A whimsical plea to monotony and an ode to those who have kept her alive, “All My Friends” is Kelsey Abbott’s reckoning of an unforeseen year and her place in it.
Feeling as if you are awaking in her quarantine daydream, Abbott somehow makes daily litany and its ongoing desperation a little more amusing. Leading off, with ease, she sings “All my friends keep asking me how I’m doing / Where I’m going to be in a few years / Honestly I couldn’t tell you that / I’m doing fine except for the fact that I still haven’t let go of all my fears.”
It is a quite candid track of desperately coming up for air. Unreserved and outspoken Abbott tackles the heaviness of a global pandemic, and an overall unprecedented 2020, head on hoping to alleviate anyone from feeling a little more alone. She makes friends with our subconscious, speaking to the honest place we find ourselves, feeling like we spent the whole day watching the sky change and fantasizing about how things used to be.
With every day feeling like a loop pedal, Abbott illustrates to us focusing on the good and how companionship can bring us back to ourselves. In her personal wrestle, we see her fighting to witness the goodness of the day, finding beauty and strength amongst her friends in the process, and inviting us to do the same.
Abbott continues to write trustworthy anthems, but this time is pushing her own boundaries. Almost as if she has given her former artist space to evolve, like the year has done to many of us, and she is riding the changing current. It only seems fitting to be ushering in a new sound when the world has shut down. “All My Friends” takes on a more experimental approach, an alternative pop anchored in melancholy and you guessed it, made with her friends.
Abbott leaves us with the final lyric, “I’m just trying to make it out alive,” yet somehow this time it seems far more hopeful than when stated before. She ends the song with an auspicious tone in her voice, putting our rose-colored glasses on us and preparing us for a new day, hopefully, with all our friends.
How do you feel that where you grew up has influenced your sound and form of expression?
I grew up in a very small town in Maryland called St. Michaels, right on the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up surrounded by a lot of country/folk music, and I think that really influenced my sound, especially when first starting to write. My grandpa plays banjo and pedal steel, and my grandma sings and write songs so that definitely encouraged me to start playing music at a young age.
When it comes to self-expression, my family and I have always been really open with each, and I think that allowed me to feel vulnerable when writing. I was never afraid to talk about or share my emotions, which is big when it comes to writing songs.
What made you decide to pursue songwriting and music more seriously?
Ever since I was in high school, I knew there was nothing else for me to do except music. I think the moment when that dream became a reality was when I started visiting Nashville in high school and saw people actually doing it. When I moved to Nashville a few years ago was when I had the chance to actually start taking action and actively pursuing music, which felt so natural and right. It was never really a question for me if I was going to pursue music, but more so the question of how.
Who or what are some of your biggest artistic influences?
Growing up, my biggest influence was Shania Twain. I used to perform shows for my neighbors on the back porch singing her songs when I was little. However, in the last few years I have been influenced and inspired by a variety of artists. Lately I have been influenced by a lot of alternative female artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Haim, and Maggie Rogers. I have also been listening to a lot of Radiohead lately and feeling very inspired by their unique sound and perspective. When it comes to writing, I am most influenced by the people around me and the emotions going through my head.
What has been a favorite show that you’ve performed to date and why?
When I think about my favorite show, the first thing that comes to mind is a festival we played last summer called Everybody’s Got Nipples. I went on my first tour last summer and this was our last stop. The whole week was so inspiring and exciting, and knowing this was our last show playing that set made the energy so special. We spent the whole weekend at the festival and had the chance to meet so many amazing people who were all so supportive. The energy at that place was unlike any other show I have played, and I am so happy I got to be a part of it.
What does stepping out of your comfort zone look like when it comes to your music? And how would you say you are pushing your own bounds?
I think for me, stepping out of my comfort zone musically means pushing myself to try new things and collaborate with new people. Right now, I feel that I am in a place where I am excited and ready to push myself and be intentional with my time and energy. I am excited to see where this next year takes me.
In April of 2019, you released your EP, Dreaming With My Eyes, which seems autobiographical in nature and rather raw. What was the writing and recording process like for it?
This EP was a mix of songs that I had written senior year of high school as well as my first few years in college. The writing process for all of these songs were very personal and therapeutic. The songs almost tell a story of my growth throughout those few important years of my life.
I worked with a producer named Keller Moore to create the sound for the songs on this project. I knew I wanted the sound to match the rawness I felt when writing the songs so that was the direction we headed in. We blocked out full days to record and mix and I felt so inspired to be in the studio working on these songs that meant so much to me.
Your new single “All My Friends” seems to carry a different sound- a little more alternative perhaps. What would you say led to a change, and can we expect a different sound from you altogether?
When I went in to record this song with my producer and great friend, Bryce Dubray, I knew I wanted to head in a different direction with my sound. However, I wasn’t exactly sure what that sound was going to be until the recording process began. We started working on this song for a demo, and after laying down the drums and rhythm guitar section, the sound started to become very clear. We continued to experiment with different bass and guitar sounds as well as some drum tracks and samples until we felt the song was finished. The final product feels very 90’s pop/rock to me and we were so happy with the way it turned out. Moving forward, I definitely plan to stick with this more alternative sound, and am really excited to continue to try new things in the studio.
I love the juxtaposition of this song and that it seems to be a response to the question “What am I really doing?!” amidst the global pandemic, yet carried with a sound that is both alternative and whimsical. Was that intentional?
It was most definitely intentional for the song to be a message about all of the uncertainties that have arisen during this pandemic. However, when I first wrote this song it was a much slower tempo with a more emotional feel because that was how I was feeling when I wrote it. When it came time to record the song, the emotions didn’t feel so heavy as they did at the time when I wrote it because I had some time to process. I think the lightness and whimsical aspect came from the excitement of coming together throughout this weird time, giving the listeners of the song a chance to feel all of the emotions at once.
Has your creative process during the pandemic changed at all? Any shifts in your vision or what projects you are doing next?
I wouldn’t say that my process has changed, but I would say my vision and perspective have changed. Over the midst of the pandemic, I have found myself writing more than I have in a long time. Since shows have not been on my radar, I have had all that extra energy to put completely into the writing and recording part of the creative process. I think all of the free time allowed me to embrace alone time and get to know myself as a writer more than I ever have before. I felt inspired to embrace a new direction with my music and dive head first into the next project.
Speaking of what projects are next, what can fans and supporters expect from you following the release of “All My Friends?”
My producer and I are currently in the midst of working on the next project that is eventually going to turn into an album. I am planning on releasing a few more singles beginning in 2021 and then release the entire project. I am very excited to continue collaborating and experimenting with a new sound!