Naama Kates
Gig Seeker Pro

Naama Kates

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

Music

Press


Piano poptress Naama Kates returns with her sophomore album entitled King For The Day. As if haunted by jazz, she hasn't lost her "girl (performing-in-the-bar) next door" charm and delivers more cabaret chic pop that's lacquered with cigarette smoke and sultry whispers... Her second single "Help Yourself" is accompanied by a music video that is Kates' darkest to date. Created remotely by New York-based director Aaron Lehmann, Kates recorded her domestic routines (and her cat Masha) by hanging her iPhone with a clothes hanger in the corner of her Los Feliz apartment. Lehmann later added the digital special effects and himself appearing as "the stalker painter." The final result is a chilling abstract view of voyeurism:
- Dan Frazier, FreeBikeValet.com


Its so easy to get swept up in the sound of music, but its so easy to forget that the person that wrote the song did so hoping to share an experience or emotion with the listener. Naama Kates’ latest album, King for the Day is full of the emotion that is needed to make a memorable album.

In my experience; the first song on an album speaks volumes about the intentions of a songwriter. King for a Day begins with a a song appropriately named after the album. It graciously displays Naama Kates’ quirky vocal style and pop piano. Quirky as her voice may be, she displays wonderful control and comfortability with her own unique style on songs such as “Freeze the Frame”. Furthermore, at many times on Naama Kates’ album there seems to be an almost symbiotic relationship between her vocal melodies and her piano playing; most prominently heard on “Not for the First Time”, in which her and the piano melody harmonize and accompany one another like they have been singing together all their lives.

King for a Day also shows a singer whom is completely content with how she sounds. There are no vocal harmonies on the album and this forces her to truly convey the emotions in her music; it makes you feel like she is singing to you intimately and personally. Intimacy aside, the album also displays the timelessness of simplicity in music. Along with her piano, the album sticks with a simple four piece band featuring drums, bass and trumpet and this left me satisfied due to the bands remarkable control and chemistry. The Trumpet player was not Miles Davis; The drummer was not Buddy Rich and the bassist was not Jaco Pastorious but an album with this much emotional substance doesnt needed flash.

King for a Day will be loved by fans of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones. The jazzy pop of Naama Kates easily shares a style close to that of these jazz-pop powerhouses. She also displays a quirky vocal catchiness in her choruses much like super acoustic pop writer Ingrid Michaelson as well as a penchant for vocally dramatic theatrics much like The Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer.

Naama Kates’ latest album is an intimate affair for any indie music lover. No flash. Tons of substance. A hipsters delight. I look forward to seeing what direction she will grow in for her third album.

King for a Day will be released March 12, 2013. - J.T. Reyes, Arenas Promotions


Naama Kates is maddeningly difficult to pin down. She refuses to categorize her sound, relying instead on the descriptions applied by listeners. In fact, it’s hard to tell if there’s even a specific sound she’s striving for, admitting to the constant evolution of her music. She isn’t even sure that she’ll still be a singer-songwriter five years from now. Kates is as ethereal and whimsical as her music; yet, it’s this intangibility that makes her so attractive, as an artist and as a person. She is a mystery waiting to be solved and a hidden treasure that begs to be discovered, and soon audiophiles everywhere will have another opportunity to welcome Kates into their musical libraries with her sophomore album King for the Day.

Hollywood was lonely, reads Naama Kates’ website, explaining how she felt after having moved to Los Angeles from New York in late 2009. “I came out here over a summer, when I was acting,” Kates explains. She had been pursuing an acting career in New York in theater and independent film when she decided to vacation in California one summer. Her manager set her up for an audition, and she landed the part, keeping her in California longer. “I had been wanting to move for a while, I think. It was time for a change, so that made me do it. I love [California] now; I really hated it for two years.”

It was during that transition period that Kates’ artistic path was altered, and she stopped pursuing acting, opting instead to nurture her musical inclinations. “I didn’t study much formally,” she confesses, “I took some piano lessons for a couple of years as a kid. And then I think in adulthood – 17 and on – I kind of floated through different arts. I didn’t really know – I still don’t know – what I wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily even want to be in the arts, really, but my love for it and appreciation for it started as a kid.” Kates had danced ballet when she was younger, and the dancers were always accompanied by a piano. “I always loved it. I always liked singing along to music; it made me really happy.” Today, the piano is the instrument on which she writes and performs music.

Kates’ first album The Unexamined Life debuted in 2012, and comprised the very first 12 songs she had ever written. “Writing each song is different,” she explains of the writing process, “you’re not aware that it’s gonna be an album of a particular length or that anything is going to go into it…. Once each song is written that feels like a shedding of something; it feels good.” Ironically, Kates didn’t really know why she had written these songs and had no aspirations to create an album. It wasn’t until she had met the man who would ultimately produce the record that the project took shape.

Of course, those early days were learning experiences. “I used to be really nervous,” Kates says. “I didn’t know what I was doing, you know, when I was first doing it. I’m amazed at how badly I played and allowed myself to perform when I started going to open mikes with my own stuff.” She consumed a lot of alcohol to help her get on stage, but it didn’t help much. “I would still be nervous, just slower,” she laughs.
'King for the Day' by Naama Kates.

‘King for the Day’ by Naama Kates.

Now Kates has her sophomore effort titled King for the Day on the horizon, available on March 12, 2013. The album was recorded with her new quartet, because she wanted an “ensemble experience rather than orchestration.” As a special touch, each track was recorded as a single take, rather than in parts. “I wanted that feel,” Kates says, “because the band sort of…we do play off of each other. And I’ve certainly been told by the players in my band that they have to watch me sometimes to play, because my timing is very dependent on the breath and I’ll hold things longer. There’s a lot of improvisation…so it would have been hard to do differently.”

As for the music, it’s eclectic and textured in surprising ways. At times it’s airy and jazzy, other times it’s roaring and raucous. The lyrics shift from literal to figurative to esoteric, but always evocative of some sense memory even when she isn’t actually singing words. Yet newcomers shouldn’t necessarily expect radio-friendly songs, and Kates anticipates the accessibility challenges of her music. “It really just came out, and I very much doubted it at first,” she says of her songwriting. “I realized it was wacky. I realized I was putting things together that seemed disconnected and I didn’t even know why…. I don’t ever really try to structure or even to write unless I feel really compelled to in a moment when I sit down and do…the songs. And the stuff that I’m saying, I feel like it’s probably filler lyrics – it doesn’t make sense – but then I end up sticking with them and I realize ‘Oh, that does make sense. Now I know what I was talking about’ afterwards.”

As with all art, Kates is communicating through her medium, but the message isn’t specific to one demographic. “What I’m trying to communicate specifically I’d say…I understand the universal in the personal. That’s just what I have to accept. You can’t worry about what this is going to mean or why somebody is going to care about my experiences because that’s just what I know to write about. If it’s honest, I feel people relate to it. I guess I’m just hoping it’ll affect somebody and make them feel understood. Because that’s what music does for me.”

Despite the common temptation to include a pop song just to lure more listeners, Kates simply shrugs off the idea, citing that she can’t write any differently than the way she writes. “My last record had some things that were maybe a little more approachable; it wasn’t deliberate then either. That’s just what I wrote and how it was treated with the arrangements. But I don’t deliberately try to be esoteric or I don’t deliberately try to be accessible, I just try to be true.”

And it’s that level of rigid, complete honesty that will enthrall listeners. King for the Day is less about being catchy, and more about capturing the truth in any fleeting moment. So when the album inevitably ends, it’s a jarring experience, and listeners will be hard pressed not to restart the record and lose themselves in Naama Kates’ music once more.



King for the Day is available on March 12, 2013.

Follow Naama Kates on her website www.naamakates.com. - René Garcia Jr., --WorkingAuthor.com




"Alternative" is such a nebulous term, but it might still best describe singer, composer and actress Naama Kates. Her just-out King for the Day LP follows up last year's critical fave The Unexamined Life. The sound here is an ever-deeper plunge down a rabbit hole of poetical pop, playing out in moody, brooding and bracingly curious-minded lyrics and slightly skewed musical planes. Kates delivers her disarmingly self-revelatory observations in a blessedly uncontrived vocal style, and her often structurally complex pieces benefit big-time from a new band that includes drummer Rich West, trombone ace Mike Richardson and bassist John Carfi. Whatever "alternative" may or may not denote, Kates' highly accessible brand of pop cabaret ultimately is music of insight, surprise and pure delight. — By John Payne

Price: $6
- John Payne, LA Weekly


Singer/songwriter Naama Kates proves that things are not always as they appear.

While she is sweet and soft-spoken, Kates also is smart and witty and her jazzy-pop tunes boast whispery vocals juxtaposed against strong, emotional lyrics.

Kates will be performing on keyboards with her band, bassist John Carfi, trombonist Mike Richardson and drummer Rich West, in support of her upcoming album, "King for the Day," at Battery Books and Music in South Pasadena Friday night.

"King for a Day" (a self-release out March 12) isn't a true followup to Kates' previous album, "The Unexamined Life," it's more of a celebration of and look back at the first work.

"A lot of the songs are themed with the feeling that I was so lucky to get the opportunity I got with 'The Unexamined Life' and I wasn't expecting to make a record," Kates said. "A lot of the songs are about the illusion of what you think will be a moment in your life that will change everything and it will be happy and everything will be solved, but nothing really changes. That's what the title song is about."

For her first effort, the Los Feliz resident worked with a producer who also did the arrangements, but Kates changed things up for "King for a Day."

She self-produced the album and wrote the bones of the songs, leaving plenty of room for her band mates to write their own parts. Kates writes a complete song in one sitting.

"People told me that was unusual, but I can't imagine doing it any other way," Kales said. "Usually I'll have a phrase that's got melody and words that will repeat in my head when I'm on my way back from somewhere or I'm in the shower and then I'll sit down and play it out and then I'll keep going,"

She begins with the first few words of the chorus or melody and works from there. The lyrics flow freely, yet they don't always make sense at the time. Once the song is complete, Kates sees how her thoughts fit together.

"I don't know where the
lines, the words and the melodies come from, but after I write it I realize that it's something that's been on my mind that I haven't been able to understand yet or verbalize and that's what the song will be," Kates said.

Growing up in New York, Kates studied ballet and took a few years of piano lessons. She also sang in her high school choir and has played in a few different projects.

"I didn't know that music was what I would want to do," Kates said. "I fell into it again a few times in my adult life. I guess the pull was always there."

In 2009, Kates moved to Southern California and was inspired to buy a keyboard, start writing music again and pursue her dream. She is supporting her career goal by working as a private language tutor and teaching competitive math for the children's Mind Math Program and SAT prep classes for high school students.

Kates is happy playing locally with her band and would eventually like to tour, but she tempers her dream with a dose of reality.

"I take (life) as it comes because - there's a Russian joke - if you want to make God laugh, make a plan. I think it's true, when I anticipate too much or have expectations for things they don't necessarily go that way," Kates said.

"The one thing with art I feel is that the universal is in the personal and the personal is in the universal, so when you're honest, the people you wouldn't expect can really relate to it," Kates said.
Singer/songwriter Naama Kates proves that things are not always as they appear.

While she is sweet and soft-spoken, Kates also is smart and witty and her jazzy-pop tunes boast whispery vocals juxtaposed against strong, emotional lyrics.

Kates will be performing on keyboards with her band, bassist John Carfi, trombonist Mike Richardson and drummer Rich West, in support of her upcoming album, "King for the Day," at Battery Books and Music in South Pasadena Friday night.

"King for a Day" (a self-release out March 12) isn't a true followup to Kates' previous album, "The Unexamined Life," it's more of a celebration of and look back at the first work.

"A lot of the songs are themed with the feeling that I was so lucky to get the opportunity I got with 'The Unexamined Life' and I wasn't expecting to make a record," Kates said. "A lot of the songs are about the illusion of what you think will be a moment in your life that will change everything and it will be happy and everything will be solved, but nothing really changes. That's what the title song is about."

For her first effort, the Los Feliz resident worked with a producer who also did the arrangements, but Kates changed things up for "King for a Day."

She self-produced the album and wrote the bones of the songs, leaving plenty of room for her band mates to write their own parts. Kates writes a complete song in one sitting.

"People told me that was unusual, but I can't imagine doing it any other way," Kales said. "Usually I'll have a phrase that's got melody and words that will repeat in my head when I'm on my way back from somewhere or I'm in the shower and then I'll sit down and play it out and then I'll keep going,"

She begins with the first few words of the chorus or melody and works from there. The lyrics flow freely, yet they don't always make sense at the time. Once the song is complete, Kates sees how her thoughts fit together.

"I don't know where the
lines, the words and the melodies come from, but after I write it I realize that it's something that's been on my mind that I haven't been able to understand yet or verbalize and that's what the song will be," Kates said.

Growing up in New York, Kates studied ballet and took a few years of piano lessons. She also sang in her high school choir and has played in a few different projects.

"I didn't know that music was what I would want to do," Kates said. "I fell into it again a few times in my adult life. I guess the pull was always there."

In 2009, Kates moved to Southern California and was inspired to buy a keyboard, start writing music again and pursue her dream. She is supporting her career goal by working as a private language tutor and teaching competitive math for the children's Mind Math Program and SAT prep classes for high school students.

Kates is happy playing locally with her band and would eventually like to tour, but she tempers her dream with a dose of reality.

"I take (life) as it comes because - there's a Russian joke - if you want to make God laugh, make a plan. I think it's true, when I anticipate too much or have expectations for things they don't necessarily go that way," Kates said.

"The one thing with art I feel is that the universal is in the personal and the personal is in the universal, so when you're honest, the people you wouldn't expect can really relate to it," Kates said.

Learn more about Naama Kates at naamakates.com.

michelle.mills@sgvn.com

twitter.com/mickieszoo - Michelle J. Mills, Pasadena Star News


Much like Naama Kates’ debut album, “The Unexamined Life,” the singer/songwriter’s sophomore album, “King For The Day,” is a record that will grow on you the more and more you listen to it. The actress turned musician is one of the best kept secrets that music has to offer.

“King For The Day” continues where Kates left off on “The Unexamined Life.” Although she took a different approach by going independent this time around and using all of her own and her fans’ resources to make this album, the result is the same – it’s one of the must-have albums of the year, regardless of what type of music you listen to.

Fans can get a true sense on Kates’ style, as well as how good the album really is, on songs like “Snow,” “Circles,” and “Happy Homes.” The lyrics, tempo and chord progressions make for a brilliant effort.

Unfortunately, the music industry is suffering from an identity crisis with top acts including pop tarts and creative lip-syncing acts that prevent true artists like Kates to break through the mainstream landscape.

That’s not to say that Kates won’t go down as an influential artist; she will. It’s just going to be a little bit harder. Lucky for Kates, and fans, her music transcends through genre and time. “King For The Day” drops March 13, 2013.

Visit her on the web at: http://www.naamakates.com. - Zoiks! Online --Jason Tanamor


Dames die iets anders doen dan anders, die afwijken van de begane paden (muzikale paden wel te verstaan), of waar gewoon een hoek af is, het is niet nieuw. Duitse Nico Paffgen van Velvet Underground gaf het voorbeeld. Eigenlijk behoort ook Björk tot die niet te categoriseren categorie, maar misschien denkt u eerder aan die geweldige Jane Siberry (die zichzelf altijd weer heruitvindt), militante en verbaal enorm sterke Evalyn Parry uit Toronto (zus van de zanger van Arcade Fire), eveneens Canadese singer-songwriter en actrice Mary Margaret O'Hara (van die briljante cd 'Miss America' uit 1988), pianiste Jennifer Terran uit Santa Barbara ('The Musician' van 2000 is nog steeds een must!)... Ook een Regina Spektor komt in die buurt. Naama Kates is de volgende.

Kates groeide op met muziek: haar vader speelde flamenco en klassieke gitaar, haar moeder schilderde terwijl ze naar jazz luisterde, haar balletklassen hadden de Russische componisten als soundtrack. Geen wonder dat ze hield van Paco de Lucia, Billie Holiday en geniaal klassiek pianist,Bach vertolker Glenn Gould. Ze verruilde New York voor Los Angeles in 2008. Het laat zich raden dat de lokroep van Hollywood te sterk was voor de bloedmooie dame met kunstzinnige aspiraties die ze intussen geworden was. Ze was te zien in twee afleveringen van NCIS (bent u overigens ook zo'n fan van gothic forensisch onderzoekster Abby Sciuto?), deed acteerwerk voor TV en speelde in diverse films in het onafhankelijke filmcircuit. De verschrikkelijke eenzaamheid en anonimiteit, en de sleur van de audities werden haar te veel.

Ze verhuisde naar het sjieke (Rancho) Los Feliz in de heuvels, maar deed toen de éne stap die het verschil maakt tussen alles of niets: ze kocht een Yamaha 61 toetsen keyboard in een Guitar Center ('s werelds grootste keten van muziekwinkels) Neerslachtigheid zette ze voortaan om in creativiteit: 's nachts schreef ze songs, qua teksten de reflectie van de depressieve toestand waarin ze ontstonden: verlating, eenzaamheid, onbeantwoorde liefde en liefdesverdriet bevolken en bewolken Naama's universum. Die songs schreeuwden erom uitgevoerd te worden, zoals dat gebruikelijk wanneer je er je hart en ziel in investeert. Ze begon op te treden op vrij podia en in kleine zalen rond Hollywood, kwestie van ervaring op te doen. In de bar waar ze bijkluste, ontmoette ze Cyrus Mechior. Vriendschap ontstond, maar buiten de muziek om. Pas gaandeweg loste Melchior dat hij muziekproducer is. Maar vanaf dan gingen de conversaties over muziek. De samenwerking tussen de veteran en de rookie leidde tot de vorming, eerst van een trio, daarna van een zestal, en ten slotte tot 'An Unexamined Life', twaalf nummers, net geen 44 minuten lang.

Nummers zeggen we, maar ze zijn soms van zo'n grilligheid dat het er méér lijken: al blijft het in essentie pop, er zijn wel wat stijlbreuken ('In The Twilight') Wellicht is het precies dat gebrek aan ervaring debet aan de grilligheid, de vrij ongewone structuren, de onopgesmukte zang, allemaal pluspunten, wat ons betreft. Het is echter tegelijk de reden waarom we (nog) niet constant worden weggeblazen door deze Naama Kates, toch niet in het begin van de plaat. Ze geeft daar nog een enigszins onhandige indruk (maar op deze wijze is dat natuurlijk charmant te noemen!) en die stem bijt soms nog onvoldoende. Maar de durf en de wil zijn er om geijkte patronen te doorbreken, er borrelen her en der ideeën op. Met songs als 'Before You Lose It' en 'When I'm Good' in de eerste helft zit ze goed.

De tweede helft van de cd is beduidend beter. Het hupse 'Kosjmarji' zingt ze geweldig! 'Between The Lines' is zelfs voor Kates wat 'Mimi On The Beach' voor Jane Siberry was! In de twee slotnummers lijkt ze al helemaal haar draai gevonden te hebben: zowel het titelnummer als 'As We Roll On' zijn sterk en hebben op de koop toe een opmerkelijk slot. De begeleiding verdient trouwens in de aangehaalde nummers een extra vermelding (de trombone van Mike Richardson, die op cello nog assistentie krijgt) Wie het niet begrepen heeft op het zoveelste netjes binnen de lijntjes kleurende pianomeisje, zo eentje dat de executives van platenfirma's zo graag zien maar al snel aan de kant wordt geschoven, zal deze Naama Kates als een uitdaging ervaren. Benieuwd of ze de lessen trekt uit deze eerste worp en hoe ze evolueert... in de hoop dat het systeem haar niet recupereert... Met 'An Unexamined Life' heeft ze hoe dan ook haar visitekaartje afgeleverd. Een Jane Siberry is ook zo begonnen: de meesterwerken kwamen later.

Antoine Légat - ROOTSTIME (Belgium)


Desde hace un buen tiempo atrás, aparecen nuevos talentos
en la música, especialmente en la música de vanguardia. En los
pasados años noventas, recuerdo las hermosas voces de Eddie
Brickel y sus “New Bohemians”, Tanita Tikaram, Suzanne Vega,
sólo por nombrar algunos. Voces que están totalmente vigentes
hasta nuestros días.
Hoy, que estamos a pocas horas de la llegada de un nuevo
año, quiero presentar a una nueva y muy interesante estrella que
nace en el firmamento del Pop Rock Alternativo. Me refiero a
Naama Kates, nacida en Nueva York pero que actualmente reside
en Los Ángeles California.
Precisamente Naama me hace recordar las voces que les
comentaba al comenzar este artículo.
Su bella voz y su talento en la composición me han cautivado
gratamente. Sus composiciones vienen incluidas en su álbum
debut llamado “The Unexamined Life”, de este año 2012. Temas
que ya son mis favoritos: “Snow” y “Before You Lose It” son un
gran referente de esta joven y talentosa cantante y compositora
estado unidence.
Naama Kates, a pesar de su juventud, ya tiene una importante
trayectoria, primero en el cine, donde realizó papeles secundarios
en Hollywood, como en el film “Cookies Cream N’Delirious,
My Normal”.
Su sensibilidad para componer al piano, son otras de sus
cualidades, lo que hacen presagiar un gran futuro en el fascinante
mundo de la música.
Desde niña, Naama estuvo en estrecha conexión con el arte
y con la música en especial. Escuchaba los discos de Jazz de su
madre, una pintora de pintura abstracta y escuchando tocar la
guitarra a su padre. Lo cierto es que hoy en día, Naama Kates
comienza a dar sus primeros pasos en la música y los da a paso
firme, componiendo en su piano y produciendo lo que es su
primer disco.
Es una fuerte depresión post Hollywood, lo que la llevo a
componer compulsivamente y comenzar a acumular una larga
lista de canciones escritas por ella. Canciones que hoy son parte
de su disco.
Simpática y sensible Naama Kates, estoy seguro, se convertirá
en una estrella mundial, pues su música, su sentimiento y
composiciones, así me lo dicen.
Para el 2013, Naama tiene previsto editar un nuevo disco que
llevara por nombre “”King For The Day” y que será lanzado al
mercado discográfico el 12 de Marzo.
Pero el talento de Kates no esta solo. Su banda reúne a talentosos
músicos: Vanessa Freebairn-Smith en violoncello; Ina
Veli en violín, James King en saxo y clarinete; Mike Richardson
en trombón; Dan Graziani en viola, Anthony Shadduck en bajo;
Dan Weinstein en tuba y Chris Bautista en trompeta.
Amante de los animales, Naama Kates, pasa sus horas en
su departamento en Los Ángeles junto a su simpático gato. Es
precisamente este lugar, su refugio permanente para componer
y hacer muy buena música.
A los que gustan de la buena música, la música de vanguardia,
tengan muy presente este nombre….NAAMA KATES, talento
indiscutido que llegará muy alto en la música internacional.
Naama Kates, belleza, talento y gran sensibilidad para la
música de los nuevos tiempos.
A todos mis lectores les deseo un gran año 2013. Felicidades !!! - Diaro 21 (Chile)


Naama Kates is a singer/songwriter and pianist living in Los Angeles. Her second album ‘King for the Day’ drops on March 12, and we cant wait to hear more from this talented babe.

We first became fans of Naama when we caught wind of her debut album ‘Unexamined Life’, after hearing some pretty enthusiastic reviews. The hype was true — Kates’ brand of avant-pop combines elements of blues, jazz, and lilting, edgy vocals to create an album that has found it’s way into our permanent playlist.

Aside from music, Naama has also been featured on ‘NCIS’ and appeared in severeal indie films, including ‘Eden,’ ‘Cookies N’ Cream’, and ‘Delirious.’

- GuySpeed


Naama Kates is a singer/songwriter and pianist living in Los Angeles. Her second album ‘King for the Day’ drops on March 12, and we cant wait to hear more from this talented babe.

We first became fans of Naama when we caught wind of her debut album ‘Unexamined Life’, after hearing some pretty enthusiastic reviews. The hype was true — Kates’ brand of avant-pop combines elements of blues, jazz, and lilting, edgy vocals to create an album that has found it’s way into our permanent playlist.

Aside from music, Naama has also been featured on ‘NCIS’ and appeared in severeal indie films, including ‘Eden,’ ‘Cookies N’ Cream’, and ‘Delirious.’

- GuySpeed


There’s something different about Los Feliz’s Naama Kates… something unique. And it’s not just her name. It would be easy to dismiss her as just another piano chick, but everything about her demands a second glance. Maybe it’s her lounge chic style or her obsession with Shakespeare, but it’s probably her solid song writing that takes tiny risks with various tempos and dynamics. Right now she’s the girl (performing-in-the-bar) next door, so do yourself a favor: stop drinking and listen.

Naama Kates‘ released a music video for her first single “Before You Lost It” which is off her debut album The Unexamined Life. Directed by Princeton Holt, the video is part film school project, 90's TV drama, and home-made footage; but it excellently captures the dreary essence of Kates’ dark diary expressions:


“Wash that blood off your hands, before you stain them…”
- FreeBikeValet.com


‘The Unexamined Life’Naama Kates (Mount Cyanide)???½Ohio native Naama Kates spent the early part of her adult life pursuing the dream of acting. She got a few roles in indie films and bit parts on television series before turn-ing her attention to making music. Her “An Unexamined Life” is a surprisingly accom-plished gathering of indie pop tunes for a first-timer. She has a captivating voice, drawing comparisons to Natalie Mer-chant and Fiona Apple, and the 12-track release is rock solid.Songs like “Before You Lose It,” “Bleeding Heart” and “Tie Me Down” are terrific, and Kates also scores with “When I’m Good,” “Days Like These,” “Letters” and the title track. Though she hasn’t given up on acting entirely, I hope she finds time to make another album. - The Daily News, Pittburgh


The genre-bending vocalist/pianist paints dramatic, emotional soundscapes, but can be equally effective when communicating through naked passages. Kates wends time, tempo and mood changes within a song, making it all seem natural. The album shines with a cinematic panache. “Kachmare” is one of the particularly brilliant compositions. Her expressive vocals cover a full dynamic range, from gently breathy to passionately piercing. - Pop Culture Classics


Naama Kates is an example of re-invention. She arrived in L.A. in 2008 and began an acting career that took her to the television heights of NCIS, and she also found feature film work in several indie movies. “But, Hollywood was lonely and I never really owned a television,” she says in her press kit. So, she bought a Yamaha keyboard, hooked up with producer Cyrus Melchor and re-discovered her youthful obsession with music. Slowly, she turned what had become a depressive state into songs that would find their way onto her debut album. She deconstructs the duality of the Hollywood existence through her themes and performs a catharsis that has apparently freed her creative spirit. She has found her bliss, at least for now. “Before You Lose It” ambles in slowly on piano and drums and her vocals glide over the top with a smooth, controlled delivery that eventually leads us to a big, loud finish in the last 30 seconds. Then, on “Bleeding Heart,” she comes out of her shell with a bold, emphatic swing. She has a strong, technicolor vocal presence and her presentation is Amanda Palmer-esque at times. Just check the piano rumble on “In The Twilight.” “When I’m Good” is very good, with a fractured melody and personality to spare. And “Between The Lines” is a substantive emotional statement with a great piano hook. There are a few moments throughout the album that come in contact with The Pretenders, and Chrissie Hynde is another apparent touchstone. Sadly, female singer/songwriters who expose themselves emotionally often get sequestered into their own camp separate from the males, as if their songs aren’t as substantial. Their work should be viewed without bias, but they also deserve to maintain their own gender identities as artists. This personal journey of self-examination has become a universally captivating musical manifesto. Job well done. Let’s hear it for girl power. - Impose Magazine


Dames die iets anders doen dan anders, die afwijken van de begane paden (muzikale paden wel te verstaan), of waar gewoon een hoek af is, het is niet nieuw. Duitse Nico Paffgen van Velvet Underground gaf het voorbeeld. Eigenlijk behoort ook Björk tot die niet te categoriseren categorie, maar misschien denkt u eerder aan die geweldige Jane Siberry (die zichzelf altijd weer heruitvindt), militante en verbaal enorm sterke Evalyn Parry uit Toronto (zus van de zanger van Arcade Fire), eveneens Canadese singer-songwriter en actrice Mary Margaret O'Hara (van die briljante cd 'Miss America' uit 1988), pianiste Jennifer Terran uit Santa Barbara ('The Musician' van 2000 is nog steeds een must!)... Ook een Regina Spektor komt in die buurt. Naama Kates is de volgende.

Kates groeide op met muziek: haar vader speelde flamenco en klassieke gitaar, haar moeder schilderde terwijl ze naar jazz luisterde, haar balletklassen hadden de Russische componisten als soundtrack. Geen wonder dat ze hield van Paco de Lucia, Billie Holiday en geniaal klassiek pianist,Bach vertolker Glenn Gould. Ze verruilde New York voor Los Angeles in 2008. Het laat zich raden dat de lokroep van Hollywood te sterk was voor de bloedmooie dame met kunstzinnige aspiraties die ze intussen geworden was. Ze was te zien in twee afleveringen van NCIS (bent u overigens ook zo'n fan van gothic forensisch onderzoekster Abby Sciuto?), deed acteerwerk voor TV en speelde in diverse films in het onafhankelijke filmcircuit. De verschrikkelijke eenzaamheid en anonimiteit, en de sleur van de audities werden haar te veel.

Ze verhuisde naar het sjieke (Rancho) Los Feliz in de heuvels, maar deed toen de éne stap die het verschil maakt tussen alles of niets: ze kocht een Yamaha 61 toetsen keyboard in een Guitar Center ('s werelds grootste keten van muziekwinkels) Neerslachtigheid zette ze voortaan om in creativiteit: 's nachts schreef ze songs, qua teksten de reflectie van de depressieve toestand waarin ze ontstonden: verlating, eenzaamheid, onbeantwoorde liefde en liefdesverdriet bevolken en bewolken Naama's universum. Die songs schreeuwden erom uitgevoerd te worden, zoals dat gebruikelijk wanneer je er je hart en ziel in investeert. Ze begon op te treden op vrij podia en in kleine zalen rond Hollywood, kwestie van ervaring op te doen. In de bar waar ze bijkluste, ontmoette ze Cyrus Mechior. Vriendschap ontstond, maar buiten de muziek om. Pas gaandeweg loste Melchior dat hij muziekproducer is. Maar vanaf dan gingen de conversaties over muziek. De samenwerking tussen de veteran en de rookie leidde tot de vorming, eerst van een trio, daarna van een zestal, en ten slotte tot 'An Unexamined Life', twaalf nummers, net geen 44 minuten lang.

Nummers zeggen we, maar ze zijn soms van zo'n grilligheid dat het er méér lijken: al blijft het in essentie pop, er zijn wel wat stijlbreuken ('In The Twilight') Wellicht is het precies dat gebrek aan ervaring debet aan de grilligheid, de vrij ongewone structuren, de onopgesmukte zang, allemaal pluspunten, wat ons betreft. Het is echter tegelijk de reden waarom we (nog) niet constant worden weggeblazen door deze Naama Kates, toch niet in het begin van de plaat. Ze geeft daar nog een enigszins onhandige indruk (maar op deze wijze is dat natuurlijk charmant te noemen!) en die stem bijt soms nog onvoldoende. Maar de durf en de wil zijn er om geijkte patronen te doorbreken, er borrelen her en der ideeën op. Met songs als 'Before You Lose It' en 'When I'm Good' in de eerste helft zit ze goed.

De tweede helft van de cd is beduidend beter. Het hupse 'Kosjmarji' zingt ze geweldig! 'Between The Lines' is zelfs voor Kates wat 'Mimi On The Beach' voor Jane Siberry was! In de twee slotnummers lijkt ze al helemaal haar draai gevonden te hebben: zowel het titelnummer als 'As We Roll On' zijn sterk en hebben op de koop toe een opmerkelijk slot. De begeleiding verdient trouwens in de aangehaalde nummers een extra vermelding (de trombone van Mike Richardson, die op cello nog assistentie krijgt) Wie het niet begrepen heeft op het zoveelste netjes binnen de lijntjes kleurende pianomeisje, zo eentje dat de executives van platenfirma's zo graag zien maar al snel aan de kant wordt geschoven, zal deze Naama Kates als een uitdaging ervaren. Benieuwd of ze de lessen trekt uit deze eerste worp en hoe ze evolueert... in de hoop dat het systeem haar niet recupereert... Met 'An Unexamined Life' heeft ze hoe dan ook haar visitekaartje afgeleverd. Een Jane Siberry is ook zo begonnen: de meesterwerken kwamen later.

Antoine Légat
- ROOTSTIME (Belgium)


It seems appropriate that Naama Kates' debut, The Unexamined Life is rooted in theatricality. I get the sense that her musical taste is thoroughly integrated with her background in acting. The album pulls a lot from early Kate Bush (like There Goes a Tenner) and Tori Amos' artier songs. But unlike most of the women influenced by Bush and Amos, Kates doesn't affect the twee vocal stylings. If anything, she has more of an edgy pop voice. It's really that mix of storytelling, theatrics, and piano accompaniment that begs the comparison. It wouldn't surprise me if Kates has a full length stage musical opus hiding somewhere in her portfolio.

For much of The Unexamined Life, she settles for songs that unfold like little vignettes, with stylistic shifts to indicate scene changes. Price of Company is a great example. It starts out as a moody, descending bass jazz-blues. The track establishes a standard song structure, but the feel and imagery suggest a video, perhaps with a rain splattered window and a glimpse of Kates pacing in her room. But the bridge shatters that mood with a manic energy. The frantic beat has an amphetamine soaked 1920s sound.

Those sonic shifts can be a touch unnerving, but plenty of the other tracks maintain more consistency. The opening track, Before You Lose It has a more conventional arrangement. The earnest piano beginning is one part John Lennon's Imagine and three parts Ben Folds. Kates voice has a feigned weariness. About the time the chorus should drop, the rest of the band kicks in. The relaxed beat supports the sparse lines of a singing slide guitar and a warm caress of string. The music conjures the feel of a stroll through the past, taking stock of chances lost and fine choices made. The lyrics don't fit the mood, though. This musical interlude mutes the impact of lines like "Wash that blood off your hands/Before you stain them". Turmoil coalesces in the tail end of the track, finally bringing the music in line with the lyrics. While it might have been better to hint at this earlier in the song, it a powerful finish.

Kates' piano work throughout The Unexamined Life is strong. Her playing hits its peak on ???????, which lays down a nice retro Eastern European sound. She's accompanied by a small, rich orchestra that provides an ominous Tom Waits vibe. While the main piano line is fairly repetitive, Kates opens up during the chorus. Then, on the bridge, she improvises off the melody to slip a little outside.

Naama Kates has a unique aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. The Unexamined Life shows a fine musical range. Dropping by her site, I was surprised to see that she's done a set of Radiohead covers as well. Such an intriguing artist should do well if she can reach the right audience.
- Jester Jay Music


It’s time to put your life under a microscope and risk all like Naama Kates in her new album

Naama Kates is an artist that seems hell bent on breaking the rules. With the current music scene otherwise saturated with synthesized cookie-cutter radio hits, Naama Kates’ debut album “The Unexamined Life” is different, because it’s risky. Written like diary entries, and sung with an honesty as if no one were listening, Naama’s work is hard to categorize, but easy to love. When I listened to the first song, ‘Before You Lose It’, I was struck by the way her lyrics are simple and direct but are also lurking in the shadows. Let me explain: the aforementioned simplicity calls for layered examination that makes the track more meaningful and deeper in significance each time you listen to it. She gives you a rare intimacy, a haunting moment into her vulnerable life. And each time I heard the track I felt like I had a clearer understanding of the story in the song. Just like ‘Before You Lose It’, each track is an opportunity for people to examine their life experiences. She confronts the heartache of loneliness and the whispered pressures of perfection in one fail swoop- captivating audiences along the way.






Naama Kates, photo by James M. Graham
?

To be a fan of Naama Kates, is to know that her music often eludes commercial categorization, giving each song on the album the unpredictable edge so often escaping artists in their quest for musical prowess. The captivating unpredictability of her compositions combined with her jazzy vocal stylings bring to mind great artists like Fiona Apple, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Girl In A Coma, and Natalie Merchant, yet her style is distinctly of her own making. She definitely pushes listeners beyond their normal comfort zone, calling them to question not only their relationships, but their lives and raison d’etre. It’s often an arduous, trouble-filled journey, but according to Naama Kates, it’s one worth investigating.






Naama Kates, photo by Farley Magadia
?

The honesty expressed in each song on her album was born out of an impulsive and risky move to Los Angeles from New York City in order to pursue acting. I think it is this very risk that also allows her to be risky in her music. If you are writing about a time of personal risk, then it’s fitting for the music to employ a similar sense of daringness. When talking about the process of discovering and turning to music, Naama explains, “After a year of grueling auditions and Los Angeles anonymity, I went and bought an un-weighted 61-key Yamaha keyboard on impulse to keep me company. Hollywood started to feel more like home, and I began playing and writing songs. It felt like I was settling back into my soul.”

However, it wasn’t as simple as she had imagined it would be, revealing that “eventually the Hollywood adrenaline rush wore off - and depression set in – and I rediscovered my obsession for music.” Her little keyboard was an ever-present ‘confidante,’ and she started using it as her personal journal, a healthy way to unburden emotions which had been building up inside. Describing her keyboards as “playful and profound, sensitive and sensual, and purposeful and pure,” she says “I spent night after night alone with it, losing track of time. Luckily, I amassed a ton of fully-penned songs.”






Naama Kates
?

These songs, seemingly written without the intention of ever being heard, have come to compose her debut album, “The Unexamined Life” whose title is a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Socrates’ famous quote “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It doesn’t take but one listen to any of the songs on this album to realize that Naama Kates is very self-aware, a quality which speaks of a maturity well beyond her 27 years. At the same time, after listening to her album, her maturity and self-awareness isn’t actually as surprising as one would think. What I love is the way her hyper-intellectual nature is beautifully fused with artistry, creating little doubt of Naama Kates’ staying power.

Her music speaks for itself, but then again can you really separate the two? When you write songs so personal and expositive, your very heart and soul are out there for all to see. Naama Kates allows her own emotional exposure to carry the music forward, breaking the confines of stereotypes and the pressures of fitting into a musical mold. It is an incredible album, definitely one that is thought-provoking but also beautifully composed.


Naama Kates consistently plays shows in the Los Angeles area; check out her website www.NaamaKates.com for more information on upcoming performances. She is fantastic live, so make sure to go out for a show!
- Splash Magazine


Naama Kates is an example of re-invention. She arrived in L.A. in 2008 and began an acting career that took her to the television heights of NCIS, and she also found feature film work in several indie movies. “But, Hollywood was lonely and I never really owned a television,” she says in her press kit. So, she bought a Yamaha keyboard, hooked up with producer Cyrus Melchor and re-discovered her youthful obsession with music. Slowly, she turned what had become a depressive state into songs that would find their way onto her debut album. She deconstructs the duality of the Hollywood existence through her themes and performs a catharsis that has apparently freed her creative spirit. She has found her bliss, at least for now. “Before You Lose It” ambles in slowly on piano and drums and her vocals glide over the top with a smooth, controlled delivery that eventually leads us to a big, loud finish in the last 30 seconds. Then, on “Bleeding Heart,” she comes out of her shell with a bold, emphatic swing. She has a strong, technicolor vocal presence and her presentation is Amanda Palmer-esque at times. Just check the piano rumble on “In The Twilight.” “When I’m Good” is very good, with a fractured melody and personality to spare. And “Between The Lines” is a substantive emotional statement with a great piano hook. There are a few moments throughout the album that come in contact with The Pretenders, and Chrissie Hynde is another apparent touchstone. Sadly, female singer/songwriters who expose themselves emotionally often get sequestered into their own camp separate from the males, as if their songs aren’t as substantial. Their work should be viewed without bias, but they also deserve to maintain their own gender identities as artists. This personal journey of self-examination has become a universally captivating musical manifesto. Job well done. Let’s hear it for girl power. - Impose Magazine, Anthony Mark Happel


It seems appropriate that Naama Kates' debut, The Unexamined Life is rooted in theatricality. I get the sense that her musical taste is thoroughly integrated with her background in acting. The album pulls a lot from early Kate Bush (like There Goes a Tenner) and Tori Amos' artier songs. But unlike most of the women influenced by Bush and Amos, Kates doesn't affect the twee vocal stylings. If anything, she has more of an edgy pop voice. It's really that mix of storytelling, theatrics, and piano accompaniment that begs the comparison. It wouldn't surprise me if Kates has a full length stage musical opus hiding somewhere in her portfolio.

For much of The Unexamined Life, she settles for songs that unfold like little vignettes, with stylistic shifts to indicate scene changes. Price of Company is a great example. It starts out as a moody, descending bass jazz-blues. The track establishes a standard song structure, but the feel and imagery suggest a video, perhaps with a rain splattered window and a glimpse of Kates pacing in her room. But the bridge shatters that mood with a manic energy. The frantic beat has an amphetamine soaked 1920s sound.

Those sonic shifts can be a touch unnerving, but plenty of the other tracks maintain more consistency. The opening track, Before You Lose It has a more conventional arrangement. The earnest piano beginning is one part John Lennon's Imagine and three parts Ben Folds. Kates voice has a feigned weariness. About the time the chorus should drop, the rest of the band kicks in. The relaxed beat supports the sparse lines of a singing slide guitar and a warm caress of string. The music conjures the feel of a stroll through the past, taking stock of chances lost and fine choices made. The lyrics don't fit the mood, though. This musical interlude mutes the impact of lines like "Wash that blood off your hands/Before you stain them". Turmoil coalesces in the tail end of the track, finally bringing the music in line with the lyrics. While it might have been better to hint at this earlier in the song, it a powerful finish.

Kates' piano work throughout The Unexamined Life is strong. Her playing hits its peak on ???????, which lays down a nice retro Eastern European sound. She's accompanied by a small, rich orchestra that provides an ominous Tom Waits vibe. While the main piano line is fairly repetitive, Kates opens up during the chorus. Then, on the bridge, she improvises off the melody to slip a little outside.

Naama Kates has a unique aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. The Unexamined Life shows a fine musical range. Dropping by her site, I was surprised to see that she's done a set of Radiohead covers as well. Such an intriguing artist should do well if she can reach the right audience. - Jester Jay Music


It’s time to put your life under a microscope and risk all like Naama Kates in her new album

Naama Kates is an artist that seems hell bent on breaking the rules. With the current music scene otherwise saturated with synthesized cookie-cutter radio hits, Naama Kates’ debut album “The Unexamined Life” is different, because it’s risky. Written like diary entries, and sung with an honesty as if no one were listening, Naama’s work is hard to categorize, but easy to love. When I listened to the first song, ‘Before You Lose It’, I was struck by the way her lyrics are simple and direct but are also lurking in the shadows. Let me explain: the aforementioned simplicity calls for layered examination that makes the track more meaningful and deeper in significance each time you listen to it. She gives you a rare intimacy, a haunting moment into her vulnerable life. And each time I heard the track I felt like I had a clearer understanding of the story in the song. Just like ‘Before You Lose It’, each track is an opportunity for people to examine their life experiences. She confronts the heartache of loneliness and the whispered pressures of perfection in one fail swoop- captivating audiences along the way.

To be a fan of Naama Kates, is to know that her music often eludes commercial categorization, giving each song on the album the unpredictable edge so often escaping artists in their quest for musical prowess. The captivating unpredictability of her compositions combined with her jazzy vocal stylings bring to mind great artists like Fiona Apple, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Girl In A Coma, and Natalie Merchant, yet her style is distinctly of her own making. She definitely pushes listeners beyond their normal comfort zone, calling them to question not only their relationships, but their lives and raison d’etre. It’s often an arduous, trouble-filled journey, but according to Naama Kates, it’s one worth investigating.

The honesty expressed in each song on her album was born out of an impulsive and risky move to Los Angeles from New York City in order to pursue acting. I think it is this very risk that also allows her to be risky in her music. If you are writing about a time of personal risk, then it’s fitting for the music to employ a similar sense of daringness. When talking about the process of discovering and turning to music, Naama explains, “After a year of grueling auditions and Los Angeles anonymity, I went and bought an un-weighted 61-key Yamaha keyboard on impulse to keep me company. Hollywood started to feel more like home, and I began playing and writing songs. It felt like I was settling back into my soul.”

However, it wasn’t as simple as she had imagined it would be, revealing that “eventually the Hollywood adrenaline rush wore off - and depression set in – and I rediscovered my obsession for music.” Her little keyboard was an ever-present ‘confidante,’ and she started using it as her personal journal, a healthy way to unburden emotions which had been building up inside. Describing her keyboards as “playful and profound, sensitive and sensual, and purposeful and pure,” she says “I spent night after night alone with it, losing track of time. Luckily, I amassed a ton of fully-penned songs.”

These songs, seemingly written without the intention of ever being heard, have come to compose her debut album, “The Unexamined Life” whose title is a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Socrates’ famous quote “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It doesn’t take but one listen to any of the songs on this album to realize that Naama Kates is very self-aware, a quality which speaks of a maturity well beyond her 27 years. At the same time, after listening to her album, her maturity and self-awareness isn’t actually as surprising as one would think. What I love is the way her hyper-intellectual nature is beautifully fused with artistry, creating little doubt of Naama Kates’ staying power.

Her music speaks for itself, but then again can you really separate the two? When you write songs so personal and expositive, your very heart and soul are out there for all to see. Naama Kates allows her own emotional exposure to carry the music forward, breaking the confines of stereotypes and the pressures of fitting into a musical mold. It is an incredible album, definitely one that is thought-provoking but also beautifully composed.


Naama Kates consistently plays shows in the Los Angeles area; check out her website www.NaamaKates.com for more information on upcoming performances. She is fantastic live, so make sure to go out for a show!
- Lawrence Davis, Splash Magazine


It should not come as a surprise that Naama Kates is also an actress – she had roles in the TV series NCIS and the movies 'Stepmom', and more recently ‘The Ten Commandments of Chloe‘ – her songs have this powerful cinematic depth of intimate film noir and bluesy scenes in smoky bars, without being one dimensional. Sitting behind her keyboard, she can change the atmosphere faster than you can get used to a setting, and, in just a few seconds, the same song can go from desolated piano notes to cabaret circus.



She was playing an intimate set with her five musicians at First and Hope, Downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night, and the Art Deco atmosphere of the restaurant bar was fitting quite well the piano-jazz-cabaret ambiance of her moody songs. A smoky trombone, some classy-emotive violin and cello strings, and a rhythm section made of a bass and a discreet drumming were accompanying her ever-changing-mood keys… Together, they played all the songs of Kates’ debut album ‘The Unexamined Life’, and I immediately thought,… Fiona Apple? The comparison may be a little too easy but obviously tempting, we were at a million miles from the current commercial pop heard on the radio, the music was living in an old-fashioned world, but I am saying this in a positive way, and like for Apple, the songs were breathing maturity and gravity, even though Naama Kates’ piano was probably more jazzy; at only 27, it is certainly a rare occurrence.



Her quintet started the set with the definitively temperamental ‘Bleeding Heart’, which started with this upbeat jolty piano, then crashed into a melancholic ballad to restart and accelerate again. Effectively, she had a few of these up-and-down tunes, such as ‘Price of Company’, which could just have been a dark-smoky-bar ballad if it hadn’t exploded twice like an exuberant circus parade in the middle of its lonely despair, or ‘In The Twilight’ with its shimmering key notes erupting into some Tom Waits’ ring fanfares and collapsing on the keys once again. It was a little bit as if we were constantly switching from a black and white movie to a Technicolor production, from a few piano notes to a full orchestration.



Her youthful and vulnerable vocals mixed with breezy piano ballads had a sort of Jon Brion-esque soundtrack touch, like in ‘Tie Me Down’ or ‘Days Like These’… and the nostalgic or sometimes mocking tango keys on ‘Kachmare’ were fitting her stories of heartbreaks and longings. The musical exclamations which were punctuating her lyrics sometimes, were also reminding me what Tom Waits’ protégé, Jesca Hoop, composes.



She was giving away CDs of her album, and someone in the room asked if they came with pictures… Naama smiled and continued with the quiet ‘Before You Lose It’, a very intimate and sensual ballad going crescendo before ending into a vivid discharge of emotion with all the instruments at once.



This was what I probably liked the most, the unpredictability of her tunes, the abrupt bipolar changes, letting people perplexed, who didn’t even know when to applause at one occasion.



She and only a few of the musicians came back after a short break and played two more songs, and one sounded like a weird drunken waltz; as the bassist was replacing the drummer and being much louder, the mood of the songs became more agitated, chasing the nostalgia and installing more anger behind Naama Kates’ emotionally evocative vocals.





Setlist

1 Bleeding heart

2 Tie Me Down

3 In The Twilight

4 When I’m Good

5 Price Of Company

6 Days Like These

7 Between The Lines

8 Letters

9 Kachmare

10 Unexamined Life

11 Before You Lose it

12 As We Roll On



An encore with two more songs... [check website link for footage of the show]
- Rock NYC Live and Recorded


It should not come as a surprise that Naama Kates is also an actress – she had roles in the TV series NCIS and the movies 'Stepmom', and more recently ‘The Ten Commandments of Chloe‘ – her songs have this powerful cinematic depth of intimate film noir and bluesy scenes in smoky bars, without being one dimensional. Sitting behind her keyboard, she can change the atmosphere faster than you can get used to a setting, and, in just a few seconds, the same song can go from desolated piano notes to cabaret circus.



She was playing an intimate set with her five musicians at First and Hope, Downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night, and the Art Deco atmosphere of the restaurant bar was fitting quite well the piano-jazz-cabaret ambiance of her moody songs. A smoky trombone, some classy-emotive violin and cello strings, and a rhythm section made of a bass and a discreet drumming were accompanying her ever-changing-mood keys… Together, they played all the songs of Kates’ debut album ‘The Unexamined Life’, and I immediately thought,… Fiona Apple? The comparison may be a little too easy but obviously tempting, we were at a million miles from the current commercial pop heard on the radio, the music was living in an old-fashioned world, but I am saying this in a positive way, and like for Apple, the songs were breathing maturity and gravity, even though Naama Kates’ piano was probably more jazzy; at only 27, it is certainly a rare occurrence.



Her quintet started the set with the definitively temperamental ‘Bleeding Heart’, which started with this upbeat jolty piano, then crashed into a melancholic ballad to restart and accelerate again. Effectively, she had a few of these up-and-down tunes, such as ‘Price of Company’, which could just have been a dark-smoky-bar ballad if it hadn’t exploded twice like an exuberant circus parade in the middle of its lonely despair, or ‘In The Twilight’ with its shimmering key notes erupting into some Tom Waits’ ring fanfares and collapsing on the keys once again. It was a little bit as if we were constantly switching from a black and white movie to a Technicolor production, from a few piano notes to a full orchestration.



Her youthful and vulnerable vocals mixed with breezy piano ballads had a sort of Jon Brion-esque soundtrack touch, like in ‘Tie Me Down’ or ‘Days Like These’… and the nostalgic or sometimes mocking tango keys on ‘Kachmare’ were fitting her stories of heartbreaks and longings. The musical exclamations which were punctuating her lyrics sometimes, were also reminding me what Tom Waits’ protégé, Jesca Hoop, composes.



She was giving away CDs of her album, and someone in the room asked if they came with pictures… Naama smiled and continued with the quiet ‘Before You Lose It’, a very intimate and sensual ballad going crescendo before ending into a vivid discharge of emotion with all the instruments at once.



This was what I probably liked the most, the unpredictability of her tunes, the abrupt bipolar changes, letting people perplexed, who didn’t even know when to applause at one occasion.



She and only a few of the musicians came back after a short break and played two more songs, and one sounded like a weird drunken waltz; as the bassist was replacing the drummer and being much louder, the mood of the songs became more agitated, chasing the nostalgia and installing more anger behind Naama Kates’ emotionally evocative vocals.





Setlist

1 Bleeding heart

2 Tie Me Down

3 In The Twilight

4 When I’m Good

5 Price Of Company

6 Days Like These

7 Between The Lines

8 Letters

9 Kachmare

10 Unexamined Life

11 Before You Lose it

12 As We Roll On



An encore with two more songs
- Rock NYC Live and Recorded


People who’ve met me know my fascination with the band Girl in a Coma. Their distinct sound separates them from the musical Plato factory that pushes out pop act after pop act. Another music act that fits in with the likes of GIAC in terms of originality is newcomer Naama Kates.

Her debut album, “The Unexamined Life,” is possibly the best album you may never hear. That’s because her sound isn’t for radio, she won’t be seen peddling Pepsi products and chances are you’ll have to discover her via her live shows in Los Angeles or online formats like this one.

That’s not to say Naama Kates won’t be successful. She will. I labeled “The Unexamined Life” as a jazzy Fiona Apple. (Read the review HERE.) However, there’s really no label or specific genre that Kates belongs to, not because she doesn’t fit in, but because she is destined to stand out.

Q - How long did it take to put ‘The Unexamined Life’ together?

A - I’d written all the songs in a period of loneliness and egolessness and childlike wonder after feeling like the biggest loser in the world (laughs) between January 2010 and August. I brought in a producer and he started doing the arrangements. He finished that by the winter. We brought in a drummer and rehearsed every day for a month or so. We recorded, there were three of us, altogether, bass, drums and me on piano and singing at the same time, which is very rarely done, in February. Altogether, including my writing, it took about a year and a half.

Q - Describe your writing process. Does it begin with music, lyrics, none of the above?

A - I’ll get a repetitive phrase, a lyrical phrase in my head, or a few. That’ll happen when I’m walking somewhere, sometimes when I’m out somewhere. It’s never when I’m driving actually (laughs). At home I’ll sit behind the piano and usually write the whole song pretty much at once. It will develop but it doesn’t really change that much from a lyrical content. I do that in one sitting; it may be like 20 minutes to an hour.

When I first started I didn’t plan on doing that either. I bought a keyboard, here in LA, and thought it was something fun to have. I took a couple piano lessons as a kid. I thought it was something I could do in my apartment. I printed out sheet music of classical music and I wanted to try and play that but realized I didn’t know how to do that (laughs). So I didn’t do that.

I just started writing. All the songs on the record started with one line at first. Then on my way home there would be a couple more that would be a part of a verse or chorus. Then I just sat down and wrote them out. The songs are all like direct expressions of feelings I’ve had. To me they all feel very literal and light, not heavy. And every time I write a song still afterward I think, ‘This has got to be terrible (laughs); what am I doing?’

Q - How has the response been so far?

A - Friends of mine early one would be like, ‘I know you did this but it’s really good.’ Then I started doing the online promotion like Reverb Nation. There were people that really liked it; it was a surprising array of different people. Then there are people that think one song is OK and don’t really care for the rest of it. That’s not always fun to hear.

Q - I love this album. When I reviewed it I listened to it a dozen straight times. I haven’t been this excited about an artist since Girl in a Coma.

A - Oh my God I love Girl in a Coma. When I first came to LA for a visit that’s all I listened to. I think they’re fucking amazing. I went to see them at the Knitting Factory here. Yeah, they’re great!

Q - When you have such a distinct sound, you mentioned Reverb Nation, how do you market yourself when you really can’t attack the radio market?

A - Yeah, that’s been a toughy when something doesn’t fit into a category and everyone these days is trying to not take chances and make things that sound like every thing else. Nothing I do is commercial in that sense and even if I tried it couldn’t be. It’s still tough and I don’t know how I’m ever going to see a dime off of it. There’s a “promote-it” campaign at Reverb that places an ad at the bottom of Facebook; I would never click on an ad but people in South America and Middle America who are not in big cities do. It got me some fans in Asia and Argentina and it’s very encouraging. I originally started cold emailing people and a couple of them responded and John Payne from LA Weekly was one of those people. I think this album, and I’m trying to be realistic, will hopefully be a buzz album. I don’t think it will make a ton of money. But I hope it gets some notice.

Q - My personal favorites are “In The Twilight” and “Price of Company.” Are there songs you get more excited to perform over others or ones that mean more?

A - I can’t say there are songs that mean more but there are ones that get less attention than others. There’s a song on the album, ‘Letters,’ that, because I play with a band and that song I play solo, don’t get attention. The album is 45 minutes long and in between introducing the band, or starting late, we almost always don’t play that long at shows. If I do I guess I get excited to play that one just because I never get to.

Q - I appreciate you taking the time. That’s all I had for you. Is there anything you wanted to add?

A – This album is a grower. You mentioned you listened to it many - Yahoo! News


Naama Kates takes on the pop fused bore fest called “today’s music” by introducing an original album called, “The Unexamined Life.” Kates, who has a background in acting with roles in the TV series “NCIS” and the movie, “Stepmom,” transitions this medium by stretching it into music.

The tracks on “The Unexamined Life” play like short films with stanzas changing tempos almost like scenes in a movie. On the song, “In the Twilight,” the introduction is a piano and Kates singing a beautiful lyric which goes, “You held open the door in the twilight; You held open the door in the twilight.” It quickly changes beats as if it were a completely different song yet the same.

This is how much of the album plays – it’s filled with the right amount of jazz, non-commercial pop and that ever so important x-factor, unpredictability. The lyrics are brilliant, almost poetic to a point where they don’t sound like poems but rather life experiences told via music. The song, “Price of Company,” reminds me of a one person show with Kates standing still in the middle of the stage telling her story via lyric, only to run around frantically in disarray singing the chorus.

With the name of the album being, “The Unexamined Life,” along with the track, “When I’m Good,” whose lyrics go, “I just want you to know; Just wanted to show you, another side,” it appears that Naama Kates is subtly telling us something – that there’s a lot of great music and artists out there; you just have to look.

“The Unexamined Life” is a very artsy album but has enough commercial appeal to make some noise on music charts. Naama Kates has something good going on and if she can keep her head above water long enough for her sound to catch on, she has a legitimate chance to outlast the “one and done” media phenomenoms that are popular today.

Jason Tanamor - Zoiks! Online



Naama Kates



This actress doesn't have the name recognition as the above, but she has had some success on the small screen starring on the CBS hit show, "NCIS." One place she will make a name for herself is in music. Her debut album, "The Unexamined Life," combines jazz and non-commercial pop. It's very artsy and well written and plays like a movie. If you've ever wondered what Fiona Apple sounded like as a jazz pianist, Naama Kates is it.
. - Yahoo! TV News


Naama Kates takes on the pop fused bore fest called “today’s music” by introducing an original album called, “The Unexamined Life.” Kates, who has a background in acting with roles in the TV series “NCIS” and the movie, “Stepmom,” transitions this medium by stretching it into music.

The tracks on “The Unexamined Life” play like short films with stanzas changing tempos almost like scenes in a movie. On the song, “In the Twilight,” the introduction is a piano and Kates singing a beautiful lyric which goes, “You held open the door in the twilight; You held open the door in the twilight.” It quickly changes beats as if it were a completely different song yet the same.
This is how much of the album plays – it’s filled with the right amount of jazz, non-commercial pop and that ever so important x-factor, unpredictability. The lyrics are brilliant, almost poetic to a point where they don’t sound like poems but rather life experiences told via music. The song, “Price of Company,” reminds me of a one person show with Kates standing still in the middle of the stage telling her story via lyric, only to run around frantically in disarray singing the chorus.

With the name of the album being, “The Unexamined Life,” along with the track, “When I’m Good,” whose lyrics go, “I just want you to know; Just wanted to show you, another side,” it appears that Naama Kates is subtly telling us something – that there’s a lot of great music and artists out there; you just have to look.

“The Unexamined Life” is a very artsy album but has enough commercial appeal to make some noise on music charts. Naama Kates has something good going on and if she can keep her head above water long enough for her sound to catch on, she has a legitimate chance to outlast the “one and done” media phenomenoms that are popular today.

--Jason Tanamor - Zoiks! Online


It doesn't take long listening to Naama Kates to realize that she is an artist that is very hard to classify. Is she pop? Sort of. Although part of what makes pop music is its predictability. Kates is anything but predictable. - Gary Schwind, OC Examiner


Written with a soft touch and slight edge, Kates' take on subject matter that could be dreary is light and hopeful, which is often elevated by her superb arrangements. - Michael Shinafelt, Chorse and Verse


Call her the darker side of Angus & Julia Stone, Naama Kates' intense lyrics, comfortably numb vocals and spontaneous theatricality are curiously fresh. A seemingly intentional low-fi-ness infuses "Before You Lose It," which climaxes with an abrupt sonic swell that caught us by surprise. Kates' "Bleeding Heart" has a tongue-in-cheek, "fuck you" pop sensibility, while "Tie Me Down" is a pop-jazz tune with unusual voice inflections. Very much an artist uninterested in the tried and true, Kates' music not for everyone; you either get it or you don't." (Music Connection, May 2012, p. 49) - Music Connection


Naama Kates can flat out sing. In today’s world of inflated talent and bs buzz, this is one girl that can carry a beautiful tune on her with no gimmicks, just good old-fashioned, beautiful writing and singing. Lets’ show this girl the love her music deserves and get more people talking about her. New album “The Unexamined Life” will be available on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Rhapsody, and other online retailers on May 1, 2012 - -LV Staff, LoudVine


Naama Kates

By John Payne

Singer-composer-actress Naama Kates' songs are like minifilms, experiences in sound, word and energy that stop and start again, accelerate and explode and collapse and fall to the floor to catch their breath and reassess. When she's playing solo, just her and a piano, she's a bit wistful and introspective, delivering her material in a soulful yet refreshingly unmannered vocal style. With her small ensemble she lays into complexly structured pieces whose violin, cello and trombone ornaments bring a cabaretlike mystique to the proceedings.
- LA Weekly


"[Listening to Naama's] music, unhinged, drunken and raw... ...is like waltzing through the Weinmar Republic led by her, the mad madame of this sad and beautiful world... through dizzying images of a life, naked and beautiful and bruised and beaten...

[She's] as rare as they come... like an old mine cut diamond, brilliantly burning her way through the universe."

--Sam Levinson - Sam Levinson


"...every preconceived idea and judgement I had would be checked at the door with my bleeder. As soon as I prepared myself for an elongated emotional love ballad, Naama would look at her bassist/producer Cyrus Melchor, nod, and with one flick of the wrist completely change the tone to one of a short, angsty punk song. With every new song the pleasant "rug out from underneath you" musical surprises would continue... ....influences from everything from Bat For Lashes to Gogol Bordello. One of the most respectable parts was Naama's presence. Never up front stealing the show, but always distinctly heard. A dynamic I believe to be a dying breed..." -Ricky Fitz - Take A Record


Kates' songs are inside/outside things, often ruminative tunes when played solo on piano and delivered in a soulful and artful yet refreshingly unmannered vocal style. With her small ensemble she lays into complexly structured pieces whose violin, cello and trombone ornaments bring a cabaretlike charm and mystique to the proceedings. The songs stop and start again, thoughts and impressions intrude; they accelerate and explode and collapse and fall to the floor to catch their breath and reassess. What she’s doing, you could say, is viewing scenarios from multiple angles –– the moods ebb and flow like a tempest in her mind, in her heart, in her soul.

Naama Kates makes a pleasingly accessible music that tries to mask yet invariably spills over with raging passion and quirky intelligence and sheer spunky, idiosyncratic imagination. Her songs are like mini-films, never merely personal sentiments sung aloud but experiences in sound and word and energy that can take you to faraway places…and right back home again.
- John Payne, LA Weekly, Bluefat


Discography

Before You Lose It - Single (2011) radio airplay, television placements (Ringer), streaming music video

The Unexamined Life -LP (2012)

-"Before You Lose It"- (2012) radio airplay

-"In the Twilight"- (2012) radio airplay

- "Unexamined Life" - (2012) radio airplay

- "Kachmare" - television placement (CSI: New York)

- "Price of Company" - radio airplay

- "Days Like These" - radio airplay

King for the Day -LP (release March 12, 2012)

Photos

Bio

It’s been a good year for singer/songwriter/pianist Naama Kates. Her debut album “Unexamined Life” was so well received by critics and fans she’s already finished a follow up. Her sophomore full length album “King for the Day” will be released on March 12, 2013.

From sublime to sardonic, weary to whimsical, on “King for the Day” Kates turns out avant-pop songs using an alternative balance of classical, blues and jazz, seemingly effortless lush vocals and poetic lyrics layered with edgy humor.

Grammy nominated producer Scott Fraser (Kronos Quartet) recorded, engineered and mastered “King for the Day” which features Mike Richardson on trombone, John Carfi on bass and Rich West on drums.

Kates’ arrangements, and the fact that all of the songs on KftD were recorded with her new quartet in single takes, gives the album a cinematic flow that makes the listener feel they are enjoying a series of mini films. The songs are scenarios viewed from multiple angles of life filled with unexpected storms and tarnished silver linings.

Highlighted songs include: track 12 the single, “Happy Homes," a radio ready tune that celebrates the irony of being okay with everything falling a part around us.The title track, “King for the Day” which answers the question -“Oh wouldn’t it be grand to be king for the day, everyday? … Now time to imagine the time when they take it away. Cue the chorus empathically sing: It’ll all be okay.” The jazzy "Not for the First Time" and "Airplanes” which muses on a peaceful early morning flight and the clarity that comes with being removed from it all.

press quotes:

“Kates’ songs are inside/outside things, often ruminative tunes when played solo on piano and delivered in a soulful and artful yet refreshingly unmannered vocal style… - John Payne (Bluefat, LA Weekly)

"Naama Kates’ debut album “The Unexamined Life” is different, because it’s risky. Written like diary entries, and sung with an honesty as if no one were listening, Naama’s work is hard to categorize, but easy to love."
- Lawrence Davis (Splash Magazine)

"Naama (Kates) gives a superb performance honing Marilyn Monroe's sultry vulnerability, Grace Kelly's elegance and Marlena Dietrich's intelligence." - Soho Journal

“...there’s really no specific genre that Kates belongs to, not because she doesn’t fit in, but because she is destined to stand out.” - Jason Tanamour (Yahoo! News, Zoiks! Online)