The Future of Music: The Karsten Durand Collective
The core members of the Karsten Durand Collective are
guitarist Charles Newman and lead vocalist Karsten Durand.
Together these talented artists are creating something
special. The Atlanta based group has appeared on WXIA NBC
Atlanta's Peachtree Morning TV show, performed in Columbus,
Georgia's beautiful Springer Opera House and Karsten has
sung the national anthem at Turner Field.
Charles and Karsten took some time off from their busy
schedule to talk with me about their music, the music
business and their future.
[Chris Van Loan] How did
you guys get together and how long have you been working on
the Collective ?
[Karsten Durand] On some level I think we've been
working together all of our lives. Walking separate yet
similar paths that were destined to intersect. We managed to
meet about five years ago in a music store where Charles was
working. He advised me on some equipment I was purchasing
and we made this odd, instantaneous connection. It wasn't
until the fall of 1998 when we actually started working
together, that we figured the connection was this ideology
we share about the integrity of music and what it means to
be an artist. After production was completed in May of
1999 Charles asked me a question I didn't have an answer
for. He said "what do you want to do with the music now?"
[Charles Newman] My feelings upon completing the
CD were "How in the world do we market this, and where do we
go from here?" So I posed the question to Karsten, "What
now?". We both felt that although the CD has a strong R&B
vibe, R&B was really only one facet of the music.
Traditional music industry politics would say to market a
product like this to more "black" music outlets. To where we
stand as artists and as people I felt like that ideal was a
load of nonsense. I found my 10 year old stepdaughter would
sing "Thaddeus" or "Circle The Moon" repeatedly over & over,
and demographically she is perhaps the last person I would
have expected to really enjoy the music.
That gave me the idea of what would happen if we formed
a band with some wonderful players, rehearsed the material &
gave these songs the breath of life that a live performance
and live audiences can bring. The Collective was born not
only to perform the music, but give the songs a whole new
perspective. So far our club performances have been quite
well received so hopefully the idea is working.
[CVL] When I listen to your
songs I hear strains of the spirituality that I have
experienced in the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, Al Jarreau
and Bobby Mcferrin. Were any of these musicians influences
[KD] Not coincidentally I'm sure, the very first
concert I ever attended was an Earth Wind and Fire show when
I was about six. On top of that I overheard some of the
masters of Funk during the "Blue Lights In The Basement"
parties my parents hosted. Growing up, there was a jazz
station that was played 24 hours a day in my house. I was
exposed to phenomenal artists, some of whose names I don't
even know and some I have remembered like Jarreau, McFerrin,
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie and Take 6. Other
influences include Quincy Jones; Sting; Phil Collins; Curtis
Mayfield; Duran Duran; Toto; and of course Stevie Wonder.
[CVL] Who were your primary
[KD] Every singer, songwriter and band that has
ever created music before me. Some have served as
inspiration. Some have served as a warning. Without getting
too 'preachy,' I have to say that my primary influence is
the Creator I'm a pretty spiritually guided individual and
when lyrics and melodies barge into my psyche and demand to
be given a voice I simply follow orders.
[Charles Newman] As I look back at my inspirations
I have to say that there are really just a few that stick
out in my memory the most: Jimi Hendrix for the inspiration
to look inside & find a singular, identifiable voice, Mozart
for the art of composition & harmonic sophistication,
Charlie Parker for the bebop & the attitude and Zappa for
the sheer audacity to destroy all conventional wisdom about
what can be musical.
[CVL] I love the lyrics of
your songs. Who does most of the lyric writing?
[KD] That would be my alter-ego the prophet MICAH.
My Mother says she gave me the name because she knew that it
would be apropo.
[CVL] Do you guys share the
jobs of writing the lyrics and writing the music?
[Charles Newman] Most of the CD was nearly
completed when I became involved, apart from "Last Minute
Apology" & "Thaddeus". Originally I was just going to
engineer & master the CD, but as I heard more & more of the
material it was like I was hearing things I had written,
songs I already was a part of. It was rather surreal. The
idea was hatched for me to play some guitar on a few tunes,
then that snowballed, then Karsten started hearing new
ideas, finally we realized we had better finish the thing &
keep our egos in check. When all was said & done I had
written guitar for 7 of the songs & we had retracked several
different things. I wish we had had a little more time to do
some more guitar, but overall I was happy with where we
stopped. The newer material we have been writing more as a
unit, bringing the Collective into the writing process as
well as incorporating alot of where we were at during
"Stream". I have been contributing more song writing, and
Micah has remained the wordsmith.
[CVL] I have to ask you
about the song "Thaddeus", the mesmerizing tune about
someone so lonely and disillusioned that he takes his own
life. Is this song based on a real person?
[KD] "Thaddeus" is based on a thousand real
people. It was spawned by several true stories that left the
same scars and questions. Sadly the scenario is neither
unique nor uncommon.
[CVL] Karsten, you hit some
pretty long notes on "Thaddeus". Have you had formal vocal
[KD] Not really. Although I did spend a year with
the Atlanta Boy's Choir as a first soprano. The rest has
been trial, error and evolution.
[CVL] Your award winning
song "Circle The Moon" sounds like it would be great for a
movie sound track has that possibility ever been
[KD] From your lips to the ears of the various
Administrative Assistants to Hollywood Executives. We've
sent packets to several management firms and made it very
clear that, that is one of the avenues we'd very much like
to pursue. Of course we have yet to hear from any of them.
But we keep the faith.
[CVL] I noticed that your
mp3.com web site has songs categorized under Rock, Groove,
Funk and inspirational pop. The KDC excels in all of these
styles and I personally love the diversity, I'll never get
bored listening to The KDC, but do you guys think that your
broad range of talents scare off the big record
[Charles Newman] I think Record companies in
general are scared senseless by what they themselves deem
"Artistic" music. Then again, explain Peter Gabriel's
success. Most A&R these days seem to be searching for the
"hit". Developing an artist long term at the major level
does not seem to be around anymore, either. I would hope
people, whether they are with a label, in a club, or surfing
the web can relate to where the Collective & Karsten are
coming from. It's about people, loving, sharing, crying,
being as one, no color, no barriers. It's about God, it's
you & I. This is a music of healing and of strength and
conviction. If a label were to really dig what we do, great,
but ultimately it's about every individual we can bring a
little happiness to. If we reach someone's soul, really
touch them in some way then I am satisfied.
[CVL] What are your long
range musical goals and what is next for The KDC?
[KD] Touring here in the U.S. and across the great
pond. A more aggressive distribution program.
[Charles Newman] Completing the first full band
CD, continuing to gain exposure & hopefully a little
recognition through touring & promotions. Maybe even make a
few bucks (LOL). In addition, we are looking for other
artists to work with as part of the goals of our new
venture, Zero Gravity Productions.
[CVL] Karsten and Charles
thanks for giving me some of your time and for sharing your
vision and talent through your music and this
[KD] Thank you for the opportunity. We are
honored. Charles: The ultimate thanks to you for offering
us this time to share our music.
Karsten Durand's Website - http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/62/karsten_durand.html