Kamber, age 25, moved to Nashville from Lakeland, FL three years ago. Currently, she is working on a new project for her band, Raviner (set to release their debut EP later this Spring). I personally love her solo artist music so much, I convinced her to let me to do an artist spotlight on her solo music as well. Kamber is considered an alternative artist, but I truly believe that she has a sound and musical style that anyone could enjoy. Her cover of “Can’t Feel My Face” by “The Weeknd” recently won 3rd place for Cd Baby’s Pop Unplugged contest.
As a music promoter, I frequently get the opportunity to meet and speak with a lot of extremely talented, local artists. Every now and then, I come in contact with an artist that sincerely reminds me of why I started Shine On Music City. Kamber is one of those artists. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with her, and she offers some incredible insight to anyone considering pursuing their passion for music. With her ability to release music that reflects her authentic style, I am genuinely excited about her upcoming music with her solo career, as well as with her band, Raviner. Kamber’s hauntingly beautiful songs, phenomenal vocals, and the way she connects on a very real level truly impressed and inspired me.
What’s your favorite part about being a musician?
I love having the gift of music as a language. Whether I’m alone or with other performers and artists, it’s something we can interact with and express in a way to tell a story, to engage with others and ourselves.
What do you think makes you unique as an artist?
A lot of my music is piano-based. In my opinion, far too much music right now uses the piano as a “gimmicky” instrument. I like it to be the main focus, however. But, many of my songs are not necessarily piano-based, and something that I think sets my artistry apart is that it definitely has “pop” sensibility. Not necessarily in “style” or “genre” always, but in the raw material. How the verses flow. How the pre-chorus builds, and how the chorus hits. I’m so thankful for my education and training to understanding songwriting conventions and structures, especially from my songwriting teacher, Rick Elias, from my time at The Contemporary Music Center in Nashville. He always emphasizes the importance of understanding song structures, narratives, etc. These are the tools that help artists effectively express their songs. I think a “pop sensibility” that’s juxtaposed with a raw, “alt”, ambient, sound is kind of my thing.
What’s the most challenging part (to you) about being a musician?
The most challenging part is not the music. I think it’s the hard lessons we learn as independent artists that all serve as a “vehicle” or sorts to transport our music. Maybe it’s the empty rooms we have to sometimes play. It’s the loud drunken audience member that’s a huge distraction during your show. It’s all the blood, sweat, and tears, sleepless nights, rigorous schedules to get the record done. But, my goodness it is absolutely worth it. A couple of my dear friends, Thomas Daniel + Geena wrote a song together called “Dance Til We Die”. The first line of the chorus exclaims, “this is the life we choose, with nothing left to lose”. That’s kind of become my mantra. Every day I wake up and live and breathe this life, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Is it challenging to have a real social life outside of performing? What do you do to keep the balance? What do you do in your personal downtime?
Absolutely. To be honest, a lot of the “hang time” I have with friends are with friends who are also musicians, artists, videographers, etc. Usually during those times we are working and collaborating. It’s fun for us! However, there are times when it’s absolutely exhausting! And that’s when I love to watch some comedy to lighten the mood. I love Portlandia. Anything to lighten the load.
Who inspires you musically?/ What’s the one album you can’t live without?
Some of my earliest influences are Lacey Sturm (previously from the band Flyleaf) and Underoath. Later in college I fell in love with beautiful electronic-based and piano based singer-songwriters like Imogen Heap, Plumb, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos. I now consider Tori one of my hugest inspirations. At the same time I was delving into the world of 90s alt. rock with bands like Nirvana, Hole, Soundgarden, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Local H, and the list goes on. It was always this “flip-flop” between raw, heavy, rock and ambient, ethereal pop. I used to feel like I needed to choose. Now I embrace both and I think both worlds are absolutely integral to my sound and don’t need to be separated from what I do.
One album I can’t live without. Hmmmm. Probably Speak For Yourself by Imogen Heap. That record changed my life. It kind of “gave me permission” to take risks with my piano playing and my melodies.
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
I’ve had several!! I’ve had moments where I’ve started singing the wrong verses or totally forgetting the words. It just happens. You have to just keep going!! 🙂
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists that are out there trying to make it?
Figure out why you want to do this. If it’s because you think it’s “cool”, that’s not a good enough reason. You’ve got to love it. Because this life is hard!
What venue do you like to perform at the most?
There’s a small coffeehouse called Inman Street in this college-town near Chattanooga – Cleveland, TN. I absolutely love performing there. Always a fantastic audience who really listen, and the staff always makes me feel welcomed. (Thank you Joel!) I also love this dive bar in Nashville called Springwater. Those folks love to rock. I’ve played there several times when I’ve performed with my band (not solo!) By far my most favorite venue to perform has been Exit/In with Raviner. We played our debut show there earlier this year with Reform the Resistance. It was an incredible honor to play a stage that so many legendary artists have played. It was kind of magical.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a new solo project, but that’s very much in the “embryonic phase”! The main project I’m focusing my attention on right now is a new band that I front called Raviner. We have a debut EP coming out this summer, and lot of exciting things coming up later this year. Needless to say, it’s been busy! 🙂 I’ve finally found a balance to have certain goals and musical styles for “Kamber” as a solo project (or collaboration) and with my new band, Raviner. Both projects have very specific goals, and I’m excited to see where they lead!
Do you have any other big shows or projects coming up? If so, what are they?
Raviner has a couple of really exciting shows – we are playing The Crying Wolf on Thursday, April 21st, and we are honored to open up for Behold The Brave. Very excited about that. We’ve also got a couple of other big shows coming up, but I can’t share those quite yet!
What’s your favorite way to connect with fans? Pictures, Social Media, Interaction at shows?
I absolutely love social media. I’m a heavy Facebook user along with Instagram. Still trying to get the hang of Twitter. lol. And of course I love interacting with people at shows. If you like what you hear, I want to hear what you have to say and get to know you better!
What was your first gig?
My first “real” gig was my freshman year in college playing at a local record store in Lakeland called Evolution Records. I remember being so nervous and excited all at the same time. I remember talking way too much from stage. Just sing your songs. One more thought on that – an incredibly wise vocal instructor at Belmont always talked about “presentational” versus “representational” performances. Are you going to get up on stage and tell us how you’re ‘now going to play a sad song’, or, are you going to “BE” the art? That changed my life. I was working as a piano accompanist at the time, and I was so grateful to absorb some of her wisdom on that. I think it’s a matter of taking yourself seriously as an artist. If you don’t care enough about your music to act insecure or embarrassed about your “sad”, “angsty”, or “moody” songs, then why will the audience? You might as well do a Bieber cover and get it over with if that’s the kind of show it is. I’ve come to the realization that there will always be two kinds of people in my audience on any given night – those that “get it” and those that “don’t”. And that’s okay! It’s not for everybody.
How long have you been performing/playing music?
I was classically trained in piano from the age of six all the way through college. (I attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, and graduated with a Music Business Degree in December 2012.) I started writing at the age of 13 or 14, some on piano, but mostly on acoustic guitar. I started teaching myself how to play around the same time. I slowly started singing in church, school, and in town, and started heavily performing once I was in college.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My mom absolutely. She has always encouraged my music. I grew up listening to her sing all sorts of songs – lots of Amy Grant. 🙂 My wonderful boyfriend of four years, Austin Huelsbeck. He produces and engineers all of my stuff. We’ve always had such a strong musical understanding. It’s just easy with him. Lastly, Tom Bracciale – Austin, Tom, and I all met each other back in 2012 at The Contemporary Music Center where we studied songwriting, performing, recording, etc. Tom has been my best friend and supporter since day one. He is an incredible singer/songwriter. We often play/sing together – we just get each other.
If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?
I would love to write with Tori Amos. And sing a nasty, groovy rock tune with Chris Cornell.
Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?
I grew up around music. I was studying classical piano and church music since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was about 14 years old that I started writing and singing in front of an audience! I started writing to express my own stories and emotions after I had major brain surgery to replace my shunt which I’ve had since birth. It was a scary time where I fully realized my vulnerability, and even immortality. I realized I was absolutely dependent on it. And that was scary! I started writing songs about it and sharing them with my family and friends, and slowly started singing in church, school, and then in my community. I was so incredibly nervous for my first solo. It was at my school in from of the entire 8th grade. Whew. It was traumatic for a middle-schooler. I sang a song called “Eagles’ Wings”, and then I just never stopped. Haha!
Have you ever had an experience that turned into a song?
Absolutely. Almost everything I write comes from an experience that I’m in the middle of, or something I’m reflecting on from my past. Or, I will be inspired by a friend’s story or a current event of some kind, and I’ll kind of start embellishing and carving out a narrative from that thought or idea. My writing almost always starts with one central image, thought, or specific phrase, and I just keep carving away to see what it wants or needs to be. Tori Amos always talks about “The Muses” and how they “tap her on the shoulder” when she’s inspired to write. I absolutely love that. I’ve started learning to listen to those urges right away and write. You don’t want to stifle those moments, or, I believe you may lose the song, and it will find someone else.
Between all of the hard work on Kamber’s solo career and her upcoming projects with Raviner, she is definitely someone you will want to continue following. I absolutely believe that this girl will have a long, successful career in music.
Kamber’s music is available for download on iTunes or Noisetrade. You can hear more of her original music on her website http://kambermusic.com. You can also follow her updates and connect with her via the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
(Photo credits: Kaitlin Andrews Photography)