(photo credit: Daniel Jackson)
Kam Franklin is the lead singer of The Suffers, a beautiful new band coming straight out of Houston, Texas. We had the opportunity to sit down with Kam and talk her Houston origins, early influences and East Coast Soul!
CFM: Tell us about yourself.
KF: I am from Houston, Texas. I started singing at a Baptist church when I was 5 years old and I've been singing ever since. When I was 16, I met the guys who eventually became my bandmates and we were all in different punk, ska and reggae bands in and around Houston. In 2011, Adam and Pat started recruiting for the project that would ultimately become the Suffers. The original goal was for it to be a reggae jam band that just did covers and played at the occasional wedding. It wasn't supposed to be anything serious, we all had jobs and it was intended to be a fun weekend thing. Eventually it evolved into us creating original music that had more of a soulful vibe.
CFM: You mentioned that you started singing in a Baptist church, how did that come about? Did you grow up in a music family? Was music always around growing up?
KF: My father and grandmother were singers but they weren't professional singers. Music has always been a part of my life so when you go to church and you are singing, you feel like you’re a part of something.
CFM: Who were your biggest influences growing up?
KF: I listened to everything. I was very close to all types of genres especially growing up in Houston, it's an incredibly diverse city. I was exposed to traditional soul, jazz, country, so I’m a big fan of everything from Dolly Parton to George Strait to Ramon Ayala to Selena.
CFM: How about outside of music?
Oprah, Ellen, Tyra Banks, and Shonda Rhimes to name a few. Seeing these women overcome their social and economic hurdles to become moguls in their respective fields has always inspired me, and it is something I seek to aspire to one day.
CFM: Did you always want to be a singer- songwriter growing up?
KF: Being a singer has always been a part of who I am. My mom would say that I have been singing before I could even say words but as far as singing in public spaces, I think I started when I was around 5 years old. I thought about being a lawyer and a judge for a long time. I tried going to school and doing everything I was supposed to be but at the end of the day I knew what I was meant to do. Nothing other than music made sense. When the opportunity to join The Suffers came, I was working at an investment bank. I didn't think of it as my out I thought that the ship had sailed as far as me doing music professionally. However now that I've been doing it for over a year and a half full time, I’m starting to realize that this might actually be possible.
CFM: Why did you think the ship had sailed?
KF: I had broken my ankle in 2008, and stopped working on music for a few years. I lost quite a few opportunities during my recovery, and I thought that people were no longer interested in hearing me.
CFM: How did you meet the Suffers and how did this project get started?
KF: I met the majority of them in high school through the punk and ska music scene. We weren't in the same bands, most of them where in a band called Los Skarnales. When Adam and Pat started the group that would become The Suffers, they adopted the mentality of recruiting people who they had always wanted to play with. So we all got together and to see how it would go and fortunately it went well.
CFM: Are you the songwriter or is it a group effort?
KF: As far as the compositions are concerned it is definitely a group effort. Someone usually brings in a demo idea and we build off of that. As far as the lyrics are concerned, I write the lyrics.
CFM: Where does the inspiration for your songwriting come from?
KF: Everything from personal relationships to friendships to people I meet on the street and at shows. I'm inspired by everything.
CFM: Any specific themes you are exploring now?
KF: Self love and care. It's a topic that's been tackled many times, but lack of self-care is one of the biggest issues I have dealt with on the road. I get so focused on the wellbeing others, that I forget about myself. I'm learning that I have to make just as much time for myself as I do for others, and I'm exploring that in my writing.
CFM: The Suffers is a band that is a mixture of incredible styles that create a very unique genre. Can you tell us about how that came about and what it started as?
KF: We always tell people that the city of Houston is the reason that we have our sound. A lot of people don't realize that Houston has been deemed one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country and that is mainly due to the oil and gas industries. It's really reflective in our sound because we were exposed to so much. When you go to Houston, you'll noticed its not segregated like it is in many other major cities. If you look at the members in my band you’ll see a mix of White, Black, Jewish, Hispanic. Eliminating the race factor, you have nothing but people that want to learn more not only about music but about themselves. As far as the background of the band is considered you have people who went to school for classical music, some that went to school for jazz and others who dropped out of school and continued with their punk-rock bands. At the end of the day we have all been playing for so long that there is no ego, there is very equal level of respect among all 10 of us. If someone wants to bring forth an idea or a new sound, no one is going to stop you, we are all trying to be the best that we can be.
CFM: What have you learned about yourself?
KF: I've learned that if I can spend 8 months in a 15 passenger van with 9 men, I can do anything.
To learn more about Kam Franklin check her out on twitter
To catch up on The Suffers check out them out at their website: