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Interview: Kristin Newborn discusses her upcoming ISO performance
Posted February 27, 2013 by Rob Peoni
WRITTEN BY
Rob Peoni
ON
February 27, 2013
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On Thursday, March 7, Indianapolis vocalist and current front woman of experimental pop duo KO, Kristin Newborn, will perform alongside the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The event, part of the symphony's "Happy Hour" series, is billed as a mash-up between Radiohead's OK Computer and Brahms' First Symphony.

Newborn performed as part of last year's Happy Hour event that featured the music of Bon Iver and guest vocalist Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. Worden will return to perform with the ISO on March 9, alongside another artist with an Indiana connection - Indiana University graduate Son Lux. (Tickets)

We recently asked Newborn to answer a few questions about her upcoming Happy Hour performance. The results can be found below. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance. The ISO Happy Hour includes appetizers and drinks from Adobo Grill, American Harvest Vodka, Eddie Merlot's, Hoosier Momma, Just Pop In!, The Libertine, Pizzaology, Shellback Rum, Stella Artois and more! Don't sleep on what promises to be an interesting evening featuring some world-class music.

Connect with this event viaFacebook | Do317



Interview



How did you you get involved with ISO's Happy Hour series?

This will actually be my second Happy Hour with the Symphony Orchestra. Last year, Steven Hackman got a hold of aSlothpop CD and thought I'd be a good fit for his Bon Iver happy hour last March. It was an amazing experience for me and everyone who participated so I was very lucky to be asked to do it this year. Even more excited that Steven is arranging Radiohead's Ok Computer intertwined with Brahms as well.

Hanna Benn (Pollens) told me that she was working on arrangements with you, what has been her role in the process?

My dear friendHanna Benn saved the day. Steven asked if I wanted to do a piece of my own this year as an introduction to the Radiohead/Brahms pieces, but I'd have to arrange it myself. I write songs, yes and have over hundreds written and recorded, but when it comes to writing the notes down on a piece of paper it's a foreign realm. Hanna is brilliant at it though and she was nice enough to take the time and do it last minute. We sat down together, went over the song, I explained what I wanted and how I'd like it to sound and about a week later, I had the sheet music and midi orchestra track in my inbox. Without her, I wouldn't have been able to do this. It's been my dream to sing with a symphony which I've already crossed off my bucket list.. but to be able to sing my very own song with a full symphony behind me is a pretty powerful opportunity.

How much access to the symphony have you had in the run-up to the performance? What has that been like?

No access at all actually! The ISO works with very professional musicians where sheet music is placed in front of them the day before or even the day of and they're able to play it beautifully the first time around. I will sing these pieces for the first time with the symphony the afternoon of the performance. I love being thrown into situations like this though, it keeps me on my toes.

I saw that Andrew Lipke and Will Post will also perform as vocalists. Are you guys collaborating at all, or will your performances be separate?

I actually got to sing with Will Post last year for the Bon Iver Happy Hour. He has a beautiful baritone voice and Steven did a really good job at arranging Thom Yorke's tenor range for Will. All three of us will be singing in every song whether it's lead vocals or back up.

You use lots of vocal loops when you perform as KO. Will there be much looping in your ISO performance?

Unfortunately, I won't be doing any vocal loops with the symphony. I definitely thought about it though. I wasn't sure how it would pan out with only one orchestra rehearsal. I'll be using some vocal effects pedals which I'm excited for.

Is Radiohead an important artist for you?

I think Radiohead is a very influential band to most musicians. I haven't met many people who are against them and if they don't really listen, they respect what they're doing. Ok Computer and Kid A are two of the most important albums of the late 90s. Then you have Thom Yorke who's one of the most talented singers and lyricists out there, along with Jonny Greenwood who's one of the greatest guitarists in the modern era. I'm happy to be singing one of my favorite songs, Subterranean Homesick Alien. This song is about isolation from the people around you and being so different to everyone that you feel like an alien. I'm very honored to sing a piece that I connect with so much.

Obviously, KO is a duo. The symphony is, well, a symphony. Do you find it empowering or intimidating to work on this scale?

Not at all. A lot of people don't know that I've played with professional musicians around the world while I lived out in LA, Japan and Europe for 4 years. Playing as a duo with Toddrick has been such a new world for me and now I'm obsessed and in love with it.

I've always played with other musicians and never considered myself a solo artist. It's taken me more guts to get up there and carry the melodies on guitar and vocals all on my own-especially when in Slothpop, I was doubted as a guitarist. I'm obviously not the best, but I do what's in my realm and I do it good. Singing with an orchestra is overwhelming in the best of ways. To be surrounded by a powerful globe of sound weaving in and out of my ears will make the performance so much better. Music thrives off energy and when there's an army of musicians coming together, it's untouchable, fearless and honest.

The ISO describes this performance as a mash-up between Brahms' First Symphony and Ok Computer. Can you talk at all about how this is going to work?

In between every Radiohead piece, there will be a Brahms piece that will follow. Brahms is considered a traditionalist who composed with Boroque and classical techniques. I was surprised to hear Steven's plans for arranging Brahms with Radiohead but it all sounds beautiful and makes sense which is what I adore about Steven's arrangements.

Did you have any experience with Brahms' work prior to prepping for the performance?

I've sung his Requiem a couple times with a choral group. There's a sense of deep inner contentment, balance and well-being that is captured in his pieces. I'm happy those who are not familiar, will be properly introduced at the Happy Hour.

What has it been like to work with Steve Hackman?

Steve is wonderful to work with! When I think of composers/conductors, I think of their wacky brilliance with a slight uptight demeanor. Not Steve though! The first time we met, he was wearing a sweat band around his head and had this really bubbly energy (he's also a dreamboat, ladies!) We also shared a lot of the same interest in bands and musicians. I love that he's drawing a younger crowd to the symphony. A lot of kids these days want to see bands in basements and bars which I love to do myself, but it's important to have an appreciation and knowledge for traditional music as well. Steven is really focusing on arranging his favorite bands and educating not only a younger crowd, but the older crowd who have never heard of Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond or Radiohead. I'm glad people are starting to catch on and most of all, I'm glad I get to introduce my own fans to the symphony world!

Are you hoping that this performance might lead to further collaborations with ISO musicians outside of the symphony?

I hope to keep working with Steve and the ISO in the future. I've done it before and really took a lot from the experience the first time. I'd love to someday do a Happy Hour with all original KO songs where I can introduce more local musicians from Indianapolis to Steve and the ISO. There are so many talented musicians here, it's just a matter of connecting them all with the right people. I have a feeling it will happen the more I work with ISO.

What's on the agenda for KO in 2013?

The KO album is done with special guests, Toddrick Heaton of Street Spirits,Derek Johnson of Johnsongs, Leilah Smith akaHOMESCHOOL and Corey Barnes of Heavy Hometown! I'm so excited to share this album with you all in the very near future. Also some tour dates coming at the end of spring/beginning of summer.

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