SXSW Preview – Charlotte Kemp Muhl

by Alex Teitz
charlotte kemp
            Charlotte Kemp Muhl is a rare artist who is skilled in many disciplines and active in all of them. She is a model, director and multi-instrumentalists. She is most well known for being part of Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Toothed Tiger (GOASTT). She is part of Kemp & Eden. Recently she started Uni with David Strange and Nico Fuzz. The new band adds glam rock to insightful and humorous lyrics characterized by their lead single “What’s The Problem.” The band will be releasing an EP on Chimera Records later this year. For info visit
FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with David Strange before. What made you decide to make Uni a permanent band?
CKM: I produced/arranged a solo album for David after hiring him to play guitar in my folk project, as a kind of barter system. We had so much fun that we started a side project called Uni, which recently turned into our main project because we wrote so many songs and it felt like it had a lot of potential.
FEMMUSIC: What was the vision of the band in style and music?
CKM: We were listening to a lot of Ziggy Stardust, T Rex, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Beastie Boys and The Kinks at the time, so there’s a lot of 70’s glam influences with rock/prog riffs and sometimes a 90’s flavor.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting process?
CKM: I write most of the music and riffs while David writes a lot of the lyrics. Nico came into the picture later but he played a lot of cool overdubs and wrote great harmonies. We love music gear so sometimes we’ll get inspired to write a new song when we get a new guitar or tape delay.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Uni EP?
CKM: Finding the right front man was a big thing. It was a miracle meeting Nico when we did! We quickly became an Adam’s family of sorts. Another challenge was figuring out how to modernize the classic sounds we love. We experimented with Nico playing electronic drums over the real ones, and sometimes using analog Moog synth bass in lieu of real bass.
FEMMUSIC: What are your own goals with Uni?
CKM: The idea was to have a pop project, but my idea of pop is verrry odd. Guess I’m really out of touch with the current pop charts of EDM music. I still think Ziggy is pop.
FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with GOASTT and Kemp & Eden. What differences does Unihave in comparison? Any similarities?
CKM: Every group of people have a different chemistry and bring out different aspects in each other. Eden brought out the romantic Victorian quality in my songwriting and production. Sean and I were obsessed with 60’s psychedelia for the Goastt. Uni was more inspired by the early 70’s and our love of vintage gear.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the “What’s The Problem?” video? Does the final product match your vision for it, and the band’s?
CKM: It was our first video so my concept was to do it very cheaply in a tiny studio. Was inspired by Diane Arbus and Toilet Paper magazine. I shot it on 16 mill film so we only had 1 or 2 takes for everything. Was so fun bringing in all the different characters! Of course some of the vignettes were pretty scandalous and bizarre, so there were moments we would be duct taping up a naked girl and looking at each other like, we hope people see the comedy in this!!
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
CKM: Eh, there will always be a set of stigmas and challenges every group of people have to deal with. People can be condescending to me as a woman occasionally but I never feel like a victim. It just motivates me to beat them.
FEMMUSIC: If you could tour with, or collaborate with anyone, whom would it be and why?
CKM: My friends? I only like to tour with people who make me laugh. But I’d love to collaborate with so many people- mostly in the classical world. Writing for orchestra is my dream!
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
CKM: Everything!! It’s awful. So vapid and corporate. Kids need to be reeducated about what good music is, and its deeper function in culture to make people think/be uncomfortable, challenge status quo, and offer catharsis.
March 1st, 2018