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INTERVIEW: West-Coast Alt. Folk Artist Travis Knight

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

Great, thank you.

Can you talk to us more about your single “Across The Ocean?”

It’s the opening track on my debut solo album, Risky Calm Oddity, and it’s a fun song to play live. I was a bass player long before I played guitar, and as I played everything on the album, the bass happened to be one of the last parts I wrote and added to most of the tunes. Maybe because I wrote them on guitar, and the tracking all sort of stemmed from that place, but things happened that way somehow. As I was working out the parts, and not wanting to get in the way of the songs, I was still not really finding my tone on the low end, and Samur Khouja, my engineer and musical brother (we’ve done at least four albums together) suggested I try a pick, which I never use, and that changed the tone of the entire album, from a bass perspective. The driving line from the intro sets the tone for the album, and the traveling troubador stories that are told throughout its half hour ride.

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

I had a band called Moss Bluff, and we had booked 21 dates in the UK, and I was writing about what I couldn’t believe was about to happen.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I have a couple treatments written for it. My co-creator of over a dozen scripts, JaColbi Johnson, and I wrote an epic music video that spans the entire album, using the incredible world of characters and artwork from the amazing Nick Knudson (@dr.knudson).

The single comes off your new album Risky Calm Oddity – what’s the story behind the title?

Risky Calm Oddity describes the collection of songs on the album. My first solo album, it felt like a risk I had to take. The tunes have a mellow, windows down, cross-country road trip, kinda feel, and a calmness that I got to explore at Seahorse Sound Studios, where we recorded in Downtown Los Angeles. The tunes are odd, off-kilter, but just familiar enough to make you wonder whether you’ve heard them elsewhere. And in general, music is a risky commodity. So that’s the story behind the title.

How was the recording and writing process?

My writing process is different than some, in that I don’t typically write from page one, lyrically, during the same time period that I am recording. Many times I have poetry written for years before it fits a piece of music or a sound I come up with much later down the road. These lyrics happen to be from a similar period, all mostly written in and around 2005-2012, and the music that carries them created sporatically during and since that time. I got to work with LA punk legend, GEZA X, on my vocals when I first decided to do a solo project, and he really reminded me to treat myself as the artist and work the vocal performances to be something I was stoked on. After some sessions with him, I took the demos to Samur Khouja’s Seahorse Sound Studios, where I’d produced other records for Talons of Spring, and it was there that the songs took form and became what you hear on the album today. Real tape machines, a Neve, and lots of real instruments and analog gear were experimented with for the creation of RCO. I wanted to capture the instantaneousness of the punk and indie rock I love, with no frills, no solos, no grandiose intros or outros — without losing the other worldly soundscape and soulful aural headspace we captured at Seahorse.

What aspect of social insecurity and police brutality did you get to explore on this record?

I’m not quite sure what social insecurity means (grin), although it lends itself to being a great starting point or title for a new tune. The police corruption I explore lyrically is most easily heard in Mr. Madison, as well as on one of my favorite songs to perform live from the album, Empty Handed. Mr. Madison is sung like a begging lullaby sung to Madison County, FL as personified in a sheriff on a highway road in that “zero-drug-tolerance” county of North Florida. Empty Handed, like some of my other tunes, dances between to storylines, one two a personal relationship, and the juxtaposed to an imaginary plea to a corrupt Sheriff Madison who’s planted some contraband and is making the beggar do all the roadside sobriety dances, hoping to avoid a long stay in a county jail.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, we’re booking a tour March/April 2018.

What else is happening next in Travis Knight’s world?

We’re mixing my follow-up album, Hello, Dalí, at Seahorse now, and it will be ready for release in the new year.

I co-wrote and produced a new dance rock album that is getting great feedback, and we can’t wait to unveil that project.

My non-musical work life is in Hollywood making commercials and music videos. I’m about to go into a six day run with Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, and others for a huge relaunch of a great act that everyone is going to love. Can’t say more, but by the time this interview is out, that announcement will be, too.

Stream new album here

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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