Crafting a pop-meets-hip-hop sound they call "swag-pop," Karmin is the project of singer/rapper Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan. Heidemann grew up in a small Nebraska town and discovered her voice in sixth grade, while Noonan became an award-winning trombone player and avid classic rock fan while growing up in Maine. The pair met in 2006 at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where Heidemann studied songwriting, performance, and business, and Noonan was on his way to becoming a professional trombonist, playing with the likes of Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock. While the pair -- who became a couple -- worked on music for school assignments together, it didn't occur to them to collaborate professionally until they graduated. Taking their name from combining "carmen," the Latin word for "sing," and "karma," Karmin's debut release, Inside Out, arrived in 2010 and featured a largely acoustic sound, with Noonan playing a wooden box because the duo couldn't afford a drum kit. They also posted their songs on YouTube, but realizing that it was unlikely that people would search out their original songs, Noonan and Heidemann began covering Top 40 hits and became an Internet sensation in the process.
Karmin posted a cover of Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" on their YouTube channel, drawing the attention of Ryan Seacrest, Diplo, ?uestlove, and the Game, among others; covers of Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7" and Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" soon followed, all of which displayed Heidemann's rapping skills as well as her vocal chops. Around this time, Karmin's original song "Take It Away" was used in commercials for the 2011 NBA Finals. That June, Epic Records signed Karmin, who began working on their debut album. The duo, now based in Los Angeles, worked with producer Jon Jon Traxx on a set of songs including "Take It Away" as well as "Brokenhearted" and "I Told You So," which Karmin performed on Saturday Night Live in February 2012. Hello was released in May 2012. In 2013, Karmin returned with the single "Acapella," which became a hit in Australia and New Zealand but only peaked at 72 in the U.S. Over the next year, the duo worked on their full-length major-label debut, Pulses, which saw release in March 2014. After finishing their tour that year, Karmin left Epic Records in order to have more creative freedom. The duo began working on their second album, Leo Rising, a collection of songs inspired by the zodiac. Several singles and an EP, Sugar, preceded Leo Rising's release in September 2016. Karmin also shot videos for each of the album's songs.