At WIUX’s Music Market on March 26th, 2022, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Namen Namen, an alt-rock band from Fort Wayne, Indiana. We discussed their performance at Music Market, their freshly-released EP, and their plans for the future. Enjoy!
(Alanna) We were so excited to have you perform at WIUX’s Music Market festival! Please introduce yourself to WIUX’s audience.
(Zara) Hello my name is Zara McCord and I play the bass guitar. (Ron) My name is Ron Record and I play the drums in Namen Namen. (Kellen) My name is Kellen Baker and I play guitar in Namen Namen. (Dylan) My name is Dylan Record and I am the singer.
The band had a great time cracking jokes while introducing themselves. It was explained that Ron and Dylan are twins and Kellen made a joke that he is the “four leaf clover of the band” because his name doesn’t rhyme like his bandmates' last names do.
My next question for you is how did you guys come together as a group?
(Ron) Well they’re lovers [pointing to Zara and Kellen], and we’re brothers [pointing to himself and Dylan]. (Zara) Kellen and I have been dating since middle school. (Kellen) We had a new wave cover band in high school and then that kind of fizzled out. We all started writing our own music and then came back together a few years later with a fresh lease on life and put it all together and created Namen Namen.
It was very sweet to hear that Namen Namen started from young love, friendship, and a high school cover band. Zara and Kellen have been dating for a very long time and I think the formation of Namen Namen follows a similar narrative to other bands in this genre- taking some time apart and then finding their way back to creating with one another.
That’s a great segway into my next question which is how did Namen Namen get its name?
(Dylan) Actually from the Muppets. You know how they always name that sound “namanama”? (Kellen) Yeah if you push the sound forward and cut off part of it, that’s how the name was formed.
The band joked that the name was decided through a very meticulous process when in reality it was decided very quick. In band origin stories I have heard before, bands have named themselves based on acronyms (5 Seconds of Summer- 5SOS), purpose (One Direction- 5 solo vocalists coming together as a group), and even last names (MCXX.- based on the front man’s last name); however, I have never heard of a band using a abbreviated sound as their band name.
What is the band’s favorite song to play live?
(Kellen) Our new single. Actually all six songs on our new EP out April 1st [the EP wasn’t out yet at the time of the interview] on Massif Records out of Chicago, Illinois.
The band was very clever in mentioning their new EP that was releasing a few days after the interview. The band’s self-titled EP can be found anywhere you stream your music and a review of this EP will be coming shortly to the WIUX website.
Is this your first record? Tell me a little more about this EP.
(Kellen) Massif is a one-man operation under PJ Sauerteig. Someone in Fort Wayne sent him our music and he took a liking to it. We had a couple conversations with PJ before he came to one of our shows in Fort Wayne at the Brass Rail and in his own words, he had seen all he needed to see; he was up to release the record and we were super excited [to work with him].
This is the band’s first record and they were very excited to share about their experience meeting and recording with PJ Sauerteig. Up until this point, there had only been a couple singles released by Namen Namen so I was excited to learn more about the songs and recording process.
What more can you tell me about the songs on this record?
(Ron) We recorded the songs in Nashville, Tennessee. (Zara) We recorded at Blackbird Studios where lots of cool people have also recorded. (Kellen) A friend I met many years ago, Tommy Cannon, was a student at the Blackbird Academy. They all have a project at the end of their semester where they’re supposed to record a song. They have one session booked out, which between setup and teardown is about four hours of recording time. We did the whole EP in four hours. We had played the songs live quite a bit at that point. (Dylan) We had the songs down pat so we were able to record them quickly.
Loads of well-known artists such as Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson have also recorded at Blackbird Studios. The band shared that they were able to record there for free because of Kellen's long-time friend who used recording with the band as a project for his studies at the Blackbird Academy. The band was so excited for their first professional recording session that they ambitiously recorded six songs in a four hour recording session which is insane.
You guys perform with sunglasses on stage. What’s the story behind that?
(Zara) We’ve never gotten that question before. (Kellen) A lot of artists that we look up to perform with shades on so it became a tradition.
The band explained that wearing sunglasses to perform occurred naturally and a big reason for this is because it makes them more comfortable on stage without making awkward eye contact with audience members. They also want to seem a little mysterious.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
(Zara) We like… (Ron) King Cruel. (Zara) Yeah! And we like… (Dylan) James Brown. (Zara) And we like… (Kellen) The Wipers.
It was so cool how the group collectively agreed on their biggest musical influences. The artists that they named range from singer-songwriters to funk and punk-rock.
How do you guys curate your stage presence? What is your rehearsal process like?
(Dylan) For me, I think for all of us, it’s a theatrical performance because we are performers. (Zara) Moving around the stage and everything, you are a performer. You’re putting on a show. But, at the same time, we don’t have any choreography or anything. (Kellen) It’s different every single night for us. When we practice in my basement we’re usually sitting down.
The band explained that their audience’s energy greatly affects their performance and stage presence. They don’t practice any sort of stage antics, what happens on stage is their reactions to those around them in real-time.
The final question I have for you is one I like to ask all of the artists I interview. What are your goals as a band? Within the near future or later on down the road?
(Ron) My goal is to have fun and continue to make music I enjoy with my friends. (Zara) I want to play Pitchfork Music Festival. Music Market is the first step. (Kellen) As long as I am proud of what we’re doing and enjoying it musically, anything else that may come along is a product of what we’re doing. Being friends and making music together. (Dylan) I kind of want to be famous a little bit. I want people to hear our music and I want to be creatively fulfilled. We’ll see how it goes as time passes. It’s fun to create good music with good people and unique voices.
Each of the band members had slightly different goals they named, but each added up to the same thing all together- to continue to make music with each other and to share it with the world. They have diverse goals big and small that I’m sure they’ll meet.
WIUX’s Music Market 2022 was my first introduction to Namen Namen and it was so special being able to share a post-performance chat with the four band members. Make sure to check out Namen Namen’s newly-released EP and maybe even catch one of their upcoming shows!
Listen to Namen Namen’s EP, Namen Namen HERE.
Watch the official music video for “The One I Love Most” HERE.
Catch Namen Namen at one of their upcoming shows!
- 4/21 with Heavy Mother - The Root Cellar - Bloomington, Indiana
- 4/22 with Man of the Flood - The Ruin - Fort Wayne, Indiana
- 4/23 with BRNDA - Blockhouse - Bloomington, Indiana
- 4/24 with Screaming Females - The Muse on Main - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Follow Namen Namen on social media for more updates HERE.