I suppose it’s a little surprising – one of the more laid back artists we’ve ever had a chance to sit down with for a round of XXQ’s is based out of the ultra-competitive scene of NYC. Kendrick O is taking on Brooklyn, but perhaps it’s his North Canton, Ohio roots that keeps his mind so calm – just listen to the singer/songwriter’s musical inspiration: “Life seems to be a story. And it’s fun to tell stories. Especially if they’re dirty. Which means I indulge my neurotic desire to confess my guilt as well as live out fantasies and burn proverbial effigies. So basically I say what I feel like saying. I don’t really see this as a business and I’m not going to get all moral about it. I’m just making conversation.”
As you can tell, calm doesn’t tell the whole story for Kendrick O – part of that calmness is the confidence to be brutally honest; an underlying theme on his self-titled album. He told us a bit more about the latest collection: “I recorded these songs in my bedroom, in Brooklyn, in the Bronx, in Connecticut, with friends and with my dentist, with my dogs and with my wife. These songs are a real record of my life, and they’re not music by someone who’s figured it all out. I think you can either expect some major catharsis or a fairly vague, giddy, guilty feeling.” If you’re looking for more hints concerning the sound of the album, it’s tough to get an answer from Mr. Kendrick O since his influences vary immensely. He says of his specific style, “Can you imagine a radio station that played Tom Waits, Regina Spektor, then Weezer and Aerosmith? Then maybe the Unicorns, the Magnetic Fields, and the Kinks? Yeah, that’s the radio station in my head…I don’t know if I sound like any of those bands. I don’t rightly know what I sound like.”
While we can’t provide a more just description ourselves, we can tell you to check out this record and Kendrick O. It’s good stuff. Head to www.Kendricko.com…as soon as you finish reading all the answers to the XXQ’s below.
XXQs: Kendrick O
Kendrick O (KO): Ah, the annoying question to lead off. I think that’s a hard one. I don’t know, can you imagine a radio station that played Tom Waits, Regina Spektor, then Weezer and Aerosmith? Then maybe the Unicorns, the Magnetic Fields, and the Kinks? Yeah, that’s the radio station in my head. that’s a pretty long answer though. I don’t know if I sound like any of those bands. I don’t rightly know what I sound like.
PEV: Calling Brooklyn, New York home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
KO: Man, I lived in Brooklyn for about 5 years, but I’m originally from North Canton, Ohio. I remember my first tape cassette was Green Day Dookie, and my first CD was Aerosmith Big Ones. I swear every girlfriend I’ve ever had has stolen that CD, so I must have bought it 10 times over the course of my life. Rakakakakow, I say. I think my first concert was Lit and Eve Six. I tried to crowd surf and fell on my head. The best concert I went to was a Britney Spears concert though. For real.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in the very competitive New York/Brooklyn scene, when you first started? What was your first show like?
KO: It was fun. Brooklyn in the early 2000s was exciting, and I’d never done anything like it before. The problem, however, is that there was such a focus on that scene instead of the music, and the fact that it was a vibrant, giant artistic sharing community got largely obscured. which was a shame. But anything can grow in Brooklyn.
My first show was at Don Hills, and we were the opening act for strippers. That’s actually how the guys in the band convinced me to join. They said, “hey, want to play in our band? There’s strippers.” The sound guy took my complimentary drink and held it hostage until I packed up my equipment, I remember.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Kendrick 0 show?
A. Live shows are my opportunity to be a little bit of a kid and do what I feel like doing.
B. A shovel.
C. They can’t. I’m unexpectable.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
KO: its like the only place you don’t have anything you have to do. Sometimes I feel like I’m venting more than I feel like I’m performing. Sometimes I just get really self-conscious because a performer/audience divide is such an absurd construct and I decide to Talk a lot about it, which ends up making everyone uncomfortable. And sometimes I just drink too much. Which is all to say, I get a kick out of it.
PEV: What do you think is the best part about being a musician in New York?
KO: It feels like it’s a community of inventors. Inventors who wear stupid pants. Honestly, though, you can be a musician anywhere. The whole industry is in post-apocalyptic crisis, with everyone fighting over scraps and the rules breaking down, crime running rampant. Right now is quite a opportunity to get creative. Everyone loves music and the whole world is connected. You don’t have to live in NYC to get your hands dirty.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music?
KO: Life seems to be a story. And it’s fun to tell stories. Especially if they’re dirty. Which means I indulge my neurotic desire to confess my guilt as well as live out fantasies and burn proverbial effigies. So basically I say what I feel like saying I don’t really see this as a business and I’m not going to get all moral about it. I’m just making conversation.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
KO: I haven’t really arrived anywhere. I’m always playing catch up with what I just figured out, which means I’m always behind myself. I try to make a record of what I think about the world at this point and time, then move on and keep going. Its important and It’s addicting.
PEV: What¹s one thing we¹d be surprised to hear about Kendrick 0?
KO: depends what you already know about me. I’m going to guess little. I think I’ll save my indiscretions and adventures for stories over a beer, not over the Internet. Creeps could read this stuff, you know?
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are you methods to get over it?
KO: I walk my dogs. I write most of my songs in my head walking my dogs. And the stuff that never gets out of my head is what I record. Because otherwise it drives me crazy. See? We’re back to my neuroses. Now I’m talking about voices in my head that won’t leave me alone. But you already know what you want to say. You just have to say it instead of getting hung up about the best way to say it. Saying what you mean is the only important part.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed over the years, since you started out or at got involved in just enjoying your music?
KO: The industry sucks. Record labels take advantage of bands, bands have to scrounge for money, Hipsters don’t have souls and sound guys are all grumpy. Guys with weird glasses have pissing contests over obscure pop culture knowledge and everybody else is a snob. That all said, everyone can make music, and everyone all over the world can find that music. This is a good time to be an artist. And it seems like a great opportunity to be a con man. If you’re a working musician or a businessman in music, however, I think you’re screwed.
PEV: Tell us about your latest release. What can fans expect from this?
KO: I recorded these songs in my bedroom, in Brooklyn, in the Bronx, in Connecticut, with friends and with my dentist, with my dogs and with my wife. These songs are a real record of my life, and they’re not music by someone who’s figured it all out. I think you can either expect some major catharsis or a fairly vague, giddy, guilty feeling. I don’t really know what people will think. Should I?
PEV: With all your traveling is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
KO: I can’t stop thinking about Wyoming. And Montana.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
KO: They’re always supportive.
PEV: What can we you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
KO: I’m obsessed with my son. When he’s asleep, I like comic books. Breaking Bad is also awesome. No driving cars into swimming pools these days.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
KO: Tom Waits. No question. Regina Spektor could make it a three-way if she really wanted to. I think we would play Great Balls of Fire. We could play piano man as long as we all played other instruments.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
KO: Shilpa Ray. She’ll change your mind about whatever she wants to change your mind about.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal) what would be your career?
KO: I’d love to own some place in the neighborhood I live in. A bar, a book store. I’d love to write comic books. Or children’s books… Or research clean energy… Or something that makes tons and tons of money.
PEV: So, what is next for Kendrick 0?
KO: buying a house, moving to the suburbs, and getting a job with a bank.
For more information on Kendrick, check out: www.Kendricko.com