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INTERVIEW: Kelly Finnigan

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

-Thanks for having me! I have been good and very busy. Promoting my record which is out next month on Colemine Records, rehearsing for my record realese shows, mixing the new Monophonics record plus writing, recording and producing a handful of other bands/artists.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Catch Me I’m Falling”?

-Catch Me was the last song I wrote and recorded for the record and I’m very proud of it. Terry from Colemine and I both agreed I needed another slow one but something sweeter than anything else. I must have listened to 20 slow songs the morning before the session to find that spark of inspiration. My goal was to create something unique. I envisioned a song written in a style of the late great Curtis Mayfield and his group The Impressions. For the session I was on drums just playing kick drum and a maraca, Max Ramey on bass and his brother Joe on acoustic guitar. We did only a couple takes to tape and knew we had something special.

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

-No, nothing in particular inspired it but I have definitely had my fair share of confusion in the love department. Ive been on both sides of a break up and I have always felt comfortable being honest and vulnerable on records about my experiences with love.

Also tell us a bit about the animated video for the single and concept behind it?

-Well it was done by the great Artist El Oms from LA. I have been a fan of his art and style since I first saw what he did for the band The Arcs and El Michaels Affair. We approached him with the song to see if he liked it and he did. It was totally his concept and vision 100%. I really love what he did and am grateful we could collaborate.

The single comes off your new album The Tales People Tell – what’s the story behind the title?

-Being a songwriter and singer, I very much feel like a messenger and a story teller. I also grew up in a house with 2 parents who were great at telling stories. The stories in the lyrics and compositions is a big reason why the listener connects or feels connected to the song. I’ve always loved that aspect of compositions and music and it seemed like an appropriate title.

How was the recording and writing process?

-During the down time after Monophonics last record and tours I was feeling inspired and started writing some songs and working out ideas. I was just writing or co-writing with friends or musicians. Once I got an idea, I would work it out and get it developed. Then once those ideas developed, I would put them down to tape. After I got a handful done, I started to see these songs as a really strong start to making a great record. So I kept on writing and recording until I had about 12 done. The first 5-6 songs I made with a very loose and fast approach which I love, but as I wrote more songs songs, I really started crafting the last few with great detail to ensure that they all were unique with the right kind of character and they had something special.

I played most of the drums, keyboards, vibraphone, percussion and vocals on most tracks but made sure to get a lot of other great musicians on guitar, horns, percussion, bass, background vocals and strings. Having these great musicians and friends on the record was part of the vision once I decided to make a record. I wanted to get people I love, respect and have wanted to work with. I had my hands in everything from producing, recording, writing the songs, arranging them, playing on them, picking the other musicians and mixing it. Plus it was all done at Transistor Sound studio, a studio I co-own and operate. The whole process was excellent. I love making records and I had a lot of fun during all the sessions.

Would you call this a departure from your previous work with your band Monophonics?

-Not in a huge way but yes it’s different. In Monophonics we pride ourselves on wearing our eclectic ness on our sleeve. We really like to blur the lines between genres and mix it up. It’s r&b and soul, but it’s psychedelic rock and 60’s west coast pop. For my solo record, I really just wanted to put my roots on display and make a straight up Soul record while making sure to show my love for doo- wop, gospel & r&b.

How your upbringing has influence your music?

-I grew up in a very musical household with my dad being a professional musician since the 1960’s. It was something that was always around so it’s really no wonder I’ve always loved it. My love for r&b, soul, gospel and the blues is no doubt because of my father. He had a great record collection that I got into at an early age and it sparked a lot of interest. He also has always had an amazing work ethic and that’s something else that has really influenced me and guided me in this business.

How did you go on balancing all the different influence on this record? What role does the Bay Area play in your music?

Well to me soul, r&b, doo wop and gospel are all connected and in the same family so it wasn’t hard at all. I knew I wanted to make a soul record that put all these styles together since it’s the music I love the most. I was most conscious about putting the same amount of vibe into each song so the listener could feel that and making sure each song had that said “vibe” it’s the most important thing to me when making Records. California and the bay are constantly inspiring my writing and music. I grew up here and it’s one of the greatest places in the planet in my opinion. I think more than anything the landscape and weather plays into the mood of my songs and writing. It’s a very inspirational place and one that feeds the creative soul.

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

-I’m constantly writing songs, scribbling down ideas and finding inspiration for songs. Sometimes you gotta really work at it, just to get one great line and sometimes they write themselves. It’s an interesting process but one that is very rewarding. There was nothing in particular or any situation for these songs besides the normal ups and downs of life that we all experience.

Any plans to hit the road? What else is happening next in Kelly Finnigan’s world?

-Yes I’ll do some shows in the states around the time the record comes out and hopefully some shows overseas. Besides that, focused on the Monophonics new record and working with a bunch of other talented bands and artists. It’s a struggle at times to balance everything but I’m having a lot of fun! I’m literally living out my dreams 🙂

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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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