Getting Friendly With Violent Kin


Photo By Scott Bell

Violent Kin (S.J. Kardash, Maygen Kardash) is back on the scene with their EP Velvet Hideout and though it keeps the elctro pop rock hybrid we know and love from their Bitter Blood CD- something changed dramatically with the new EP- reflected in their much darker tunes and tracks.

I was lucky enough to see them play a showcase this past NXNE in Toronto and made a mental note to keep them on my radar ever since- wanting to know just what their onstage performances would evolve into EP-wise!  The result is four tracks of twisted tunes seemingly routed with endless 80s inspiration and a little willingness to veer away from anything considered the norm.

The CD is indeed a treat (filled with tricks) for your auditory pleasure- but to gain a little visual along with that you need to check them out live!  Rest assured U.S. residents Violent Kin is planning to head South of their border sometime this spring.  To see them onstage together is indeed- different.  The brother/sister duo play off each other, engaging the audience in playful banter and two minutes later S.J.’s jumping onto an amp for a nice little guitar breakdown you were most certainly not expecting given any one of their song’s intros!

I caught up with S.J. for a little e-terview and he gave me the 411 regarding Velvet Hideout- and the famed “mouse grenade incident.”

BNB:  So Violent Kin is back on the scene with a second CD- a much darker version of your original electro pop rock!  What was the main influence for Velvet Hideout?!

S.J.:  We went into the studio having no idea what our record would sound like.  After touring our first record, we’d figured out what we liked playing live and what we didn’t, so we definitely kept some things in mind while recording, but we never like to limit ourselves.  We’ll try any idea and keep whatever sticks.  We’re children of the 80s and I think you can really hear that on this record.  We’ve been embracing our love of Genesis, Peter Gabriel and Tears for Fears.  We like melody and catchy hooks, but you always need to balance the sugar with some salt.

BNB:  I was lucky enough to see you play this past NXNE in Toronto!  NXNE or SXSW-
pick your favorite poison!

S.J.:  It’s really hard to compare the two festivals.  The entire city of Austin seems to get involved with SXSW and with NXNE, aside from the main headlining shows, it feels like it’s more of an inside industry thing.  Both are great to play, but it all comes down to the Texas BBQ.

BNB:  S.J. and Maygen- does the brother sister thing ever drive you up a wall?  (Aside from Maygen’s leopard pants S.J.)

S.J.:  Well, yes I do dislike her leopard pants, which somehow made the cover shots for the EP.  But, usually we get along and if we do disagree about something, it’s momentary and eventually the other person realizes I’m right.

BNB:  What’s been your favorite recording experience?
S.J.:  On the first record, I was literally pulling my hair out during the mixing.  My computer kept freezing and I kept losing all my mixes.  At one point I even pulled the cord out of my mouse and through it across the room out of frustration.  Be thankful you weren’t there for that (it’s been labeled the “mouse grenade” incident).  I swore I wasn’t going to mix our next record.  Thus, my favorite recording experience has been being able to hand the mixing responsibilities to someone else for this EP.  And, we couldn’t have been happier with Mike Major’s work too.  It should be noted, I am still down one mouse.

BNB:  Craziest thing to ever happen at a show?
S.J.:  Wish I had a killer story for this question..  But I think the craziest thing to ever happen was once my headphones fell off.  My memory’s not the greatest though, so maybe there’s something really good that I’m forgetting.  Let’s hope so.

BNB:  Dream festival to play?
S.J.:  We’re hoping to head overseas sometime soon and I’d love to play Glastonbury or Leeds / Reading.  So many great festivals in Europe- anyone want to hook us up?

BNB:  What’s up next for VK- touring, local shows?
S.J.:  When our EP comes out this fall, we’ll be doing some pretty extensive touring across Canada and by the spring we’re planning to hit up the US again.  Our EP is sort of a taste test for a full-length album we’re putting out next year, so for us it’s exciting to have two releases to look forward to.  We spent the last week shooting our first ever music video.  It involved a lot of laying around in bug infested dirt in the middle of the forest.  The funniest part about the video is we did literally everything ourselves, so you may notice we’re never in the same scene together because one of us always had to be operating the lights and camera.  Also funny is that we chose to do the whole thing in stop motion, which involved taking about 13,000 photos.  Our index fingers are sore and my hard drive is maxed out, but it was definitely worth it.

BNB:  Some would say Saskatchewan is not exactly a prime music province- what do
you think?

S.J.:  I don’t know, I’d have to disagree.  EVERYONE is in a band in this province.  Seriously, everyone.  Sometimes people who can’t even play an instrument form bands here.  I’m actually thinking about quitting music just to stand out.

BNB:  Well if that’s the case I play a pretty mean triangle.  I’ve been thinking of relocating- perhaps now I have the perfect excuse!

BNB:  What would you do for a klondike bar?
S.J.:  I’d probably go to the store and buy one.. you?

BNB:  Ahh and the tables have been turned!  I would interview Violent Kin.  Do you have waiting for me?

BNB:  Who would you like to collaborate with if given the chance?
S.J.:  It’s always been a dream to work with Paul McCartney in some way.  Whether were producing his record or- well, whatever..

BNB:  Fave pre-show vice or ritual?
S.J.:  Hmm.. We don’t really have any rituals.  Maybe just sitting quietly backstage, sipping on some water.

BNB:  Fave Canadian or American venue to rock out at?
S,J,:  Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Amigos in Saskatoon and Arlene’s Grocery in New York.

BNB:  How’d VK form?  What made you two join forces?
S.J.:  We played in an Orchestras together when we were kids, then we started writing simple songs together, but I suppose it turned serious when we formed one half of a band called The Blood Lines.  We started touring and recording and we realized we both had a lot of the same goals, so when that band broke up in 2008, we didn’t even have to ask each other what we should do next.

BNB:  S.J. how does it feel making girls jealous of your luscious locks?
S.J.:  Oh, when I first read the question, I thought it said “luscious looks”, but “locks” is okay too I guess.. My inspiration is Justin Beiber.

BNB:  An inspiration to us all, S.J.

BNB:  Advice to aspiring artists you can pass along?
S.J.:  I think the most important thing is not to look back.  Just keep making music, putting it out and performing.

BNB:  Closing remarks?
S.J.:  Velvet Hideout, out October 12!


Violent Kin have stormed back onto the music scene with their upcoming EP release- being chosen as CHARTattack’s song of the day with their single “Velvet Hideout.”  I did love that track (I was lucky enough to preview the EP!) but I recommend you give “Good Girl” a listen and checkout “Keep Your Balance” if you’re in the mood for a guitar breakdown mid-song you were most certainly not excpecting- but welcome nonetheless!  For more on VK’s music and to keep up with the always-on-the-go brother/sister team, feel free to cyberstalk them at!