I listened to your latest tracks – they are so deep, and insightful, and at the same time keep the attention throughout the listening. Tell us more about how you worked on your latest release “
Thank you for your question. I am Ukrainian-American and I have been very supportive of Ukraine so I wanted to release a number of songs directly related to the country. “Spoof I Wonder” captures the pain and anguish that millions of people feel, while at the same time, asking the question that we all know the answer to, “Who thought of this idea?” I actually shot two videos – the first one had me in front of a large mirror with the heart in the colors of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, it did not work because there were too many reflections in the mirror. So we re-did the video with the heart on a brick wall and that turned out amazing. I worked with a famous frontline Ukrainian photojournalist who provided me with all of the heartbreaking photos surrounding the heart.
What were the biggest challenges you faced before you released “Spoof I Wonder”?
The concept for the video was difficult because I wanted to honor the citizens of Ukraine while making a strong statement in support. So I decided to go all out and wrap myself in the Ukrainian flag for the video. As far as the audio, I work with an amazing team and this song had one Grammy nominee and one Grammy winner in the production process. And I wrote the song as a cantata with a hint of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” so it has a very emotional tug to it.
You have many songs and Instagram posts in support of Ukraine. Are you planning to shoot a new music video in Ukraine? When was the last time you were there?
Before the most recent Russian attack on Ukraine, I spent a great deal of time in the country and filmed four music videos there. Three of those have been released –Lobotomy, American Guns, and Masterpiece – and the final one was being completed when the great war started. It is called “We Are The Promise” and it foretold the great war.
My Ukrainian team is in the process of finishing it as we speak and we hope to release it by the end of June. That said, I am also planning and hoping to visit Ukraine this summer to film two or three more videos and visit refugee camps, hospitals for wounded soldiers and civilians, shelters for displaced animals, the front lines, and my relatives. The timing will depend on the security situation. I will chronicle my trip on social media.
Your videos are very diverse, and the music can be described not only as inspiring but also as large-format. I love seeing Kelsie romantic and dreamy in the music video for “Cosmopolitan Girl”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gpiHDKGDnU and at the same time fierce and assertive in the videos for “What We Had” and “Spoof I Wonder”. What next image should we expect?
Thank you for your compliment. If I had my choice, I would go all-out cinematic in all my videos but it is very difficult to put those together. I like to tell stories with my videos and they help me explain the dual meanings of some of my songs. Recently, I have recorded some aggressive songs about angst, including “Sister Coronavirus,” “Attitude,” and “Vlad.”
I was raised in a musical family and was exposed to all types of music so that is why I am comfortable singing, pop, rock, jazz, and Latin, and why I like to include influences from other cultures as well as classical music. So you can always expect new songs and styles from me. That said, I am also going back to Colombia this summer to film two new music videos that have a cool Latin flavor and I might even sing a bit in Spanish. So stay tuned.
Kelsie Kimberlin Interview with Muzique Magazine
I read the comments under your videos and I see that a lot of people are just delighted with your voice. What do you think is the strongest point of your songs?
Yes, I get a lot of great comments on my voice, and many people have said that it is very unique so that when someone hears it, they know it’s me. I have been singing since I was a child, first in children’s choirs and then in church choirs. I have been singing in the studio since I was 11 years old, and even now, I have a vocal coach with me every time I record a new song. The good thing about my voice is that I have a wide range and can easily sing softly or with tremendous power.
I am not a big fan of auto-tuning so I really work hard at nailing the pitch when I record. And I am a perfectionist. Sometimes I will record a vocal take ten times before I am satisfied with it and then will come back two days later and do another ten takes. So although it may sound easy on a final recording, there is a great deal of hard work to get it right. As far as the strongest part of my songs, I have to say that there is not one thing that is stronger than another.
First, I have really well-written songs with memorable lyrics and strong hooks. Second, I am fanatical about my production so I have an amazing production team. Third, I really like to include real instruments in my songs as much as possible, and I will mix real instruments with digital instruments. I have many songs with full orchestra or string quartets because those add a great deal of depth, richness, and emotion to them.
Which of your songs do you like the most and which of the published songs surprised you the most? I know that often the song that the artist hoped for can become popular, but it caused crazy emotions in the audience. Did you experience that?
That is an interesting question because I have discovered that the songs that I like the most are not necessarily the ones that do best with the public. For example, I was not convinced by the first song I released, “Lobotomy,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cNzWvTYYfY
so I sent it to my dad’s friend Danny Goldberg and he urged me to release it (he was Nirvana’s manager). So I did and it now has more than a million views on YouTube and virtually every radio interview I have given over the past year asks about that song. I was also surprised about the incredible response to “Fruit Basket” which has a Latin feel.
I did not know how well it would be received or how well people would like me to sing a duet in Spanish/English. But in just a few months it has gone viral with more than 625,000 views, global radio play, and glowing music reviews, and it has even been picked up by huge in-store music companies serving more than a million commercial establishments in over 100 countries.
What would you advise yourself if you could go back 5 years and how do you see yourself in 5 years?
Five years ago I was in high school and did not take my music seriously enough. Now I work with music full time and I am seeing the results of that hard work. With each new song I release, I get more fans and more recognition and respect.
So I am hoping to build a real legacy within five years and be known as a real artist who makes a difference for people. I would like to spend a year touring the world so I can connect with my fans and make new ones. I would like to play some concerts with a full orchestra and choir.