INTERVIEW: Kelly Augustine

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

Hi- thank you! Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you. I’ve been doing great – really excited about the single and record releases.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Second Chances”?

Yes! “Second Chances” premiered on Bsides & Badlands on Feb 20th and is releasing March 1st. It’s the second single off my record Light in the Lowlands, and is one of the more hopeful songs on the record.

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

The song is inspired by a former patient of mine who was an alcoholic. His wife, who he calls his “one true love,” left him because of it. Years later, he got sober, found her, and won her back. The first half of their story is common – one person in a relationship hurts the other and the relationship doesn’t survive. It’s the second half of their story that inspired me to write the song. He knew he had done wrong, and he was determined to make things right. He refused to give up. He pursued her and she forgave him. That’s real love. It doesn’t always feel good but it always perseveres.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! There’s a video in the works and I’ll be releasing it soon.

The single comes off your new album Light In The Lowlands – what’s the story behind the title?

Parts of this record are very dark, chronicling life’s lowest of lows – addiction, depression, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt. But then there are the things that keep us going during those times. There’s hope, forgiveness, friendship, the incredible resilience of the human spirit – that’s the light. There’s always light in the midst of darkness. You have to find it, even if it’s the tiniest sliver, and hang on for dear life until the darkness begins to recede. I don’t know how else to live this life. If l didn’t have hope that things would get better, I wouldn’t still be here. My faith is a huge part of that.

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing these songs was really fun! I had challenged myself to write a song a week for a year during the time I wrote the songs on this record. I’d start probably three or four songs per week on average and I’d have one that would survive the songwriting process. There were songs I’d really like, and I’d work and work them but couldn’t figure out where to go with them. I really try to let the song itself dictate where it wants to go. If I try to manipulate that process too much it doesn’t work. Some songs aren’t meant to be finished right away. Recording was amazing – truly one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences of my life so far. It’s like planting a seed and watching it sprout and bloom into a fully open flower. I loved hearing the musicians bring the songs to life. That said, it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. The focus that the studio requires is unparalleled and it is absolutely exhausting in every way.

What was it like to work with Wes Sharon and how did that relationship develop?

Working with Wes was a riot! He’s hilarious and kept me cracking up the majority of the time. He is incredibly accomplished and knowledgeable and extremely dedicated to the music-making process. He loves what he does and pours himself into it. You can hear it in the music he makes. He’s a straight-talker, which I really respect. As far as how our relationship developed, I love this part of the story because it’s still so crazy to me.  I was a huge fan of some of the records he’d produced (Turnpike Troubadours, John Fullbright) and was really inspired by the music he was making. I read interviews he’d given and everything else I could find on him. I knew he liked working with new artists and I really wanted the opportunity to learn from him. I knew if I could work with him that I’d be a better musician because of it. So, I decided to call him up one day and see if he’d produce my record. He listened to some of my stuff and agreed to do it. I hit the jackpot that day. Wes is truly a top-notch, one-of-a-kind guy. I feel so fortunate to have been able to work with him.

How much did he get to influence the album?

A lot. He helped me choose the songs for the record. He actually ended up cutting one and had me write something else while I was there in the studio. He told me if he thought a particular lyric line needed strengthening. I had a clear vision of how I wanted some of the songs produced and we’d talk through that. I looked to him for guidance throughout the entire process and I told him up front I wanted it that way. I was there to learn what I could from him and told him not to hold back. When I told him that, he said he could be tough and basically asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into. I told him I could take it (and then braced myself, ha ha). One of the coolest things he told me at the end was that I was, “tough as nails.” That meant a lot.

What role does Oklahoma play in your music?

It’s where I’m from and it’s part of me. The rugged beauty of the grasslands, the staining red dirt, the way the summer evenings feel on my skin, the blood of its people – it’s impossible to separate myself from that place. Oklahoma holds the songwriters and musicians that most inspired this record – John Fullbright, the Turnpike Troubadours. When I go back there, I feel so deeply. It was special that I could make my record there.

What aspect of darkness and salvation did you get to explore on this record?

The darkness of our human existence. Life is disappointing, difficult, and devastating at times. But there is hope. We can choose to be active participants in each other’s stories. We can be the vessels through which God reaches the world.

What aspect of the Americana genre did you get to dive into this material?

The traditional folk-style storytelling songwriting. Also, the use of instruments like fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar, and the bluesy and country-style electric guitar.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Outside of my own experiences, I’m mostly inspired by observing and listening to other people’s stories. I really try to put myself in the shoes of others and see the world the way they see it.  I also love reading and watching documentaries and am frequently inspired that way.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’m working on that currently. I’m planning to play as much around Colorado as I can, and I’d also love to get down to Texas and Oklahoma this summer.

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

Writing more songs. Playing more shows. Hopefully recording more music in the not-too-distant future. So many exciting things coming. I’m extremely grateful to be able to do what I love.






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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