Sometimes there can be nothing more earnest than a kiss. No, not a sloppy, whisky-induced dance floor make out, but a real kiss; that one between two people who care about each other, and know each other’s last names.

Los Angeles’ Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson make up the disco-esque duo Kisses. The couplecore band has been kicking around the blog circuit for the past year or so now, and has released an incredibly sincere debut, The Heart of the Nightlife on Saboteur Records.


The band played their first ever Canadian show at The Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver in early March. The show was part of a short West Coast tour before Kisses headed off to play the South by Southwest festival in Austin. This year’s SXSW will, in a way, mark a one-year anniversary of when everything started happening for Kisses.

After Kivel had finished recording a record with his other band Princeton — a project he shares with his twin brother and best friends — he wanted to record some of his own songs that he’d written. Princeton was playing the SXSW festival in 2010.

“I wanted it to be a real disco record with strings and drums,” said Kivel. “I thought for some reason that I could convince someone to give me money to do that, but then I realized ‘what am I thinking?’ This makes no sense.”

“Nobody else wanted to join, they just said they did,” joked Edmundson. So long-term girlfriend and music-newcomer Edmundson joined the band, and the two became Kisses.

Edmundson is a writer whose portfolio includes Bon Appetit Magazine and the popular fashion blog, Refinery29.

Kisses then released one single, “Bermuda,” right before SXSW. The single gained some Internet buzz, and Kivel was sought out at the Austin festival by their now manager.

“We basically set everything up and then set up a show in September,” remembers Kivel.
“We had already had a tour lined up in Japan before we had ever played a show.”

Having played in Princeton for some time, the facility of how everything came together for Kisses was not lost on Kivel.

“I’ve been in my band (Princeton) for years and I’ve always felt like whatever came to us we had to work really hard for,” he said. “Then with this project, I didn’t really do anything except make the music and all these people are e-mailing us. It’s kind of unfair when that happens. I mean, I was happy that it did, but at the same time being a musician is not really a rewards based industry. Sometimes you work at a job and you work hard and then you move up, because you’re good at your job. With musicians, there’s a lot of luck involved.”

Perhaps it is because Kisses has an, “of-the-moment” quality to them that has made them an appealing “new” band, but Kisses sees a few flaws in how their band is sometimes judged.
“What I didn’t like about the way we were perceived was that we got lumped in with a lot of chillwave…” said Kivel.

“Also, we would have been late on that too,” added Edmundson. “Because if we were really chillwave it would be like, why are we doing that now? It was a year ago or two years ago.”
“The thing is that I think it needs to come from a pure place,” said Kivel. “I think if you set out to do something and it’s not what you want to do, but you think ‘this will work and this could be cool’ then I think that’s bogus and people will know it. Sending a direct message with what you’re doing is probably the most important thing that I wanted. The music did come first, but then an image followed that was organized.”

Take a listen to, The Heart of the Nightlife, and you’ll be able to gage what Kisses was going for. The album combines romance, some contemporary synth, and a nod to the disco days of the ’60s and ’70s in Southern California. It will make you long for the days you probably weren’t alive for.


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