INTERVIEW: Queer Folk Artist Kailey Prior

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

I’ve been great! Thanks for having me!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Little Bird”?

“Little Bird” is the final track and first single off my EP, ‘We’re Okay.”  It’s been with me the longest, and is one of the ones that is closest to my heart.

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

I’ve been asked what my original inspiration for “Little Bird” was, and oddly enough, I don’t remember! It’s been with me for so long, and has met me whenever and however I need it. If I’m missing a late family member, or a distant friend, or just feeling alone and introverted, it’s a gentle reminder that whatever I’m feeling is okay, and whatever darkness I’m currently in will pass.

The single comes off your new album We’re Okay – what’s the story behind the title?

“We’re Okay” is the final lyric of “Little Bird,” and “Little Bird” is the final track on the EP. All of 5 songs grapple with the concept of being “okay” and “enough.” For me, “Little Bird” speaks most specifically to the idea that it’s okay not to be “okay” all the time. That “not okay” is “okay” too. Using that final lyric as the title of the EP felt like it brought the whole thing full circle.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote most of the songs independently, with the exception of “Sleepwalker.” I wrote the lyrics all in one sitting, but was having trouble finding the music for it. I sat down with Aya Kato, who plays the piano like it’s an extension of her body and soul, and she helped me get what was in my head out in musical form. I recorded all five tracks at Rift Studios, with Tom Gardner, who is a magician of a sound engineer. He helped me think outside the box in terms of what we could do instrumentally with some of the songs, including creating that fun drum part in “Through.” Tom and Aya, along with the other killer instrumentalists that lent their talents to the project, really are the reason it was able to sound the way it does, and I will be forever grateful to them.

How has Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor influenced your writing?

Ingrid Michaelson has a way of playing with words that I have always loved. There are so many musical and lyrical twists and turns in her music that continue to fascinate me. She has a way of creating these songs that on the surface seem happy and light hearted but contain so much emotion, power, and thoughtfulness that connects deeply with her listeners. In addition to being an amazing songwriter, I really love the way Regina Spektor performs her music live. There are no frills, it’s not about “spectacle.” It’s her connecting to her music in a vulnerable and deep way on stage, and inviting her listeners to join her.

How much did this serve as a healing session for you?

All songs on the EP were written at different times, with different inspirations. As I continued to work really intimately with them long after the events that inspired them had passed, they began to take on a whole new meaning for me. I began to hear the lyrics in a whole new way, and they began to inform my present as much as they had been informed by my past.

Was this always meant to be such a personal record or it rather evolve into it?

I think my music always has, and likely always will be pretty personal. I write as a way to process my feelings and my thoughts, and while sometimes those sentiments will be accompanied by healthy doses of metaphors and puns, I think the more vulnerable and honest an artist can be in their work, the easier it is for others to relate to it.

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

Oh all over the place! My relationships, my work environment, experiences I observe loved ones going through, etc. etc. The whistle at the beginning of “Little Bird” is actually inspired by my family. We use that whistle as a sort of “call and response” to find each other when we get separated in a crowd. Whenever my mom or dad are at a show, they’ll whistle back to me during “Little Bird” and it makes me feel at home.

Any plans to hit the road?

I would love to hit the road! Nothing is set in stone yet, but I will absolutely be venturing out of NYC within the year. Follow @kaileypriormusic on Instagram and Facebook for more specifics coming soon!

What else is happening next in Kailey Prior’s world?

I’m working on a few music videos, and am hoping to spend lots of time in the near future creating and collaborating with other musicians. It’s been great spending so much time with these 5 songs, but now that they’re out in the world, I’m excited to get back to the “drawing board” and create some new ones!

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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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