Bill Thomas

NEPA ‘black sheep’ musicians hit Indiegogo to fund psychedelic pop project Kali Ra

NEPA ‘black sheep’ musicians hit Indiegogo to fund psychedelic pop project Kali Ra
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“We’re kind of black sheep.”

Jami Kali doesn’t sugarcoat her thoughts on how she and Ray Novitski fit into Northeastern Pennsylvania’s music scene.

She is vocalist for the dreamy folk pop duo Mock Sun and has also released a solo album of trippy trance music under the name Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms. He is vocalist/guitarist for psychedelic prog rock group Signs & Wonders and the guitarist for experimental art country outfit Katie Kelly and the Charming Beards.

At first simply searching for similarly styled bands to play shows with, when Kali and Novitski discovered one another they were amazed to find how much they shared in terms of artistic ideas and influences. In fact, they had so much in common they jokingly wondered if they were relatives separated at birth.

“We’re both really weird people,” Kali says. “We’re kindred spirits.”

Black sheep flock together. Now, the pair has taken to crowdfunding website Indiegogo in the hopes of funding a new project, a collaboration called Kali Ra, with which they plan to release an album later this year.

“We’ve already written pretty much an album’s worth of music,” Novitski says.

Fans of either musicians’ past oeuvres can expect Kali Ra to share the same avant-garde sensibilities of Kali and Novitski’s other projects, but with an idiosyncratic flavor all its own. Combining Kali’s sensual beat-driven atmospherics with Novitski’s heavier rock-based hallucinogenics has led Kali Ra to develop a distinctive identity and a sound: alternatingly bright and dark, dreamy yet danceable, with a sly sense of humor and emphasis on thoughtful songwriting.

“It’s kind of like ‘sarcastic smart-pop,’ if that makes any sense,” Kali describes. “It’s very different than anything we’ve done in the past, and very different than anything that’s coming out of this scene right now.”

Kali and Novitski are interested in experimenting with more than just the music itself, though. In addition to covering the costs of recording, mixing, pressing, and promoting the as-of-yet-untitled album, Kali Ra’s Indiegogo campaign will, the duo hopes, also help them tour across America while giving audiences more bang for their buck.

“We want to add to the visual aspect,” Novitski says, noting that putting on a more fully realized stage show is something both he and Kali have wanted but been largely unable to do with their other bands.

“We want it to be more than just a couple people up there playing instruments. We love the idea of adding theater to the performance. If someone is going to pay a cover charge, we want to give them a really great show, something to see.”

The Kali Ra Indiegogo campaign is currently raising funds until Monday, Oct. 26. Backers can donate as little or as much as they wish, with certain milestone amounts offering perks ranging from complimentary pre-release album copies, demos, and merchandise to in-person visits from Kali and Novitski themselves and a chance to collaborate on a song with the duo.

Photos by Brittany Boote Photography

Fund the Kali Ra Indiegogo campaign here.

Mock Sun 21+ performance
with Flint Eastwood, Bottle Rocket, and Skip Monday
Location: The Keys (244 Penn Ave., Scranton)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Time: 6 p.m.
Cost: $5

For more information, read this article or visit the Facebook event page.

Mock Sun all-ages performance
with Under the Clothesline, Earthmouth, Moonbagg, Paul Martin
Location: Arts Youniverse (47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre)
Date: Friday, Nov. 6
Time: 7 p.m.
Cost: Free

This show features artwork by Brittany Boote and Amanda Malia. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.