Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Music / Special Topics / February 13, 2013

He’s with the band: Becoming part student, part musician

MusicWhile most college students are finding their footing, freshman Nat Klaung is already honing his interest in music by playing guitar and singing in his band, Bloom.

Klaung joined the band, which is composed of four musicians, about four years ago. The band is based in Rockford, Ill, about two hours from Galesburg, where the three other members of Bloom attend school.

The band’s title comes from the character Leo Bloom from Mel Brook’s The Producers. There is also a connection to the character Leopold Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses, one of Klaung’s favorite novels.

Bloom is currently in the process of finishing an album that has been a work in progress since the previous summer. This will be Bloom’s first album recorded, though they have done several EPs.

“It’s a lot different than other songs that we’ve done in the past. We listen to a lot of Beatles — it’s the Bloom thing now — we all listen to The Beatles,” Klaung said. “We’re trying to steal their secrets. [The new album]is really song-driven, and it’s good. It’s fun.”

Klaung points to The Beatles as his main muse but also finds inspiration from Neil Young and Joy Division.

“[We’re] looking to the past in order to make it as present as we can make it. Definitely a lot of older music. A lot of 90’s sloppy guitar rock, that kind of stuff … [our songs are] poppy in that they’re catchy and accessible, but we try to stray away from pop cultures as much as we possibly can,” Klaung said. “We try to make things as catchy as they possibly can without them being repetitive or hokey or anything like that, so we do like to experiment. There’s no formula. Everything sort of happens the way it happens.”

Though Klaung is currently physically separated from his bandmates, he notes that they are incredibly close and have made it work.

“We grew up in each other’s faces,” Klaung said. “We fought a lot, argued a lot, got mad at each other all the time. They’re my brothers. We grew up together, in the most intense period of our lives, which is adolescence. We grew together.”

The three other members practice and write from Rockford and send demos to Klaung, who practices and writes on his own from Galesburg. He visits ,home at least once a month to practice and collaborate with the band.

“Galesburg and Rockford are sort of similar in that they’re both sort of post-industrial shells. The transition is not so bad, especially since it’s in Illinois and not far away. We do the best we can and so far it’s going pretty well,” Klaung said.

Klaung has played guitar for almost seven years, and credits the inception of his passion to rock music.

“I initially started playing because it made me feel good,” he said. “It seemed like it was the next step to me and who I am as a person. It just felt right.”
He now focuses on improving and experimentation in the realm of guitar.

Though he appears passionate about music, Klaung plans on studying philosophy and possibly minoring in English literature.

“I’ve toyed around with the idea of taking music theory classes and stuff like that, but I don’t want to mix it up with what I’m studying in school,” Klaung said. “It’s already such a big part of my life that I want to have time to study and do other things too. … I’m dedicated enough to play music right now to do other things on my own.”

Bloom has plans to tour further east for the summer. The band has come to Knox twice already and has plans to return.

“This is new. It’s sort of the inception of the phase, so it’s going to continue and it’s going to grow …  I was really surprised that there were people who came out and got into it because I have this cynical idea that rock and roll music is dead and live music is dead … but I think people like coming out and listening to a live band play,” he said. “There’s something visceral. There’s something tangible. There’s something inherently human about rock music that kids still can connect with, and I want to give them in a little way what all of this rock music has given me.”

Klaung focuses on giving back to his community, but also finds personal enjoyment in his music.

“What makes it all worth it? Just doing something creative,” Klaung said. “Carving out your own space and doing your own thing, not really adhering to anyone else’s idea of who you are and what your music is the point. It’s kind of an identity thing. We’re doing what we want to do, and if people like it, that’s great, but the point is that this is who we are and this is what we do. Take it or leave it.”

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  band bloom Galesburg music nat klaung performance rockford

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