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Concert preview: Instant karma gets Karmin onto the charts

Published May 8, 2014 3:58 pm

Music • Pop, rap get Berklee makeover.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If music were a meritocracy, the graduates of Boston's Berklee College of Music would dominate the charts and headlines.

It sometimes happens, with members of Weezer, Passion Pit, Black Label Society and even NOFX being alumni of the renowned conservatory.

But when you and your partner are 2008 graduates of the institution and fame and riches don't immediately gravitate toward you, YouTube can help. A lot.

That is what happened to Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, the duo known as Karmin, who found notoriety producing well-received and tuneful covers on the video-sharing website. With sometimes little more than Noonan's keyboard accompanying them, the pair admirably tackled songs as disparate as Adele's "Someone Like You" and Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass," and after receiving more notice when Ryan Seacrest mentioned them as a fave on his top-rated morning show, they ended up performing with the likes of the Roots' ?uestlove.

The true test for the sharp-looking duo came March 25, when the pair released their debut album, "Pulses," and there was nary a hit cover to be found.

"We felt like we had done the covers," said Noonan. "[The new album] felt like closing the chapters and opening a new one."

"It was the most Karmin we've been," said Heidemann, who sans Noonan but with plenty of cleavage appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone's "Women Who Rock" issue in 2012.

Before they linked up in Boston, Noonan grew up in rural Maine and Heidemann in rural Nebraska. "I didn't have much access to live shows," Noonan said. "It was like living in a fairy tale, in a far-off land. We both didn't grow up with cable out in the wilderness."

Lucky for him, his public school had a strong jazz program that he fell in love with. For Heidemann, love came by finding R&B gems in her local Walmart's bargain bins. Both loves ended up congregating at Berklee.

The group's original pop songs — described by some as "swag-pop" — such as "Brokenhearted," featuring Heidemann's remarkable rapping skills, have managed to be dance hits, though the two admit they are still not sure how much of their show should be crowd-pleasing covers or new material. "We're still finding out," Noonan said. In the meantime, the two groups of fans should both be satisfied. "We're split," Noonan said. "We do try to do a little bit of both." —

Karmin with Bonnie McKee

When • Thursday, May 8, at 7 p.m.

Where • The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $19.50 in advance, $22 day of, at SmithsTix