Kim Vi & The Siblings
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Kim Vi & The Siblings

East Lansing, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

East Lansing, Michigan, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Pop Soul




"Student band Kim Vi and the Siblings opened for Chance the Rapper"

Tuesday night, three students took the stage before Chance the Rapper in their band’s biggest performance yet.

Kim Vi and the Siblings grew from friendships between vocalist Kim Vi, guitarist Olin Clark, and drummer Judson Branam that were cultivated in the MSU jazz studies program.

Vi, a biomedical laboratory science senior, grew up in a musical family and said he's been messing around on the piano from a young age. He said he really found his passion in high school he started playing jazz.

Years later, opening for Chance the Rapper opened up new opportunities for Kim Vi and the Siblings.

“Chance is incredible,” Vi said. "What was really cool is to see musicians performing at that level.”

He said seeing the professional world of music was encouraging and inspiring, especially since he and the other band members are about to graduate and are looking forward to a career in music.

“Checking it out from a performer’s perspective rather than an audience perspective was really cool,” Vi said.

Clark, a jazz studies senior, joined band in sixth grade as a percussionist. But he really started loving music at the age of 12, watching his mother play the guitar on a family vacation.

Clark said he enjoyed playing in front of Tuesday’s crowd because they were incredibly appreciative of the music.

“It doesn’t really matter how big or small the crowd is, as long as everyone is engaged and listening,” Clark said.

For him, the best part of the performance was being a part of such an energetic stage presence.

Branam, who graduated from MSU last year, said his interest and passion for music was also ignited at a very young age.

When he was just three years old, Branam discovered his father’s CD collection and fell in love with a Green Day album. At the age of seven, he got his first drum set and started his own band with the neighborhood kids.

Now, Branam said his passion for music has turned into something a little more serious, though it’s still just as fun as when he was a kid.

Tuesday night’s show was Branam’s first time playing for a crowd that big.

“It was cool, I was very excited to have that was definitely an encouraging and confirming experience,” Branam said.

He said he can’t wait to make big shows like that happen for Kim Vi and the Siblings.

Vi said for the future, the band’s goal is to push themselves as far as they can.

“What we love about playing is bringing people together and having a good time,” Vi said, “We want to continue doing that with bigger crowds and new people and places that we haven’t been before.”

Kim Vi and the Siblings will be releasing a newly recorded EP in the near future, and will be opening for Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers next Friday at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo.

Though they definitely have plans for the future, Branam said they are a band that prides itself on taking things at their own pace. He said they acknowledge themselves as individual musicians before acknowledging themselves as a band.

Their personal professional goals haven't weakened their friendship.

“The Siblings has become more than just a band,” Branam said, “those guys are my brothers.” - State News

"Kim Vi, Student Musician;MSU Jazz Major Performs Across the Country"

Music surrounds us every day, but there is something particularly magical about attending a live performance, witnessing the creation of song and seeing a musician connecting with their craft. MSU senior Kim Vi offers us an alternate perspective, that of the human behind the instrument and the microphone. Vi, a music student, is a vocalist and keyboardist for Kim Vi & The Siblings. The band is comprised of four MSU jazz students: Judson Branam IV, Louie Leager, Olin Clark and, of course, Vi himself.

Two years ago, the band formed under some accidental circumstances. “I was just doing some singer-songwriter stuff on the side, and I booked a tour on the east coast,” says Vi. When the bass player of his backing band bailed at the last minute, Vi found himself in a difficult situation and had to resort to Plan B. “I ended up calling all of the guys that are in the band with me now,” he explains. “We started playing shows after (that) tour because it went well and went to the studio and recorded some tunes. And we’ve been playing together ever since.” And how did they come up with the band name? “We all ended up being roommates, and that kind of gave birth to the moniker Kim Vi & The Siblings.”

When Vi called me, he was in the San Francisco area, on tour with Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers.

KG: How would you define your band’s music? What kind of genre do you fit into?

KV: We’re kind of on the fence about it a little bit. It sounds a little bit pretentious, but it’s not really the motive behind it. We call it “Smartpop” just because it’s informed by a lot of music styles … We’re all jazz musicians so it’s very jazz influenced. We tend to do a lot of soul, Motown, a little R&B, things like that. But it’s definitely pop music for sure — it’s very standard songwriting format.

KG: Do you all participate in songwriting, or is there one person who takes on that role?

KV: Usually what happens is I write the song, and then I bring it to (the band) bare bones with an acoustic guitar or the piano. Then we really work on building the song and arranging the song and making it what you hear on recordings or what you hear in a show.

KG: What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

KV: My favorite thing about being a musician is being part of something that brings people together. Music brings people together, and it’s such a beautiful thing. People who would not necessarily get together, they come to hear the music, and it’s cool to be part of that and to facilitate that. It’s not just with the audience as well, it’s between other musicians. When you go play with people you’ve never played with before you get connected to them because the music brings musicians together as well.

KG: What’s the most challenging part?

KV: The most challenging part for me is always having the intensity and the willingness to play. Sometimes when you do it for a living, when you do it to make money, it’s easy for it to slip into a business thing, “business as usual.” And the hard thing is to get in the zone every night and really play like it’s the last time you will play. And in other situations too, sometimes the crowd isn’t digging it, or something’s not right with the sound or your equipment. Just trying to get over that and really give yourself completely to the music. That’s a challenge, but … it’s something you can overcome. And just remembering why you play music in the first place: because you love it. That also helps a lot.

KG: How did you first begin playing instruments and singing?

KV: My dad is an excellent classical guitarist; he’s really, really good. He ended up becoming a doctor, but he definitely could have become a professional concert guitarist like he always wanted to. So I grew up with him, and my mom is a really amazing classical pianist. So my family was very musical. At the beginning of when I was young, I tinkered with instruments, but I didn’t necessarily think that was what I was going to do. When I was six or seven, I started messing around with the piano, and they decided to start me with piano lessons. And I picked that up pretty quickly. And then I picked up the guitar when I was twelve.

KG: How do you envision your future in music?

KV: I’m planning on becoming a professional musician (and) pursuing this full-time after I graduate. [I’m] probably going to relocate to either New York or Los Angeles. This is my passion, this is what I love doing. Maybe down the road I might do something in the medical field, but for now, I really love playing music. That’s where my passion is.

For more information about Kim Vi & The Siblings, view their press kit at For more on Vi’s solo project, visit Look for performances by Kim Vi & The Siblings at Mac’s Bar and other Lansing venues.

Majors: BA in music in jazz piano and BS in biomedical laboratory science

Band: Kim Vi & The Siblings
Other Bands He’s Played In: Ari Teitel Band, Jahshua Smith (local rapper), Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers

Solo Album: Forever Hold Your Pieces

Favorite Music Artists and Bands: D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Radiohead, Herby Hancock

Favorite Genres to Listen To: Black American music, jazz, funk fusion, ’50s and ’70s music - ING Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



You can hate your roommates. Or, you can make a band with them. Indie rock quartet Kim Vi & The Siblings chose both options. The impetus of a shared roof led to the moniker, which highlights the familial nature of both a band and a house of college dudes. Since its inception as a house and co-op party band, Kim Vi & The Siblings have been taking the same raw energy and slick tunes to stages around the Midwest and East Coast, taking campuses by storm with their raucous shows. 

Band Members