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The Hot Sweat
Arden Kaywin
Arden Kaywin
By Cristina Carrazza-- I Assistant Regional Head, Midwest

Since Arden Kaywin was name a "you gotta know artist" back in 2007, this singer songwriter released her sophomore album "The Elephant In The Room." She is currently the opening act on the Curly Rock Tour, featuring Curtis Peoples and Keaton Simons. I sat down with Arden during the Chicago stop of the tour to get to know this up and coming artist a little better.

Cristina: Let’s start by introducing yourself.
Arden: Arden Kaywin. My music is “indie-pop.” Pretty much.
CC: It says in your page that you have a “top 40 sensibility with a quirky lyrical insight”
AK: *laughs * Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Some people think of pop music as being stupid and just bubblegum pop. I won’t name names but you know who I’m  talking about. My music is pop in the sense that it’s hooky, commercial sounding, and fun – you just want to bop around to it. But it’s lyrically insightful. It’s not so obvious all the time. So I guess that’s where that comes from.

CC: Do you want to talk a little about your background and how you got into music?
AK: As a little kid my entrée into music was actually through dance. I was also in ballet classes and all that stuff. So my original connection to music is actually through movement. When I’m in the studio now, and we’re working on something, if it makes me want to move to it in anyway, I know I’m onto something. And you probably saw I can’t stay still on stage. And then I started taking piano and flute lessons. I was always in choirs and doing musical theater all through junior high and high school. That’s how I started taking voice lessons. I wanted to do Broadway stuff. My voice teacher was actually a classically trained singer. She started teaching me operatic technique.
CC: That’s interesting because you have a completely different sound now.
AK: Not now. But I can; I can turn it on when I need to. I still now, even in Los Angeles, I’ll get hired to sing in commercials and soundtracks with that type of sound. I actually went to college for classical music and classical voice. I have a degree and did that professionally for years after I graduated. I sang with a bunch of opera companies around the country and just got really burnt out from it.
CC: And that’s how you started getting into the sound you’re at now?
AK: Yeah. I always wrote songs. I would be in the practice room where I should’ve been practicing Mozart writing little pop songs. But when you’re in classical music writing pop songs you don’t tell anyone. It’s very taboo and judgmental so I just did it for fun.  I never intended to do anything with them. But then I was really burnt out on Opera and I moved to Los Angeles. I had a foot in that world and a foot in the commercial music world. I thought I like being in the studio and writing songs; it feels so much more creatively fulfilling than just singing somebody else’s music.
CC: Do you feel like your background in music has influenced you in the musical career you lead now?
AK: It definitely informs what I do in the sense that I have studied voice for so many years. The very basics of breath control and projection are engrained in me and I can’t turn that off even if I want to. But all of the other stuff I put it away in a closet. If I need to sing operatically I can take it out but otherwise the door is shut.

CC: What are some of the artists that have influenced that pop sound you have now?
AK: I love Alanis Morissette, U2, Counting Crows back from when I was little, Tori Amos. And now more contemporary artits like Frou Frou, Imogen Heap, Death Cab For Cutie. I don’t know how much of it actually shows up in my music.

CC: Who do you think you sound like? If you were going to pick a couple of artists that put together make up your music…
AK: It’s a hard question. It’s part Alanis. Part Feist. I don’t even know. Somebody compared me to Rufus Wainwright – I don’t know but he’s awesome.  But I guess if you have the rocky thing of Alanis and the the quirky part of Feist you’ll have me.
CC: I guess your music is very varied too. You have the more relaxed songs and then the more rocky ones. People say you’re very refreshing.
AK: Yeah! Speaking of that when you make a record people will judge you if it doesn’t sound exactly the same. People don’t download full records anymore, unfortunately. They pick the songs they like and that’s it. I like a lot of different types of music. If you listen to the record from start to finish you can tell there’s a thread between the songs that connects them. But each song is different. But I like to surprise people.

CC: Let’s backtrack to your first record, “Quarter Life Crisis”
AK: That was me getting my feet wet. It was my first time recording and writing pop. I wrote the entire record by myself. It was produced by Rudy Hauserman. But it was not a collaborative experience. I wrote the song and gave him a piano and vocal track and he would produce and arrange it. But we were on the same page which is why it worked. But this new record, “The Elephant In The Room,” in the two and a half years in between I met a lot of people in LA that I loved collaborating with. I realized I didn’t like to write by myself as much. I liked to have other people. I guess when you write by yourself you can get into the habit of writing the same thing over and over again. But if you collaborate, specially with a musician who knows your music well and you know theirs, they can really help you out. Whatever you come up with will be ten times more interesting than anything you two would have come up with on your own. This new record was entirely co written. Over half the tunes were me and this musician named Ziv – who was on stage with me tonight. My other collaborator was Eve Nelson. Very different collaborations but really great end results. I don’t think I would ever want to write a record by myself again. I liked working with other people. And I was also involved with the production, the arranging. So my hand was in all of it.

CC: Going back to what you were saying before, were you feeling pressured about making every song “download worthy,” or did you feel like you got that first pop record out of the way and had more flexibility to do what you wanted?
AK: I am not on a major label so I never had someone telling me what to do. I just knew that there a thread line lyrically – which is why the album is called “The Elephant in The Room.” Lyrically, it’s about those things that we know exist but we don’t acknowledge, whether it’s about our culture or ourselves. I didn’t really want to limit myself sonically. So I just did what I wanted and it’s been good so far.

CC: On the collaborating note, who are some of the people you would like to work with?
AK: Oh wow. Well I would love to work with either of the people I’m on tour with now – Keaton Simons and Curtis Peoples.
CC: How is that going by the way?
AK: They are just the best. I really couldn’t ask for better tour mates. We’ve bonded and become so close. I’m going to be really sad when it’s over. It’s a bitch now because we don’t sleep and we’re always driving. But they have inspired me a lot both musically and as people. I’m really going to miss them.
CC: I know they’re awesome guys.
AK: I would love to write with them. I guess other people would be Linda Perry, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie. Dave Grohl I would love to write with. So if you’re listening, give me a call.

CC: What do you see yourself doing in the future? You have had a very diverse musical career so far.
AK: You know it’s always an interesting question because as a woman I want to get married and have a family. Unless you’re Faith Hill with four tour buses, and three nannies it’s really hard to do. I don’t know how it’s going to be balancing wise. I do know that I will always be writing, whether it’s for myself, other artists, film and TV. I have a theme song on TV right now.
CC: Yeah you have the theme song to the Discovery Channel Show “Deliver Me.” How did that came to be?
AK: That was because the guy who produces “Deliver Me” wanted to use one of my other songs for the show. We got to talking and they didn’t have a theme and I said I would write them one. If you don’t like it whatever, but if you do we’ll figure something out. So I did and he liked it and it’s on TV now. But anyways, I love to write. That’s when I’m happiest, when I’m writing and in the studio collaborating. I love performing and recording but if I had to be in one place I think I would always choose to write. But hopefully I can tour more.

CC: Who is one artist you would love to tour with?
AK: To be able to open for a bigger act would be awesome. The first name that comes to mind is Kings of Leon, I love them.

CC: So I always finish off with one random thought…
AK: I’m renovating my kitchen right now. It’s going on while I’m gone. My mother is there poor thing. She totally got roped into being in my house now.
CC: Well it’s nice that you get to come home to a new kitchen.
AK: What else is random. I drink green tea every morning. Oh and every time “Pride and Prejudice” is on TV I will drop whatever I am doing and watch it. The Keira Knightley version of course.
CC: Ha, we have something in common then.

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