Kharma Zhu: Ricky Martin Minus the Silicone Smile
They've got attitude, charm, and style...and they're as easy on the eye
as their music is on the ear. (And, no, they didn't tell me to say that,
either). Kharma Zhu, an up-and-coming band from New York City, play a
funky-jazzy-pop-rock style flavored with spicy Latin undertones. In a recent
interview, I discovered that the eclectic melodies and catchy tones they
create are a total reflection of their personalities, which makes their
music even more addicting.
[Daina Kazmaier] How long have you been together as a band?
[Kharma Zhu] About ten months. We got together in April of last year.
[DK] That's rather young. So tell me, where did the name Kharma Zhu come
[KZ] Well, we were pretty desperate to find a name. It turns out that our
original name was already taken by about three bands in the city. We started
brainstorming and came up with Kharma. You know, a collection of energy. It
sounded cool and different, and then we added Zhu to the end. That shows
the chaos (as in zoo). Basically, the name means that the energy we create
as a whole is greater than that of a single person.
[DK] Wow, interesting. Deep...do your lyrics reflect the band members
directly? Were they written from personal experiences?
[KZ] Yeah, the lyrics are basically a collection of what we go through
everyday. Mostly memories and past experiences.
[DK] How about your songwriting process? Do the songs come easy?
[KZ] Each song is different. We could have one done in less than two hours,
while others are a struggle and take weeks. In that case, we usually
rehearse and bang it out until we get it right. It's always a total band
experience. The initial idea ends with all four of us giving feedback. One
of our new songs, "Believe," took us a total of two hours to write and
record. It came out magically. We also have two kinds of songs- the
intimate romantic type and the explosive Latin/dance type where the crowd
goes wild and random articles of clothing are thrown onstage.
[DK] Two hours to write and record...I'm impressed. So who are your main
[Mehrdad (bass guitar)] I listen to a lot of jazz and instrumental
pieces. Miles Davis is among one of my main influences. Hip-hop is in there
too, as well as electronic stuff.
[KZ] Our main influences are a combo of song-oriented bands.
U2 and Dave Matthews...mostly musically eclectic acts bridging the two
worlds. We like the songwriting/lyrical focus, but we incorporate a
sophisticated new sound and a lot of Latin guitar playing.
[DK] How would you describe your music to listeners?
[KZ] We don't want to define ourselves with other groups. We would say that
we've got a Latin influence with hip-hop style funky-bouncy beats. You can
definitely sing along with our songs, it's mostly catchy melodic music.
It's Latin rock with a funk and hip-hop influence. Pop without the bubblegum
flavor...we're the real thing, the balls behind it all. Maybe even Ricky
Martin with attitude (and without the fake smile).
[DK] That's a great description...enough to convince me to listen right
there. So, where is your main fan-base located?
[KZ] Definitely in New York City. We've got about six or seven hundred fans.
We sold out the Mercury Lounge. We're also totally into self-promotion.
Check out our website at www.kz2000.com. Our fans also reflect our music.
We have a very diverse following; there's not a specific type of person who
likes our music (other than cool people and women).
[DK] That's always good for you guys. Who do you feel have been your biggest
supporters? Who has helped you get where you are today?
[KZ] Matt Marcus! And everyone here at Major League Entertainment. And of
course our families and friends who have been there from the very beginning.
They spread the Kharma Zhu gospel!
[DK] What can we expect from Kharma Zhu in the future? Any tours planned?
[KZ] Huge explosions. Nothing short of world domination. We like the New
York City night life, it's not like we're going to be locking ourselves in
some rehersal studio in Brooklyn. We want to increase our visual presence in
the city. Sell our CD, promote ourselves. By the way, you can pick up our
cd at amazon.com and cdnow.com.
[DK] So what do you guys like to do when you're not jamming?
[KZ] Promote! Talk about the band. But we play very often...it gives us an
excuse to go out.
Okay, so if there's one thing I've learned from Kharma Zhu, it's that
shameless self-promotion works. They're not afraid to sell themselves and
get their music heard, and I respect them for all that they have
accomplished in such a short time. Check out their website at www.kz2000.com.