How would you describe your show Killa Kam’s Fusion Jams to someone who has never listened?
I guess what I like to do is make a show with music that’s jazz or “jazzy taste” pulling from different genres, meaning it could be something that’s “straight-ahead” jazz, or jazz influenced where I can argue, like, “the use of [this element] comes from here!” And it’s usually based or centered around a film plot.
So you could identify specific jazz elements and tell where they might have come from?
Definitely. Sometime’s it’ll be a strong, definite connection, but other times I can use my own arguments to say how [a song] goes along with the theme of the show.
You said you like to center it around a film plot?
Yeah, either a film plot or, since it’s a three hour show and movies are usually two and a half hour maximum, I’ll focus on trying to draw out a certain section of a film, so like I’ll use different songs to try to evoke different emotions.
What are some of the influences for the songs that you pick?
I guess it’s sort of whatever happens that week. Like if I watched a certain movie, or if I was just really digging a song that week, I’ll try to find a way to use it in the show. So even though I like to say, like, “oh, here’s a song because of its structure,” or whatever, it’s mostly just what I feel like. But then I’ll kind of try to justify it. I think I learned that from high school.
How did you first develop an interest in jazz?
I used to love jazz when I was growing up — from, like, birth. When we moved from my old house to my new house, I used to play it every night when I would fall asleep. All the time I would listen to 88.1, I believe. But one night I woke up and it was playing some Halloween special, and I was just like “I’m not gonna listen to jazz anymore.” I think I stopped up until high school but when I started playing it more seriously, I took up an interest again because of how it’s played, paying attention to the techniques and whatnot.
What are some songs or artists that you would suggest for someone wanting to be introduced to jazz?
Oh wow. So I guess for more “straight-ahead” jazz, pretty much the tried and true answers of like Giant Steps by John Coltrane, or Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, but especially Giant Steps for me just because my friends would let me borrow the CD and I would just be like, “what is this, what is he doing?” There’s that kind of taste of jazz but I would recommend also from John Coltrane A Love Supreme that’s more kind of spiritual, “out there” jazz. But those are still your sort of traditional, quartet, quintet types. What’s cool is once you get into jazz, you can kind of go forwards or backwards and see the same themes, see where everyone’s coming from. If you hear one album and you like it, you can go back [in time] and appreciate where it came from, but if you go forward you can still hear those same kinds of themes.
Any story behind the name “Killa Kam?”
Basically I was just trying to be as cheesy as possible. I was spitballing ideas with a friend at the time and she just suggested “Killa Kam’s Fusion Jams,” and I was like, that’d be hilarious! But the more I thought about it I was also like, that’d be terrible. Eventually I thought, actually that leaves a bunch of leeway because it doesn’t give away a ton, you know? “Fusion” is like, well a fusion of what? I think that’s why I stuck with it.
So then what constitutes a “fusion jam?”
I would say time signature changes, or if there’s shredding involved. If I listen and go “ooh!” at any point in the song, it’s a fusion jam.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or your show?
It’s really cool in that if you hear something you don’t like at one point in the show, you’ll still most likely hear something you do like later on. But there will probably be something you don’t like [laughs].