Channel K recently released Human Beings, a 3-track EP designed to introduce the band’s music to a wider audience. You can get a digital copy for free at the Channel K website, and any donations will benefit Communities in Schools, which helps at-risk children. You can also catch a free acoustic live set from Channel K–the band’s debut performance–next Friday, 6.29.12, at Khon’s.
The Exclamations and Chad Asuncion are also on the bill.
Channel K producer and musician Ken Sarmiento (formerly of local band Phuz) recently answered some questions about his latest project.
Houston Calling: What can you tell me about Channel K’s debut release?
Ken Sarmiento: The new rock album is a 3-track single album under Phuzaxeman Productions. It’s the same production entity I started since I produced actress/singer Julin’s album, Transitions, back in 2007. Human Beings will be only available through download on my official www.kensarmientomusic.com site. There will be no charge.
Houston designer guru, Carlos Fernandez (Fernandez Designs) did all of the amazing Channel K logos and album design. It’s an amazing artwork by itself. He’s brought the music into a visual entity that makes the whole album complete. I really love the “simplistic” look but intricate details of how everything looks. He’s one of the best in the biz. His artwork from the 2007 Phuz album, Forgiveness, was also a hit.
I also worked with Don Cobb and Eric Conn from Independent Mastering out in Nashville. Those guys have worked with some great artists including, James Taylor, The Pointer Sisters, Quincy Jones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dan Fogelberg, & Jimmy Buffett. Don worked with me a little on the mixing process on the song, “These Thoughts.” I’m pleased with their work on the Channel K album. I’ve learned a lot.
HC: You’re donating all proceeds from the new songs to a charity for at-risk children, right?
KS: Yeah, that’s correct. While there’s isn’t a charge, I do accept donations which will be toward the non-profit organization, Communities in Schools. The program is geared for providing services for at-risk students. It’s a great cause.
HC: How does Channel K differ musically from your work with Phuz?
KS: There are similarities including elements of groove, funky guitar stuff, catchy melodies, and familiar arrangements. But Channel K is also much different than Phuz. I’ve got a role of music director in Channel K as opposed to splitting duties in Phuz. So that’s much different already. Also, the music per se is more “aggressive sounding” and I think more driving with Channel K than Phuz. There’s a lot more electronic sounds with Channel K too. I’ll let the listeners decide. I love both bands for their unique qualities. If anything, Channel K is what I currently sound like today.
HC: How did the songs for Human Beings come about? The songs showcase singer Haydee Lou, correct?
KS: Yes, Haydee Lou is my featured singer on my album. It’s also her first official work to display her vocals on an album release. I did a lot of artist development and musical directing with her for these particular tracks.
In terms of the songs, I did all the arrangements, production, and music for the album. Haydee co-wrote the songs. Haydee also wrote the lyrics and worked with me on the melodies of the song. Vocal approach, selection, and vocal arrangements were some focus areas I really worked with her on. Haydee currently sings in the band Silence on Hold if you want to check more of her vocals out.
HC: You’ve been nominated for “best guitarist” and “best producer” in the local music awards. How do you think the musical landscape in Houston has changed over the past few years?
KS: I’m very honored for being even mentioned. And I wholeheartedly thank the people that thought of me. There’s so much talent out there.
In terms of musical landscape in Houston, I try to stay up on all the H-town artists and bands. But there’s so many artists/bands in this big city. There’s older bands from the 90’ still doing shows while new country, singer/songwriter, hip hop, rap, house, blues, jazz, rock, Spanish, and metal are spread all over Houston more than ever.
From what I see, I think there are a lot more bands that emerge and become extinct really quickly than before. But there’s a lot of good bands that have gotten some great attention too. Houston has a lot more music events/festivals around town showcasing some fine talent than say 10 years ago. People have more access to local bands/artists around town because the city as a whole has grown and there’s more places to watch local music. There’s wine bars, coffee joints, music venues, clubs, sport bars and all kinds neat places in Houston that host their own music events. It’s really amazing and I’m personally happy that the festivals, venues, and events seem to be numerous around town.
There’s also the technology aspect of music that’s had its effect on even the local level. The emergence of “You Tube stars” that cover some mega artist’s single seem to be a popular thing to do. The advancement of recording equipment has changed the game as well. People can put out good sounding material from their portable studios. It’s given bigger studios around town some major competition. The overall landscape of music just keeps evolving regardless of what your opinion might be.
HC: In a city as diverse and spread out as Houston is–and with all of the choices of listening options available online today–how do you plan to get the word out to those who might be interested in hearing Channel K’s music?
KS: As much as I plan the standard press reviews, advertising free downloads, on-line promotions, street promotions, and playing shows, I really want to give the audience a reason to come out. I truly believe that good music (like having an album) and good shows will eventually get the word out. At this point in my life, I just want to do consistent shows again… Yeah, I could go into details of a biz plan, but I want to focus on developing this band to the musical standard I visually want to attain. The fact I’m releasing a free album does sound pretty catchy, right?
HC: When will you be playing live shows?
KS: I’ve got an acoustic set that I want to play with my band in late May or early June. We’ll be working our full band sometime in the summer. We’re still writing at the moment. I’ll be debuting my new singer Cyn and guitarist Rick when we hit the live shows. Cyn and Rick started the Spanish rock band Volatil and I’ve known them for some time. I’ve had a lot of fun working with them already and can’t wait to hit the live stage again.
HC: Any plans for a full-length release from Channel K? Any new music from Phuz on the horizon?
KS: Actually, I’ve already been writing and recording some new material for another album release in the future. I’m really psyched about the next album.
I’ve got some new tracks that I’ve been experimenting in the studio that I’m going to introduce to the band. There’s a new song that I’m going to release as a sample soon as well. Gosh, at this point I’m just trying to enjoy the completion of Human Beings.
As far as Phuz, that’s a good question. In all honesty, only the right conditions would allow us to get back together and write new material. Every band has its time. Phuz had some great times that I feel honored and blessed to have experienced.
HC: What do you consider to be Channel K’s primary musical influences? Why?
KS: In a general sense, I think there’s some rock, groove, and electronic musical influences in there. I think it’s diverse enough to remix and rock enough to enjoy some pounding guitars. I’m a drummer at heart too and my drums always have a good groove in all the music.
HC: What are some of the things you’ve been listening to lately?
KS: Been jamming to an Austrian singer named Madita, Greyhound single mix, James Morrison, Esthero, Angela McCluskey, Missy Higgins, the latest Anthrax, of course… I listen to satellite radio as well. There’s just too much to name…
Thanks to Ken Sarmiento of Channel K for taking the time out to answer these questions.
Visit Channel K online at www.kensarmientomusic.com.