The Nikhil Korula Band (NKB) have created a large fan base and a successful career––including major gigs with national acts––primarily as a touring band, and festivals are a significant part of that success. How do artists get those festival gigs, and make the most of them?
“Number one is the music,” says the Los Angeles based singer-guitarist Nikhil Korula, who dishes up a jammy blend of rock, reggae, calypso, African, Latin grooves and more. “The second most important thing is promoting it.” Korula emphasizes that the fans are the primary component; they allow his band to promote the shows so strongly. “When I see other bands, I ask myself, ‘Will people only see that band once?’ I don’t want audiences to see us only one time. So I think it is important to have different song lists, and different arrangements to keep fans entertained.”
The NKB have seen those fans turn out at many festivals, including two appearances at Bonaroo in Tennessee, as well as the annual Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI, opening for Ben Harper.
Korula attributes the success of the band to the amount of time the ensemble put into the details: rehearsing, songwriting and arranging. While gaining their chops as a band on the Los Angeles scene since 2003, working clubs such as the Viper Room and House of Blues, Korula and crew were also social networking. But not on Facebook or otherwise in cyberspace. “Word-of-mouth is the best way to gain new fans,” says Korula. “I want us to be the most talented band onstage, but off the stage, the most humble,” he adds. “We love to sign anything; t-shirts, CDs, etc., and meeting the fans is such a great part of it all.”
Getting the festival gigs? Korula attributes it all to the fan base.
“Once your band is established on the festival scene, by achieving an audience the promoters will come to you. Ninety-nine percent of the success in getting festival shows is due to the audience response. Promoters realize that, and will continue to book bands that have a strong audience turnout. It is up to the band to make them want to come back, with your music and with your interaction.”
Because the festival circuit is seasonal, the band is not a full-time job for Korula and company. Korula teaches songwriter and music production classes at Los Angeles Music Academy in Pasadena. The other members of the band are professional musicians who do session studio work in Los Angeles, so the drill that they go through to be in the Nikhil Korula Band is not unusual.
Korula’s role is much like that of a jazz band leader, or an orchestra conductor. “I’ll pull songs out of the vault, and also create different arrangements,” he explains. That ability to perform on-a-dime is key to the band’s dynamics, for the performers and for the fans. “If it’s not exciting for us, it’s not going to be exciting for the audience. I want people to come back, bring their friends, and see a different show each time.” The NKB’s organic nature led them to record on all-analog equipment at Heartthrob Studios in North Hollywood, CA, with Doug Messinger engineering. “It is such a pure sound,” says Korula, “and captures our music in a better way than the current digital recordings can.”
The self-managed, self-produced act’s Music of the New Day is available on iTunes and via the band’s website, http://nkband.com.
Currently, the group are at work on a soon- to-be-released EP featuring Jeff Coffin and Butch Taylor of the Dave Matthews Band.
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