We were lucky enough to catch up with the musician KELLY PHOENIX following the superb dark-pop release, ‘Black Magic Spell’. Read the full interview now!
Hi Kelly, what is your earliest music memory?
I remember being in my mom’s Jeep Cherokee around 4 or 5 years old, listening to Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ album. I was obsessed with songs like ‘Black or White’, ‘Remember the time’ and ‘Will You Be There’. That was my first introduction to rhythm and the power of music. How it affects you in such a way.
Who or what got you into music?
Dancing was my first introduction to music as a kid. Singing came from listening to Brazilian music, Jazz, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire in the back of my father’s car. I started really creating demos and song ideas in 2017.
I remember taking part in jam sessions in New York with these guys that would meet every Thursday night; I’d do some rock or funk covers, which could range from Red Hot Chili Peppers to James Brown. My girlfriend at the time would play the guitar, and I would hum some melodies and record them on voice notes and then work out the lyrics off of that.
When COVID hit, I really started fleshing out some demos and working on a variety of songs with different collaborators. I have so much unreleased and unfinished music that I can’t wait to finish and share with the world.
Who influenced your latest release, ‘Black Magic Spell’?
MJ was a major influence on the record, particularly the song ‘Blood On the Dancefloor’ which to me is one of his most underrated gems later in his career. I was also influenced heavily by a real-life experience I went through. I went to see a psychic who told me that a woman had put a Black magic spell on me.
I had never spoken to a psychic before in my life, but I was going through a rough time, and her words lingered and inspired the song. I love the idea of taking personal experiences and translating them into strong visual imageries and themes. I can’t wait for you to see the video we made for it.
Previously you have performed at venues in Los Angeles such as Black Rabbit Rose and Madame Siam; what’s the music scene like post covid?
It’s a lot of fun. People seem really eager for more live performances. After being locked up for so long, Seeing people perform live and having a fun night out seems to bring people back to earlier simpler times when we could just go out and not worry about getting sick. There is definitely a want and a need for more live music. I feel it every time I go to a venue and perform.
‘Black Magic Spell’ was recorded at your home studio; what was the recording process like?
It happened quite organically, I had a musician come by, and I played him a song I love, and he came up with a guitar lick that I loved, and out of that, I started humming some melodies, which later that night became a fully formed lyrics quite quick. Then we added a drum loop and recorded some bass, strings and synths parts. It happened quite fast, and eventually, through some processing, the beat became stronger and stronger. The song structure was found rather fast.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
The list is long, and most of them, unfortunately, aren’t around anymore, but of current artists, I’d say Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, Anderson Paak, James Blake, Tyler the Creator, Nick Hakim, Solange, Kendrick Lamar, Snoh Aalegra, Philip Glass. I love film and classical music, and I’d love to work with people like Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman, Yann Tiersen, Daniel Lanois or Brian Eno.
What’s your dream venue to play?
My dream venue to play would have to be Opera Garnier in Paris or Wembley Stadium in London. The Forum and O2 Arena in London would be incredibly exciting as well.
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
Cinema is my other passion. I always implement a cinematic element in my music. I love to paint images with sounds and add a cinematic feel to tracks through short films that have a dramatic thread, like a mini-movie with a real storyline. ‘Black Magic Spell’ is the first chapter of that storyline. I have a lot of ideas for short films I plan on making as follow-ups to BMS.
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
I would like to see an industry that rewards its musicians better. It is very tough to make a good living off of streams or music as a whole these days. I don’t find that normal that someone that puts himself on the line and works hard to create something doesn’t get his due. It’s a very tough business to be in these days.
I also think artists should own their masters at all costs and that labels should support their artists without stripping them away of their rights.
What would it be if you could choose one thing for fans to take away from your music?
I want them to be healed by it. Hopefully, they can relate to or identify with some of the things I went through and use them in their everyday life and experiences. Music is all about love in the end, even if the subject matter is dark, like in BMS. The reason why I make music is to give love and be loved back for it. It’s an exchange that is vital.
What is your favourite song to play live?
I would say ‘Black Magic Spell’ and an unreleased song called ‘Parting Ways’ that I plan on playing at my July 10th show at Harvard and Stone. We rehearsed it a few times with my band, and I am very excited to play it.
Have you started working on your next release?
I have many songs lined up, and I am trying to pick the one that fits the most to the previous two single’s narratives. I am very excited for what’s to come, but I expect to release a ballad to change things up from my first two releases.
FVMusicBlog June 2022