Originally from Belarus, a neighbor of Russia, childhood friends KIWI TIME relocated to San Francisco in search of the personal and musical freedom they admired and had limited access to growing up in Eastern Europe. Liberated by their new San Francisco home, the band, a taut unit of musicians and songwriters weaned on American indie rock able to create more freely. A live wall of sound, Kiwi Time was built on raw-boned energy and unflinching focus of lead singer and guitarist Yoga Shyp, the unstoppable rhythm section of singer bassist, Anna Makovchik and drummer Vlad Kukharchuk and the swirling vibrations of Mikalai Skrobat on keyboards and guitar.
KIWI TIME signed with San Francisco Bay Area’s Granted Access Studio‘s by Baynetwork, a new entertainment media and tech savvy company based in Menlo Park California. Their 5 track EP “It’s Kiwi Time” produced by Dan Shea (Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Santana, Rob Thomas, Bono, Robin Thicke) with additional production by Scott Llamas is a truly inspiring piece of work. The new release infuses a memorable dance-rock rhythm with the energy of their live show. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Anna and Vlad of KiWi Time to discuss their musical influences, the formation of the band, the creation of the debut EP and much more!
Take us back to your earlier years. What are your first memories of music in your life?
Yoga: When I was 5 years old I found an acoustic guitar at my grandma’s house. I began to play it having no idea of what I was doing. It was an old, crappy, out of tune guitar but I loved it.
Anna: My first memories of music started early on when I realized I loved singing and crafting songs. My passion for singing brought me to music school. It was there that I learned how to play piano and studied folk music. It was a great experience.
Who were your biggest influences as a musician and performer?
When we were kids we fell in love with Nirvana, Sex Pistols, Garbage, Kosheen.
A career in the music industry can be a big challenge. What made you take the plunge and pursue a career in the music industry?
Anna: Passion, Love and Faith.
Vlad: When we finally got together in San Francisco, we decided that we had nothing to lose and we wanted to follow our dream so we wouldn’t feel any regrets later on.
How did KiWi time originally form?
We became friends when we were around 10 years old. Yoga, Vlad and Mikalai used to live in the same building in Bereza town, Belarus. Anna met the guys when she was 14.
Anna: They played in a punk rock band and I totally loved it and started hanging at the rehearsal space all the time. That was around 2002.
Vlad: Originally the KIWI TIME project was formed at the beginning of 2011 when Yoga moved to the US. It took us almost 4 years to get together.
What can you tell us about the other members of the group and what they bring to the table?
Anna – Vocals, keyboards, bass / “face, beauty and grace”
Yoga – Vocals, lead guitar / “soul, spirit and mood”
Mikalai – Guitar, keys, effects / “body, sexy flow, and power”
Vlad – Drums, management / “brains, spirituality, and health”
How did the name KiWi time come about?
When Yoga came to SF, we started practicing like crazy, and at the same time we were thinking about a band name. One night we were eating kiwis and came up with “kiwi time.” For us it means more than just eating fruit. It is a lifestyle of being fresh, cool and positive.
Originally, all the members of the group were from Belarus and you have relocated to San Francisco. What effects have both places had on you musically?
San Francisco gave us an opportunity to believe in the dream; it taught us how to be open-minded, diverse, and free-spirited. It inspires us to create peaceful and happy songs. Belarus is a completely different situation. That’s why we played oppositional punk rock music there.
For those who may not be familiar with your work quite yet, what can they expect sonically?
Kiwi Time is a cocktail of electronic dance grooves with indie rock flavor.
Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration these days?
Everywhere! On the streets of San Francisco, in the riffs of Jimmy Hendrix, moves of Mick Jagger, in the love our boyfriends & girlfriends give us…It comes from everywhere, all life is a huge inspiration.
Looking back on the entire process of bringing “It’s…KiWi TIME.” to life, what stands out at as the biggest challenge in creating this EP?
Vlad: I think the biggest challenge was to develop the skill of listening to the songs over and over and with a careful ear. It was a trick our producer Dan Shea showed us, and we are still trying to master it.
Did you have any particular goals or expectations you were looking to achieve with this release?
Our main goal is to spread the music around the web and play as many shows as possible. A big goal of ours is to get on a national tour.
Which songs resonate with you the most at the moment?
“Butterfly” is our favorite at this moment, we love to play it live, and it is always the last song we play.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself during this intense process?
We found out that the more we grow as musicians the more we understand that we are at the very beginning of our journey. As Socrates say, “I know that I know nothing” ipse se nihil scire id unum sciat.
Where are you in regard to new material and when might we expect a return to the studio for a full length release? We are already working on a new EP with Dan Shea, and next week we are recording vocals and guitars. We will be releasing singles every few months or so, as we have no interest in releasing a full length album at this time.
Is there something you hope people come away with after they catch one of your live performances?
We want to make people feel excited, inspired, and most of all, happy.
What do you consider your biggest milestone as a musician and a band?
Moving to the USA was a massive one. Another huge milestone was getting a record deal with Granted Access Studios and our great sponsorship with Baynetwork Inc.
As a band, you have been able to lend your voice to several great causes. What can you tell us about the work you are doing in that realm?
We are strong supporters of human rights. We believe that everyone is unique and equal regardless of his or her sexual orientation, religion or political views. We support LBGT rights in Russia. We are against the war in Ukraine and dictatorship in Belarus. At this moment all we can do is educate people.
What is the best piece of advice that you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music in the industry’s current climate?
Don’t give up and work hard! In your opinion, what does the future hold for KiWi Time, both short and long term?
Short term we will play a show in your town, Long term we will fly to the moon and rock outer space.
Anything you want to tell your fans before I let you go? Dream big and follow your heart. Namaste.
For more information on KiWi TIME, visit their official website at www.kiwitimeband.com. “It’s KiWi TIME” is available on iTunes here. Connect with the band on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kiwitime and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kiwitimeband.