(photo courtesy Chris Hillman)
I’m really happy to feature a musician for today’s Artist Interview – it’s been a goal I’ve had since I started this series. As a (casual, really) musician myself, I approach my own music differently than I do craft or other creative pursuits. When I sing or write a song on my guitar, it almost feels like I’m channeling some other kind of energy. When I watch my musician friends perform I am always in awe at how vulnerable and powerful it can be to open up your body to that creative flow. And a live music performance is always so ephemeral and NOW – focused only on the present moment and what needs to be expressed right then. It’s really something else. Ricky Kendall is a long-time friend of my partner Josh, and I recently got a chance to see Ricky play live at a tiny local spot when he last visited. This is someone who is clearly blessed and channels from a deep well of soul and inspiration when he performs! Ricky is an inspiring guy and I hope you love his thoughts below just as much as I do. Thanks Ricky.
Click to hear some of Ricky’s music:
Your artistic medium(s) / instruments of choice:
Guitar/Banjo/Piano/Voice. I sort of learn all the instruments I pick up when I write songs. whatever instrument is right for a tune, I learn it just well enough to fit it to the song.
Describe where you’re at creatively right now.
I am always working on a few songs at any given time. I’m beginning to see songs as textures. Before I would have a lyrical idea and try to fit a musical progression behind it. Now I may just get a mood or a vague concept and then I just let sounds evolve and tell me what instruments and lyrics to put to the music. I also still get lyrical concepts before music, I just am a lot more careful and patient about what sounds I choose to accompany the song. Playfulness is important for me. I never want my material to come off so introspective that someone else can’t access it.
What does creativity mean to you and your life?
Music is the beginning. I think it’s a humbling thing to be a musician. There have been times I thought music was the end all, but when I started to think about it more, I realized that its the ultimate language and everyone knows how to understand it. So it’s often the beginning to a revelation or the ice-breaker in a conversation about the world. It could be the doorway to a spiritual awakening. I often think of myself as the sower of a seed in a garden. Someone else may harvest what I planted and I may not see it or even enjoy the fruits of the labor, but it’s all part of the process.
(photo by Aaron Stewart)
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
I am fascinated by people. People’s relationship to one another and to God have been at the forefront of my writings thus far. There are hefty portions of sorrow and joy in life. I’m getting more accustomed to painting soundscapes to convey emotions of all types. I have been very inspired by 1930′s era jazz these days. I love what the music devoid of lyric is able to do to my senses and the limitless pictures it can paint. Uses of horn and woodwind arrangements really get to me. I think I’m a ‘by-ear’ kind of guy. I mimic various forms of music, which is why I took up the mouth trumpet.
What are some challenges or difficulties you have faced related to creating work that is meaningful to you?
Money is always the thing for artists, isn’t it? So there’s that hump to get over from time to time. But on the more philosophical side, there are so many artists playing, painting, singing and dancing that the struggle is to be content to have the audience that is listening as opposed to always pushing so hard to be heard by more and more people. I’m very happy when anyone takes interest and is touched by this music.
What strategies or inspiration have you found to help you work through those challenges?
Heartfelt art is art that exists for one person at a time if need be. Staying inspired requires that I don’t chase after any sort of mass approval, yet as someone who loves to perform and become a seasoned/skilled artist, feedback is a critical part of the process. It’s a difficult balance to strike.
Any advice or words of wisdom you would like to share?
My father told me to always remain teachable. So I apply this to everything. I also have noticed that the happiest people I know are generally the thankful type, regardless of how much or little they have, grateful for those around them and happy to give of what they have.
(photo courtesy Onna Meyer)
All photographs and music in this post courtesy of Ricky Kendall, additional photo credits as noted. To hear more of Ricky’s music and find his records for sale, click here. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.
To read the complete Artist Interview series, click here.