How do you sell out The House of Blues, Apollo Theater, The Viper Room, The Roxy, play Bonnaroo, and Summerfest with no major label or booking agent? It comes down to a tireless work ethic, great songs, and a deep connection the group has forged with its fan base. Blending the sounds of calypso, rock, reggae, African and Latin grooves, the Nikhil Korula Band has been gathering worldwide attention one fan at a time.
Founding frontman Nikhil Korula began his professional career at age 5 as a classically trained, child prodigy vocalist, sharing the stages with the finest singers in opera, pop, and R&B. Other highlights from his formative years include working with legendary film composer Danny Elfman and appearing at the 32nd Annual Grammy® Awards with Mike and the Mechanics. Nikhil’s latest work is the EP Solo Sessions, I have had the pleasure of listening to the EP and what a pleasure it was to listen to it.
Nikhil was kind enough to answer some questions for me via email.
Front Range Scribbles (FRS): Who are your main musical influences?
Nikhil Korula (NK): All my life music has been a huge influence in my life.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of Mozart, Brahms, Bach and Puccini.
Now as I have ventured into rock ‘n rolll, my biggest influences are Prince,
Dave Matthew Band, James Brown, Michael Jackson, the Allman Brothers Band,
Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
FRS: What’s the song you’re most proud of writing?
NK: Each song of mine is like having a child so I really love each one equally, but right now,
I would have to say I am so proud of writing “Fade Away” from my latest EP, not only because
it is the first song of mine that has charted (debuted on the Hot AC Charts at #106 and moved
all the way up to #10), but also because the strum pattern is quite advanced and detailed.
I also love the changes and I wrote all the guitar parts around it on electric guitar too
so the entire piece, which was once a vision in my head, is now available on SOLO SESSIONS
for the world to hear.
FRS: You have been performing since age five, how have you evolved musically over the years?
NK: When I was a kid, my whole world revolved around classical music. I was singing Mahler’s
9th Symphony, Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and sang 6 operas with
the LA Opera. Once I graduated from USC’s Thornton School of Music, all I wanted was to
surround myself with jazz, funk, reggae, soul, blues and rock ‘n roll. It was completely
liberating and now music is a constant exploration which I absolutely love. Miles Davis,
John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Cannonball Adderley are just some of the
names that sent me on this new journey of making music.
FRS: You have worked with many big names in the music world, what have you taken away from those experiences?
NK: Of course, when you play a show or record with any of your musical heroes, first of all, you
can’t believe you are in the same room as these people, let alone sharing the stage or studio
with them. It’s all been an amazing dream come true that has been slowly unfolding. When we
opened up for the Dave Matthews Band, I was able to watch them sound check and it was totally
awesome to see what they would work on before playing to a packed arena. When we opened for
the Roots, I got to watch their set on the stage, which was pretty unreal, but I remember
telling my band, we need to rehearse more to get as tight as those guys. Every part of their
arrangement was so tight, I really couldn’t believe it. Recording with Butch Taylor & Jeff
Coffin from Dave Matthews Band was out of this world for me. Seeing how polished they were as
musicians, made me want to practice on my chops so much. I think the most important thing
I’ve learned from all of these amazing artists is observing their worth ethic. Hard work
pays off and I always want to work hard to prove myself and honor my talents. The harder
you work, the luckier you get.
FRS: What motivates you each day?
NK: Honestly, people like Bob Marley motivate me everyday. That guy was playing music with
next to no resources in a third world country and was able to conquer the globe. Knowing
he could do that gives me hope. All I want to do is impact the world in a positive way
through music and I see myself getting closer and closer each day, but I know I have a
long way to go and musicians that triumph over obstacles inspire me everyday.
FRS: What is one thing about the music industry that you dislike?
NK: I think what I dislike most about the music industry is that there are so many bullshitters
trying to capitalize on people’s dreams. I have come across so many people in the music
industry that really shouldn’t be working in this business, but they do it because of the
status it brings them or how much money they can make off the backs of musicians for little
to no effort. That is the most disappointing aspect of the music industry and I hope I can
do something to change that. The problem is when someone has a dream and another person tells
them they can make things happen for them, then any dreamer wants to believe in that. Most
people don’t realize that if you want your dream to happen, you have got to do it yourself
to make it happen.
FRS: If someone is going to your show to see you for the first time, what could they expect?
NK: Without a doubt, anytime someone comes to see the Nikhil Korula Band for the first time,
they are going to see a dynamite live experience. Between the soaring melodies and vocals,
super tight arrangements, incredible instrumental solos and high energy music, there is no
doubt, they will be dancing and screaming with the rest of the audience. When someone sees
us for the first time, that’s my favorite audience. I always walk out onstage knowing someone
is seeing me perform for the first time and it motivates me to give it my all and leave
everything out on the stage. I hope to see each and every one of you in the audience someday. I promise to make it count.
To learn more about Nikhil Korula please visit his website http://www.nkband.com The EP is available on iTunes. I will feature a couple of songs from the EP on Front Range Radio Sunday September 29th.