Karmin Wants It All

By now, most pop-culture mavens know that Karmin (aka Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan) is that YouTube-born, radio-friendly duo who left us “Brokenhearted” on the charts two years ago, wooing us with their monochromatic style and flamboyant-yet-adorable pop sensibilities. And now, with the release of their highly anticipated encore, Pulses, they share a few stories with us (like getting pimp-slapped by Paul McCartney).  

You new single, “I Want It All,” has a fabulous, retro-disco feel to it. How would you describe the vibe of Pulses?

NICK NOONAN: Sonically it’s less true pop, for sure. It definitely has a hip-hop influence. Dirty drums, the whole nine yards.

AMY HEIDEMANN: And there’s a little bit of rapping, obviously, because of me. But Nick plays trombone on a lot of the tracks, and it feels more like a duo. I know our last EP was Amy-heavy, and this is a lot more Nick-and-Amy-singing-together in that traditional duo form. It has a little more of a rock edge to it too.

Artists usually say releasing a new album is like giving birth to a baby. So let’s say someone were to throw you an album shower. What would you put on the registry?

HEIDEMANN: Well, first of all, we’ve been in labor for like over a year…I don’t wanna say lavender candles because it’s definitely not that kind of album at all. It’s called Pulses, so it has a lot of  ups and downs. It’s supposed to represent the ups and downs of life. So I’d say anything that helps you get through life would be great on the registry.

You guys are known for your awesome, high-energy performances onstage. How many calories would you say you burn during a given concert?

HEIDEMANN: I was wondering that exact thing the other day.

NOONAN: We’ve done five shows in a row and a video shoot for four straight days, so we’ve been going really strong. At the end of one show, I was pretty much blacking out.

HEIDEMANN: The music really drives us to jump around a lot, and there’s a lot of interacting with the audience, which is great. You never know who’s going to grab your hand and pull you into the audience, so it gets a little scary.

NOONAN: So we’ve been making up for all that calorie burning by eating total shit. [Laughs]

HEIDEMANN: We’ve been eating so much pizza! But don’t write that!

NOONAN: I exaggerate. But we do make a conscious effort to eat healthy. I do exercise every other day whenever we’re at hotels.

HEIDEMANN: I hate exercise. Hate it. Just for the record.

Instagram begs to differ. We saw some impressive biceps being flexed in a photo. Whose arms were those?
NOONAN: All that pizza goes straight to Amy’s biceps.

HEIDEMANN: You know what, though? Everyone’s reaction was like, “You forgot to shave.” I was like, “That’s really your comment?”

You’ve said your fans have molded you into who you are today. Have you noticed a different kind of love and support you’ve received from gay fans?

NOONAN: Absolutely. We’ve done a lot of gay prides in almost every major city at this point. And we were very new as a band, and one of the best places to develop Karmin was at all of the gay prides because there was so much happiness. There was no bullshit. There wasn’t anyone trying to be too cool for school. Sometimes there are different areas that are known for hard-assed crowds, and at every gay pride you can just go for it, and [the audience] would love you that much more. It was very releasing. It was always a sigh of relief when we knew we had a gay pride show. That absolutely molded us and allowed a kind of frantic energy.

Let’s talk about that SNL performance. How did a pair of YouTube sensations like yourselves make it there? That must’ve been insane.

NOONAN: That was ridiculous. Literally, both songs we were playing were not even available on iTunes. It was really intense. I don’t know how it exactly happened, but I think it came through our publicist, and he was able to pull the trigger and make it happen. It was a surreal night. We ended up hanging out with Steven Spielberg later that night, and he came up, tapped us on the shoulder and said he loved the rapping and the songs. The whole thing was a trip.

So by now you’ve had your fair share of run-ins with celebs.

NOONAN: We have. Amy met Brandy, her favorite singer ever of all time, and had a meltdown. She was like, “I love you so much,” and she was like, “Oh thank you.” And as we started to walk away, she said, “Wait, is that Karmin? She’s dope!” And then Amy just lost it. She just started bawling. That was really cool.

HEIDEMANN: She was my childhood favorite vocalist. I think we were both really nervous when were on Ellen. Before the record deal and SNL, we did Ellen, and I remember being super nervous because she and Portia showed up to our sound check, and we were just blown away. I didn’t know what to say. I remember just stuttering a lot.

NOONAN: And then there was Paul McCartney. He was front row at one of our shows, and I gave him a high five at the end of the show, not knowing it was him at first. And he was like, “You, man, you!” And I was like, “Oh, shit!” And then he ended up coming backstage and saying that he was a fan. Then he pimp-slaps my face.

HEIDEMANN: He got pimp-slapped by Paul McCartney!

Now that the new album is finally coming out (after a long and arduous process), what have you taken away from the whole experience?

NOONAN: We’ve learned how to be more comfortable with the studio stuff, from what we need to do to prepare to how to make the songs translate into a live show and then figuring out the politics of marketing, what radio means, how you get that to work.

HEIDEMANN: I think overall, there were days when Nick and I were super down about everything, saying, “This is never gonna come out!” And then when you hit bottom like that, you always know it’s gonna come back up. So it’s kind of awesome that we learned how to stay balanced in this industry, because it is a crazy place. And I’m just glad we got to be so honest on this album, because that’s what life’s about right?

Follow Karmin on Twitter: @karminmusic

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