Tuesday, September 21, 2010
SUCCESS IS SWEET: TORONTO GIRL DUO KARAMEL SERVE SOME DELICIOUS WORDS ON FAMILY CELEB IMPERSONATORS, SAILOR MOON, AND, OF COURSE, UNDERWEAR!
Neon-glam fabric, crazy glitter make-up, screaming crowds, sassy lyrics, booming dancey bubblegum pop, and a Toronto night venue. These items comprise the list of a typical KaraMel performance. It's no wonder KaraMel has called themselves - just that - living up to its candy-coated spin of two names. Kara plays under the same name as herself - a former regular gig at gay and rock venues - while Mel represents the alter ego of Cassie Steele, whose name and face you might recognize as 10 year veteran/character "Manny" on Degrassi: The Next Generation. In November 2009, Kara and Mel travelled to - and revolutionized the music industry in - Scotland, where their single "I Turn Me On (Kiss Myself)" was played on Top 40 radio station, Clyde 1 Radio. They expended this newfound energy and victory in music festivals for crowds that exceeded 10,000 people, and continued to rock the Scottish club scene with their eye-catching shows. With a YouTube channel that has reached as high as #10 in Canada's "Most Viewed" section, and a recently-released debut video "Underwear" by prestigious director Aaron A (who has worked with Nelly Furtado and Down with Webster), KaraMel can believably top the charts with their upcoming debut album or otherwise repeatedly with their future musical endeavours. Check out our Q&A here:
V.B. Your "candy pop" ish sound and image have received rave reviews in Scotland and Canada. When - and how - did you discover your passion for music?
Kara: The passion for music feels like something I was born with. I can show you the old home videos of 4- year-old Kara, performing as Sandy from Grease! My mom and aunt are both professional impersonators; they do Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. So, I was raised in a very musical home. My upbringing was odd! Last year, I actually got offered a job with an agency to be a Miley Cyrus impersonator. The money was great, but I passed to focus on KaraMel!
Mel: I was bit by the bug early, too. I've been writing forever and touring, since I was barely a teenager. Saying I have a "passion" for music is an understatement; it's part of my being.
V.B. (Cassie), you were on Degrassi; (Kara), you were performing at gay bars and rock venues downtown. How did you guys merge together to create the idea of KaraMel?
Kara: I was in L.A. with my manager Chris writing some new songs. My old pop band was kind of falling apart.
Mel: She came to visit me at my place in L.A and was talking about how her band was in trouble. I would need a new member, and she totally wasn't expecting me to want to join.
Kara: She had always been so rock'n' roll. I didn't think she'd be interested in joining KaraMel.
Mel: But the second we started singing and performing together, it just worked!
Kara: Her rock 'n' roll influence actually makes the music and the show a lot more interesting. The fans can really see the differences between us. She's harder; I'm sweeter. The contrast makes the combination really special.
V.B. You guys have a diversity of musical influences present in your music. How do they affect you in the process of thinking of certain songs to sing or certain ways to dress, etc.?
Our inspiration comes from the strangest things - lots of old cartoons, like Sailor Moon, Powerpuff Girls, or old Disney movies. There's some great imagery there. The KaraMel show is basically a cartoon movie, come to life. In terms of music, our inspirations can be surprisingly dramatic- like Evanescence and Marilyn Manson. We love music that really makes you feel. Even though KaraMel's music is very fun, the ultimate goal is still to make people feel something strong - whatever that may be.
V.B. Speaking of the emotional context of your music/career, the titles of some of your songs i.e. "I Turn Me On (Kiss Myself)" and "Underwear" can seem to spark some controversy. Do you use these songs to send an important message to your fans, reflect personal experience - or are they just all in good fun?
We write our own songs, so they do, of course, derive from personal experience.
Kara: I still remember the night "Underwear" was written - like it was yesterday - and there is a very specific boy who it's about. I never got to see him in his underwear :)
Mel: Our song titles and themes will always be uber quirky; that's who we are. We're not boring chicks; we're not gonna write generic break up songs or "I'm so in love" songs. There's always going to be a twist that reflects how crazy we are. Even though we sing about sex and partying, the ultimate message is very positive - stay happy, enjoy life, be bold enough to chase your dreams, and keep the world a loving place.
V.B. You have a YouTube channel that was rated as high as #10 on Canada's "Most Viewed" section. Would you say you guys pull certain certain stunts or unique performances to draw extra exposure?
We'll do anything! We sometimes start singing randomly on streetcars or in burger joints, just so people get to hear our songs and know we are. We've performed in the weirdest places; we're not above anything!
V.B. Your debut music video for "Underwear" was produced by the same guy behind The Stereos' and Nelly Furtado's videos. How was that whole experience? Can you hint us into how the video turns out?
It was great. Aaron A is an awesome director, and we expect to work with him again in the future. It was our first video, so we learned a lot. The second video will definitely be a lot crazier and reflect our stage show more. You can see the underwear video at www.youtube.com/karamelband.
V.B. What do you hope to pursue exactly - with your music and acting careers? Are there any certain types of films, TV shows, genres, etc. you'd like to experiment with?
We're both very focused on KaraMel right now. We're not thinking about anything else, until we've taken over the world. We need to get the whole planet dancing in their underwear.
V.B. What lessons do you think you've learnt from observing certain musicians in the media, or anyone in your life (in general)?
Kara: Lady GaGa has really shown me the importance of hard work and practicing constantly to perfect your craft.
V.B. What specific advice can you offer to aspiring artists, dancers, or singers - like yourself?
Mel: We ourselves are still aspiring for so many things, but to anyone out there, the only advice I can give is to be yourself and work you ass off! If you're not passionate enough about your art that you find yourself crying over it every day, then you aren't passionate enough yet! You've got to want it so bad that there are tears.