By Alex Gerber
If you haven’t heard of Kalimur, you’re not the only one. For now.
While formulaic Top 40 hits may well be the face of the music industry – the artists on the edge of the spotlight are its heart and soul. And Kalimur, which just released its sophomore album, Redemption, definitely has soul.
The band’s refreshing sound is best defined as alternative pop rock, though its style may not be limited to a single genre, says Brett Steinberg, the group’s singer/songwriter who launched the band with its bassist, Tyler Berkich, whom he met at the University of Connecticut a few years ago.
“I was jamming in my room one day,” said Steinberg, who grew up in Greenwich, “and he brought up his bass and started playing. We became friends right off the bat. It was a great bonding experience.”
At the time, Steinberg was in the midst of a solo project and invited Berkich to join him to play for a few shows. One of those shows was opening for alternative rock band Paradise Fears. The gig inspired the pair to take their music careers to the next level.
“Once the band came on, the crowd was electric,” Steinberg told the Ledger.
“We saw this magical interaction between the audience and the band that we felt can be the experience we could get if we formed a band.”
About a year later, guitarist Alex Trouern-Trend and drummer Jonah Propfe entered the mix. Propfe had amassed only six hours of rehearsal with his new bandmates when Kalimur played its first show.
“We got on stage and the entire place was packed. It was a massive audience, especially for the first full-band show that we had. It was equally hilarious and terrifying,” said Steinberg.
In April 2015, Kalimur released its first album, Ghosts We Used To Know. The band found no trouble getting its name out to the public, having been named UMusician’s Artist of the Week for April 13. The band’s song, “Shadows,” was listed on music site Amby’s “5 Tasty Jams You Must Hear.”
Kalimur was a name that was starting to get recognized, but what exactly does the band’s name mean?
Steinberg explained, “We drew up a lot of ideas for band names. You cannot believe how many names have already been taken. So I just kind of put some syllables together and wanted to create something that was our own. Kalimur is not a word, obviously, but I think the more we create, and the more we experience with people, the more weight to the word Kalimur there will be. When you hear any band name, it’s just a string of words that you associate with what they do, and all of a sudden, those words have a unique meaning to you.”
Kalimur’s new album, Redemption – their second in a year — was released in January. To churn out that many songs in so short an amount of time requires a lot of inspiration.
“As an artist,” said Steinberg, “I like to create an idea of something in a song and have people follow along. Eventually, they become a part of that experience. What excites me most about music is that it’s a great medium for storytelling. Stories contain all the emotions and relationships and quirks of a certain person, and it has the power to take you on a journey through whatever that person is experiencing. Whether an artist’s lyrics are hyperspecific or are more ambiguous, they allow you to piece the story together in your own head based on how you interpret the music.”
Part of Steinberg’s story is his experience growing up in Greenwich a Jewish family. In January 2015, he took a Birthright journey to Israel.
“Both of my parents are Jewish, but we’re not that religious. We fulfill the traditions of Judaism in the sense that we celebrate holidays as a family and celebrate the idea of getting together in good health,” he said, adding, “There’s a great sense of pride in being from a group of a people who have endured through generations of hardships; who have managed to keep their dignity and persevere. Judaism has always been a part of my identity, and I’m still trying to figure out what it means to me.”
Alex Gerber is an intern journalist at the Ledger.