PREMIERE + Q&A: Spirit Animal Releases “Karma” in Anticipation of Debut Album

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Spirit Animal isn’t your typical rock band. They don’t care about genres, labels, or boundaries, and their eclectic style has brought us yet another upbeat tune that we’re digging entitled “Karma.” It’s the type of song meant to be listened to at full volume, so you can hear every bit of the drums and bass, topped off with lead singer Steve Cooper’s powerful vocals. The track is the second single to be released from the band’s upcoming debut album Born Yesterday.

Cooper, along with guitarist Cal Stamp, drummer Ronen Evron, and bassist Paul Michel approach their music from any and every direction. The band draws inspiration everywhere from the Arctic Monkeys to Kendrick Lamar, and the result is a pleasantly dynamic, rhythmic, and at times even funky, rock sound. Their unique sound has unique origins, with Paul’s history in the D.C. hardcore scene, Ronen’s past studying at Berklee College of Music, and Steve’s early love for rap music.

Spirit Animal’s strategy when it comes to making music is that there is no strategy. They have no set process for making music, and the product is music that has such an effortless feel to it and you can basically hear how much fun they’re having. Though that effortless, fun sound will probably have you wanting to join in singing at the top of your lungs, their music is also incredibly reflective and intended to ignite your thoughts.

The band quickly gained attention after its first hit “The Black Jack White” which racked up over a million hits on Spotify and 2016’s “Regular World,” which reached 3 million hits. Fast forward to 2018 after tirelessly touring and working on music, Spirit Animal is finally giving us a full-length debut, which is music to our ears.

You can listen to Spirit Animal’s latest release “Karma” below:

We also got the scoop from Spirit Animal frontman Steve Cooper about what inspired the song, which artists he’s been loving, and more. Just keep reading to find out.

OTW: Your upcoming Atlantic Records debut, Born Yesterday, was largely written and recorded in the band’s backyard of Brooklyn.  How does the city landscape influence your creative process?

Steve: I wouldn’t say that the urban terrain has much impact on us – we’re actually pretty outdoorsy – but the people certainly do. One thing that has always unified us has been the desire to make music that can “touch all types.” In New York, when you’re in headphones cranking your demos or whatever you’re working on, and you’re jammed between 500 subway riders from every edge of the Earth, it’s inspiring to picture them listening, too. What would they think? How would they react? Is there a way you can make this music more them and more you? There’s always been a built-in creative challenge associated with this city, but it’s not only because there are so many artists here. It’s because there are so many people here.

OTW: What made you decide to announce your debut album with the song “Karma”?

Steve: We can’t pretend it was planned in advance, but it does make a lot of sense in terms of how it was written, the cover art concept (an avatar whose components are assembling from every direction), and our general approach to genre and style. We flew from New York to L.A. to write this song. The producer, Ryan Petersen, traveled from Nashville having just moved away from L.A. The other co-writer, Nolan Sipe, drove up from San Diego day-of. We used Tenacious D’s rehearsal space and borrowed gear. We then took the tune back to NY for post-production, did a good amount of long-distance idea swapping between the three cities, and actually wound up having to go down to Nashville to cut alternate lyrics (they didn’t end up getting used). These days, it’s not uncommon to cobble together old parts or to combine the home and pro studio pieces. But I think it’s fair to say that this song has the most airline rewards points to redeem.

OTW: How do you feel Born Yesterday differs your earlier work?

Steve: We talk a lot about how we’ve changed each other and taken on each other’s writing and stylistic tendencies. Inherent in this growth is a sonic cohesiveness, almost like a Venn diagram that slowly becomes a single oval. In our earlier work, there were both elements that we knew we wanted to move away from – things we sometimes saw as crutches that we knew we could do very well (funk riffs, for instance) – and elements that we knew could be potential strengths that we were rejecting or needing to find a way to incorporate more (pop/rap influences). A combination of time, which you can’t rush, and a newfound creative license that came from working with more people, helped us shape what we now refer to as “the album we always wanted to make.”

OTW: You guys have a big summer tour coming up, what’s the craziest experience you’ve had as a band on the road?

Steve: Since I’m writing this while hungry, I’m gonna go with The Great Burger Survival of 2016. We made the mistake of touring the upper midwest in the dead of winter (PRO TIP: don’t) and road conditions had been horrible the whole trip. We made the requisite post-show McDonald’s run despite the Minnesota snow and ordered our standard faves. For Cal, that’s a cheeseburger meal. We divvied up the goods and got to noshing as Ronen, the warrior that he is, took the wheel instead of eating. Not 90 seconds later we boarded the highway on-ramp at a very reasonable speed, but even responsible Ronen was no match for the black ice. We skidded off the ramp, did a 240 across four lanes of traffic (Tony Hawk would have been proud) and slammed into the cement barrier, front-first. Stunned, we looked around the van to see what had happened. French fries were EVERYWHERE, sweet and sour smeared on my seat handle. I looked behind me to Cal, who was alone on the back bench. He raised his arm up, triumphant as Lady Liberty herself, gripping a fully intact burger. “Are you ok?,” I asked. “My burger is,” he said, and gave me a bite.

OTW: Who are some of your Ones to Watch artists?

Steve: This might seem like the easiest question, but since we’re obsessed with new music, it’s absolutely not. How about 25 “ones”?!

Husky Loops, Amber Mark, Sarah Reeves, Vicktor Taiwò, Octavian, Kim Petras, NVDES, Injury Reserve, Valee, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Lanks, Numb.er, Daniel Avery, Sarah Blasko, Olden Yolk, Ghost Bones, Moaning, SAINt JHN, Haley Heynderickx, Ross From Friends, ISLAND, Kadhja Bonet, Courtney Marie Andrews, Palace Winter, Saltwater Sun

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