Exclusive Interview


Where did you all grow up?
Different areas of the country. Ariana, the band's leader and lead singer moved 7 times before she was 8 years old (well, her family did and she went along...). Her parents met at Eastman School of Music and once they graduated college, they moved to a bunch of places until they settled in Maryland. Diana McFadden - who plays cello, mandolin and guitar, is a Marylander born and bred. Diana Sunday, who plays guitar, drums, and is a talented singer, grew up in the Chicago area and has lived in Maryland for a very long time. Dave Landis who plays, Native American flutes, pennywhistle, drums, and sings, grew up in Pennsylvania and has lived in MD for a very long time. Jim Brewster, who is our super multi-instrumentalist - playing guitar, mandolin, drums, silver flute, bass guitar, drums, and sings - grew up in NY State and has lived in MD for a pretty long time now. Tigre Cruz, our drummer and male lead singer, was born in NYC and has lived in MD for a lot of years. Tim Sauwerwien, our didgeridoo player and singer, grew up in Indiana and has lived in MD for a very long time as well.

How was KIVA put together?
Ariana was previously in a band called Pomegranate, and when that band dis-banded in 1989, she was inspired to start her own band. Some of this inspiration came from a women's sweat lodge (it's a Native American tradition that has also been used by alternative spirituality communities and women's spirituality communities). In the lodge, Ariana was encouraged both by the women in the lodge and also her connection to spirit to keep doing her music. That next day, 2 women who were at the festival (Rites of Spring in Massachusetts) came up to her and said they wanted to be involved in her next musical project. So, KIVA was born. KIVA means many things in many cultures. In Scottish Gaelic, the two words that sound like KIVA mean "what was will be again." In the southwest US there are kivas left behind in the Anasazi ruins and the current pueblo peoples still use kivas today. In the ancient Anasazi versions in Chaco Canyon the kiva was a round structure in the ground that was used for sacred ceremonies (communing with spirit) and also to store food and a are used also these days as a community gathering place. This felt like the right idea for what Ariana wanted her band's music to evoke in people. A safe space to commune with one's connection to spirit (or source) as well as gathering with like minded community.

How many albums have been recorded so far?
Twelve, The Healing Art, Renewal, Alchemy, Mother Wisdom, Finding the Balance Within, Live at the Forest Inn, A Call to Beauty, Out of the Corner of the Eye, Oshun Gaia (a project between Ariana - KIVA's lead singer - and Amikaeyla Gaston), KIVA So Far - a 20 Year Adventure (not a "best of" - it is updates of older songs and mostly recordings of new songs), Yuletide (an album of winter themed songs), and KIVA's Odds & Ends (an album of songs that didn't have a cohesive theme together but were all songs we've been performing for a while or songs that are fan favorites). 

With the amount of members, how do song ideas come about?
In the early days the songs were created by Ariana, coming up with a song idea and sharing it with the band, to get the instrumental parts worked out. Over time, the band started jamming and coming up with songs as a group with Ariana quickly writing out lyrics to the musical inspiration and then other band members bringing song ideas to the group. KIVA still writes songs both being spontaneously inspired (as in the song "Out of the Corner of the Eye) and bringing songs to the group (as in Yuletide Changes and Once More).

Where do you record?
Secret Sound Studio near Baltimore, MD and Nomad Studio in Greenbelt, MD.

What songs get more attention from fans, covers or originals?
Mostly originals. Some of them are covers from close friends like "For Love is Waiting" by Jim Noland and "Maria" by Kathleen Hannan.

Is there ever any drama within the group? Or do you all get along nicely?
As a group of chosen family, like any family, KIVA has our dramatic moments and they pass because what matters is the music and our sharing of our spirit.

Tell us about your latest project.
Our most recent project, KIVA's Odds & Ends, is an album full of songs we have been performing the last few years and covers that we were very inspired by. A couple of them were newly written or arranged and a couple we have been performing for nearly 30 years. Each time we record an album the quality improves. We are truly happy with this album. Of course, now albums are pretty much something of the past with streaming and downloading music. We have also been putting downloadable and streaming "singles" out there, as well and distribute our music using CD Baby for this purpose.

Do you all tour often?
We travel to a couple of shows a year, but we have never actually "toured" in the sense of traveling to many shows in a row. We mostly perform at local events and venues. In the last several years, we have performed at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, MD around 2 times a year and at local festivals each year such as the Greenbelt GreenMan Festival and we travel to the New York Faerie Festival in NY State.

What can we expect from you in the future?
We are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Paint Branch UU Church in Adelphi, MD. We are already talking about recording our next album, which could take two or three years to complete. We are writing a bunch of new songs and enjoying the creative process.  

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