All questions answered by bassist, Matt Cohen.
Kiven formed about 5 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2012 that you guys had started to receive some really great attention from sites like ArtistDirect Absolute Punk, and recently Alternative Press. How does it feel to know that your music is now reaching so many people?
It’s definitely a great feeling to see yourself on different platforms around the internet. An ultimate goal of ours is to get our music out there in front of many people as possible, and hopefully for them to connect. Having sites like the ones you just mentioned play our music and feature us is something we’re very appreciative of.
Okay, I have to ask. Where did the band name come from?
As expected, the band name question is one we get all the time. Especially since Kiven (pronounced Kee-vin) is likely a new word to most people. To make a long story short, the band name came from an old inside joke that originated from our first drummer, Teddy Boldt, now of Family Force 5. There was a neighbor named Kevin (go figure) that was ‘THAT GUY’ calling the cops, screaming at the band, coming in and complaining about the sound, even when the TV was on low volume. Guy was nuts…
What we’ve found special about the name Kiven though is the fact that there isn’t a pre-conceived meaning in the word. Kiven is something we made up and that allows for the music and us as individuals to bring the meaning to it. The music and the depth of the band provides the meaning of the name, essentially. Although, we’ve recently found out that Kiven is a character in a World of Warcraft type game, a villain in an old Star Trek episode, and even Cannabis in a different language..
How did you first get into creating music? Did you grow up in a musical family or did you just decide one day to pick up an instrument and go for it?
I actually did grow up performing and making music with the family. My sister did a ton of musical theatre and I was always around it. I personally went through just about every phase of music that I think imaginable, aside from country. (Although I don’t have anything against it). From pop, to hip hop, rock, to punk, to hardcore and metal, I was into them all.
Funny story.. I was actually living in Hawaii in the 6th grade and was going to move back to California. My family was going to move me to a new city and I was putting up a fuss. They wanted to move to Irvine, CA, which for some reason I knew had some good bands coming out of it. That was my selling point – I was going to move back and start a band in Irvine, CA hah.
I originally played the drums in 4th grade, but it wasn’t until the 7th grade when I joined the middle school band that I took notice to the bassists. I began hanging out in their circle and got my first bass for christmas that year. Then it just grew from there.
You released your first full-length, self-titled album this past February. How was the writing process for this album different from the EPs you’ve written in the past (1840, Step, Two In The Same)? Did you find it easier or more difficult than writing an EP?
Writing the full length was a total different ball game. Whereas EPs you typically write a collection of songs and then pick 4 or 5, this full length was a couple of years of growing, developing musically and as individuals. We started writing the full length in late 2011, began recording in December of 2012, scratched that, continued writing, and then didn’t record it until the summer of 2013.
The full length allowed us to paint the entire picture of where we were/are as a band. We didn’t have to condense everything into 4 songs and were able to take the album where we always intended for it to go. That’s also why we decided on the self-titled release of just ‘Kiven.’ It’s somewhat of an introduction into the world and for the music to speak for itself. Again, sort of like the band name and not having an album title that suggest a pre-conceived meaning or interpretation.
In 2012 you guys performed at the CMJ Festival in NYC and just last year you appeared at SXSW in Austin, TX. Both of these festivals feature an endless amount of artists from different genres. What do you think sets you a part from other artists?
Ah, that’s tough! We’re a very hard working band, not that that sets us a part from others necessarily… But, I’d like to think that we have good heads on our shoulders and make wise decisions musically and in business. We all come from working in the music industry but have left working the 9 to 5s to pursue it from the other end.
We’re also not scared of taking risks and try to ignore outside influence. We released this album independently and I can’t tell you how many times we heard “There’s no radio single” when shopping it around. We were then fortunate enough to have “In The Fire” go to radio on a national level and sat in the Top5 on KROQ for 9 weeks straight… Just goes to show to keep doing what you do, take things with a grain of salt, and see what happens. Something will eventually stick. I always tell people that music is a game of the last man standing.
You guys worked with Tony Hajjar (At The Drive-In, Sparta), on the track “I Can Take It,” which you recently released a music video for. Where did the concept of the video come from?
The video came from our belief that music videos don’t necessarily need to be the band dressing up as actors and acting out a plot like a movie or something.
Like everything we have done in this first album, we prefer the music to speak for itself and for people to focus on that for now. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the “I Can Take It” video is more of a visual stimulant to go around the music. Like the “In The Fire” video as well, we’d like the viewer to be watching the video, get into the music, and potentially even forget they’re watching the video while listening to the music.
What can we expect next from Kiven?
We’re going to continue to play locally and tour, all while writing the next album. We have a ton of things we still plan to release online and hope that everyone gets a chance to see everything!
Thanks for your time! Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for reading! If you’re into the music, head to http://kivenmusic.com/tour and see if we’ll be playing in a city near you.