interview: Madeline Kenney

interview: Madeline Kenney

words: Kat Harding

Madeline Kenney’s Night NIght at the First Landing comes out the first day of September and it’s the perfect album for the change in season - a crisp bite in the air late at night, clearer skies with stars sparkling, rustling leaves. Her soft voice echoes over distorted electric guitars, which reverberates through your body like a shiver. “Come outside/to the witching hour” she urges you in “Witching Hour.” It’s the hour that’s darkest at night and full of mysterious possibilities and a hint of danger. The whole album swirls around you in chilly choruses and warm verses, evening out to a comfortable statis. Madeline took some time to answer some questions for us at The Grey Estates about songwriting, what she’s listening to, and more.

 photo: Cara Robbins

photo: Cara Robbins

Tell us about your songwriting process.

It really differs for each song. Most of the time I can't remember how a song even came about; it may start as a loop or a guitar part, or more often than not just one line of lyrics and melody that come to me while I'm in my car or riding my bike, and then I have to hurry home and try to remember it all and put chords to it. Often playing with the live band makes some guitar parts or new melodies come out too. Eventually it all settles into a song, and I find myself forgetting how it got there in the first place.

What are you listening to lately?

I can't get enough of everything Cass McCombs. I've also been delving into some Alice Coltrane, Bill Evans, and revisiting my Smog obsession. The most interesting new music (to me) is coming from PALM, and I'm also pretty obsessed with LVL UP's latest album. Lastly, I have been watching WAY too many Cameo music videos. That shit is crazy.

Is there anything about the album you'd change?

Plenty, but you could exist in a vacuum of your own thoughts and critiques if you don't just let go and get the music out. I feel like I had to just get this stuff out to mentally move forward with my life and music. Sometimes I wish I had put a few more songs on it, but I do like a short album. It can say a lot with a little.

What comes next for you?

I'm about to head out and tour to support this record (come out and say hi!), and I'm halfway thru writing the next record. I think I should try to take a little more time on this one, and be more patient with myself. I just want to keep playing shows -- it's my favorite thing in the world.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Recently I was telling my bassist "I wish I could write like so-and-so... I wish I could be better...", yada yada. He responded (via text), "Acceptance. That's the key to being great. Sounds simple. Feels impossible." Then he followed that blast of wisdom with "Dang, I'm deep." :)

What's your favorite part of the album?

My favorite moment is probably on "Uncommon" when the drums come in. It's a big moment and really dramatic when we play it live. Plus, on the recording, you can hear Aaron pretending to stab himself with his drumsticks at the very end!