KaiserCartel are American duo Courtney Kaiser (former backing singer for John Mellencamp and for the Wallflowers) and Benjamin Cartel based in Brooklyn, NY.
March Forth was the band’s second record, originally released in 2008, which spawned the response…”Kaiser and Cartel just might be the Sonny and Cher of the indie-pop world.”
Pick up March Forth and the band’s other albums on iTunes here!
Rachel Brown is a singer-songwriter born and raised in New York City, with Ethiopian, Bermudian and Southern roots. With her guitar and ukulele, Brown’s unique voice combines sweetness, sultriness and vulnerability, enchanting the listener. When coupled with her band of talented African and Caribbean musicians, Brown’s music fuses pop, Caribbean, Hawaiian, country, hip-hop and world sounds into a captivating groove.
Peers and established veterans alike quickly recognized Brown’s natural talent. She was the 2010 recipient of the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Robert Allen Award for songwriting as well as a 2011 recipient of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Abe Olman Award for Excellence in Songwriting. She also received a very coveted showcase slot at the National Association for Campus Activities’ national convention, leading to a 40 date college tour.
1) For those who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell us about how you got started making music and the process of creating your debut EP, Building Castles.
I took a year off between graduating high school and starting college, and in that time I purchased a guitar and started teaching myself and writing songs. Over the next few years I worked at it and worked at it until graduation, when I was in a place where I could give it a shot full-time. Since then, I’ve built my band, which includes a blend of influences from Caribbean music to hip hop, as well as West African instruments like the kora and talking drum. Building Castles is a collection of six songs I wrote and recorded in New York and LA.
2) We saw that you not only attended Harvard, but were named one of the “15 Most Interesting Seniors”. Talk about transitioning from what must have been a rigorous academic lifestyle into creating and performing music.
Even though I was busy with schoolwork, I would devote my free time to songwriting. When I graduated and realized that I could now devote all of my time to music, I pretty much hit the ground running. Having to ration my time for music while in school made me that much more eager and driven to immerse myself in it post-college.
3) You perform regularly at The Darby in New York and have a show next Thursday at Rockwood Music Hall. Page Six in the New York Post frequently spots some big name celebrities at your shows. What’s the craziest story from a live show (that you can tell us)?
I think the most surprising was last spring when Wyclef Jean joined me on stage unannounced and performed a full set with me and the band. On top of it all, he wasn’t the only stage crasher I had that night! ELEW jumped on the piano and rocked out with us, too.
4) What artists inspired your music style? Are there any contemporary musicians you’d love to play with?
I always have my ears open to interesting melodies, clever lyrics, instrumentation, et cetera. Some artists I find inspiring include Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson, Jason Mraz, Sam Cooke, Wyclef Jean, Andy Grammer, the list goes on. I would love to work with Bruno Mars!
5) It’s no secret technology is becoming more and more of a necessity for artist development. What are your thoughts on the emerging digitized industry and how do you find time staying up-to-date and connecting with fans?
I think it’s great that there are so many ways for artists to connect with their listeners, and that listeners can communicate directly with an artist. And as an artist, it’s pretty incredible that you can instantaneously send your music out to every corner of the world and it’s suddenly accessible to anyone with an internet connection. But between Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and whatever else comes along next, it can be difficult to both stay up-to-date with online communication and have time to create music and carry on with your daily life. As with anything, it has pros and cons, but I think the benefits of being connected far outweigh having to add one more thing to your plate.