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.
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.
1. Four Drinks In
2. B-tches Online
3. White Lie
Written by Rob Peoni
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.
Written by Rob Peoni
Yesterday brought news of the break up of Indianapolis-based Slothpop. The musical project lasted just three short years. However, the seriousness that the band brought to their lone, self-titled LP resulted in a release with a depth and maturity that elevated the expectations for Indy’s tiny, but talented independent music scene. Regardless of what the future entails for the band’s various members, Slothpop’s contribution will have a lasting impact.
“It was like we needed something to just make it feel worth doing, something to re-inspire us and remind us that there’s a reason to be doing all of this,” bassist Drew Malott told NUVO in an interview preceding the album’s release party at Radio Radio.
The band alerted fans to the news of their impending separation in a statement via Facebook, saying:
Slothpop is officially calling it off. It has been an amazing three years and we want to thank you all for your love and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s our official video for Kokoro made by the amazing Know No Stranger crew. We love you. adieu.
The announcement comes as a significant blow to a tight-knit community of musicians that call Indianapolis home. I can only speak to my own sentiments, but Slothpop’s debut had a richness and weight that felt bigger than a local release. This was not the fuzzy clangings of your neighbor’s garage band. Kristin Newborn’s prowess on vocals is as formidable as any in this city. Her talent, blended with one helluva supporting cast and the vision of “seventh member” Andy Fry of Queensize Studios, made for a potent combination. For evidence, check out the aptly titled opening track “One”, here:
Though the album was recorded without the support of a label, its production was characterized by a boldness and ambition of a major studio release. In some ways, the writing was on the wall from the outset. Beneath the track listing on Slothpop’s Bandcamp page, songwriting credits were divided between Newborn and the rest of the band. Clearly labeled, as if outlining the prenuptial agreement for the eventual divorce.
Fellow Indy band The Bonesetters had paired with Slothpop for gigs on multiple occasions. The pair of bands served as support for each other’s album release parties. Lead-singer Dan Snodgrass had this to say about the news of the break up:
Indianapolis is filled with bright stars of talent, and one of the brightest was Slothpop. Slothpop consistently put on excellent shows, and their music still delves into the hearts of people in our fine city. I’m sad to see this pass, but excited to see where the individual members will go from here. Bruce Springsteen was “The Doctor” before he became “The Boss” in the Castiles and Earth. Waylon Jennings played bass for Buddy Holly & the Crickets before breaking out on his own. Though it saddens me to see them go down seperate paths creatively, I’m excited to see where the members channel their amazing talents from here.
Snodgrass is correct to remind listeners that nobody has died. In all likelihood, we will be seeing these musicians again in some capacity. Their talents are too bright to keep hidden for long. In fact, a handful of recordings from Newborn’s solo project KO are available via Musical Family Tree. KO will be performing live at The Melody Inn on April 8th and as part of LUNA Music’s Record Store Day line-up on April 21st. Watch Slothpop’s video for “Kokoro” below.
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Written by Rob Peoni