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Making Music: Cactus Karma

Cactus Karma is a relatively young band that brings together student musicians from across the Princeton music scene. Their specialty as a group is a unique and original mix of R&B with some jazzy horns, hip-hop and soulmusic, bringing a new sound to campus.

Cactus Karma is a collaborative effort of students who also perform in various other groups on campus. Pianist Logan Roth ’15 and drummer Arjun Dube ’15 are also members of the band Honeyhead, vocalist Pam Soffer has performed on campus and released several solo tracks under the name Uma and alto saxophonist Divya Farias ’15 is also a member of longtime local band Sensemaya, a group whose membership changes fluidly as members graduate. Trumpeter Spencer Hadley ’17 is a student in the Princeton University Jazz Program, one of two such programs in the Ivy League, and bassist Noah Fishman ’16 also plays in the Princeton University Orchestra. Cactus Karma brings these artists and their respective talents and styles together to bring a interesting hybrid sound to the Princeton scene.

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“It [the variety] is also fun for the audience,” Soffer said. “They can pick something they enjoy in themusic, and vibe with that.”

Formerly known as No Soap Radio, the group decided on the new name of Cactus Karma when they realized a New Jersey band had already claimed the title “No Soap Radio.” The band explained that the naming process was much like their song writing process — complicated, spontaneous and creative.

“I'm excited about it [the name] — I think creating visual representations will be fun, and the sound of the name makes it really interesting,” Roth said. “We didn't want something that was blunt.”

The band formation was an organic process, as most of the members knew each other through various capacities outside of music. They said they were all friends before they became “musician friends” but also that their friendships grew with the addition of music and the creation of the band.

“Cactus Karma started when we began casually jamming together,” Roth said. “It was great and we were like, well, why not start a band? This iteration of the band happened after we did a gig with Pam — we thought that was awesome and we had a ton of fun, so why not play with her permanently?”

Cactus Karma is currently completing a recording and plans to release the finished product later this winter. In the near future, the group also hopes to perform throughout the Princeton area. Cactus Karma is also looking into organizing an East Coast tour at the beginning of summer.

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“We play together as often as we can,” Hadley said. “This is something all of us want to do, and we all get along really well. Even if we never had any shows, we would still be really happy making music together.”

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