Ground Zero, a home away from home for pop music students, ended the first week of classes last Friday night with its Indie Tune show. Headlining the performance was Kiven, a band hailing from Los Angeles, that formed here at USC.
The definition of indie music can mean something different for everyone. Though some of the other bands that played at Indie Tune generally fit the genre, headliner Kiven doesn’t necessarily define its group in the same way.
The only original member of Kiven, Tyler Demorest, considers the group a “brand-new band in this collective unit.” The group members found each other at USC and recently picked up sophomore A.J. Novak after losing their previous drummer.
Novak eagerly backs the idea that Kiven is indie, but the other members aren’t too sure.
Lead singer Demorest believes indie music has changed a lot over the years.
“Now I think it’s mustaches and hipster boots. I don’t know if we’re quite there,” he said jokingly.
Kiven has been influenced by bands such as Thrice, Muse and Radiohead, but as guitarist Danny Schnair — a studio jazz guitar major — mentioned, each member has a different background in music, bringing something different to the table.
Many bands focus on standing out from other groups. Kiven would rather concentrate on going with the flow instead of forcing something that doesn’t suit it.
“We’re not trying to be anything, so what comes out is authentic,” Demorest said.
Demorest thinks of music as the only universal form of expression, and sophomore bassist Matt Cohen says the band’s inspiration evolves from varying places depending on the members’ location, mentality and their personal situations.
As for releases, Kiven opted for a live-session album, which served as a great way for this self-labeled live band to indulge in its classification. Last week Kiven posted three videos on Facebook and released Noise Coalition Live Sessions with the same three live tracks.
The videos and audio tracks were recorded in a section of Cohen’s friend’s house, which was turned into a recording studio.
When performing in front of a crowd, no matter what size, they aim for a high energy show. “If you put on a good show and you mean it [and] it’s real, then they’ll feel it too,” Demorest said.
Novak finds it important for the members to leave their personal baggage at the door to do their fans a favor. “Otherwise it kind of brings the show down. They won’t know specifics, but they’ll notice that we’re upset,” he said.
At Indie Tunes, Kiven left all baggage at the door and created a worthwhile experience for the packed coffeehouse. For Cohen, seeing people’s reaction to the band’s set is a “natural high.”
Performing in front of an audience is completely different from playing in a practice space.
“It’s almost like as if you’re taking a leap of faith and you kind of hope you’re going to get caught,” Schnair said.
If Schnair literally took that leap of faith into the audience, the students rocking out in the front row probably wouldn’t have hesitated to catch him, judging by how engrossed they were in the performance.
A great show always seems to bring people together.
“Since [the fans and the band] all had that experience together, I feel like I can go up and introduce myself because we kind of know each other already,” Novak said.
Ultimately, Kiven hopes to make a living by doing what it loves: performing. Demorest dreams of performing at Red Rocks, a beautiful Colorado amphitheatre, giving more motivation for Kiven to mature as a band.
Kiven hopes to release a six or seven song EP in December, but until then, listeners can get a free download of Coalition Live Sessions from the band’s website and look out for upcoming shows.