelings before forcing myself to change my attitude. This song was the closest I could articulate my anxious thoughts and management.
Tell us about the problems you are facing as a musician.
Josh: Distribution of our music, spreading our sound and fan base, and paying rent.
Tell us about the recording and production of the song.
Chris: The recording was done in different stages. The drums, bass, and rhythm guitar tracks were done live in Laughing Tiger Studios with game changer Sean Beresford. But that’s only the start. There are so many layers of atmospheric guitar parts floating through the song as well as a ton of harmonies and background vocals to add to the ambiance. We tackled this part of the process for many hours in Sean’s home studio.
List the names of blogs, radio, or TV stations that have supported you so far.
Kyna: We’ve gotten some serious love from Alt 105’s Aaron Axelsen through his Sunday night radio show “Soundcheck”. Consequence of Sound premiered our Music Video. Tiny Mix Tapes did an exclusive stream of our EP right before we released it. Imperfect Fifth and Get It On Vinyl wrote beautiful reviews of “In Harms Way”. We even got some love from Canada with A Journal of Musical Things including us in a feature.
Tell us more about your music career, experience, and future goals.
Kyna: Josh, Chris, and Alex have been playing their instruments since they were very young. They have also learned how to play almost every other instrument and it is infuriating. They continue to teach new musicians as a way to make ends meet. I started singing when they asked me to join their band 7 and a half years ago. It’s been tough competing but I’m finally in a place where I don’t cry for them to get a new lead singer. We’ve played a lot of really great shows and want to keep that up. Future goals are always to make more music we are proud of and to play for anyone who wants to listen.
Brief us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.
Josh: A lot of the time it begins as a guitar part or two and then morphs with input from members of the band. Lately, I’ve been trying to start with a feeling or emotion first, rather than a guitar part/chord progression.
Chris: Hearing a song go from just one small idea to turning into a full-length song is really inspiring. It’s like seeing all the steps a painter takes when creating a piece of art. For a while, it’s hard to tell what they are even painting; what direction they are going in. But slowly, it begins to take shape and makes sense. You’re suddenly able to see which direction you’re going in.
Kyna: LIFE, MAN.
Brief us the top-secret behind making a hit song.
Chris: Four on the floor drum grooves. The more old school the bass can sound, the better. Lots of synths. Maybe some guitar, maybe not. A catchy chorus never hurts either.
Kyna: Obviously, a catchy chorus, Chris. I also think being Michael Jackson can help.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to an upcoming artist.
Josh: Do work, be humble, try to learn from everybody.
Chris: You need to spend an equal amount of time promoting yourself as an artist as you do practicing. You can be the best musician in the world and no one will know who you are unless you put yourself out there.
Discuss at length your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition, or awards you might have obtained.
Kyna: One guy said we are “by far the best band” who he has ever opened for. That’s an award of its own, really.
We have one full-length album under our old name. Don’t look it up. And we have two EPs under “The Go Ahead”. We’ve been on one west coast tour and have gone out to Austin during SXSW three years in a row, each year playing more and more shows in an unreasonably short time.
Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio.
Kyna: It varies from song to song. Sometimes I write lyrics first and the band starts playing something and I see if it fits. Sometimes, Josh writes a really cool riff and we see where we want it to travel from there. Sometimes Alex writes a whole song progression and I sing along with whatever melody and lyrics the song is charming out of me. And then sometimes Chris, uncommon for a drummer, will come in with beautiful song ideas he’s crafted on the guitar. It’s all very diplomatic.
Name the artists you are willing to collaborate with.
Alex: Vulfpeck, People Under The Stairs.
Kyna: anyone who means what he says and says what they mean.
State the links to your social networks and stores for the purchase of your songs.
Tell us how you will spend a million dollars.
Josh: Buy two Strymon guitar pedals.
Tell us how you manage other activities with your music career.
Tell us, five artists, you can regard as legends.
Kyna: Yoncé, Gaga, Prince, Bowie, MJ. TO NAME LIKE ONLY A FEW.
Alex: Jimi Hendrix. He managed to change the way the guitar is played in the four years he was in the spotlight. The feeling I get when I listen to him solo is unique to Hendrix. It’s somewhere between euphoria and jealously. “Goddamn, that’s a sweet solo! Now, why doesn’t it sound like that when I do it?!”
Tell us your future plans pertaining to music.
Alex: We’ll be splitting our time between SF and LA. We’ll hopefully have a tour in the works in the next couple of months. By the end of the year, we’ll be recording another record.
Josh: We want to play big shows and festivals, reach a wider audience, and continue writing and performing.
Tell us what you think about creativity and originality in music.
Kyna: I hate when people say “I like REAL music”, suggesting that what the DJ is playing to an audience isn’t “real”. It’s all real. It’s not all good in my eyes but it’s all real. Being original is great but everything is reductive of everything. We speak the same language, things will influence without it even registering. We live in our creativity.
Tell us the major reason you are into music.
Josh: Personally it’s the only thing, or maybe the first thing, that I ever considered myself good at.
Kyna: It’s the most rewarding moment when someone tells me something I’ve written has helped them.
Tell us your view on old school music and new school music in terms of preference.
Josh: Musical trends are constantly changing and recycling. What is “old school” for some might be “new school” for others? I try pretty hard to keep an open mind and not harbor any musical prejudices. I am not always successful though.
Chris: Just because it’s on the radio does not mean it’s good. Just because it is considered old school does not mean it’s good. Listen to what you want to listen to and always keep an open mind and ear out for new music.
Tell us your most memorable day as an artist.
Josh: For me, it was performing at the Great American Music Hall.
Alex: When I played at the Great American Music Hall the first time with The Go Ahead. I had played there as a hired gun before but this particular time was much more important to me. I was playing songs I wrote with my best friends on a stage I grew up seeing some of my favorite acts.
Kyna: Alex’s answer has made me cry and this is now my most memorable day as an artist. But before that, it was when I offered to buy Thes One of People Under the Stairs a drink and he said, “Artist to artist, I can’t let you do that. I know the struggle and I have drink tickets, anyway.” It was the first time someone I was a fan of put me on their same level of being an artist and it changed me forever.
Tell us what you would do for the people if you found yourself in a position of power.
Kyna: I would listen to them about whatever they need to scream about. I’d try to help them achieve a goal of theirs. I’d cook them dinner and find out what about them makes them super special in this world.