In a world where you can be anything, Texas native and full-time badass Kelly Monrow acknowledges the benefit of pursuing more than one artistic endeavor. Beginning her rise to stardom as an actress and model, she has since added singer-songwriter and guitarist to her talent repertoire.
Known to many as Kelly Dowdle, writing and playing music became her way of coping during the pandemic, when she created something of an alter ego in ‘Kelly Monrow,’ kickstarting her music career. This healing has become a common theme amongst Monrow’s work, and her latest video single, “Wounds”, is no different.
A deeply raw and emotional song, as well as a testament to some of Monrow’s own scars, the single covers the experience of loving someone at the expense of yourself. A child of divorced parents, Monrow opens up about the feelings of loneliness and abandonment that she has carried into her current life. One takeaway from the song is the importance of “tending to your own garden first.”
“Wounds” comes off of Monrow’s debut full-length album, Scars of Venus, which dropped last October.
We had the opportunity to talk to Monrow about the song, the music video, 2023 plans, and more.
So how has the year treated you so far? Any notable highlights?
2022 was such a wild year of keeping my head down, exploring my voice, and just being a mad woman at creating. The highlight was releasing an album that took me several months to make. I am really proud of Scars of Venus.
I see you have a career as an actress and recently decided to start making music. What triggered/inspired you to go full-steam ahead in this new direction?
The pandemic hit and everything was shut down. I started writing and practicing guitar because music was my therapy. It allowed me to express myself in a way that felt really healing. Once I started, it came naturally and felt really great, so I wanted to keep doing it.
So you’ve got your new video single, “Wounds,” dropping today, January 13th. It’s clearly an emotional and vulnerable song. Was there a specific event or memory that triggered the writing of it?
This song is really just about my childhood wounds. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I remember every time I would see my dad or leave him it just hurt so bad. I think the divorce really was the first time I experienced loneliness and abandonment, and I think that caused me to recreate some of that in my adult life. This song is about until we heal a wound – which I call a pattern or memory that is painful – they will keep showing up until we catch the lesson. It’s also a song about seeking more self love.
Is there a specific message or feeling you’re trying to convey to the listener?
My favorite line of the entire song is, “I loved you, just not me and for that I’m sorry / Oh the things we do for love.” It just hits it right on the head. We all have loved someone at the expense of ourselves, and we are even taught at an early age to put others before yourself etc. And I have learned the hard way that we must pick partners that are giving back as much as we give, and that we tend to our own garden first as well. This is all really important for me, and this song really touches on when I was not tending to my own garden.
Can you discuss the vision behind the music video?
I wanted it really raw. We found this neon light at my friends apartment we used that lit up neon red, and I thought that was such a creative moody idea because to me the neon red light represents the deep cuts and pain we feel when we feel not good enough, or when we are having an experience that pulls us into pain.
And I see this song is off of your debut October album Scars of Venus. What made you choose to release this track as a video single as opposed to others?
I just really loved the lyrics and rawness to this song. The other videos are much more organized and put together and have more of a cinematic story line to them. This song is so special because I think it is just an honest, raw song and it doesn’t need a lot because the words hit hard to me. This song personally takes me somewhere and I go into a daydream and it makes me feel all sorts of feelings. I hope it will resonate with other people as well.
Was there a track on the album that was the hardest to write/record for one reason or another?
“Down Your Spine” we almost didn’t put on the album because I just wasn’t feeling that great about it. I wasn’t sure about the words and the beat and just the way the whole song was sounding…. And it turns out as an artist, the one song you didn’t love, people end up loving the most. Ha, who knew.
If you could tour and open for any present-day artist, who would it be and why?
Well, Shania Twain is up there for me as far as the career she made for herself. I love Pink as well and her stage presence. I would say if I could hop on the Brandi Carlisle/Pink tour that would be badass… but if I could open for Shania one day that would be dreamy as well!
Looking ahead, how do you foresee the timeshare going between acting and making music? Is there one you plan to focus more on?
I plan to do both full force. We live in a new world where I don’t think you have to choose and you can absolutely do both. I think having both capacities makes you more well rounded as a performer. I think it just requires time management and discipline. My whole life I will always be circulating artistry through different channels. I would get way too bored sticking to one thing. When something is hot, you hit it, stay on it and put it out to the world. Then move on to the next thing. I am finding it actually makes me more potent at acting. For example, when I leave it for a minute to go sing, then when I come back I am stronger and more dynamic. Then when the project is done, I dip back into music with all these new ideas.
What are some of your goals – whether musically or otherwise – for 2023?
I want to keep writing music and putting music out. I want to get on a TV series that hopefully allows me to sing or play the role of a country music star. Ha. That would be the best of both worlds!