Monday, September 15, 2014

All Indie Spotlight: Interview with 2KX

The band is fronted by keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue who is thrilled to announce this unique new release after spending the last two years successfully battling to regain her health. LaRue said, “2KX is excited about being able to make music again, after taking a break due to health reasons. The track has a classic 2KX sound, and goes through four movements, the last illustrating sussuration which is the sound of wind through the trees”.

The release involves an unusual feature in that one movement of the song will be available as a special 7”, hand-shaped lathe cut record. The record is cut real time on a vintage 1940 record lathe. This movement is the ballad section of the song and the only part with vocals. The CD/EP will contain the full-length version of ‘Sussuration” as well as a previously released singles from 2KX: “Lemniscate,” a radio edit of “Sussuration,” and a bonus of “Song For a Name – 2KX” by Johnny Unicorn It will be available as a CD and an mp3 album in addition to the radio edit “Sussuration” ballad which will be produced in a very limited quantity as the hand-shaped lathe cut 7” record. The CD cover art is by Keith Birdsong, famous for his Star Trek book covers and other outstanding work. Digital downloads will be available September 1, with the CD, special edition record, videos and more available soon after.

2KX members are Lisa LaRue on keyboards, Steve Adams on guitar, Mike Alvarez on cello, John Baker for vocals, Merrill Hale for drums and percussion, and Don Schiff on bass and NS Stick. Baker, previously lead vocalist/guitarist for Mars Hollow as well as playing for Christian Love (The Beach Boys) and The Little Girls, joins as a band member on this release, as lead vocalist. Special guests are Michael Wheeler playing Dilruba and violinist Brenda K of the Panache Orchestra. The album was produced and mixed by LaRue and mastered by multi-Grammy mastering engineer Adam Ayan of Bob Ludwig’s Gateway Mastering. Ayan is known for his mastering of bands such as The Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Rush, Linkin Park and numerous others.

Prior to their two-year break period, 2KX was nominated as Best Instrumental Band at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Music Awards. Earlier career highlights for Lisa LaRue include being the first female artist signed to the Sound of America Records (SOAR) Natural Visions sub label, the 2008 Oklahoma Music Awards “Native American Artist of the Year” and a 2008 nominee for the Hollywood Music Awards Instrumental category.

 Interview with Lisa LaRue of 2KX

Tell us about your name? Where did it come from and how you guys came up with it? Let me take a guess - Does it mean "To Knoxville" or does it mean "2010"? (just a shot in the dark)

Lisa LaRue: Although Knoxville is a very lovely town, the latter is correct – 2010. The band developed out of a project band in 2009, called Lisa LaRue Project 2K9. At the very end of December 2009, a few of us got to talking and decided upon forming a permanent band –not a project band- and since we were dawning on 2010, and because of the name of the former ‘project’, 2KX was born!

You went on hiatus for nearly 2 years due to health reasons, but you made a full recovery. Do you can to tell your story about that?

Lisa LaRue: It has been assumed it was due to my Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (with cyclic Cushing’s Syndrome due to meds, etc.) because I am very open about that illness, and desire to educate the public about it. But that wasn’t it…… it was due to my developing the most annoying malady: Adhesive Capsulitis, or Frozen Shoulder. I couldn’t lift my arms higher than about elbow height, couldn’t put them behind me, couldn’t even get things out of cupboards or lift. Being a keyboard player, it was just simply impossible to write, practice and play. They were just frozen! Not that it hurt to move them (although it hurt to try), they just simply would NOT move. Doctors’ advice and other information I was given all said this would resolve within 3 years, and it did!

So, tell me about the band. How did you all meet and how quickly did you three mesh together as a band before you decided to start producing albums together?

Lisa LaRue: With the production of the project band (Lisa LaRue Project 2K9) album, “World Class,” we all collaborated long distance with file sharing and sometimes Skyping, although a few of us worked together in various studios. We had met in different manners. One of the project vocalists, John Payne of the band Asia, and Lisa had known each other for a number of years. Steve Adams and Merrill Hale were of the progressive band ARZ from Portland, and Lisa had heard their work and was really impressed, and contacted them. Steve Adams could shred, could play jazz, could play classical…. And not just play, but write in about any genre. A very “Steve Howe’ type of guitarist. Merrill had a lot of qualities of Neil Peart (Rush) and Carl Palmer (ELP) all wrapped up into one. All the participants had qualities that, as a musical director for the project, made Lisa feel they would gel together. And they did. When the decision was made to form a permanent band (2KX) and work on their first album as such, titled Fast and Blue (2011), it was the participants who truly gelled musically, and on a personal level that became the band. We have all spent time socializing, meeting each other’s families, and talking about many interests. We became like family.

Going back over the past six years, you've received multiple nominations including Best Instrumental Band at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Music Awards, the Native American Artist of the Year Nomination, and a nomination at the Hollywood Music Awards. How did it feel to get so much recognition and do you plan on entering more award programs for your recent release of Sussuration?

Lisa LaRue: Those were interesting experiences. When I actually won Native American Artist of the Year, I was not even aware for a long time that I had been nominated! When 2KX was nominated as Best Instrumental Band for the Los Angeles Music Awards, we received a phone call from the organizer saying he had been given our music and even though the nominations were almost at an end, he wanted to personally nominate us and include us. Lisa was also nominated for Best Instrumental Song of the Year at the Hollywood Music Awards, and for a NAMMY (Native American Music Award), and it really was a confidence builder, and confirmation that we had made the right decisions in choosing each other to work with and choosing particular songs to develop and record. These experiences were real honors, and quite humbling, and exciting! If somebody were to nominate Sussuration, we would be extremely pleased and honored. A nomination is just as pleasing as an award, and we are thankful for all we have received.

Tell us about your new album, Sussuration. What is different about this release and why is this album so special to you?

Lisa LaRue: Sussuration is different in several ways. First, it is an EP and not a full length album, and includes a radio edit from the longer title track. With this release, we have crossed over into the AOR/Pop market with the radio edit, and are getting a much warmer and larger reception. We are also including a bonus product which is available separately, a hand-shaped, lathe-cut record of the radio edit. It is real-time cut on a 1940 vintage lathe. Also with this CD, we welcome the addition of a permanent lead vocalist, John Baker. John is also the lead vocalist for Los Angeles based progressive rock band Forever Twelve, and a former member of bands such as Mars Hollow, The Little Girls (who had one of the first videos on MTV), and Christian Love’s band (from the Beach Boys). Previously, we had no permanent vocalist, and all vocals were by guests. Predominantly John Payne of the band Asia, and Michael Sadler of the band Saga.

What song do you feel represents this album?

Lisa LaRue: I’d say the full length track, Sussuration. It encompasses every trademark of our sound, and travels from symphonic to pop to eclectic avant garde.

What is behind the name Sussuration and what does the title mean?

Lisa LaRue: Sussuration is a murmuring sound of the wind through the trees. The song is in 4 movements, each representing a different season. The idea was that the wind sounds different depending on the season and the foliage present or missing in each season. When John wrote the lyrics, he took it a bit deeper, interpreting that this voice of the winds represents the many spirits that are always surrounding us.

I love the artwork on the album. Who was the artist that did the artwork?

Lisa LaRue: The beautiful cover was done by Keith Birdsong. And believe it or not, it was done completely with colored pencils – not paint, and not digital. Keith is known all around the world, most famously for his numerous Star Trek book covers and posters, commemorative plates, etc. He has also done hundreds of other book covers, and even postage stamps for not only the United States but other countries. One of the most famous being the USPS Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative stamp.

So, what is in store for 2KX? Do you have a music video in the works or an upcoming tour to promote the album?

Lisa LaRue: We have just released a full-length video for Sussuration, which can be found on YouTube. At the present time, we don not have plans for a tour, but we all are involved in other bands and various projects. Lisa is currently completing a collaboration with Italian keyboardist/composer Federico Fantacone, John has just finished the vocals for the latest Forever Twelve album, and Don is enjoying the recent release of the Rocket Scientists’ latest album. Steve, Merrill and Mike have numerous other projects they are constantly involved in. We will always make music… sometimes as solo artists, sometimes with other bands, and sometimes as 2KX. Keep track on our website and our Facebook to see what surprises we will come up with next!

Find more of 2KX:

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