Los Angeles musician Nikhil Korula and his band, the aptly titled Nikhil Korula band, have played Bonnaroo and Summerfest, released 3 albums and 3 EPs, and they are doing it all independently. We got a chance to chat with Nikhil about his new EP, “The Solo Sessions” and how he came to collaborate with Butch Taylor and Jeff Coffin from Dave Matthews Band.
What I really like about your sound is that it has a live feel to it. How do you accomplish that in a studio session?
There are certain things that you want to happen when you get into the studio. For me, I want to convey that live experience because we can't play in everybody's living room and I want each album to sound like we are playing right there for you. We did a record called “Music of the New Day” on an analog tape that is just the warmest sound. We just released a record “The Solo Sessions” and worked with some of the guys from Dave Matthews Band, which was huge for me. There is magic in the performance. When you have that, you don't need to doctor it up too much. Everything doesn't need to be overproduced or over arranged and unfortunately a lot of stuff on the radio is kind of like that. The stuff I like to listen to is all about the performance, not so much about the production so I always want to make it about that.
How did the collaboration with Jeff Coffin and Butch Taylor come about?
It's really funny, Butch Taylor is the neighbor of our drummer, Adam Gust, and their girlfriends became friends. They were discussing what their husband and boyfriend do, “Oh my husband is a musician.” “Really, my boyfriend is a musician.” They talked about what they played and then it came out that it's Butch Taylor, keyboardist for Dave Matthews Band, and my drummer shared our music with Butch who was like, “man we need to do something”. I emailed him a few tracks and eventually we just got into a room and we were going to record one song and there was complete synergy. I was such a die hard Dave Matthews Band fan that I was excited just to be recording with him, even just for one track. The next day, I approached him saying maybe we should do an EP, and he was like, “Yeah I think so”. It seemed like there was a reason that he was here and a reason why we were able to connect and record one song. The whole project turned out better than I ever thought it could be.
So "The Solo Sessions" came out of the sessions with Butch Taylor?
Yeah, It's funny because everyday I would come in with a song in mind to play then we would be setting up a session, Butch and I sitting right next to each other, and I would just be noodling on a new song that I had written or an old song that I was revisiting. He would stop me and say, “What's that?” I would tell him and he was like, “Let's do that”. He had such a great ear to know what songs he thought we should work on. We only ended up recording five songs together and it ended up being really great versions of each song. Some of these songs I had been saving for like ten years, not knowing if I would ever put them on a record because they were really special songs to me. When I started playing with Butch, it felt right. These were the right songs to bring into the session and that's how a lot of it came about.
How did Jeff Coffin (saxophonist for Dave Matthews Band) get involved?
After we finished recording the songs I told Butch that I should call Jeff Coffin to play soprano sax. He would be the perfect addition. I had met Jeff Coffin at Bonnaroo the first year we played and we became friends through mutual friends and he had seen us play a few times. We always talked about doing something together so I called him or texted him and said, “Hey I know your busy with Dave Matthews Band, but would you like to record this one song,” and he said “Yeah, I'd love to.” I sent him the song and he said it was right up his alley. He was like “Let's do this.” He recorded soprano sax on one of the songs.
Why did you release the record as a solo album?
I ended up releasing it as a solo record because every other album I've recorded with the band present in the studio. This album I didn't record with the band and I didn't feel right releasing it under the band name or bringing in the guys to add to the tracks because they didn't get the opportunity to share in the magic that was happening. My drummer played on all the songs and my bass player played on one song. I had decided to take the reigns and do all the electric guitar work on the record, which I've never really done before. I was really into soundscaping the songs with electric guitar. It ended up being a really cool experiment. It definitely surpassed my expectations.
What's next for the Nikhil Korula Band?
We will start touring heavily in October and we are working on a music video. I can't say too much about it, but it's going to be pretty extraordinary. It's going to be shot on the Santa Monica pier and we have a lot of great people involved with it, so it should be cool.
You can pick up Nikhil's new EP, featuring Butch Taylor and Jeff Coffin from Dave Matthews Band , “The Solo Sessions” at iTunes.
For more information about how Nikhil got started in the music business head over to veggiefansmusic.com.