Artist Spotlight - Kingflower
(Photo Credit - Amanda Farmer)
We recently got the opportunity to speak with indie rock artist Kingflower! He just recently released his EP 'Wild and Woe' so be sure to check that out. Before you do, see what he had to say in our interview!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I wrote my first song at the age of 8 or 9 and shortly thereafter got my first guitar for my 10th birthday. It was an old Alvarez acoustic guitar. I spent most of my time learning songs for church and while somewhat ironically learning punk songs. I quickly learned that my favorite part of playing guitar was that it allowed me to write songs. I don’t really remember the content of those early songs but I have vivid memories of staying up late and playing guitar in my closet so my parents couldn’t hear me. I am almost positive they heard me ha ha. But, very early on I learned to love chasing the muse, so to speak."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"My process has varied over the years. For the most part, writing music has been a vary solitary process. The spark of most songs has felt nearly accidental. I stumble across a few notes or chord progression or I hear someone say something peculiar that I can’t get out of my head. Then I’m off to the races. In that sense, I am a pretty traditional singer songwriter, but once the basic melody starts to form, I hear the whole arrangement in my head. My project, Wild and Woe, started that way at first. Once the basic idea of the songs was fleshed out, I took them to Sam LoCascio. He engineered and produced the project. Together we developed the sound and vibe. The older I get; writing is becoming less solitary. I think my favorite projects are highly collaborative and I am finding the more I invite people I respect and trust into the creative process, the more I enjoy the outcome."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"I am an early 2000's indie rock kid. I am super nostalgic for that era. My biggest influences early on would have been artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Wilco and Damien Rice. I still love those bands and they influence my music deeply. I would say there are two bands from my adulthood that have influenced how I play and think about music a lot: the National and Ben Howard. I think their use of textures and rhythms to create the vibe of a song is just so perfect. I can listen to their records on repeat, and I always find something new. Some honorable mentions as well would be Conor Oberst, the War on Drugs, Phoebe Bridgers, Hiss Golden Messenger, Pinegrove, Jose Gonzalez, Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver. I could go on and on. Ha ha. Music is just such a deep art form that I find myself appreciating so many different artists for a variety of reasons."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I have a lot of gear. Ha ha. I think each piece of gear carries a certain vibe and inspiration, so I like to keep lots of pieces around to choose from. A lot of the last records sound came from my Strymon Blue Sky reverb pedal. It is just packed with vibe and color. I do a lot of finger picking so it helps to fill some space and embellish how I play. My main guitar is a candy apple red Fender Jaguar. I think it’s a classic player series. I bought it on an impulse 7 or 8 years ago from a guy that was dumping it before he went back out on tour for like $400. He had spray painted the pick guard gold. I still can’t decide if I like the color combo but it just kind of feels like home now, so I leave it on there. Maybe I’m superstitious about it like a baseball player who won’t change his underwear or something. I recently got a 61 reissue Gibson SG that I can’t seem to put down either. It’s just so responsive and big sounding. Around the same time, I was given an old classical guitar from the 70s as a part of payment for a project I produced. It is amazing. Something about it sounds like an electric guitar for me which I can’t get enough of. It makes me want to play Jose Gonzalez or Radrigo Arimante riffs all day. I have maybe 8 or 9 guitars and basses. I just got a Roland Juno GS-61 a few weeks ago so I am deep into the synth world at the moment too. Should make for some interesting combinations on the next project. Gear tends to challenge my creative comfort zones, so I like to throw something new in the mix and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out it can always be sold."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Live shows, remember those. Ha ha. I am quite a cerebral writer, so I like to present my music in a way that lets the songs speak for themselves. In doing that I try to read the room a lot. If they are attentive and quiet, I might talk less and play more. If I feel like the are a little ADD, like me, I tend to use humor to create a sense of commonality and openness. People listen to music very passively these days. It’s just a lot more accessible than it used to be, even when I was a kid. So, I feel like the live experience is an opportunity for people to engage with the art in a more meaningful way. I am always trying to experience my music in an authentic way, which I think invites other people to experience it similarly. This iteration of my musical career is new, so I am still searching for my audience. I am always trying to see what they respond too. I had played maybe 8-10 shows before things got shut down. We have a few shows on the books for later this summer so I am excited to explore that space a little more."
"I love a listening room venue. There is nothing worse than rocking up to a venue and they just set you in a shitty corner and the people are talking so loud you can hardly hear yourself think. I think the venue can be the hidden member of the band sometimes. A good sound guy and a culture that enjoys experiencing new music makes a big difference in how you connect with the audience. You always play better when you can hear yourself and you aren’t playing to the back of people’s heads. I also love a dark moody room or a room that you might not expect an artist like me to play. I have played some punk bars and small divey kinds of place that have been some of my favorite shows because those scenes tend to be less judgmental. That openness goes a long way in cultivating a positive collective experience."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I want people to know that my music is made to be pondered in a sense. I write in a way that invites the listener to create their own stories and find their own meanings in the songs. I don’t like to give the whole story away because I think that kind of robs a person of power of the art. I want to connect with the deeper parts of the human experience and find the universalities in the everyday particulars."
7. Can you tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion process for your EP Wild and Woe?
"This project took a long time to form. It was my first release but maybe my third time trying to get something together. The oldest song on it, Skyscrapers, is 6 or 7 years old. I probably write between 50 and 100 songs a year. Most of them are terrible so I had a lot to pick from. Skyscrapers just had something that I connected with early on, so I had to put a little elbow grease in to make it more than just two verses and a chorus. Where We Are was a very different story. I wrote it in about an hour and we recorded most of the song that same day. It was just kind of effortless. I think the through line in the writing process is that I connected with most of these songs pretty quickly after writing them. They all communicated something real in my life or in the world. I would say I had 10-12 songs I was strongly considering for the record. With the project being intentionally collaborative, I brought them to Sam and together we worked out which ones we both felt the most inspired by. We then started sketching them out. We both have full time jobs, I have a kid and I was playing in another band, so we recorded and produced in any little pocket of time we could find. It usually looked like meeting up around 7:30 at his home studio in Durham, NC and then we would work until midnight or so. Then the album was mastered by my old friend Grant Husselman. I released the record early this year, so the promotion process was abnormal to say the least. Typically, I would try to book a bunch of shows but we just couldn’t do it that way this time. So, I ended up reaching out to a lot of blogs, doing self-promotion in the small following I had already built. I also got a little bit of radio play locally that helped to stir up some interest. For a band though, very little seems to take the place of the live experience, so we are ready to get back out."
8. What’s next for you?
"This year has been a big year for collaboration. Between producing a few other really great inspiring artists, I have started to write my next record. I am doing a ton of experimenting with new sounds, textures and vibes on the aforementioned gear. June and July are blocked out in my studio to start shaping that project. It is going to be our first LP. I am working with my brother Justin, Steve Bradley, Devin Hopwood, and my partner Shea. I have a big community of musicians here in Indianapolis and across the country, so I am foreseeing there being a lot of people involved. It likely will not come out until later next year but it is underway. We are also starting to book shows around the Midwest. I moved back to Indiana last summer from North Carolina, so I am getting reacquainted with the scene here. There may be a single or two in between now and the next record. Who knows? Ha ha. That’s the benefit of having my own studio. We are also producing a series of live video recordings that we recorded back in March that we will be releasing throughout the year. The first one for our song Young is out now."