Pop-duo Karmin credits Malaysian fans for their rise to fame
ELLE meets Nick and Amy Noonan to talk about their new album 'Leo Rising' ahead of their performance at the Sephora 5th anniversary party
American pop duo Karmin has been around for years, but Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann-Noonan are as down to earth as you'd hope your favourite superstar would be. The married couple started out making song covers on YouTube before their careers sky-rocketed and their hits like Brokenhearted, Acapella and I Want It All became chart-toppers.
Now, Nick and Amy are in town to celebrate Sephora's 5th anniversary and we spent some time with them, chatting about their plans for the future, their poodle Gary, and about how unfair it is that guys have better eyelashes than girls.
Can you tell us how much Karmin has grown from the start?
Amy: Oh my goodness, so five years ago we were just a YouTube band and it was our Malaysian fans that played a huge part in discovering us. That's what led to a record deal and that led us to making our own music.
Nick: We have kind of come full circle; we have grown as much as we could have possibly grown.
Amy: Yes, because this new album that's coming in September is our first album that we made by ourselves. We split from one label and recently signed with an indie label; they let us creatively do whatever we want.
That's great! What's the biggest challenge you've faced?
Amy: Working as a couple. Because we work together and we're a couple so it's hard to balance personal life and professional. Sometimes we have to take days where we don't talk to each other like Nick will go work in the studio while I go out with my friends or I'll shoot like a beauty vlog or something to try to keep the balance.
I used to watch your beauty tutorials all the time but you stopped making them last year?
Amy: Yes I did stop for a little bit. Yeah, we were trying to figure out how to better package them because now we think about branding and all that stuff. Like our new album is based off the zodiac signs so we're gonna be doing a makeup tutorial for each sign.
Wow! I can't wait.
Amy: What's your sign?
Amy: SCORPIO! Scorpio is a sexy sign so that'll be easy. Turquoise eyeliner; it's going to be great!
Does Nick help out with the beauty tutorials?
Nick: Uh, I do the makeup. I do a lot of it.
Amy: No he doesn't! But he's very supportive; he recognises that I have a talent for it so he supports me.
Will you guys do a 'My boyfriend/husband does my makeup' vlog?
Amy: We haven't done that yet!
Nick: No, we haven't but we probably should.
Yes! Please do.
Amy: But only if I can do his makeup. He has great eyelashes. Why do boys have great eyelashes? That's wrong.
Nick: I don't know about that...
Amy: His eyebrows too. Like what? They're perfect.
It's okay, just take them. Take his eyelashes off and use them.
Nick: Yes, just take them. Rip them off.
Amy: Should wax them off.
Nick: I'm doomed.
Back to the album, what inspired it?
Nick: The zodiac! So we visited an astrologer in L.A and didn't know much about it and after that meeting, it kind of blew our minds so everything in our lives kind of changed. Our new album that's based off the zodiac will have 12 songs all lined up with a sign.
Amy: We have a Scorpio song, a Capricorn song, a Taurus song...
Nick: So that was the creative concept behind our album. And that's why it's called the Leo Rising because Amy is a Leo rising and if you're a Leo rising, everything is about you.
Amy: Everything is about me. Leo is the king. It's the lion; it's like 'Look at me and my hair'.
What is your one favourite song off the album?
Amy: I have to pick one? Okay, probably it's Sugar because we're both Tauruses and it's a Taurus song. It's a love song and it's a fun song.
I can't wait for the album! Okay, but who would you say is your style/beauty inspiration?
Amy: It's Gwen Stefani also because she's a designer. And I also love Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. I'm wearing an Elizabeth & James skirt right now. They have a couple different lines that I think are beautiful. And the way they fit, it's like they spend the time getting that right.
Have you met them?
Amy: The Olsen twins? Naw, but someday I will. I'll be really nervous. I'll fangirl.
What would you ask them?
Amy: Uh, adopt me? But we're the same age though, that'll be weird. Gwen Stefani, we haven't met but we got introduced to No Doubt one time at the American Music Awards. I'd love to meet her. She just followed us on Twitter a couple days ago. Our fans got together and said "You have to follow Karmin!" It was so cool.
Twitter is a great place. Do you think you'll collaborate with Gwen in the future?
Amy: That would be amazing. Can you imagine?
Nick: Oh yeah, we definitely will.
Amy: We just need to put together a track. Nick is now producing. We have to make a track and maybe we can write or do something together. That'll be beautiful.
What about designing? Will you venture into that?
Amy: I would love to. I think it'll probably happen in five years. Yeah, we have a lot of music to do. We know now, that we're working alone, we can produce so much more music, so much more faster so I think we'll be focusing on music for the next couple of years only. And then we have a poodle named Gary and he takes up a lot of our time too.
I've seen Gary on Instagram and he's so cute.
Nick: He looks fake. He looks like a little teddy bear.
Amy: It hurts my feelings. I'm just like 'Stop being so cute'."
Nick: We like to wrestle.
What do you think about your Malaysian fan base?
Nick: They are amazing. I mean like, Amy was saying earlier, they're literally one of the big reasons why it all started in the first place. When you look at the demographics, where people are watching your videos from and all that stuff. So the statistics in like in all of South East Asia, Malaysia in particular, was so high. It's very cool.
Yeah, we watch videos all the time.
Nick: I'm down, that's cool. I'm supportive.
So have you tried any local food yet?
Nick: We tried a couple of things.
Amy: What's THE dish? What is the Malaysian dish? Because we had some amazing Chinese food, we had some amazing Indian curry. We love trying things.
Nick: We had some amazing Chinese food. It's not American Chinese food, it's REAL Chinese food.
Amy: We had some herbal jelly. They said it's good for your skin so I just ate all of it. I love curry though, I love anything that has to do with a little spice in them.
What would you two be doing if you weren't making music together?
Nick: I was going to be a chiropractor in my junior year of high school. That's what my dad does. So I was like 'Yeah, sure, let's give it a shot.' And then I was actually a trombone player and I won a scholarship to a summer programme at Berkley College of Music and I went and I ended up going to school there and that's how I met Amy. That's how it all rolled out.
Amy: I love science. I would probably maybe have been an eye doctor. I just think eyeballs are really interesting. How they work, how to fix them. It would be a little bit more of a boring job; this is a little more exciting I think but I'm really into that. That's very interesting.
After Leo Rising is released, what's next for Karmin? A world tour perhaps?
Amy: Yes! We don't have anything locked in yet but I was saying we're only here in Malaysia for two days or so, and we want to come back.
Nick: We're going to do something in the states so we're going to figure out how to get back and do a real full show.
Catch Karmin at Sephora KLCC on Friday, 29 July 2016 at 12.30pm to 2pm for their meet and greet session. The first 50 people in line will receive a Sephora goodie bag worth up to RM50 each. Follow Karmin on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and on Snapchat (thenoonans) for more updates.