Ten Questions, Ten Minutes with KrashKarma
“When I was six years old I was standing in front of a KISS poster. Blood, fire, guitars, drums… What was that? Then someone gave me a KISS tape. When I heard the opening scream of ‘Is That You?’ my life changed forever.” So says Ralf Dietel who with his partner-in-metal Niki Skistimas are collectively known as Los Angeles-based KrashKarma, almost certainly the only metal duo with a female drummer/vocalist , and a single guitarist/bassist. From behind the drum kit the energetic Skistimas keeps the rhythm rock-tight as she delivers her seductively-charged vocals; meanwhile, out front, guitarist/bassist and co-vocalist Ralf Dietel brings the material to life with his unique Frankenstein guitar/bass creation. Never before have two people created a sound so immense yet so vibrant.
KrashKarma have a fabulous new album ‘Falling To Pieces’ up their sleeves so the time seemed right to invite them to the Ten Questions, Ten Minutes hot seat.
Q1. Can you give me a quick history of the band, please, and confirm the current line-up?
“KrashKarma started in 2009 as a four-piece band with the release of the first EP ‘Seven Deadly Sounds’. After many tours in Europe and the USA and a show in Morocco and two full length albums the band changed the line-up in 2015 into a two-piece band with Ralf Dietel and Niki Skistimas: Ralf is playing a guitar/bass hybrid and Niki is playing drums and also doing main vocals besides Ralf. And that’s the current line-up that’s released two more full length albums and one EP.”
Q2. And how did the band’s name come about?
“The name describes the duality that we find in life. Good and evil, hot and cold, loud and silent –represented by a male and female singer.”
Q3. ‘Falling To Pieces’ is a fabulous album. You must be pleased with it. Was it easy to bring to fruition?
“The album is a snapshot of where we are today as artists. We always work on our craft and seeing the result and how the album turned out is very pleasing. It is never easy to challenge yourself and the fact that we were once more able to raise the bar with this new album shows our dedication. Now it’s time to bring those songs to life on a stage, and this is what we do best!”
Q4. What did you set out to achieve when you wrote and recorded ‘Falling To Pieces’? And do you think you achieved it?
“We tried to achieve to write our best album yet and move forward with our sound. If we look back on our past albums which we also love, it is safe to say that we are still evolving into something bigger that we were yesterday.”
Q5. The cover artwork is stunning – is there a story behind it?
“The angel on the cover portraits the feeling of being lost in darkness, floating between the stars and feeling as though she is slowly falling apart. It’s a lesson in letting go of the past and embracing the future unknown.”
Q6. How does ‘Falling To Pieces’ compare to its predecessors, do you think?
“If you know us as people and follow us on social media, then you know all the new songs are the next logical step in the evolution of KrashKarma. We are not looking to be the next one hit wonder but try to write songs about topics that concern us. That’s how we connect with our fans because we all know the struggle is real. The new album deals with abuse, addiction, racism and religion. After a few listens you will find clues and the meaning of some songs will unfold. Daily experiences, history and the current state of the world are recurring themes in our music. We do also get a lot of inspiration from films that we love.”
Q7. What’s the best gig you’ve performed so far, and what made it so special?
“We will never forget when we played in Casablanca, Morocco at The Boulevard Festival. It was like nothing we’ve ever done before or since. From the complete culture shock, the thousands of metal kids chanting our name ‘KrashKarma’ to having to wait to go on stage until the daily prayer was over, it was unbelievable in every way. The connection to the people was so unique and fulfilling and reminded us that music is a universal language that everyone speaks.”
Q8. Do you not find working as a duo limiting? Or does it give you more freedom?
“It has elements of both. In some ways, we are unlimited to do and explore anything that we want to because we make up the rules and don’t have to run it by anyone else. Other times, it would be nice to have a duelling guitar solo or some down time from always being in the spotlight.”
Q9. Dog Person or Cat Person?
Ralf: “Cats, because they don’t work for the police.”
Niki: “Dogs, because they are so cute and playful and cuddly and make my heart smile.”
Q10. “What film do you think ‘Falling To Pieces’ could be the soundtrack to?”
“‘Deadpool’: it’s a movie the puts the pedal to the metal from the very first scene!”
‘Falling To Pieces’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ8iSXvOCzA
‘Survive The Afterlife’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4qEINeZddA
‘Girl With A Hammer’ (from ‘Storm’) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj8W_Dugv-o
© John Tucker June 2023