When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue making music as a career?

I was actually pretty late to the game in that regard. I grew up thinking I was going to be a baseball player. It is where all my focus was. I was the only one in our district to make the varsity team as a freshman and was always the frontline starting pitcher. That was until my shoulder decided it had other plans. I had surgery on my throwing shoulder two months after I graduated high school and, although I was still working toward recovery, I started to think of what else I needed to turn my attention toward. It wasn’t a hard decision. I had been playing music for as long as I could remember and knew I possessed the talent and passion to pursue it. So, at around 19 years old, I put baseball in the rearview mirror and looked forward to a life in music.

Do you feel your endeavors have been successful?

Yes and no. I always said to myself that as long as I was making my living off music in some capacity, I’d be happy. While that still holds true and I feel amazingly fortunate to make my entire living off music, I can’t say I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career. I always feel I can do better and I spend my life trying to make that happen. I think if I sat back and told myself I was successful, it would diminish my drive. So, maybe it’s just a mechanism I’ve built in my mind to keep me motivated.

Who are your biggest music inspirations?

When I was 5 years old, my older sister showed me the song “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson. It was at that very moment I graduated from “We Sing Silly Songs” to real world pop music. I became obsessed with Michael and listen to virtually nothing else from about age 5-9. Around 9, the Beatles became my obsession (I always did try to pick those underground artists no one had ever heard of ;)). The Doors also had a huge impact on me a little later in life.

Aside from your Teton guitars, what items are must haves for you in the studio?

I have a UAD Apollo interface that has really changed the way I record. It is really an amazing piece of gear. A high-end weighted keyboard is another must. I am very picky about the action on the keyboards I play. Currently, I have a Roland FP-7F that does the job quite nicely and also accompanied me out on the last run with Lindsey Stirling. My Lewitt LCT 940 microphone was also a game changer for me. It is the only mic I have ever seen that can blend from FET to Tube settings and anywhere in between. A lot of people prefer to record acoustic guitars with Small Diaphragm Condenser microphones, but I found that putting the Lewitt (a Large Diaphragm Condenser) in all tube setting on my Teton guitars gave me the exact recorded acoustic sound I have been looking for. What a combo!

You travel a lot of places performing. Do you have a favorite venue or city to play in?

Playing Red Rocks in Colorado was quite a surreal experience. That place is so legendary and so breathtaking, it was almost difficult to stay concentrated to play! One of my favorite cities so far has been Dublin, Ireland. I have never checked my heritage but I can only imagine I have some Irish in me. That place felt like home. I really enjoyed it.

If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Well, now the questions are getting serious! I am a sucker for Mexican food. When I was attending SDSU, we used to drive down to Tijuana for lunch and I would order “Siete Adobada, Con Todas”. The guy would look at me crazy and hold up seven fingers and say “SEVEN??!?”. They were like $.80! So, I’d say if could go back and get those Adobada street tacos like they had in Tijuana, I’d be a happy Kit.

How has music impacted your life?

Too many ways to put into words. As mentioned before, I always thought of baseball as the thing that impacted my life more than anything growing up. However, when I really think back, I realize just how instrumental (no pun intended) music was to me. I remember specifically listening to a song called “God” by John Lennon when I was about 13 years old. I started crying listening to it because it really hit me that John was dead. He had been killed years before I was even born, but I used that moment to grieve over a man that I never breathed the same air as, but who meant so much to me. I still carry emotion like that into the music I make and play. The most euphoric moments of my life have come recording music or playing on stage. Songwriting is my meditation. No matter what stresses are happening in my life, if I can really dig into a song, everything else just drifts away.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with songwriting?

Just write. A lot. Sometimes I think we as songwriters feel we have to wait for inspiration. What I learned is, sometimes, on my least inspired day, if I would just do the work, the best songs would come out of me. It is discipline like any other art form. When you are first starting, good and bad are irrelevant. Just ask yourself, did you say what you wanted to say musically? If not, try again.

What came first, the music or the lyrics?

Always music for me. Every melody I have come up with has some sort of “placeholder” words, usually just meaningless words strung together from the sub conscience. What I have found is often there are a few lines born from the sub conscience that inspire what becomes the final song. That is always really fun to me, trying to figure out what these stream of thought phrases mean and putting it all together.

Living or passed on, which 3 songwriters would you most like to have dinner with?

Let’s get the two obvious ones out of the way, the great Lennon/McCartney partnership. I think the third would have to be Leonard Cohen. To me, he is a songwriter in the truest form. Maybe not everyone’s taste as a performer, but the songs will live on forever

What are your thoughts on the resurgence of vinyl?

Well, I’m not quite sold on the idea that a song recorded digitally, mastered digitally, and then put onto wax will sound better than playing it in a high fidelity digital format like 24/48k. But all that matters is how a person enjoys listening to that music. If they find that putting on a vinyl gives them more enjoyment and the characteristics of a turntable are pleasing to them, I am all for it! The added bonus is, you can’t pirate Vinyl.

Your recent album was made solely by you. Can you tell us about your process of making this album?

It was a bit of an experiment. There are arguably a lot of downsides to how much technology has come into the music-making process, but there are some really bright spots. One of those is how you just don’t need a million dollar studio setup to make great recordings. So, I set out just to see if I could do it. Using only the equipment I already had (I didn’t buy anything during the entire process except for upgrading my mattering software), could I get the sounds in my head out into the world? I started dozens and dozens of songs and let the ones that captured me be the ones I fully developed. The process took about 8 months. I’d say the most difficult part was finishing something with no deadline. It wasn’t a lack of motivation to work, but rather that motivation to stop. I can redo things forever. I always feel they can be reworked and can be better. In fact, two of the songs off “Nothing Subtle (…and scene)” came from my 2013 EP “Any Given Destiny.” The two songs were called “Side by Side” and “Goodbye, To The Riches.” If you listen to both versions, you’ll find that “Side by Side” is pretty similar; I just felt I could get a better performance this time around, which I believe I did. “Goodbye, To The Riches” was more interesting. If you listen to the EP version, it has big crowd vocals, much more upbeat, and a much more polished commercial sound. It was the song most people downloaded and commented on when I released the EP. However, it never felt right to me; it felt contrived and hollow. So, I did it as organically as I could this time around. It was the only song I didn’t use a click track for, which is not easy when multi-tracking all the parts yourself. However, what it lacks in perfection, it gained in emotion and soul. And wouldn’t you know it, this version of “Goodbye, To The Riches” is now the most downloaded and most commented on song of this album, surpassing the EP version. When I finally completed that song, I knew I had an album that, no matter what it did commercially, said what I wanted to say artistically. Therefore, in my mind, it was a success.

Until next time,
Jenn

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