Zara Kand is Mother Nature’s muse. She is a professional painter and musician, and has a distinct style that is entrancing, spiritual, and earthy. In her painting and music, she invokes elements of nature and taps deep into primal human emotions. She is the daughter of two well respected musicians, Vladimir Kand and Gitane Demone, both from the 80’s Goth band Christian Death. She drums in the Crystelles, and has an experimental solo project called Shark Egg Blues. She is always busy painting, and showcasing her unique and highly detailed artwork.
Although surrounded by music as a child, Zara never imagined she would become a musician. Art was her calling, and she has been doing it since she could pick up a pencil. Her musical talents lay dormant until the fire was sparked by her mother.
“Drumming is not something I would have done if Gitane had not beckoned me to it,” Zara says.
When she was 17, Gitane asked her to do back up percussion for a live performance. Zara later transferred the rhythms she was doing on the maracas to an old set her mother had.
Zara says she then realized “Hey, this is really fun, I have good rhythm, I can do this.”
So Zara and her mother started The Crystelles, and she learned though experience. Not being traditionally taught, she would play whatever felt right and fit with what Gitane was doing on guitar. This allowed her to evolve her own style, built on feeling and instinct.
One interesting aspect of her style is that she does not use a bass drum. Her unconventional set up consists of two oversized toms, a snare and a ride cymbal.
“Not using a bass drum is the biggest criticism I get from traditional drummers, at least the closed minded ones,” says Zara. “But what I am doing is fine, and it fits the music. If the music was lacking I would add it back.”
In the Crystelles, Zara’s beats are mesmerizing and driving, with a raw, tribal feel. They blend with the bluesy guitar riffs of Gitane and bassist Jean Paul to form a dark and obscure blues rock sound. It is topped off with the powerful and seductive voice of Gitane.
The mother/daughter dynamic works great in The Crystelles, and their intimate understanding of each other allows for better communication within the band.
“There is a very spiritual connection going on in our music,” explains Zara. “Our music is meant to carry a spiritual message, whether the audience picks up on it or not. It is a very sacred project to us.”
Their band has been together for over 6 years now, with 5 years of regular performing. They have toured the US and Europe and recently released an LP, entitled Attach and Detach.
“It’s cool because [Gitane] is a respected musician, so there have been some really awesome opportunities that I, as an inexperienced musician, would not have usually gotten to do, and I am really grateful for that,” says Zara.
Through her work in The Crystelles, Zara’s musical abilities have matured and blossomed, and she has added a second musical outlet with her solo project Shark Egg Blues.
“I’ve always had melodies in my head, but never thought to do anything with them,” Zara says of her solo project.
Then, when her dad gave her an 8 track about a year and a half ago, she began experimenting with it until she had enough material for a full album, which she put out as self titled about a year ago. Shark Egg Blues again projects Zara’s deep connection to nature and her warm mystical essence.
She rarely uses her set on the recordings, and instead focuses on softer percussive instruments such as shakers and bongos, and creates rhythmic flow with the use of natural elements such as rocks, wind, and water. Zara had never played guitar but managed to convey the melodies and has been learning as she goes. The atmospheric, blues inspired music is highlighted by Zara’s deep, expressive voice. At some parts it’s droned and overdubbed, and at other parts it’s elegant and full of emotion.
Zara has never done Shark Egg Blues live, and feels it would be hard to recreate the essence of the album. She has, however, recently released a second album, Divided Ones, and both are available on the Shark Egg Blues webpage.
Zara is an impressive musician, but painting is where she excels and her exceptional talent shines. She has been an artist since childhood, and has chosen painting as her career.
“When I was 18, right out of high school, I decided that I wasn’t going to have a regular career- it was going to be my art,” she says.
Zara had her first art show at age 20, and has been working hard at her craft, doing shows and selling paintings. She also does art for her albums, and a local Los Angeles music zine, Baby Jeepers. Her artwork is detailed and thought provoking, often mysterious and with an unmistakable style. It usually touches on natural elements and human emotions, paralleling her drumming style.
“It all comes from a certain essence that is very real to me,” she says. “It’s the same creative energy, whatever the outlet may be. I put the same precious care into my drumming as I do my painting.”
Zara stays busy with her creative projects, and is currently working on getting her work shown in more fine art galleries. The Crystelles are planning a European tour in late October, and play Los Angeles on a regular basis. In the future, Zara would like to open a multi-media venue in Los Angeles that would be able to accommodate art shows, music shows, and film screenings.
No matter what project Zara is working on, she does so with a meticulous sense of purpose and a creative drive that wells up from deep within her soul.