Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ki:Theory/Joel Burleson

My first exposure to Ki:Theory was while watching ‘The Following’ in February 2014. Superimposed over a key moment of the show, was this haunting sound that contributed to the darkness of the episode. It was the Ben E. King hit ‘Stand By Me’, but done so in a way that I had never heard before. The chilling vocals crept in, and soon with the addition of a hypnotic and fierce score, they exploded and took the song to a whole higher level.  The song was intensified with an increasing tempo and powerful vocals. It was the perfect accompaniment to the events in the show. Talk about a riveting way to end the episode.
Watch episode HERE
Photo by:Jacob Coppage
Once I discovered who was responsible for such an extraordinary remix of a classic, I became a fan and have been hooked on Ki:Theory’s music ever since.
So who is Ki:Theory? Richmond, Virginia native Joel Burleson is essentially the one man musical genius behind the indie-electronic rock masterpieces. Writer, producer, recording artist, Joel wears many hats. Since the release of “The Recording Session EP” in 2005, to the more recent “Live Bootleg / Seattle E.M.P” (2014), Joel has toured in Japan, Korea, Canada and throughout the US.

He has had his music featured in commercials, tv series, movies, and video games. Joel has remixed tracks for such artists like Queens of the Stone Age , Daft Punk, Cypress Hill, Odesza, Rob Zombie and many more. ​

What fascinated me with Joel, aside from his musical prowess, is the fact that he is very attentive to his fans on his official social networking platforms. He makes it a point to respond to comments and generally possesses an approachable and friendly disposition.

I received a copy of the 2013 release ‘Kitty Hawk’ from Joel and it has quickly climbed to the top of the list of my all-time favourite albums. 
  KITTY HAWK
  • Release Date: October 29, 2013
  • Label: Kringer Records
  • Copyright: 2013 Kringer Records
  • Total Length: 46:42
                                     Track Listing:
 1) The Man I Left Behind                7) Needles*
 2) Kitty Hawk                                     8) Night
 3) Holiday Heart                               9) Venin
 4) Open Wound                             10) Scot-Free    
 5) Stasis                                          11) Stand By Me
 6) I Wanna Run*                            12) Foot Falls

* - Features Maura Davis on vocals
Purchase here: iTunes     Website Store: Here
I was so impressed with the music and the always friendly interaction with Joel on Facebook, that I couldn't wait to share my thoughts of his release. It has spent countless hours in my cd player, on repeat in playlists, and I can confidently say that it’s a cd that continues to get better with each and every listen. Just when you think you've heard everything the songs have to offer, you hear it again and something else pops out at you. Be it a sound, lyric, or melody that grabs you and draws you into the story that the song is telling. It's for this reason, that you appreciate the music, and Joel as a musician all that more.

In this age of technology, you can be selective when purchasing tracks online. Gone are the days of having to buy a cd for one or two tracks. This can be good and bad. The artist's vision is complete when the album is complete. For some to only give one or two tracks a chance, you sometimes miss out on what the artist was trying to convey. 'Kitty Hawk', as a disc, is one that I would highly recommend having all 12 songs. They play nicely with each other and deserve to be listened to with the rest of their trackmates.
Photo by: Ian Witlen
The Man I Left Behind
The opening track features a hypnotic melody with a trance like quality. Paired with mellifluous vocals, the song slowly builds and hooks the listener. It definitely provides an insight to what the rest of the album may be like. A great way to open the cd.

Kitty Hawk

The title track takes it up a notch.  An array of sounds, effects, vocals and loops. It offers the listener the opportunity to hear what Joel is capable of doing. A smorgasbord of unique sounds, it's just the tip of the iceberg. It was featured in the trailer for FIFA14, as well as the car racing video game The Crew.
It quickly became one of my favourites off the album.
​Watch Official Video: Kitty Hawk
Photo Byy: TLR Fotografie
Holiday Heart

At first listen, it had that vintage video game sound quirkiness to it...but that's a good thing. It's catchy, has a great vibe and all around just a fun song. It first appeared on the 'Brittle Branches EP' (2006). The 'Kitty Hawk' version, I personally find has more of an electronic feel to it. Not to mention a creative video to go along with it.
​Watch Official Video: Holiday Heart

Photo by: Chris Lacroix
Open Wound

Extremely catchy, melodic and hard not to keep on repeat. ​It's one of those songs, that long after playing it, you find yourself still humming it. The playful tempo has that 'bouncy' feel to it. Joel's brilliant lyrics tell a story, that some can decipher as a troubled relationship..a loss, broken heart, an open wound. 

On the deluxe release of 'Kitty Hawk' (2014), you can find the Odesza remix version of 'Open Wound'.
Photo by: Jack Looney Photography
Stasis
​​Another great song that contributes to the flow of the album. It has a bit of an ominous intro but soon the song's tempo increases and it fits well among the other tracks on the cd. I listen with amazement at the control Joel has with his voice. He can switch between his lower  and higher registers, with what appears to be with no effort at all. His tone and  pitch remain steady all while he delivers the words with emotion and confidence. Hearing these recorded songs make me imagine how much more electric it would be to hear them live.
Watch Official Video: Stasis - Live at Seattle E.M.P
Photo Courtesy: Ki:Theory
I Wanna Run

This is the first of two tracks on 'Kitty Hawk', that Maura Davis guests on. Maura is known for her work with the Indie rock band Denali also from Richmond, Virginia. 

The song showcases how Joel and Maura's vocals compliment each other beautifully. They both have a strong presence and the song is another hit to this listener. Another favourite of mine.
The striking video was directed and edited by Johnny Hugel.

Watch Official Video: I Wanna Run 

Photo Courtesty: Ki:Theory
Needles

Just when you couldn't get enough of the duo's sound, here's another track that showcases the collaboration between Joel and Maura. It begins as an enchanting piece of music, followed by vocals that you can't help be enraptured by. Like it's predecessor, 'I Wanna Run', the duo's tones blend magnificently and it's another powerful track on the album.
At the 2014 Richmond International Film Festival, 'Needles' took home the award for best video. The video's story was written, produced and directed by Amos McKay. Both Joel and Maura make appearances in the video.

​Watch Official Video: Needles
Photo Courtesy: Ki:Theory
Night

Just past the midway mark of 'Kitty Hawk', is the instrumental 'Night'. It's actually quite a relaxing combination of effects and sounds, and soon I was immersed in the track, which I found myself hitting repeat a couple times. It's one example of Joel's ability to manipulate various instruments to showcase his talents and abilities as a composer and recording artist. 

Venin

By this ninth track, you're fully absorbed into the sounds and feelings of the album. The passion and emotions are conveyed through lyrics that have an equally passionate soundtrack. 'Venin' takes you on a ride. What begins with a gentle climb to the top soon has the listener propelled into a high energy loop that keeps you there for a couple minutes before allowing you to catch your breath to finish the ride albeit wanting more. It's easy to hit repeat and take the ride again.
Watch Official Video: Venin
Photo By: Smile/Nickydigital.com
Scot-Free

​There's something about this track that just puts a smile on your face. You can't help but embrace your introduction to electronic music happy world. It may not be vocally rich like its neighboring tunes, but it proudly stands on its own and is far from being a filler track.
For a sneak peek into the energetic Joel Burleson/Ki:Theory show, check out a short clip featuring GoPro Hero 3+.
​Watch Official Video: Scot-Free
Photo By: Dan Trachtenberg
Stand By Me

As previously mentioned, this was the song that turned me onto Ki:Theory. Joel's remix of the '60s classic strays from the soulful bluesy sound of the original, but is effectively replaced with a well executed haunting version. It is quite simply the best remake of a song I've heard in a long time and because of this, I have mentioned to Joel that he needs to get his fingers on a Nine Inch Nails song and create yet another masterpiece. When describing the concept of the video, Joel's own words say it best: "we see one man’s seemingly normal night unravel into a chaotic disorienting mindfuck."
Watch Official Video: Stand By Me
TLR Fotografie
Foot Falls
While 'Stand By Me' brought me to 'Kitty Hawk', it's thanks to the other songs on the album that have kept me here. Finishing off the cd is a beautifully composed and performed instrumental. It's simple, no frills approach is a foolproof way to complete the listener's ride on a high note.

All the components of the song blend nicely together. I found myself getting lost in the track. It really is the album's piece de resistance in my opinion. Joel is an incredible musician, and this album is just one example of that.

Watch Official Video: Foot Falls - Live at Seattle E.M.P

In an attempt to be objective and find some areas that required improvement, the only thing that stands out, is that the cd came to an end after 46 minutes. I wanted to hear more, hence why it was often left on repeat to cycle through the songs over and over. While I admit, other cds often fall victim to the skip button, that was not the case with 'Kitty Hawk'. I wanted to hear the tracks, from start to finish and once all twelve tracks were done, I wanted to hear it again. There wasn't one song that I could imagine skipping over. The more you listen to it, the greater it becomes.

It's a solid cd from the opening track 'The Man I Left Behind' to the closing instrumental 'Foot Falls'. A collection of high energy songs with mellow vocals and dynamic lyrics that are presented at the right level, not over the top, just enough to get you hooked. I think it encapsulates everything that Ki:Theory stands for. It takes the listener on a journey through what some may describe as electronic rock, indie, dubstep, techno, pop and rock. But quite honestly, it's difficult to put a label on genius. Joel's originality, dedication and just plain "keeping it real" shines through in his music. From the live footage, you can clearly see that here is a man who enjoys what he does and is more than happy to share his craft with an audience of fans. What is in store for his fans? Time will tell, but let's hope it is more of what we already love about his music.

Ki:Theory will be hitting the road. See all tour dates and ticket details here: On Tour
For more info check out Ki:Theory on:                                                      Music Links:
Official Website                                                                                             Official YouTube Channel
Official Facebook Page                                                                               Official iTunes Page
Official Twitter                                                                                                Ki:Theory on Spotify
Official Instagram​                                                                                          Ki:Theory on Soundcloud
Extra special thanks to Joel for being so generous and providing me with an autographed copy of 'Kitty Hawk'.  I look forward to future releases and hopefully attending a live show on your next visit to Ontario, Canada. *hint hint*
Also on KaoticNotes.com: Here