Kova of Sonic Chroma: Joss Whedon and Beyond

When scouring videos daily at work, I get into a groove and barely notice anything about the bands’ sites as I just log info. I’m a mindless miner and hate it, but every once in a while something will stand out. For Sonic Chroma it was the words “Joss Whedon.” Since July was all about geek culture, how could I pass up the chance to feature a band who takes influence from the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I just couldn’t.

It wasn’t the typical influence either, the uniqueness behind why half of Sonic Chroma looked to Whedon was interesting, and out of the box. So below you’ll hear more from Kova, the male half of Sonic Chroma as he goes into his love of Joss, playing live and his parents.

Kendra: Can you pinpoint the moment in your life when you not only wanted to explore your interest in music, but the moment you wanted music to be your life?

Kova: I think it was around early 2007 when everything began to click for me. Up until then, I had explored different instruments, played around with engineering, and dabbled in arrangements, but I hadn’t really done any serious writing. It was in 2007 when I actually sat down and tried to put everything I knew together to form an original work. One song (“A Tale of Two”) led to another (“No Remorse”) and by the time I wrote my third song (“Old Habits”), I knew that it just might be possible to make music my life.

Kendra: What’s your advice to people who want to teach their selves to play instruments, like you did?

Kova: Teaching yourself is really an exercise in persistence. You probably aren’t going to notice improvements in your playing from day to day or even month to month but every moment that you put into playing and practicing is another step toward virtuosity. That song that you can’t play today will become accessible in a month or 6 month or a year, depending on your level of dedication… and really, with all of the online resources such as tutorials on Youtube, it’s easier than ever to get started on your own.

Kendra: Last year I spoke with a couple of sisters of Indian descent, which is usually known for being on the strict side. Asian parents have that same image as well, wanting their children to focus on education and success. Did your parents have any problems with you wanting to be a musician?

Kova: I don’t think they even know about anything I’m doing musically. Long story short, when I was 15, my mom told me that she’d never support me in any music-related endeavor and forbade me from thinking about a career in music (she also forbade me from becoming a pastor in that same rant, oddly enough). Rather than giving up, I just began hiding all of my creative endeavors. They think that I play guitar for fun but I doubt they know that Sonic Chroma exists or that I even have the ability to write songs.

Kendra: You and Sage came together over “Stairway to Heaven,” how was that? Was it on the radio when you met?

Kova: Actually, we first met at my church’s 2010 winter retreat. I was monitoring a room full of teenagers who were waiting for the bus to arrive to take them down the mountain. I heard someone playing the intro to “Stairway” but I looked around the room, no one I knew who could play guitar had a guitar in their possession. I looked to the corner where Sage was sitting with some of her friends and I saw her playing. I was actually sort of shocked that a seemingly normal Korean female not only knew that song but knew how to play it. I was even more shocked when I learned that she taught herself. I had never run into this sort of initiative before and having been burned in the past by flakey partners, I knew that I had to snag this girl for myself before someone else snatched her up.

Kendra:  Joss Whedon is someone you look up to for his ability to mash genres and make amazing things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so have you ever thought about making a whole album with a Joss theme?

Kova: Honestly, when I first read this question, I thought, “Eh, not really my thing.” However, the more I thought about it, the more I actually like the idea. Sage and I write our albums around themes anyway (it helps me to focus the lyrics) so I’m already kicking around possible directions that we can take with this. I know that the easy way out would be to do character sketches or the like but I think it’d be cool to delve into the shows themselves and perhaps capture certain scenes or moments in time.

Kendra: Keeping on the Buffy idea, which character do you think best relates to Sonic Chroma’s sound?

Kova: The First, because you can’t touch our sound (quite literally)… just kidding. As odd as it may seem, I’d have to go with Glory/Ben. When we put together a song, we always try to straddle the line between ordinary and the crazyness that is our minds. I wouldn’t say that we compromise our sound because we’re both very happy with the outcome of our songs but we do realize that in order to sell records, our sound has to be accessible. Thus, we take our particular brand of crazy (e.g. a 15 minute violin solo) and tone it down so that it touches and lives with the ordinary (e.g. a 2 minute violin solo).

Kendra: What kind of places are you playing when you book shows?

Kova: Actually, Sage and I don’t play live shows yet due to various technical reasons. If you asked us where we’d LIKE to play, Sage’s dream is to headline the stage at Carnegie Hall, since she is a classical violinist by trade. I’d like to headline Wembley Stadium.

Kendra: Now it’s time for you to add to our tradition and make us a mixtape. Since you believe “It’s all about the idea behind the art,” we want you to make a mixtape of your top 5 songs that symbolize that belief, go!

Where the Streets Have No Name” U2
Of Dust and Nations” Thrice
Canta Per Me” Yuki Kajiura
Damaged” Plumb
Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana

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