From the dusty and traffic-filled land of dreams otherwise known as Los Angeles comes a trio of transplants that have a sound and aesthetic all their own. After meeting at USC, Tyler Demorest, Matt Cohen and Danny Schnair came together to create Kiven (pronounced Kee-vahn), a band that does not really remain in one particular genre.

With ethereal and clean vocals, Demorest’s voice takes the listener on a spiritual journey and when added to Schnair’s hypnotic guitar riffs and Cohen’s bass, the listening experience becomes something surreal and truly beautiful. Elements of MuteMath, Radiohead and a kind of fortified Bon Iver come to mind, as their different sounds blend together to create something unique and intriguing.

Kiven recently performed as an opener for local band Junipero on March 8 at SOhO downtown and was a rare, totally unexpected treat. Numbers like “Hope and Smoke” and “Release” are full of powerful vocals and heavy machinery while songs like “Blur” and “Forward” show a more sensitive side that is refreshing, as Demorest also adds piano to some of the songs, giving them a kind of edgy yet delicate feel. It is an intricate and hard balance to achieve.

It is this marriage of different sounds and different approaches — readily apparent on their recent album, 1840 — that gives Kiven its flavor; they defy the rules by tapping into every kind of sound, yet abiding to no one genre’s rules. The energy they have as performers is also something really special to see: It’s as if each performer is having a spiritual experience with the music, and they emote those feelings to their audience. Schnair and Cohen’s harmonies bring something profound to their sound as well. This is where the rough meets the pretty, and born are memorable melodies and soulful harmonies that stay with you long after the songs are over.

Kiven’s music is everything you want in a band: Their sound is pleasing yet tough, and their lyrics are introspective. Songs like “Blur” greet you with rich chords and then disintegrate into a harmonious set of distorted riffs as Demorest’s vocals float over the band. For a relatively new band, Kiven has already started to find their footing, bringing something new and interesting to the table. Their energy and the diversity of their songs demand your attention, and before you know it, you’re captivated, enthralled and emotionally pulled toward that intangible force that only good music can get you close to.

I spoke to Kiven’s members after their show and found them all to be genuine, witty, humble and all about the music. In short, they were a joy to listen to and talk to. Kiven is a tremendous force of talent and I highly recommend a listen. The band was recently on tour and just performed at SXSW, so look out for them. Who knows what else these artistic geniuses will come up with next?

I highly recommend “Blur” and “Forward” on their album 1840, and be sure to check out their video “Release” on YouTube.



A version of this article appeared on page 16 of April 4rd, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus