Following the release of their debut album, Time Undone, Austin-based soul-rock group Kalu & The Electric Joint bring their unique sound to SXSW. Lead guitarist, Jonathan “JT” Holt, brings a thunderous wave of bluesy, psychedelic rock that crashes against the beach that is lead singer Kalu James’ soulful voice and is beaten back out to sea by percussionist John Speice. Reminiscent of an early Black Keys mixed with the classic Texas blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan and a dash of modern day rocker Gary Clark Jr., Kalu & The Electric Joint have created a well-deserved buzz around themselves that recently resulted in a 2018 Black Fret nomination. We caught up with James and Holt last week at Native Hostel before their official Traffic Music Showcase to talk about SXSW.
How has your SXSW 2018 experience been so far?
JT: “Overall, super positive. It kind of feels like what SX is supposed to feel like. It hasn’t always felt that way, but this this year it does. I like to think it has something to do with our record and the steam behind that, but who knows?”
KJ: “Coming from someone who has played for well over 10 years, mostly unofficial showcases, it has been a lot of fun. It’s like when you ask the artist who painted a mural what it feels like seeing it completed. They’re never going to tell you about all the times the world was sleeping and they were out with a flashlight trying to paint. They are only going to tell you it feels great.”
Is there a preference between playing official SXSW shows and unofficial SXSW shows?
JT: “Not really…if you have a flow and know how to work SX it can be a much easier trail. As a local band you have to endure SX for a few years. Once you’re polished, then I think SX can be real positive. Bands don’t pick themselves for official or non-official and both experiences are great if you are there for the music.
You were just nominated for a 2018 Black Fret grant. How do you feel about the more artist-inclusive atmosphere that has developed in Austin by new organizations and non-profits that caters to the well-being and advancement of local musicians?
JT: “It’s just great that we have all of these organizations and non-profits that support music in Austin, such as HAAM, SIMS, Black Fret and supporting clubs like the Continental Club, Antone’s, and Stay Gold. We really are lucky to have this as an epicenter. We, as musicians and artists, over the last 50 years have been building this community and we’re grateful to have its support.”
Time Undone is now available for download on Apple iTunes and Spotify or can be purchased directly from their website.
Photos and article by: Demetrius Judkins @wolfspiritofthesun