When You Close Your Eyes, Do You See a White Jesus?
This is the question Nashville singer-songwriter K.S. Rhoads implores you to digest, and happens to be the name of his forthcoming album.
But before we leap into the future, Rhoads has most recently released his latest single, “Invisible Light.” The song begins in the melancholy haze of a dissonant piano, which acts as the backbone throughout. His ambient dream-like voice coupled with the piano and accompanying symphonic instruments offers something of a Radiohead feel, perhaps a bit more stripped down. There are orchestral swells and spacey harmonies that act as a euphoric injection of bliss, or so it seems. I can picture hearing it in some kind of dark comedy/drama indie film, maybe a Wes Anderson movie, perhaps during a scene of a character’s crossroads or contemplation. Maybe after a scene of major disaster… His music hits with tact and grace, and is by no means abrasive.
Rhoads work spans many genres, and many facets within the industry itself. Rhoads is a notable songwriter, composer, producer, and performer. His songs range from folk, classical, pop, and rock. He’s has songs featured in dozens of TV shows, movie trailers, and commercials. Aside from his solo work, Rhoads has written, produced, and played with copious accomplished artists such as Miranda Lambert, Lisa Loeb, Kacey Musgraves, and more.
We had a quick Q&A with Rhoads in hopes to learn a little more about his music and what makes him tick.
So you seem to wear a lot of hats in the music industry. Do you see yourself as a songwriter first and foremost and a producer, composer, etc. after that?
Yes, songwriter/composer first, and producer second.
Who or what drew you to a life of music?
My grandmother was a prodigy jazz pianist and a composer. I imagine it runs in the blood.
You recently released your latest single, “Invisible Light.” What might be the inspiration and influence behind it?
I was sort of searching for a simple chord progression that still felt like you hadn’t heard it before and it grew out of that.
Where was it recorded and who was involved in its production?
It was recorded in Nashville at various studios for different sections of the song aka band/orchestra/vocals. Engineered and mixed by Logan Matheny and produced by Jeremy Lutito and me.
And I see you’ve got your album, When You Close Your Eyes, Do You See a White Jesus? coming 2020 according to your site. Any tentative date in mind?
What can fans expect on this album?
It’s more cohesive than albums I’ve done in the past, it’s lush with strings, percussion and brass, and I believe it’s quite spiritual and inquisitive.
What made you choose that album title, and how does it pertain to the album’s theme?
I like to let listeners decide their take on an idea- so I won’t spell it out, but I will say we live in unique times where racism and religion are often bedfellows.
I see you’ve written songs for all kinds of artists and your songs have been on TV and film. What is your songwriting process like, and do you seek out a certain pastime or atmosphere that aides in that process or does it come more sporadically?
When I write for other artists we generally just get together in a studio, get to know each other. I like to ask them a lot of questions so we can get to a topic or idea that feels personal to them.
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process?
The pandemic is no good for anyone. People are writing over Zoom, which is something I can’t really get into. It’s too mechanical.
Other than obviously the music, what do you love most about Nashville?
Nashville is a friendly and welcoming city, and it’s topography is very diverse.
What are a few local establishments you can’t wait to go back to once it’s deemed safe and acceptable to do so?
Rolf & Daughters (amazing restaurant), Dino’s (dive bar), and the trails around Lake Radnor.
What do you hope the world, or at least our country, might learn and take away from this pandemic?
Ideally, that we can’t trash the planet, or treat animals the way we do without major consequence to mechanics of the entire ecosystem.
What advice might you give to young songwriters just moving to Nashville trying to pave a musical avenue such as yours?
To write often, learn to be honest, strive for beautiful craftsmanship instead of success. Lessons I am still learning myself.