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Eyeing Stardom: Kamille & Kelly Rudisill have high hopes for their band, Karmina.
Struggle is par for the course as young artists make their way in L.A.
What does it take to lead the artist's life in L.A.? Sacrifice, sure. Focus, of course. But when the cost of living is high and odds are low, success needs a sliding scale.
INDIE STREAK: Rockers Kelly & Kamille Rudisill distrust big-label success. "I want to sell the music I make," says Kamille. "Who wants to be stuck being marketed as the next Hilary Duff?"


Kelly and Kamille Rudisill, sisters and co-founders of the rock group Karmina, have been performing since they were youngsters. In June, they each graduated with degrees in music from USC. Now they live at home, play all over town and are looking for a record deal.

Finding their own voice

BY the time Kamille and Kelly Rudisill were 5 and 7, respectively, their talent was unmistakable. In 1994 (at 8 and 10), their parents, Robin and Peter, enrolled them in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's five-year program. Two years later, they were earning first-place and grand-champion trophies in state competitions. They attended the San Francisco School of the Arts as theater majors and then USC's Thornton School of Music. While in college, they played several acoustic gigs (sometimes with Dad playing percussion) at such L.A. venues as Temple Bar, Genghis Cohen, the Mint and the Viper Room. In 2001, they started Karmina, named for their little sister, Petra Karmina.

The girls began courting such labels as Universal / Motown Records in their mid- to late teens. "It's a mean, small world," they agree.

"At first, we'd get all dressed up in fishnet stockings and heels and J.Lo sunglasses to go to these meetings," says Kelly. "[Then] we decided to hang back a little and not try so hard to get signed until we knew exactly what we wanted." In the meantime, they have developed a fan base and created a website.

Kelly, 21, and Kamille, 19, who live with their family in Venice, love to perform, the bigger the audience the better. But they agree that it no longer feels so important to sign a contract with a big label. As time passes, they have developed a keener sense of who they are as composers and performers (no more fishnet stockings). They talk about producing themselves. "The music business is more about business," says Kamille. "It used to be only the major labels. Now there's more indie labels and more artists are inspired, like Joni Mitchell or Ani DiFranco, to say [no] to big studios. Who wants to be stuck being marketed as the next Hilary Duff?"

As for timelines, Kelly would like to have a child in her 20s. Kamille says let's work as hard as we can now for five or 10 years and then settle down to have families. For right now, like Yarza, Kelly and Kamille are determined to succeed. Their parents have taken on managing Karmina full time.

Success is an ongoing struggle as they define who they are and what their sound is. Even their father sometimes tries to make the songs more appealing to the public, which makes Kamille bristle. The older they get, it seems, the stronger their sense of their own talents becomes. "No offense," says Kamille, "but I want to sell the music I make."

Like the Rudisill sisters, Brunt says the days of depending on big studios for your success are over. "I'm not too concerned with breaking in," he says. "I'd like to be found."

The Rudisills want to stay true to their music, even if it means avoiding the kind of success the major labels could provide.

"I am not a struggling artist," says Brunt. "I don't feel like it's this big burden to be an artist. As soon as I let go of all that and realized it was all about the pleasure of singing, I fell back in love with it." Commercial success, he says, doesn't mean everything. "I'm not nothing without it." - L.A. Times January 1, 2006


Vertical Horizon lead singer Matt Scannell dropped by Kelly & Kamille Rudisill's Century apartment for lunch a little while back. He sat in their living room, and they played a few songs together. Later, they took the rock star out to lunch at University Village. It turns out that he is interested in writing with the two siblings.

So just who are these girls? Well, Kelly, 18, and Kamille, 16, together form a pop/rock group called Karmina and have a demo deal with Universal. They are also both music industry majors here at USC.

Karmina consists of Kelly on piano and Kamille on guitar, with both girls performing vocals. Karmina’s new material ranges from the soft and sweet “Favorite Fantasy”, written and produced by Kelly, to the strong and passionate “Say It To Me,” written by Kamille and laced with her strong vocals. Armed with material, their eagerness to start a career is evident.

“I want to be hanging out with other musicians and writing music with them,” Kamille said. “It’s where I belong.”

The two singer-songwriters already have a formidable musical background. At the ages of 7 and 9, Kamille and Kelly began a rigorous five-year program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the Bay Area where they lived for seven years.

They studied voice, ear training, sight singing, lyric diction, music theory and composition. Kelly is a 13-time California State Competition vocal Grand Champion and Kamille is a 21-time Grand Champion; Kelly won the Grand Prize in the Sasn Francisco Orchestra’s Bay Area Young Musician’s Competition in 1997 and 1999, and in 1998 she won overall best score. Kamille was featured on the national television show “Next Big Star,” and won a trip to Orlando, FLa., to perform.

To further illustrate their considerable accomplishments, the sisters were winners on the Disney Series “2 Hour Tour,” and were chosen to be the opening act for Savage Garden at a televised concert. They were also winners on the television show “Destination Stardom.” Also Kelly and Kamille have sung the national anthem at sporting events for various professional teams, including the Dodgers, this year.

With all of these accomplishments under their belts, one wonders what made the sisters want to go to college, and USC specifically.

“USC has the very best music industry department in the nation and the teachers are well-known working musicians,” Kamille said.

Kelly echoed her sister’s thoughts on the faculty.

“They’re understanding about life outside of the classroom,” she said.

The sisters’ extracurricular activities are significant, but that hasn’t stopped them from having energetic social lives.

As fun, upbeat Kelly walks past the Lyon Center she locks eyes with a passerby, and the two simultaneously shout “Noooo waaaay!” After a brief and exciting chat, she explains that it was a summer friend she and “Kam,” as she calls her sister, met in Venice, Calif. One block later she runs into another excited friend, and promises to say something dirty during her interview.

At the door of her apartment stands a petite girl in a funky outfit topped off with a newsboy hat tilted to the side at just the right angle.

“This is Kamille,” Kelly said. As the younger of the two sisters, people often think that she missed out on parts of her childhood, but she disagrees. Kelly explains that her parents never pushed her to do anything she didn’t want to. She wanted to participate in theater and music--so she skipped several grades.

”I think I’ve had a really good life,” Kamille said. “I love my music and I just chose to take a different path.”

Kelly & Kamille’s features coincidentally seem to reflect the places they were born. Blond-haired, blue-eyed Kelly was born in Germany, while Kamille, the long-haired brunette, was born in Hawaii, where their family lived for seven years.

Having a close family certainly seems to work to their advantage because Kelly & Kamille’s parents, Robin & Peter Rudisill, manage the girls’ career. As for being sisters, “Two is so much better than one,” Kamille said. “It’s a family business.”

When they’re performing, the sisters say there is a chemistry between them that makes it special. “I can just look at her and know,” Kelly said about the harmonies that are a central part of their sound.

“If we got signed, we’d have to leave school but (I’d) definitely come back ‘cause I really like USC,” Kamille said. “I think that the people who are successful are the ones who are persistent. You can’t give up. It’s not always who is the most talented, but who wants it the most and is willing to do whatever it takes.” - Daily Trojan (University of Southern California)


1. Voyage of a Thousand Dreams: LP
2. The Kiss: EP
streaming/downloading--see websites (incl My Space)
Radio Airplay: KKUH, KSSK, Star 101.9 (Hawaii)


Feeling a bit camera shy


It would be Karmina's dream to play at a festival in St. Gallen. In 1976, the band's mother and manager played in a music group there called Sommermusikwochen, sponsored by the S.F. Conservatory of Music and headed by John Adams and Mack McCray. They stayed in Trogen--she played flute and they did concerts all around the area. She loved St. Gallen and remembers taking the trolley down the hill, going to the market and the Pfund store (her favorite). Also, one of the band members was born near there in Benediktbeuern, Germany. It would be an amazing experience and this band would be an awesome addition to the festival!! Karmina is named after Carmina Burana (Karl Orff), which was taken from a manuscript in Benediktbeuern. It is a very special story.
Karmina is a sister duo, who write and perform their own blend of alternative, soulful rock music. They perform acoustically as a duo, as well as with a full rock band. These very talented singer/songwriters write their own blend of soulful rock, and are unique in that there are two lead vocalists, with harmonies similar to the Indigo Girls and The Eagles. With Kelly writing and playing on the keyboard, and Kamille writing and playing on the acoustic guitar, they have come up with a unique method of collaboration, writing both together and separately and creating a sound that has been described as alternative/pop/soulful/rock/indie/acoustic...everyone has a different opinion. Karmina’s musical depth is impressive, in addition to their great songs, beauty and natural talent.

The girls, Kelly & Kamille, graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) Thornton School of Music in May 2005, and Kelly is enrolled in the USC Masters in Music Education/Teaching Credential program. The girls are currently co-producing their second album with acclaimed producer, Guy Erez, and for which they will seek distribution deal.

The band’s name, Karmina, is the middle name of their sister, Petra Karmina (translation: Rock Song). Karmina is taken from one of their favorite pieces of music, the “opera” Carmina Burana, and it means “song” or “songstress” in Latin. We also recently learned, when performing at the Karmina Palace hotel in Manzanillo, Mexico, that Karmina means “female karma”.

The girls have been recognized on both a national and an international level for their songwriting talents, and have had songs placed in both film (Relatively Anonymous) and TV (WB’s Summerland and CBS Girlfriends). They won the Disney TV series “2 Hour Tour” competition, opening for Savage Garden at legendary San Francisco venue The Fillmore. Other national TV appearances include winning on “Destination Stardom” (Star Search--PAX TV) and Ed McMahon’s “Next Big Star” competition.