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Chainflower Interview

3 September 2020 No Comment
Chainflower HMM Sept CoverAlright guys, let’s get right to it! It has been a wild year for Chainflower tell us about what got you all into music?
Kelly: My Dad owned his own business but was also a jazz musician so I was always around someone playing music. Then I started playing piano. Some of the first rock music I heard was when my cousin turned me on to Jimi Hendrix and my life changed forever. I went to a ton of concerts and was inspired by what I saw, so I started learning guitar. Then I moved to LA and dove into the music scene and never looked back.
Syd: When I was a little girl I heard someone sing the national anthem at Dodger’s Stadium and I told my mom “I want to do that.” By age 9 my parents put me in voice lessons. I learned to play guitar so I could write my own music and perform. I’ve never worked harder for anything else in my life, and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.
Raanen: My father is a drummer and my mother did A&R for Capitol Records, so I’ve been surrounded by music my entire life.
Chainflower is a 3 member band. Tell us about each members important role in this band?
Kelly: I’m the founder, producer, songwriter and guitar player. I also create all our visuals and music videos. It’s my job to start, then make sure it gets finished while expressing a unique vision along the way that sparkles to life with collaboration. It’s always an amazing feeling when our music and videos are finished and released out into the world.
Syd: My role as the lead singer is to transport listeners into a dream world with my voice and presence. I hold nothing back on stage or in the vocal booth. Songwriting is another big part of my role in Chainflower. There’s nothing more exciting than to hear your ideas come to life through music.
Raanen: It’s pretty self explanatory. Vox, guitar, drums… and all three of us rock. What else do you need to know?
I see you guys have some big sponsors, tell us about them and how you obtained them?
Chainflower 4Kelly: We’re also working to finalize new sponsors and hopefully will be able to announce soon.
Syd: Gibson Guitars gave me the Joan Jett signature Melody Maker. It’s proudly displayed on my wall when I’m not playing it, and it’s now considered a collector’s item. I love that it was built to Joan’s specs, making it perfect for channeling the rock legend herself.
Raanen: I’m currently endorsed by DW Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Promark Drumsticks and Evans Drumheads. I was lucky to establish connections with a lot of great companies from a young age, after that, it was just proving my worth!
Have you guys been to NAMM before?
Kelly: For sure I’ve been a few times. Looking forward to going again in 2021.
Syd: Of course! It’s our Disneyland. We look forward to it every year. You can’t go more than a few feet without running into your buddies from another band. It’s a great time to catch up with everyone you know in the industry and make new friends.
Raanen: Almost every year I’ve been alive.
So I see some famous names in the resume of each band member, tell us more about that?
Chainflower 3Kelly: The record I created with Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and Lollapalooza is called Psi Com and is being re-released November 6 in “The Glitz; The Glamour” box set. Two singles from the box set that I co-wrote, Ho Ka He and Xiola have already been released. A new music video for Ho Ka He was also just released on YouTube. It’s exciting that the music we created is still going and now reaching a whole new audience.
Being in the LA music world you sometimes get to play in amazing projects. One of these was a band I was in with Danny Carey of Tool called Karmageddon. I was the guitar player and co-songwriter. It was a 3-piece with Danny on drums and the bass player singing. We toured and played clubs, including the legendary Scream that Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers frequented. We also created a self-titled record that was independently distributed.
I created the band SexTapes with my good friend Chris Pitman from Guns N’ Roses. Our self-titled record was written by myself and Chris and was mastered by legendary Guns N’ Roses guitar player and songwriter, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. SexTapes had the same major distributor as Guns N’ Roses and our self-titled debut was released at the same time as Chinese Democracy. Because of this, SexTapes was labeled as a Guns N’ Roses affiliated project and was included with Chinese Democracy promotions. SexTapes got rave reviews in the press even though we were an indie band, and everyone in GNR loved the record and live shows.
Syd: My very first tour was an arena tour opening up for The Jonas Brothers. My tour life experience went from 0-100 REAL fast! After that, I was ready for any size venue and couldn’t wait to get back on the road. I played festivals with KoRn, Godsmack, A7X, Sevendust, Five Finger Death Punch and Escape the Fate to name a few. During that time, I was asked to collaborate with Breaking Benjamin on the remix of their single “Blow Me Away” off their greatest hits album. The song, featuring my vocals, landed at #5 on the Rock charts.
I’ve had the pleasure of songwriting with some industry Rock Gods including Duff McKagan and Matt Sorem of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. My first time meeting James “Munky” Shaffer from KoRn was during a round table interview where we discussed horror movies and stories that inspired our music. He learned of my songwriting experience and asked me to collaborate on some new music with his sister-in-law. I was extremely honored and had a blast in our writing sessions.
Raanen: My dad is that Terry Bozzio guy (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons). He’s kind of a legendary drummer. Pretty lucky to have him as my pop for sure.
Who have you guys toured with?
Chainflower 2Kelly: I’ve toured with Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Chris Pitman of Guns N’ Roses and Danny Carey of Tool.
Syd: I’ve toured with The Jonas Brothers, Rooney, 10 Years, Candlelight Red and The Nearly Deads.
How did your relationship with the legend Perry Farrell form?
Kelly: I answered an ad he was running for a bass player. I got the gig and our first show was playing in the desert with Sonic Youth. After that we played LA and San Francisco clubs and toured the West Coast non-stop. I ended up moving in to the famous Wilton Place house with him and lived upstairs with Casey, his girlfriend at the time who’s likeness appeared on both Jane’s Addiction studio album covers, and Jane Bantier, the band’s namesake. There was always something crazy going on in the house since so many musicians lived there.
He is a very nice guy, what’s it like working with him?
Kelly: Perry is a very talented artist that always had a specific vision. He has tons of energy performing and it was always inspiring playing together whether just jamming or doing live shows. He was also a great visual artist and created amazing graphics that pushed our message further. He always encouraged me to write new music and experiment and has been an influence in my own projects merging alternative and rock.
Tell us some wild stories from the road?
Kelly: Playing on stage with strippers on the Sunset Strip was wild. Parties at Danny Carey’s (Tool) place in Hollywood are always interesting. You never know who you’ll meet. It could be guys in Tool, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rammstein, King Crimson, Mastadon or Rush. I’ve seen everyone there. Once before going on stage in Hollywood, we were at a liquor store across the street from the club with Perry, and someone in the store started shooting. Everyone in the store ducked down and the shooter ran out. Fortunately no one was hurt and we rushed out fast as hell back to the club. We went on stage after and Perry told the crowd what just happened and they started cheering and whooping. LA can be crazy!
Raanen: Almost got arrested for puking in public on Bourbon Street. Good thing my bandmates were watching out for me!
What is the recording process with your band? Do you guys lay the music down first then write the vocals?
Chainflower 1Kelly: Usually I write the music first and will record a demo for Syd and Raanen. Then we’ll refine the arrangement and work on vocals.
Syd: Typically, all elements of the song are written before we get into the recording studio. Guitar, bass and drums are recorded and then I come in to record all the vocal parts. Sometimes the song develops even further during the recording process and we mix up the order of tracking. For our upcoming single, guitars and vocals were recorded first, and drums were one of the very last thing to get tracked.
Raanen: Kelly sets up the demos and we build from there.
So from there how do songs like “Brave” and others form?
Kelly: The ideas start from something I have in mind with words or a title or phrase and then are expanded on with lyrics that Syd comes up with. She’s a great writer and knows how to create these powerful emotional stories. After we have the initial lyrics, we’ll work on it until we think it’s ready to record. I’ll record a demo at my home studio with guitars, bass, keys and drum sections. Raanen and I will work out the final drums at our rehearsal studio, while Syd and I work on vocals and arrangement. Then I’ll produce the vocals, keys and drums at bigger studios with the help of Niyi “Synematik” Adelekan and Clay Davies, amazing engineers/producers who have helped shape our sound. After that the finished song goes to Grammy-nominated producer John “Johnny K” Karkazis for mixing.
Syd: We like to do whatever feels right when it comes to creating. For our song “Brave,” our process started with Kelly showing me the masterful arrangement he was already working on, then we started coming up with the melody together. I spent some time on lyrics on my own and came back to finish up the song with Kelly. Other times we sit in a room and it all just comes together in one shot. The important thing is to follow the inspiration until we’re proud.
Tell us about some noteworthy moves from Chainflower?
Kelly: We were able to get good reviews early on from writers who loved our music, which opened doors to some great shows including The Viper Room and House of Blues. Releasing Brave through our new distribution deal with Hood & Associates is another milestone for us since it was the first song released with them and the first with Syd. Brave has connected with fans and has become very relevant to the times we’re living through, while also getting great reviews in the press. Creating and releasing our documentary/bio short film recently was another big achievement and an amazing way to tell our story. Also bringing on Ditch to manage Chainflower has been a very good move.
How long ago was Chainflower formed ?
Kelly: Chainflower has been going for a few years, but this new chapter started about a year ago when Syd joined, then Raanen came in a few months after.
I see you recently signed a mainstream distribution deal with Hood And Associates tell us more about that?
Kelly: We were included on their Undiscovered Gold Volume 7 compilation. After that release we knew we wanted Hood & Associates to be involved with our own releases.
Yes they are a great up and coming indie label and do a lot to help artists! 
I see Ditch the President of the label is helping also manage the band, how is it working with Ditch?
Kelly: After Brave was released and started to get press, we wanted to have someone on our team who was able to take things to the next level. Since day one it’s been great working with him. He loves what we do and knows what it takes to make it in the industry.
Tell us about the early days of Chainflower?
Kelly: Chainflower came about from another band I founded called Ultraject. We were looking for a new male singer, but when we auditioned a couple great female artists we realized this could be something very exciting. We brought the original singer on and decided to create a fresh image and name. We started playing top LA venues, released two EPs and got great reviews in the press.
I see you’re in the Hollywood area the Mecca of rock and hard rock, how has your experience been in the city?
Kelly: LA is an amazing place for rock music and we’ve been well-received by fans, venues and the media. Even though we’re going through a break with live shows, we’ve been very busy creating new music and streaming interviews and upcoming performances here in Hollywood.
Syd: Lately, as you can imagine, it’s been quiet in Hollywood. If all the other bands are doing what we’re doing (taking this time of venue closures to create a ton of new material and content) then there will soon be a huge burst of music that will breathe new life into the LA music scene. It will be an exciting time for all of us!
Raanen: Good and bad. Unfortunately it’s not like it was in the 80s/early 90s, but I don’t have a time machine!
What are some short term goals for Chainflower I see now you guys are quickly moving up the music ranks?
Kelly: We’ll continue to promote and create during these changing times. We have a new single that we’re getting ready to announce. We have a national radio performance that we just filmed to be broadcast in the next few weeks. We also have major venues that want us to play as soon as they’re open.
Syd: We want to let you into our world as much as possible. We’re working really hard on releasing live performance videos and new music to give listeners a chance to get to know who Chainflower is until we have the pleasure of seeing all your faces at our live shows in the future.
Raanen: Rule the world.
I have seen some of your live show stuff, tell us about the Chainflower live show?
Kelly: Our shows have been great because we have the best fans. We like to give them everything we have on stage and things can get a little crazy but we always deliver the best of the best. Syd, Raanen and I are family and fans feel that in the room however big or small. We can’t wait to get back out there when things open up.
Syd: I miss it so much! I look at photos and videos of some of our shows last year and I just can’t wait to get back on the stage. It’s funny because although we had only known each other a couple of months, when we performed, I felt like I had my brothers up there backing up my every move. Now that we’ve spent more time than EVER together writing and recording during the lockdown, it will be an even greater experience on stage with these amazing humans I’ve grown so close to.
What are some influences for your music and band over the years?
Kelly: I’m also a visual artist and work in the film industry so art and film are big influences in addition to music. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix are huge musical inspirations, along with Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction and Tool. Films like Blade Runner 2049, Inception, Prometheus and HBO’s Westworld influence our work in unusual ways. While more alternative bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Killing Joke (Nirvana also loved them), Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Stripes and The Dead Weather are also big influences.
Syd: Personally, my influences come from books and film. I’m a visual learner so naturally, these are the things that influence my songwriting the most. Some of my greatest vocal influences are Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Matt Bellamy of Muse and Amy Lee of Evanescence.
Raanen: Tool, Periphery, Abingdon Boys School, Warren G and Nate Dogg.
Do you guys do any philanthropy work and charity work at all?
Kelly: We’ve played benefits and fundraisers that have needed our help and we will continue doing that. We’ll keep giving back to our community through whatever way we can during these challenging times.
Syd: When I was very young, my parents wanted me to have an understanding of the struggle that so many people were going through in this world. Every week I would sing with a live band for families at the Union Rescue Mission. I continue to look for opportunities to bring joy and comfort with my music to those who are hurting. Chainflower makes music all about empowering those that have been knocked down. We are always looking for ways to make a difference, whether it be live performances to raise funds for the homeless in Los Angeles or using our platform to raise awareness to have an even greater effect on our community.
Raanen: Yes, I try to give to people on skid row during the holidays every year.
Rumor has is Ditch is in the works with Damon on a big concert festival promoting health, wellness, and fitness as well as progressions in that industry, are you guys planning on being a part of that?
Kelly: Most definitely. We look forward to being part of an amazing event.
Raanen: I’m ready.
We hope to see you guys hitting it hard at Namm 2021, Ditch is great at going booth to booth and rounding up some sponsors etc!
Tell us where we can find all things Chainflower?
Chainflower is available everywhere worldwide including:
Chainflower Web Site
Apple Music
Google Play
Anything else you would like to include?
Kelly: We’d like to thank all our fans for their amazing support during these changing times! We’d also like to thank our photographer and DP, William Sanford who shot this cover. You can check out his work at williamsanfordphoto.com.
Also check out our latest release “Brave”, subscribe to our YouTube channel @Chainflowermusic, and follow us on social media for updates on new music, videos and live streaming!

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