Today’s Feature, July 30-31: The Kin

January 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm (Today's Feature)

The Kin, a simple name for a pair of exceptionally gifted brothers who are producing sound that is anything but basic. From Adelaide, Australia to New York City, the melody that The Kin composes from an old guitar and a Fender Rhodes piano can only be described as a detonation of harmony, taking your eardrums north, south, east and west on a flight through beatific high and rasping low notes. One sampling of a song such as “Together,” and you’ll know what kind of experience The Kin creates.

Thorry and Isaac Koren, on the guitar and Rhodes piano respectively, don’t hide much about themselves or their music. It is their honesty that drives the sound they produce. For their upcoming September release, “Rise & Fall,” the duo realized a recording studio alone couldn’t contain the style, nor capture the vibe The Kin needed to craft. The album, produced by Nic Hard, was taken to “a barn, an old house, a huge castle on a hill, and a horse stable,” to realize the sound they had envisioned. You can witness that sound first-hand around the New York underground in jamming rooms like Rockwood Music Hall, Bar 4, Bowery Ballroom and late night venues like Kush on Chrystie Street.

If you find yourself at a Kin concert around New York, don’t be afraid to greet the brothers after the show, perhaps ask them how they are helping the victims of genocide in Darfur. One of their favorite parts of their performance is being able to “meet the fans, and hear their stories.” You can hear more of The Kin’s story, by reading their XXQs below.

XXQs: The Kin (PEV): How and when did you first get into music and when did the band form?

Isaac: I first discovered music at age 6, got bored with my 75-year-old teacher, Mrs. Langley, who would tell me to take my chewing gum out and when I refused, she would rap my knuckles with a ruler. She would lock me in a room until I had practiced for 30 minutes. I busted out the window one day, and my parents never pushed me into music again.

Then when I was 16, I was at a campfire party one night in my mates backyard in Maroubrah, in Sydney. A prolific dude named Yaniv (who now plays under Sam Yoole and was best mates with Ben Lee) asked me to sing in his band. We played for 250 kids the next week and that was it for me.

I realized that singers annoyed the crap out of me with their antics and their egos. So I listened for the sound I wanted and heard the Rhodes on a bunch of records I love and started playing again. I forced myself to remember how to play piano when I started writing with Thorry. A song called ‘Arise’ was the first song I wrote with my remembered fingers. The Kin was formed 2 months after in September of 2004 at a Jeff Buckely conference in Chicago. That was almost 3 years ago.

Thorry: I, too, started piano and a couple years in, got distracted by guitars, which I started playing when I was 11. My voice came out soon after, and I realized then that I could sing a song and make an impact. You know, I guess it was the discovery of something I could do. It gave me a sense of purpose.

It took me to a high school for performing arts in Sydney-Newtown High. There, I cut my teeth, got a taste for really playing and performing… At 16, I had the opportunity to come to New York and attend a similar school (PPAS) and study jazz.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you realized music was going to be a career?

Kin: “Career” is such a sterile word to us…it’s more than that! It’s life for us. We both were called to music by different experiences at different ages.

There is a distinct time that we decided, “Let’s do the Kin” back in 2001. We were hiking in Woodstock, New York together. It was a time of uncertainty, a time when we had to make a choice to start this dream we had. We reached the top of a mountain and played for hours overlooking south to NYC… It seemed like a scary commitment to make. But we clearly committed that day to start this band.

PEV: What was it like the first time you stepped into a studio to record?

Kin: Ha! Horrible…it felt sterile and unnatural. A studio is a confronting place when you’ve never done it before. We were very serious when we first started. It seems that we really didn’t start to enjoy it until now. The album we just recorded-“Rise and Fall”-is the first enjoyable recording experience we’ve had!!!

PEV: Growing up in the small town of Adelaide, Australia, what is the music scene like and how is different from that of the United States?

Kin: We were too young to know…We left before high school and grew up in Sydney. The scene there is fantastic-The Hopetown, The Ananndale, outdoor beach shows, huge summer festivals…it’s the festivals that makes the summer so good!

Adelaide is home to some great artists. The scene is small, but tasteful. The Kin has been a US-based band for the most part. It is such a dense and rich scene for music here. You can tour so many towns and cities here. You can’t do that in Australia because over there, they have only a 10th of the population of the US.

PEV: Describe the first time you came to the US? Where did you first go and what did you do? Was it what you thought it would be?

Kin: At first, it was school that brought us to the US. NYC was a wild place for us as teenagers. It was unlike anything we had experienced. After that, a benevolent man named Tucker Robbins, a fearless NYC furniture designer, met with us when we were first over here together and offered to pay for our first demo if we got the songs together in 3 weeks. We did and it may be the best recording we have ever done…but we are not showing it to anyone yet.

Tucker then gave us both jobs in his workhouse for cash so we could pay for shoes. It was him?and our mother’s couch-that brought us to the City.

And Kenny Gorka gave us our first gig ever in NYC at the Bitter End.

PEV: What is it like to be brothers and write music together and travel around with one another? Does any sibling rivalry come up? Ever get sick of each other?

Kin: Of course we do! It makes the music better. We always joke that regardless, we have to see each other at family get-togethers!!! So we know that much we get that question a lot. We wouldn’t work together if it wasn’t something we enjoyed. The brother competition is healthy-it inspires us to do better.

PEV: What can people expect from your new CD?

Kin: The sounds of two guys in the woods with a lot of musical instruments and a kickass producer for 2 months. We went to four different places to get sounds-a barn, an old house, a huge castle on a hill with a big ceiling, and a horse stable studio. This album was an experience for us, we feel really fortunate about how it came out. It feels like the first experience of really “capturing” a vibe… Hopefully it’s something people can relate to. We wanted the songs to be honored…and to tell a story.

PEV: You have traveled all over the world. Which city do you think offers the best environment for music?

Kin: There are so many more places to see…. So far, we like Northampton, MA. They always seem to be so welcoming to us there. LA has been a great listening audience, too.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you?

Kin: Never a dull moment! We imagine it’s a bit like being a plumber-ha! Even after a couple of years it still feels like it’s just begun. There is no choice but to ride with it. I’m sure it gets old eventually but we don’t think performing ever will. We are truly a live act.

PEV: What do all your friends and family back home in Australia think about all your success?

Kin: Our family has never told us we were crazy for being in music, so I guess they are to blame for this!


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