Front man Malcolm Guess of the band KAURA (pronounced Kay-Aura) chatted with Metal Army America recently about their just released album That Which Defines Us. Malcom’s intellect and intensity at describing the creative process should be no surprise to anyone who has heard his bands’ haunting, multifaceted music. He touched on a variety of subjects that give a deeper look into the workings of this up and coming band.
MAA: That Which Defines Us just came out. How has the band evolved in the last few years between records?
MG: There are a few central concepts that form the base of what KAURA is, so I think, as we continue to explore and expand on those concepts they’ve become more crystallized. The vision for this band is something akin to an ice block that we keep chipping away at to get to the sculpture that we see in our minds eye. Each new song we create is different corner, edge or surface of that sculpture that we explore and refine. The more we chip away at it I think we get better at revealing what’s we’ve always known to be beneath.
MAA: Some of the new album was recorded with Sylvia Massey. What was it like working with her?
MG: Sylvia is great! She’s such a sweet person who’s also exceptionally talented. She’s built an amazing studio facility…actually more like village. She’s expanded her Radiostar studios to encompass several buildings in the small town of Weed where it’s located. Her studios, her staff, her husband and herself all make the Radiostar experience immensely pleasurable and super creative. Although we didn’t leave the tracking room much but when we did, just being able to step outside and take in the sight of the snow-capped mountain of Mount Shasta was really inspiring.
MAA: You can hear a lot of the modern influences of the band. Who are some of the more obscure or unusual influences on KAURA people might not realize?
MG: I think for each of us it’s different, but for me I have a few that have been really influential. The band MACHA, who’s no longer together, was a great band. Their first two records were really inspiring for me. I also really draw inspiration from soundtracks like The Last of the Mohicans, Les Miserables and the DAFT PUNK Tron Legacy score. I think that relates to where I get most of my inspiration from which is my experiences of traveling to places like Nepal, Laos, Bali etc. The landscapes are so epic that when just being present in those places and taking in the vast beauty of the surroundings, music just starts playing in my head. It’s like there’s a little composer in my head creating a score to my experience while in the moment living it. It’s always these super majestic, sweeping, enrapturing melodies and songs that I guess would be most closely described as being like the soundtracks I mentioned.
MAA: Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from?
MG: Like every lyricist, I draw my inspiration from my experiences, but I think to rephrase the question by answering with my choice in how I go about choosing what things to sing about or what my approach is, might be more meaningful. I’m not really interested in singing about trivial stuff like…what he said to me…or what he did to me or things like that. That’s all just transient, incidental stuff that comes and goes which doesn’t have much depth in and of itself, in my opinion. I’d rather focus on the evolution that might come from experiences like that…the awakening that transpires from situations of hurt or pain or love and joy. I tend to gravitate towards singing about more universal topics of substance. If I’m gonna have to sing a song for years to come I don’t want be singing about silly stuff or some girlfriend from 10 years ago or whatever.
MAA: What is the status of your acoustic album/DVD?
MG: Well we did a Kickstarter campaign just this past month and raised 114% of our goal which is fantastic! We’re super grateful and excited to finally be able to wrap up the production on it and get it out there. We should be finished with it by December if there aren’t any technical snags along the way.
MAA: The band has been very skilled at social media early in its career. Why do you feel that is so important?
MG: It’s the lifeline to our fans! With the architecture of the music business changing by the day, the one thing that will always be necessary is our connection to our fans. Social media is the channel that we use to stay connected. We’re not with a label or an entity that handles the throughput of information between us and the rest of the world so we handle it ourselves. I’ll be honest in saying that it’s a blessing and a curse. There’s been many times where we’ve had to spend more time on the social media and promotional aspect of the band than actually making music but that’s a part of the process. If we make the most killer tunes ever but don’t create a means by which to share it; it’ll never be heard beyond the walls of our studio. It can get to be a lot of tedious work at times but it’s all very necessary.
MAA: What is the origin of the bands’ name?
MG: It started with me just fishing for a name or sound that would describe the feeling of what Kaura’s music would sound like. No word or name that already existed fit that description so I just started putting together sounds phonetically. I came up with masculine sound of “K” combined with the softer, feminine sound of “aura”; which felt to me to capture the energetic dynamics of what the music would impart. I ended up looking up KAURA to see if there was anything out there with that name. It turned out that it’s an Indian name which describes the person that it’s given to as being someone who feels or experiences things beyond words. I was pretty amazed by what I found and was like ‘yeah, if there’s anything that I’d like for people to experience when listening to our music, it would be that!’ So it all made sense and we kept it. Although, since that time I’ve also been told that it’s the name of a beer they have in Finland.
MAA: What are the touring plans for the band for the near future?
MG: We’re hoping to do a west coast tour this winter to follow up the release of the album. Stay tuned for more details!
(Special thanks to KAURA, Malcolm Guess and Adrenaline PR)
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes