INTERVIEW: KiND's Gabrahm Vitek

KiND's Gabrahm Vitek

A few weeks ago, I was faced with the news of needing some fairly extensive dental work. Due to some completely unforeseen circumstances-- like not going to the damn dentist for two years-- this was going to be a two part procedure. My first visit would be focused on one half of my mouth, while my second visit, two weeks later, would focus on the other. That first visit was not fun. My body tensed up, I couldn’t relax, and the work seemed to go on forever. I wasn’t looking forward to returning.

But between those two visits, something changed. Laura convinced me to try yoga for the first time, so, during my second visit, I caught myself focusing on my breathing patterns, relaxing my muscles, and trying to bring myself to a calm state of mind. Part of that was a mild byproduct of the very basic yoga I learned, sure, but the rest was due to the music of Nashville-based KiND pumping through my headphones.

KiND’s modern electro pop sound mixed with the best elements of 1980s new romantics like The Blue Nile and Spandau Ballet made the filling and scraping and chiseling hurt a little less. Okay, sorry. That was the last time I’ll mention my teeth.

I had the chance to talk with KiND’s lead singer and one of its primary songwriters, Gabrahm Vitek, on his porch in Nashville.  I especially wanted to get to the bottom of the multitude of influences I heard on KiND’s debut album, Eunoia.

“We were all really getting into Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Madonna’s first self-titled record, stuff like that.” All of those are incredibly evident in the thick bass lines that find themselves anchoring the complete length of Eunoia, but Vitek’s first major influence might be the source of KiND’s reverbed-out dance grooves.

“My parents always had oldies radio on, but the first artist I really got into was Yanni. When I was little, I’d go see him play shows and I was so into it.” That discovery and merging of washed-out synthesizers, classic disco basslines, and Yanni’s all-encompassing world music grooves helped the band write Eunoia’s first single, “Gloss."

One of the things I really love about KiND’s music is that they understand the context and history of the sounds they choose. Just like the disco and funk basslines that inspired “Gloss,” Vitek also holds a great deal of reverence for the sounds of the 1980s that have planted themselves in our collective memory.

“Those sounds are almost subconscious nostalgia for us now,” he says, “We were hearing that when we were younger like at the tail end of when that was cool. Maybe that was when our generation was first embedding some of that music. We didn’t know how to categorize it or organize it in our mind at the time, but now it’s resurfacing”

So while those electronic elements are important and present across all of Eunoia, organic acoustic instruments like Anthony Jorissen’s saxophone or Scott Shirock’s drums bring KiND squarely into the second wave of new romanticism. Some of those classic choices are surely the product of how the record was written and inspired. Prior to its conception, Vitek’s father suggested that KiND should participate in the grand tradition of writing a record in isolation.

“My parents have a family friend who are founders of this buffalo preserve and they just invited us to crash up there. It was just so valuable. We holed-up in there for less than a week, I think, and we ended up writing a majority of the record. There was no real set routine other than our priority and focus was writing. So we’d make breakfast and write for five hours, go for some hikes, then come back to it. Sometimes it’d start at like 2am and we’d just write all night.”

Vitek also cites an ambient music radio show called Hearts of Space as a huge influence. The show is hosted by Stephen Hill and has been running since 1973 through public radio, streaming services, or independent record labels.

“I love the therapy of ambient music,” he said. “The show would come on where I grew up in Ohio every Sunday night. So that’s how I kind of got into that sound.” I mentioned to Vitek that I loved listening to music by artists like Vangelis or Kraftwerk as a way to stay focused and how that atmospheric music felt similar to trying yoga before my harrowing trip to the dentist.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Everyone in the band does yoga to a degree.”

“I’ve been practicing for maybe five years or so. The first time I did it, I could only hang with the instructor for like ten minutes. I love it, though. The mentally balancing aspect of it is so crucial. It helps you to be more self aware. You have more endurance for self-control. Anthony, the sax player, is the most about it. He goes to Shakti on Music Row twice every day.”

KiND’s buffalo preserve seclusion paid off. In January 2016, the band will travel to Park City, Utah for a three day stand at the Sundance Film Festival. In preparation, the band has released an EP with six remixes of songs from Eunoia.

“One of them will be from Scott within the band, and we have one from Nicky Paul of St. Lucia. Paul Meany of Mutemath did one, another local producer, gnosis, did one, and I did a few,” he said.

The band is also sitting on “about ten” demos that they’ll be looking to polish up for another EP release this summer. According to Vitek, those songs will be “even more dance heavy.”

“It’s still gonna be everyone playing live with real drums, but I think the drums will start getting a little more synthetic,” he said. “We’re always developing new interests and discovering new things.”

KiND is a band that soaks up influence from every direction. These influences and genre-bending techniques make their songs rewarding, challenging, and fun to listen to. Even better, next time you have to go to the dentist, put on Eunoia, struggle with that new tree pose, and try to find your center. It’ll help. 

Listen to KiND’s new remix EP below and catch their shows in Kansas City, Denver, and the Sundance Film Festival this January.

Contact KiND at their website, Facebook, or Twitter

For song placement, contact Anacrusis Songs.