Across the Table with Naseem from Kingsley Flood

“I’m not attracted to streets & sidewalks; it’s the people that really draw me to a city.”

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Kingsley Flood; part two. This east coast-based band is amazingly talented and unique. I’ve had a connection with their music since the first email blast I was lucky enough to be included on. I had conducted an email interview with Naseem Khuri (lead vocal and rhythm guitar for the six piece band) back in July, but this time we met for coffee in a city that brims with music – and one I like to call home – Nashville, T.N.. For more of a back story on the band you can check out the original article, but this “part-two-piece” will feature some more in depth questions directed at Naseem.

There is no place like Nashville and there’s no better spot to meet for coffee and talk music than the Frothy Monkey on 8th Ave South. In a mod podge room filled with old milk crates, industrial bar stools and racks of vinyls – I sipped the most delicious iced vanilla coffee and spoke to Naseem about the band’s trip to Nashville for one of the city’s most iconic music festivals; Americana Festival. 

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Nashville, T.N.

Talking to Naseem felt like catching up with an old friend. We joked about the Wiggles and the Muppets and I promised we talked things other than G rated children’s series as well – like music.

“It’s so hard to choose a city that I’ve loved the most while touring. I’m not attracted to streets & sidewalks; it’s the people that really draw me to a city. I think it all depends on the experience you have in a certain city, for instance, if someone doesn’t give you cupcakes it’s an immediate point deduction.”

Naseem was referring to the box of Gigi’s cupcakes I had got for the band before our interview. I have enough jobs to count on one full hand, one of which is working for Nashville (and one of the countries) most popular cupcake franchises. Known for it’s mountain tall icing, I didn’t think Kingsley Flood’s Nashville visit would be complete without experiencing one of the city’s most delicious hidden gems.

Kingsley Flood is no stranger to distance. With Naseem being in D.C. and the rest of the band based in Boston (his hometown), there has always been a theme of complicated logistics. He laughed when I asked if that’s gotten any better with time,

“It never changes. It just makes things more interesting. We all have lives in certain places and it allows us to pull different audiences every time. We’re actually really lucky because we have a huge following in both D.C. and Boston. I always try to push for shows down south, like this though, because that means I’m relaxing at home while the rest of the band treks the first five hours down to me before we really begin the journey to a southern show.”

“Our band never likes to be pigeon-holed, we like to do whatever feels right and always keep the audience on their toes,” Naseem said.

At which point I said, “like the ‘Fruit Salad’ song by The Wiggles?” Don’t ask why that was the first thing that came in my head. Probably because I was three cups of coffee deep by this point and I had eaten fruit salad for breakfast while I secretly hummed the brainwashing tune the rest of the day. Nevertheless, we couldn’t stop laughing and I promised Naseem the Wiggles number one hit would somehow make it into this article. I’m a girl of my word!

“That being said,” he continued when our laughing fit subsided, “we used to shy away from the term ‘Americana’ because we thought it put us in a box that we couldn’t escape from. We’ve actually grown to realize that it’s a nice umbrella term for anything with roots. Everything starts somewhere and is connected to something else, so just like our music, the term Americana has a way of connecting to other things and growing into something new.”

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Being super authentic and true to themselves, it’s only fitting that Kingsley Flood as a whole gravitates toward authentic artists to “fan” over. I asked if there were any artists Naseem was exciting to see while in town for Americana,

“I’m honestly super bummed I won’t be able to see Steve Earle’s showcase. I always feel very connected to courageous, brave artists and individuals. Earle not only shows that with his music, but with his stand in politics as well. I’m just a fan of the person he is. He’s a big influence.”

“Our post-show routine isn’t anything news worthy,” Naseem laughed when I asked if there were any band “rituals” after a show. “It’s different every time depending on where we’re crashing. You would think things would be crazy after a show in our hometown, but we’re actually all just excited to get home and sleep in our own beds.”

“I personally just like hanging out in the venue we perform at after it empties out. I like talking to the owners of the space and just unwinding from everything, it’s like that last hour at the office before you go home from work.”

I asked if there was a song that meant the most to the band not only to play, but to perform live.

“‘Waiting on the River to Ride’ seems to resonate with the most people. We always play upbeat, energetic stuff that gets our audience moving, but this seems to be the part of each set where things quiet and slow down. It’s a real statement song that says ‘listen up!’ We always devote it a great friend who passed away. His name’s Matt, you’ll hear us dedicate it to him at every show.”

The band’s latest E.P., To the Fire has a much different sound to it – that has the possibility of opening a new sector of an untouched genre for them.

“We’re not the deliberate about it,” he responded. We never try to break genre barriers, we just count it as a victory if we get a song while we’re hanging out. Our songs and sound change like personalities. The full-length version of To the Fire will come out later this year or early next and it will be a perfect snapshot reflection of that evolution to our music. My wife told me once, ‘you have to be passionate about the process and agnostic about the outcome.”

As a fellow songwriter, I told Naseem the shock I feel when other singers say they don’t sing in the shower.

“They’re lying,” he said. “I sing in the shower all the time and never just one song – I promise that’s not a copout answer. I just like to write songs in the shower all of the time and then – ”

I knew exactly where he was going with it. I said I totally understood the “voice memo moment.”

“Yes!” he exclaimed. “The moment when you get out of the shower and want to hit record on your phone but you’re soaking wet and every second that goes by you’re super nervous you’re going to lose the brilliant idea that came to you mid-shampoo.”

Checking the time on his “Animal” from the Muppets screen saver, Naseem told me a little bit more about the band’s time in Nashville before heading off to soundcheck.

“We went to Roberts on Broadway. It felt like the epitome of of an old-time country bar, packed at 3 p.m.. George, our led guitarist, knew the guitarist of the band performing. It was just such a cool vibe and really showcased the city for us.”

With Americana Fest coming to a close, I hope you were lucky enough to catch Kingsley Flood while they were in town. If you weren’t, you can always be old-school and buy their latest project to hear the unique amazingness they possess. I’m sure they will be back in this city again before we know it; and yes, you can look forward to another Kingsley Flood edition of “Across the Table.”

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