"You want to jam?" was the first message that guitarist Nehemiah “Nemo” Alvarado sent to Kassandra “Kass” Ayala. He discovered her profile on bandmix.com, an online network for connecting local musicians and bands, and immediately knew he had to reach out. Kass remembered being a little freaked out by his message at first, “because his profile didn’t have any photos or recordings. I said ‘yes’ because I didn't have anything else to do.”
“I just heard her voice and I was blown away.” It was “perfect” for the music Nemo wanted to create. During their performance in the Texas Public Radio studio, we knew exactly what he meant. If Nemo, a self-proclaimed former rocker, wanted to make the shift into the folk music realm, he would need a vocalist with a timeless sound. Looking and sounding a little like a young Linda Ronstadt with her black bangs, hoop earrings, and warm voice Kass sounded ideal for Nemo’s new folk music venture.
Besides being talented performers, Nemo & Kass write their own music as well. When reflecting on their songwriting process, they explained that oftentimes Nemo will generate the melody first and then Kass will “take it home” by writing the lyrics. With her emotionally vulnerable yet relatable lyrics, it was a surprise to discover that Kass is only in her early twenties.
As far as knowing what to write, Kass draws inspiration from everything around her. Many of her observations are transformed into song lyrics; she believes that “people are poetic,” as they go about their everyday lives. While discussing the lyrical meaning behind their song The Wave Used To, she admitted that the song “is half based on someone [I know] and half based on Diane and Sam from Cheers.”
I’m not one of those who were born ready
But god how I’m ready now
If you should cry on my shoulder
I’d know what to do now
The lyrics “I’m not one of those who were born ready, but god how I’m ready now” are a direct reference to Sam being ready for a relationship as soon as Diane wants to leave. Who knew that a sitcom from the ‘80s could be the cultural influence for a folk song?