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Whispers of the Plains – Kelly Greene

A while ago we introduced you to rocking Kelly Greene, now we’ve had the chance to talk to her. Here’s what the lovely lady had to say on second albums, musical identity and getting ill in music video shoots!

What was it that first bought you into the world of music and what has kept you coming back for more?

I was around three years old when I first started playing piano. It was a very natural thing for me, so it’s just always been a part of me. As I grew older and began to discover things about music for myself, it then became something in the music that I heard or felt. It’s probably most easily explained as the connection to the emotion and passion the artist conveyed. I’m not necessarily a lover of all music, I’m drawn to what I can connect to, whatever that song or artist may be.

“I Wish I Was Alive” is your second album which is available now. Tell us a bit about the album itself and the direction it’s headed.

I think the directional change came about before I even sat down to write a song for that album. It had only been one year since I released “You Leave Me Here” and I was really struggling with the musical identity that kind of happened by default on that CD. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good album – great sound, had a great producer, but I think with it being a first album I was still struggling to figure out what was going to work for me. I trusted those around me to get me through the process and didn’t really assert myself in any way because I was too new to the whole thing. After that, I seemed to be searching for permission to do what I wanted to and somewhere along the way I got it. Out of nowhere it just clicked and you can hear a drastic change in delivery between the two albums. Sure there were different producers for each, but I feel like I took control of the sound and delivery on the second album and I grew tremendously because of it. Since I’m already onto recording my new single and contemplating album number three, I’ve almost mentally moved past where “I Wish I Was Alive” is going, but it will always be a defining moment for me. As a whole the album is very organic – no tricks or fix, so to speak. It’s rather nerve-wracking actually, because music is so perfected through technology that when you just put it out there as is, you feel pretty exposed. I went from one extreme to the other. All in all, I think the second album was a sort of declaration of independence. It’s where I said, “This is me. I am a rock musician.”

You often hear a lot of press “insiders” harp on about how a second album is always the most difficult. Did you ever find any truth in that at all? Was it more difficult to piece together than your debut?

Absolutely not; in fact, it was the total opposite. When I decided to go for it, it took me less than six weeks to write the entire album and go to pre-production. It was the right time, with the right team and I was ready to go. I understand why there may be a lot of pressure for someone who’s spent years writing their first album. It’s the best of their work from years and years of writing and then all of a sudden they have to write a new album in a short period of time and quite possibly under different circumstances. Sometimes an artist’s first album is riddled with emotion and pain because life has been hell during their struggle to make it, and then they do make it and all of a sudden there aren’t any of the big problems they had before. They seem to lose something when they gain the security of success that makes it more difficult to produce the same emotional depth they had on the first album. It just wasn’t that way for me and I still don’t think it is, but then again I’ve never claimed to be like most other musicians and songwriters to begin with.

Having watched the music video for the single “Don’t Leave Me Alone” it looked like a lot of fun to make. How was it for you?

It was cold! Freezing cold! So cold that I ended up coming down with bronchitis and losing my voice. We had a limited time to film the video in and ran into some issues along the way which lead to having an emergency re-shoot for part of it, but it overall it was fun and a great learning experience. The whole thing was filmed and supported by film students – pretty amazing work on their part. It’s never been fully released it to the public, but it was a part of my first album launch in NYC. One thing I’ll never forget from the shoot is the snake. Just so you know, a 3-year old Boa Constrictors will climb inside your shirt and try to cuddle up to you when they are cold …we bonded [laughs].

What are you next plans now that the album is out?

Actually, I’m already working beyond the second album. We are finishing up a new single which will be released this fall, and I’m thinking about starting album number three. But in getting back to the second album, “I Wish I Was Alive” was released on CD in June 2008 and then released to radio in September 2008. It’s had quite a bit of airplay on college and public radio and charted alongside major label artists within the first week of airplay. It was pretty amazing to see that happen so quickly. I had a fantastic radio promotion team (Flanagan) behind me on that album. Two years is too long for me to have waited to get started on the next album, but life happens and sometimes things get delayed. That being said, I’m ready to get back to writing and recording and making another CD. That’s what feels right to me.

If you had the chance to learn a new instrument overnight, which one would you choose?

I already have played in the past or currently play the instruments I’m interested in, but I think if I had the chance to become amazing as one in particular overnight, I would choose to play drums. I already understand the mechanics and can play a little bit, but I certainly would never call myself a drummer, so that’s what I’d pick. I’d like to wake up with years of practice under my belt.

You do a lot of live performances. What is it about playing live that gets you going?

Some musicians write music for themselves, or for the art, as some put it. Although I write what I want to, it’s more of a communication for me than an art. I write to communicate with a listener, whoever that might be, so the next step for me in that is communicating face to face. I absolutely love to see and interact with a live crowd. That connection is super-important to me. It really is the reason I seek out the opportunities to play live. I could never just record music for myself and not share it. Being on stage feels natural to me – it’s my natural habitat, so when I’m not in it, things don’t feel quite right.

It’s not often you see rock star and married in the same sentence, how do you manage to balance both sides?!

It’ not all that hard, really. We are both behind each other 100%, in whatever we do, so it’s just a matter of knowing what’s a priority when and aiming for those priorities together. Sounds too simple, right?

Any juicy carrots you’d like to dangle for us to think of for the future?

This is not a juicy carrot, but it is a very real part of where I am right now. For anyone who’s read the brief posts I put on Facebook or happened by my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve said sometimes life happens, and as life would have it, I’ve had to undergo hand surgery again this week. I had a similar surgery about a year ago which slowed down the writing and recording process quite a bit, which is what lead me to a new single instead of a new album. Unfortunately, I had to have a second surgery because the first one did not heal properly. If all goes well and I heal quickly, I’m ready to go for another full album. If not, then we’ll take it one song at a time and I’ll do what I can. Who knows? Maybe having guitar be uncomfortable for me to play for a bit will result in a few piano-led songs

We’d love to thank Kelly for taking the time to chat to us and to have a speedy recovery so we can enjoy more of her music soon!

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