Los Angeles Based Singer Songwriter Arden Kaywin: The Girl Feels Just Fine

Arden Kaywin is your fine mix of Pop with the maturity of a seasoned veteran a trait that seems to be lacking in mainstream music these days. If you put the piano talents of Chantal Kreviasuk with the voice of Vanessa Carlton you’d get Arden. You can tell from the first note that she is like no other out there and proves her name isn’t the only unique thing about her.

Her awards seem endless and 2005 was an amazing year for her. Her release Quarter Life Crisis has made many Editors Choice lists and her single Me With Me is being played all over internet radio and was nominated for Pop Song of the Year by 2006 Independent Music Awards. That song was also heard on the WB’s show, Related. On top of all that she was nominated as Female Vocalist of the Year by the 2005 Los Angeles Music Awards. Arden is present in almost every website you view including Napster and Myspace.com. On the Edge is currently featured in The Next Big Hit! Podcast Vol. 18.

This girl is thrusting herself into the spotlight and she NEEDS to be heard.

Arden Kaywin is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter who from a young age knew that she wanted to sing like her idols Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. With influences such as Tori Amos, Dave Mathews Band and The Indigo Girls it’s easy to understand her need to have variety in her music. Arden began studying classical music and attended the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the renowned Manhattan School of Music. As much as she loved Classical she knew her heart was with Pop and that’s when she made the big move to LA to persue her career.

Arden began playing venues like Hotel Caf, Molly Malones, The Mint, 14 Below, and Room 5, this is when she was introduced to producer and engineer Rudy Haeusermann (Angie Mattson, Kimberly Locke, Lisa Marie Presley). They quickly began work on her self-titled EP in 2004.

I’m so glad I had a chance to ask Arden some questions I felt she was such an interesting artist and I wanted to get the full view of what it’s like to be her and create her music.

EC: When was the definitive moment where you said, ok this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Arden: I’m not sure there’s necessarily one defining moment. Music has always been a passion for me, and as a child I always loved to sing. My mother recently told me that my pre-school teacher remarked on my first report card that I was a model student except for the fact that I had a tendency to hum while I worked, which was disturbing to the other students 🙂 But, I think I first realized that music could be my future when I was 11 years old and was asked to sing the national anthem for a Miami Heat game (I’m from Miami) – that was a pretty big deal for me as a 6th grader, and once I heard the crowd roar when I’d finished, I was pretty much convinced that there was nothing else I’d rather do then perform.

At the time though, I didn’t really know what form that would take. I did a lot of musical theater growing up, and then through high-school and college I studied classical music which I actually did professionally up until about two years ago. I think I had a sort of “light-bulb” moment at that point because I was feeling very burnt out and suffocated by the classical world I was in, and I’d gotten involved recording some classical/pop cross-over music which I’d helped write.

It was my first time in a studio atmosphere and my first time recording and I absolutely fell in love with the process of writing and recording my own music. I’d always written music but never really intended to do anything with it – you know, some people paint, some people keep a journal, well, I wrote pop songs (and when you’re a classical musician, you don’t tell anyone about that, lol). But having that experience in the studio, I knew that I needed to explore my own songwriting more and not too long after, I’d completely switched gears and left the classical world.

EC: What would you say was the best part of recording your album? You had the help of a really great producer who has a track record of making it happen for artists, what was it like working with them?

Arden: I have two favorite parts of recording this album, both of which include Rudy and Rob (producer and mix engineer). The first would have to be the arrangement process. The way Rudy and I worked was that I would first record my original piano version of the song for him along with a scratch vocal. Then I’d go away and he’d sit with the song for a few days and come back to me with a rough arrangement of guitars, drums etc. It’s always so exciting to hear that first rough cut of the song because it’s like, it came from nothing and now it’s something. Then we’d pour over the arrangement for weeks getting it just right, but there’s nothing like that first time you hear a song come to life.

My other favorite thing was being in the mixing studio with Rob. I remember when I first met him, Rudy and I had gone over to visit him at Henson Studios where he was busy mixing Shakira’s latest album. And I remember being really intimidated because he was working with her, and had worked with Alanis and Bon Jovi and other big artists I really admired. But once we started mixing, he made me feel totally at home and part of the process. I really loved watching him at the board and learning how tweaking just one little thing can make the difference between a song being nice, and a song really pulling you in. So for me, the best thing about making this album was all about the people I was working with and just how much I learned from them.

EC: Pop is a very hard genre to be in because of the enormous competition what do you think you’ve worked on to set you apart from all the others?

Arden: I think the main thing that sets me apart is my voice. It’s not really something I’ve “worked on” in an effort to stand out, my voice is my voice, but it’s the one thing that fans always seem to come back to when they talk about my music.

EC: For Indie artists it’s always been tough to get ahead but as a female it does make it even harder. There doesn’t seem to be much room for women anymore unless you strip down half naked and sing about sex. As a woman and Indie artist what hurtles have you had to overcome?

Arden: Honestly, the one hurdle I’ve had as an Indie artist doesn’t have anything to do with being female at all. I think there are plenty of women out there looking for meaningful music who don’t subscribe to the whole half-naked thing. My hurdle is that I am truly an Indie artist at this point in the sense that I have put out a record independently of any record label. However, my music isn’t “Indie” in the genre sense of the word. My music is very commercial, pop/singer-songwriter in genre. So a lot of opportunities that are open to Indie artists are not right for me because they’re really courting “Indie” music as a sound, not a circumstance.

EC: What made you choose /Me With Me/ as your first single? So far it seems to have been a great decision.

Arden: I chose “Me With Me” because it’s upbeat and I think a lot of people can relate to it. I actually just found out that it was nominated for Pop Song of the Year by the 2006 Independent Music Awards.

EC: Most of the artists I speak with are huge supporters of downloading music; how do you feel about it what do you think are the positive aspects of it and the negative.

Arden: I think legal downloading through iTunes, Napster etc. is great. I’ve sold more albums on iTunes and Napster then I physical albums from Tower Records or off my website. I’m torn about the whole peer to peer issue though. I think for up-and-coming artists, it can be a great way to get exposure if you want to release one track to a website like Kazaa or other free download site. But I think that that kind of exposure only goes so far, and as artists (Indie or not) we need to educate people that music has value, and that starts by us valuing our own music. If we’re giving it all away, I think that sends a message to fans that maybe it isn’t worth something.

EC: What do you see in the future for your music where do you see it taking you?

Arden: Wow, that’s a loaded question. Well, for my next album I would love to co-write with some of the people that I think are great writer/producers in the pop genre….people like Linda Perry and John Shanks. I would love to write and perform a song specifically for a film. I would love to get on a tour with other similar artists – if Sarah McLachlan brought back Lilith Fair I would lobby hard to get on the bill. And, while I think that there are definite benefits to being indie, I also recognize the opportunities that a label could bring to the table. So if/when the right label relationship comes along, I would definitely take advantage of the opportunity.

EC: What inspires you?

Arden: Harmonies, great chords, and certain experiences that seem to happen just to be written about.

EC: Do you have a routine to your songwriting how do you start, what usually happens first?

Arden: I’m a music first kind of girl. My songs mostly come from me sitting at the piano and fooling around until I stumble across something that I keep playing over and over again. That’s how I know it’ll become a song – when I obsess over the chords and need to play it again and again because I love the chord progression. Then words come later when I have something to say. I’ve had songs that don’t get words until 4 months later because I wasn’t feeling anything that fit with it. Or sometimes it’s very easy if there’s something going on in my head that I need to get out.

EC: Constantly playing gigs and doing promotions can get somewhat tiring, what do you do to unwind? When you aren’t working what’s fun for you?

Arden: Lately, when I’ve had time and I’m in LA I’ve been into cooking. My boyfriend and I made homemade chicken soup from scratch recently (we’re not talking a can of chicken broth here, we’re talking boiling the bird and skimming the fat). We took it on as a challenge…two 21st century kids trying to make grandma’s old fashioned chicken soup. And it was a wild success – it was so good that now I’m obsessed. So I like to have friends over for dinner. I also spend a lot of time out at other friends’ shows or having a girl’s night with my girlfriends. I also love movies.

My brother is a film producer so he’ll often bring me along to a film festival or movie premier which is always a scene but kind of a guilty pleasure. I have to say though I never get tired of giging. It’s the promoting that gets tiresome, but as I see it, they don’t call this the music business for nothing and promoting yourself is just part of that.

When I look through press kits; and we get hundreds; Im constantly looking for one CD, one CD that just grabs my attention. Very rarely do you find a Pop vocalist whos voice is so flexible and has such a wide range and can cook! Arden is a great singer and her piano playing really makes the songs very different and very unique from what we have been trained to believe is true Pop.

I try to keep our site very diverse in the type of music each artist plays and I’m thankful to have found Arden she is not your stereotypical Indie musician. Though it can be rough being a Pop Indie artist she seems to be doing well for herself keeping busy by playing gigs all over the country. With her team of excellent producers and a great fan base I think Arden will be just fine. Visit Ardens website www.ardenkaywin.com to listen to some of her songs. You can also purchase her full album Quarter Life Crisis for a mere $10.

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