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A Joyful Knockout

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on defunct, Central Indiana arts website Sky Blue Window on September 5, 2014. Some content, style and formatting may differ from the original version. 

Despite her young age, Kristin Newborn has made a significant amount of noise in Naptown in the past several years. A classically trained vocalist who has worked with local heavyweights at Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Newborn first made a splash in Indy’s underground music scene as front woman of the short-lived but much-celebrated Slothpop. In the years since that band’s breakup, Newborn has steadily honed a sound, under the pseudonym KO, based upon intricate vocal loops and straightforward garage rock riffs alongside her minimalist drummer Todd Heaton of Street Spirits.

Courtesy of Joyful Noise Recordings

Courtesy of Joyful Noise Recordings

Today, Joyful Noise Recordings announced it will release KO’s four-song, self-titled EP on Sept. 23. “I just think she’s a great musical presence, and she had these great songs,” says JNR owner and curator Karl Hofstetter. “Most of the time we don’t really f–k around with bands before they have a full-length, but this is kind of an exception just because they’re not really in a place to finish a full-length right now.”

This week, Newborn moved to Chicago following an appearance at WARMfest, where she dedicated her masterful rendition of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me to her hometown crowd as a farewell of sorts. Fortunately for Hoosiers, Newborn hasn’t moved to the moon. She will return to Indy to play an album release show at Radio Radio on Sept. 20 (tickets).

“For me, it was more about solidifying them, so KO doesn’t just become another band that was never properly released,” Hofstetter says. “Kristin will be huge someday, she’s just got that presence. So it was more about supporting her. We’re happy to be lax about this. We’re not making them tour and record a full-length or anything like that. It’s just four songs. We’ll see where it goes.”

Listen to lead single “B-tches Online” and scope the full track listing for the KO EP below. Pre-order your copy of the limited-edition 7″ vinyl via Joyful Noise Recordings.

Track Listing
1. Four Drinks In
2. B-tches Online
3. White Lie
4. Choke

Written by Rob Peoni


Fresh Track: KO “Golden Gal”


Listen to “Golden Gal” via Musical Family Tree

Chances are good that if you have asked me about Indianapolis’ music scene over the last couple of years the name Kristin Newborn likely came up during our conversation. We covered the sudden break-up of her previous project Slothpop early last year. Newborn quickly put together a two-piece band that featured Todd Heaton of Street Spirits on drums. I was on hand when the band, performing under the moniker KO,  made its live debut at LUNA Music during Record Store Day last year. The performance was rough with a significant amount of feedback from the two microphones that Newborn employed for her various vocal loops.

Since then, I’ve probably seen KO perform about once a month. The marked improvement between each performance has been nothing short of astonishing. I remember standing at White Rabbit Cabaret last fall. Some of Newborn’s friends were in town for a wedding, and the singer seemed to be feeding off of the excitement of her out-of-town guests. The hairs on the back of my neck stood stiff as she ran through a short set that closed with a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” I kept punching my friend in the shoulder, sporting this shit-eating grin and whispering, “Can you believe how fucking good this is – already?!”

Fresh off her recent performance with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Newborn graced the cover of NUVO last week for an in-depth story on the KO debut, due out sometime this summer. Last week, the band released the album’s first single “Golden Gal.” It’s a powerful track that showcases the intricate vocal arrangements that Newborn has perfected since she launched this project a year ago. Newborn is also slated as the next performer on MFT’s EP in a Weekend series. It’s nice to see her receiving the type of local recognition deserves, but I will be shocked if KO’s reach doesn’t extend well beyond Indianapolis by the end of 2013.

Connect with KO via Facebook | Twitter

Written by Rob Peoni


Tonight: First Friday music in the Murphy Building

First Fridays have blossomed into some of Indianapolis’ most exciting summer evenings for local art lovers. Originally established to bolster the city’s under-appreciated visual arts scene, First Fridays have grown to encompass a variety musical events as well. Two intriguing offerings will take place at Fountain Square’s Murphy Building this evening.

The new Do317 Lounge will play host to local singer and multi-instrumentalist KO Noel. Formerly of Slothpop, KO has quickly established herself as one of my favorite new Indy artists of 2012. It has been fun to watch her confidence as a solo performer quickly grow since her Record Store Day debut at LUNA Records.  Listen to “i will run while it’s dark” for a taste of the sensational vocal loops that will be on display in the intimate new space. The show is free, and Upland Brewery will be on hand serving frothy beverages, and work by local artist Mandy Steinbeck will be on display. Find more info at Do317.

Just down the hall, local label Joyful Noise Recordings will double as a performance space for singer-songwriters Richard Edwards, of Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, and Adam Kuhn. Edwards always puts on a terrific show. The show will also feature artwork from Kat Johnson. Check out Edwards’ acoustic take on Margot track “New York City Hotel” from 2010 below. Both shows kick off at 8 and space is limited. Visit Do317 for more info on the show.

Written by Rob Peoni