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INTERVIEW: Nashville’s Bern Kelly

Hi Bern, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello, I’ve been great. Thanks for having me!

Can you talk to us more about your single “Unsold”?

This song always felt like a lead off track, right from the start.  It was the first one recorded and ended up being the first one released. It set the tone for the rest of the record, both sonically and thematically.  It’s about searching for something that can bring your life meaning, with the search itself making you realize that it might have been right in front of you the whole time.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The second verse part with the line about the “vending machines buzzing” came from a particularly brutal drive while on the road a few years back. I was sitting on this bench trying take a breather and these vending machines were all buzzing in different tones. Mind-clearing cacophony. I remember writing that down when I got back in the car.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

That’s very possible. We have some video stuff in the works for around the release.

The single comes off your new album Lost Films – what’s the story behind the title?

Lost Films are actual films that don’t exist anymore, in any form. Like the prints were all destroyed or lost. There are records of them being made with the story and actors being known, but there’s just no way to watch it.  A lot of the songs on the record have a narrative thing going on and I tried to make some feel like mini-movies.  Some of the characters spend time reflecting on their past and I liked the idea of memories kind of being like lost films in a way.

How was the recording and writing process?

These songs come from over 3 years of writing.  I narrowed them down a cohesive group that fell into a narrative theme that I wanted to present.  Most of the album was cut over a 3 month period and we went back in and added another song just a few months back.

What was it like to work with Patrick Damphier, Russ Pahl and Jon Radford? How did those relationships develop? How much did they influence the album?

Patrick has been a close friend of mine for a long time.  He’s a great producer that always is a step ahead of you on what needs to be added next.  My friend Terry Price, who releases records as Photo Ops, had made two fantastic albums with Patrick and he recommended that I should take this batch of songs to him when it was time to make a record.  Working with both Russ and Jon in the studio is always such an experience. They are pro’s pros that can play anything and always bring the most tasteful stuff to the table.  “Win Your Heart” is an example of those guys taking a track to the next level.

How did Nashville influence the writing on this record and your music overall?

I’ve lived in Nashville for about a decade now.  It’s always been a very welcoming scene.  All of my closest friends here are working in music in some aspect. Consistently surrounding yourself with those that are the best at what they do should only make you better at what you do.

What roles do Bruce Springsteen and Josh Ritter play on the album?

I’ve always been a big fan of Bruce’s writing. I’m originally from northeast Pennsylvania and was always able to relate to the stuff he was writing about. As far as Josh, I’m a lyrics guy first when it comes to writing and he sure can write ’em.

What aspect of your life and music career did you get to explore on this material?

A lot of the characters in the songs are trying to get somewhere, whether they know where that is, or not. For me, these songs are summation of the last ten years of trying to figure out what it is I can do best.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re gearing up for the big Nashville release show here on June 22 and looking to hit the road more by the fall.

What else is happening next in Bern Kelly’s world?

It’s been great seeing these songs finally see the light of day and I hope to bring them to a town near you soon!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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