I’m only a second-semester sophomore, but I’ve done a lot of cool interviews in my day. I got Dwight Howard to do his Stan Van Gundy impression for me. J.B. Smoove just talked and talked at me for an hour. I’ve even had John Cho (Harold from Harold and Kumar) make fun of my journalism skills. Cool stuff, right?
That said, I have never come as close to devolving into a gushing fanboy as I did when I talked to Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, aka pop duo Karmin. If you’re one of the 56,271,819 to have seen their cover of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” on YouTube, you know why I jumped at the opportunity to catch them before their performance on Saturday Night Live tomorrow (which happens to be my birthday; best present ever!). These two rock.
What’s A Karmin?
For those wondering where that peculiar name came form, Karmin is a combination of Carmen (Latin for ‘song’) with, according to karminmusic.com, “[an] altered spelling to hint ‘karma.’” That’s certainly creative, but why so unconventional?
“We wanted something that was one word, like the Beatles or Coldplay,” said Noonan, a trained jazz trombonist and Karmin’s musician/sometimes singer.
“If we were just Amy and Nick or Nick and Amy, it would’ve sounded kind of cheesy,” agreed Heidemann, Karmin’s singer and probably the fastest white female rapper on the planet.
The pair earned some recognition with covers of hit songs like Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights.” Thanks to the power of YouTube, they are set to release their first studio album in April 2012. How did they get to this point and how can any aspiring college musicians and singers follow in their footsteps?
“Take matters into your own hands,” advised Noonan. “Do your thing and do it a lot. You have to grind it out but it’ll be more than worth it.”
A Match Made In Musical Heaven
Noonan and Heidemann met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Besides a love of music, the main thing they had in common was being from two tiny towns: Old Town, Maine and Seward, Nebraska, respectively. Their musical partnership gradually morphed from a school project to the Karmin we know and love today.
Their relationship also slowly evolved from friendship to love. Nick popped the question last December, and they would have gotten married already if it wasn’t for that pesky fame thing.
“Things got so crazy we decided to postpone it,” explained Heidemann.
Noonan said the two had been working together for a while before they became an item. So how did he woo her and subsequently earn the envy of men all over the world?
“It was my impeccable jazz trombone skills,” Noonan quipped with a laugh. He also said one of Karmin’s singles off the new album, “Brokenhearted,” is the story of how they met and fell in love. Check it out:
Rapping In The Shower
Karmin owes a lot of its success to Noonan’s nerves. If it wasn’t for him, the “Look At Me Now” cover may have never even been uploaded to YouTube.
“I was the scared one,” admitted Heidemann. “Nick was very confident in my rapping abilities. I was worried there’d be many ‘you ruined the song’ comments.”
Luckily for both of them, Noonan was able to calm her down. “I was like, ‘we may get some heat at first but we’ll be okay.’”
It’s hard to guess what Heidemann was so nervous about. She did something most people thought was impossible: a white girl out-rapping Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. That’s a flow that must have been honed through years of practice, right?
“It wasn’t a lot of training,” said Heidemann, implying her almost inhuman flow is natural and sufficiently blowing my mind. “I started rapping in the shower. I guess I learned by imitation.”
Heidemann said she spent a lot of showers rapping songs from Kanye West, Lauren Hill and Nicki Minaj to sharpen her skills. Minaj in particular helped her hip-hop confidence.
“When she came out I was like, ‘I can do this too!’” said Heidemann.
With Musical Guest, Karmin!
All of Noonan and Heidemann’s hard work and talent have led them to Saturday Night Live, which will hopefully go down as only one of their proudest accomplishments in a long and successful career. But for now, they’re pretty pumped.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Noonan of Karmin’s amazing opportunity. “It’s such an iconic show and being out there before our CD is released…we’re freaking out! But we’re ready to go.”
I asked both Noonan and Heidemann for a birthday shout out on SNL, and they both responded by laughing either at me or with me – it was hard to tell. Will I get one or not? Chances are they’ll probably be too focused on becoming a household name to worry about a humble birthday wish, but it was worth a shot, right?
But I digress. Make sure you catch Karmin with host Zooey Deschanel tomorrow at 11:30 p.m. EST on NBC. Noonan called Karmin and Deschanel a “perfect pairing,” which makes sense considering the only person more adorkable than the New Girl star is his fiancé. He also wanted to thank the fans who helped make this dream a reality:
“We feel like we have so much to say and want to play for the fans who helped us get here. This is why we do it.”