Interview: Kate Kelly Returns With More Sunshine-Filled Singalongs
The last time we gushed over Kate Kelly, she had just released “Honey,” a warm single so sweet we had to chase it with a glass of milk. Now, the Nashville-based songstress is back with a few more singles to swoon over. She even took some time to chat with us about the production process, making music with her friends, and an unexpected guest at a live show. Keep reading for our Q&A, but let us gush a little first.
Last month, Kate dropped “The Garden,” the second single off her upcoming full-length debut, The Wonder Of It All. In the vein of “Honey,” it’s a similarly warm singalong sweetened by booming upbeat percussion, Kate’s distinct vocal delivery, and the fizz and bop of key flourishes. For four addictive minutes, we’re treated to a captivating anthem woozy with blues influences (the brass section and the classy piano riffs are to die for), led by Kate’s honeyed drawl.
Earlier this month, Kate released the next single off The Wonder Of It All, a dreamy retro romp called “The Book We Made.” Where the previous singles are enveloped by a warm, golden hue, this one gives off some cool tones, buzzing and vibrant in the sultry vocal twang (Kate’s voice is at its best here, a nonchalant leader of a rich arrangement) and bursts of blooming horn rhythms. The song is gone in just three minutes, but it’s built on so many sonic details and impressive instrumental camarderie that it feels like a gift, so its fleeting foray into our ears and out can be remedied with a couple dozen replays.
If Kate’s latest singles are an accurate indication of what we can expect from The Wonder Of It All, we’re in for a treat. Kate Kelly isn’t doing anything you’ve heard before. She’s not even putting a spin on what we already love. She has crafted something entirely new — this soaring, spirited blend of soft coffeeshop folk and dazzling jazz. It’s a frankly mouthwatering result she’s achieved and we’re lucky to watch it unfold.
Read on below for an exclusive interview with Kate who chats with us a bit about the upcoming album, collaborating with pals, and, uh, singing with a bug. Connect with Kate Kelly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and her website.
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
Kate Kelly: Absolutely! I’m a singer-songwriter originally from Mobile, Alabama but I’m currently living in Nashville, Tennessee. I use songwriting as a way of understanding the human experience — my relationships, my successes, and my failures all fuel my art form. My biggest hope is to encourage others to own their story and to feel empowered in their truth.
TMM: You’re based in Nashville now — it’s such a saturated music hub so I imagine you feel simultaneously lucky and overwhelmed. What’s the music scene like there and how has it influenced your own work?
KK: When people tell you that everyone in Nashville is a musician, they aren’t exaggerating! It’s more encouraging to me than it is overwhelming because I always have opportunities to catch live shows, write with fantastic musicians, and explore new genres of music I didn’t realize existed here. All of the above inspire me beyond words. I’m so happy to live here!
TMM: This summer, we covered your sweet single “Honey.” In what ways does your new single, “The Garden,” differ from “Honey”?
KK: Yes! Thanks for the fabulous review of “Honey”. Where “Honey” is more of a sassy anthem stating how much I’ve grown, “The Garden” is more of contemplative state of being — it is a recognition of the process of growing and the questions, pains, and realizations that come with it.
TMM: What was the production process like for “The Garden?”
KK: The beautiful thing about this song is that although we planned a lot of what would be a part of the track, the most beautiful parts in my opinion are what have been improvised and unplanned, like the trumpet solo at the end of the song. Production for this one was a balance of mapping the song out and letting our muses take us where they wanted to go.
TMM: The new single is essentially about your happy place and feeling its warmth wrap around you and lift you up out of the darkness. What are some other places you like to go to, people you like to be around, things you like to do when you need to center yourself?
KK: Yoga, nature walks, meditation, therapy, family, community, home, music, lyric writing, journaling — these are all things that bring me back to myself every time I stray.
TMM: You’ve got a new record coming out soon called The Wonder Of It All. What can fans expect from that album? What are you hoping we get out of it?
KK: This album shows the diversity of my songwriting — I pulled from jazz, folk, blues, and R&B as ways to convey what I was going through at the time. What I hope listeners take from this album is a sense of relief from anything difficult they may be going through and inspiration to delve into the wonder and awe of life!
TMM: Your work is often accompanied by a ton of crazy talented musicians — most of whom are your friends, right? What do you love most about collaborating?
KK: Yes! They are dear friends. As a woman in the male-dominated music industry, I often work with only guys, but what I absolutely adore about my instrumentalists is how respected, empowered, and equal they make me feel in creating processes. This isn’t always easy to find and I feel honored to have found it.
TMM: What has been your most memorable music moment so far?
KK: There are so many! But here is a funny one from [last] month — I was recently playing an outdoor house show in Louisville and a bug flew into my mouth mid-song on a note that I was totally belting. Needless to say it was a shocking and hilarious moment for both me and the audience.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for Kate Kelly?
Kate Kelly: After dropping my album in late October, I’ll be doing lots of touring [you can check her tour dates here] and making video content for The Wonder Of It All. I’m going to continue to be working my hardest in the direction of my goals, but I am also open to following life wherever this album takes me.
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Featured photo by Abby Weeden.