Saturday, 27 August 2016

Eight questions with Khamsina

1. Who are Khamsina and where did the name come from? (a short introduction)

We are now a four piece band based in Oxford, consisting of myself, Stevie, on vocals and keys, Jamie on guitar, Swing on bass and Hoppy on the drums. It was originally just me performing as a solo artist until a few years ago when I started playing with Swing and Hoppy. Jamie joined us very recently in February (but we love having him!) The name comes from the Arabic ‘Khamsin’ which is a trade wind that travels across the Sahara towards Egypt. They call it the Northern Wind. The word sounded nice with an ‘a’ on the end…

2. Performing at times as a solo artist and at others as a band, how do you feel this affects the music?

Hmm, interesting question. I am not sure that playing as a band or a solo artist or even a stripped back version of the band affects the music too much, in the sense that, I think it more affects the audience. When the songs are just piano and vocal, there is a lot more intimacy and focus on the lyrics. When there are all four of us, the audience is more emerged in the music, rather than focused on just one aspect of it. The songs were all originally piano and vocal as that’s how they are composed which I think helps for them to stand alone as their own acoustic entity or be fleshed out with the entire band. Personally, I definitely prefer playing as a full band as I think the dynamic on stage between us as musicians and friends is the best feeling and this probably comes out in the music.

3. When was your recent track ‘Clouds’ recorded and where? If there is an interesting story behind how you and any producers and session players met and started playing together, please do share!

‘Clouds’ was recorded along with eleven other songs in preparation for our album launch. We started recording in the summer last year and have just finished about a month ago so it’s been a long time coming. We did our recording at Silver Street Studios in Reading, with Umair Chaudhry as our sound engineer. We were lucky enough to have Nigel from Vienna Ditto (check them out if you haven’t!) play some lead guitar on a few of our tracks, of which ‘Clouds’ is one. I met Nigel a long time ago through the owner of Silver Street Studios, Chris, at one of my gigs and I have been in awe of his guitar playing ever since.

4. The track comes from your debut album ‘Everything I Am’, how does it feel to have an album ready to release? Are any surprises in store for the Oxford Bullingdon launch gig next month?

Umm…pretty crazy actually. We had originally planned to release an album in February this year but life got in the way, as it usually does, and the release date became uncertain for quite a while. Y’know, you go through these moments where you wonder if it will ever be finished and ready because there is so much work to do. So, it’s in a pretty exciting stage now, getting everything sent off and printed in time for the launch. It’s been a long wait for both us and those that have been following us since the start and I think we are all stoked that we will finally be able to hold the album in our hands soon! We do have a few surprises waiting for our audience at our launch gig. We will in fact be giving away a pair of Wireless Beats Headphones (they’re blue!) to a member of our audience that evening…so do make sure you’re there to be in with a chance ;)

5. How are you preparing for the launch show on 18th September and your Tigmus show a couple of weeks earlier supporting SEA + AIR?

Mostly, we are just keeping our rehearsal schedule going (as best we can) and getting to know our songs really well. Tigmus have supported us quite a lot, helping to get support acts and posters ready, which we are so grateful for. We’ve also been working on a new music video and some other little projects to keep the momentum going leading up to our launch. When we were recording, we weren’t as active as a band as we would like to be just because we were so busy but now we’re just keeping our heads down and working on our music to lead up to a really good launch night that everyone can enjoy!

6. Who is your audience and how do you connect with your fans? Any crazy, fun, exciting stories are very welcome.

Our audience…it’s usually extremely varied from small children to big adults or pop lovers or jazz enthusiasts. Although Facebook tells me that the majority of our fans are between 18 and 34 if that narrows it down. I know that every single one of us loves it when we know an audience is enjoying our music and talking to those people or hearing how they felt and their feedback is so great. We’re hoping to start a mailing list soon so that we can keep in touch with our fans and let them know all the behind-the-instruments gossip! After our gig at the O2 in Oxford, we met three people who had come to see us again from watching us play the Oakford in Reading. That was pretty exciting for us so we hand-wrote them an invite to come to the band afterparty that night. They are very good friends of ours now and so supportive – it’s really wonderful.

7. What does your dream gig look like? Are there any bands you’re big fans of that you’d love to play with? Or maybe any favourite local bands you’d love to get as support acts?

Personally, I don’t have a dream gig, mostly because I’m not really sure what that would actually look like. It’s almost a question that’s got so many possible answers that I’m not sure which one I would prefer. Across the band we have a lot of different favourite artists so getting them all on one bill would be pretty hard! I think as long as we’re playing gigs where there is an audience enjoying themselves, then we’re pretty set.

8. What does the rest of the year after the album release hold for you, and looking towards 2017?

The rest of the year will hopefully hold a small tour across England to celebrate our album launch and then working on the next project. We’re hoping to really showcase our album and play some more venues and towns we’ve not yet had a chance to explore as a four piece band. We’ve got a lot to learn still and there is still a lot of work to be done as we are all moving into new stages in our lives, but it’s definitely going to become a bit more exciting in the next few months.

Oxford! Khamsina headline The Bullingdon for their album launch show on 18th September, but if you can't wait quite that long you can catch them supporting SEA + AIR next Sunday (4th September) at Ark T Centre.

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