An Interview With Up & Coming LA Turned Nashville Songstress Bre Kennedy

Everybody knows at least one person that radiates a natural, infectious personality. Many others also know someone who is wildly talented and driven to make their dreams a reality. Singer-Songwriter Bre Kennedy is the musical amalgam of both, making her a force to be reckoned with.

Bre Kennedy moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 2015 with the hopes of finding her purpose as a writer east of the Mississippi. She asked herself the crucial question many creators ask in the beginning of their journey: “What do I want to say?”

Four years, three singles, and one album later, Kennedy has made valiant strides to that answer and beyond. On March 8th Bre will be releasing her first single, “Slippin,” off of her debut EP “Jealous of Birds.” As an artist who is heavily influenced by the writers she surrounds herself with, she has been spending the last four years writing feverishly, playing with friends, and making a splash with her music both in the studio and on the stage. Unlike some, Kennedy’s sound is difficult to define. As comfortable as she feels playing raw, acoustic songs in an intimate setting, she can also bring down the house performing pop music that will get a crowd on their feet.

Here at Music Mecca we had the pleasure of catching up with Kennedy at her favorite coffee spot in East Nashville to talk a bit about her journey, and the music she’s been making.

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Music Mecca: So I’ve read a little bit about your journey from LA to Nashville, and I think it’s a great way to start this off. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how and when you ended up here?

Bre Kennedy: I was just talking to my brother about it! That’s wild. So I was living in Los Angeles from 18 to 22. I racked up a lot of parking tickets and I essentially got the whole LA experience and loved it. I was writing two times a day for other people and kind of figuring out what I wanted, but just wasn’t finding it in LA. I had come out here (to Nashville) for a writing trip in 2014 and fell in love with it. It just instantly connected with who I was, so I set a date, February 4th, 2015, and I drove my Nissan Maxima here. Within my first week I met Kyle Dreaden, Sam Lee, Diamond Carter and they all introduced me to different artists like Matt Koziol, who I write with a lot. My first job within my first week was at Burger Republic, where I met my best friend Hadley Kennary and Matt Lovell. I met this huge variety of artists and writers really quickly. It was kind of instant love, and I never wanted to leave.

MMSo in the time you’ve been here you’ve begun releasing your own music. Your first single, “Words,” was the first song you put out after coming to Nashville. How do you feel your music and sound has progressed from then to now?

BK: That’s a good question. I feel like I have matured a lot in my point of view as a young woman in the music industry, and I think that mostly came from experience. I feel like I was just really ready to play music with my friends and be as loud and bombastic as I could when I put “Words” out and it was so fun. With this EP it’s really stripped back, and I’ve really integrated a lot of my pop background into it as well.

MMSo “Slippin’” is going to be the first single from your debut EP. What made you choose that song?

BK: It is the most pop-laced song on the EP. I first thought that I was going to release something completely acoustic, which would’ve been a bold move. (laughs) And it’s a song that just meant a lot to me, but I went in the studio with Kyle (Dreaden) and Hadley (Kennary) and we wrote “Slippin”, just for fun honestly. And it was right around the time that I was feeling a bit of a quarter life crisis, and needed to write my “Landslide,” but needed to be able to DANCE to it. And every time I listened to “Slippin” I thought, “Maybe I’ll pitch this, maybe I’ll give it to another artist,” but I realized that nobody else can sing this except me.

MM: So kind of jumping off of that, as a whole, what musical differences can listeners expect to hear in your new EP that they may not have heard before?

BK: I think they’re going to experience two things. It’s going to be much more raw Bre. I think the Bre they see live is what they’re going to get more of on this EP. I’m also talking a lot more about my own experiences rather than just writing about whatever or for other people.

MM: I think that’s a really important goal, to capture those dynamics and live energy sounds in recordings.

BK: Yeah! I think that’s been a blessing and a curse for me because my live show is where people always feel like they understand me the most, so this EP has been really important to figure out how I can also have that conversation through recordings.

MM: When writing and recording this EP, did you have any specific musicians influencing your sound?

BK: Brandi Carlile. She’s amazing, and I’ve been listening to her since I was 16 years old. I remember I was working at my first job at Starbucks and they would play “The Story,” nonstop and I would just think about how her voice was from another planet.

{Insert side conversation about how incredible Brandi is}

BK: Jenny Lewis too. I also love Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and I grew up listening to Stevie Nicks and Lauryn Hill. It’s kind of all over the place! Honestly pretty much any female who has spoken out about how she feels has always inspired me.

MM: So would you say that’s a primary influence for the bulk of your songs?

BK: I think you may definitely hear a bit of that, but yeah it definitely has influenced me. Mostly what you’re going to hear in my music is stuff that’s true to me and my experiences.

MM: In addition to solo releases, we have also heard music from your duo Koziol Kennedy. Last year you guys released a full length album. Can you talk a little bit about how that came to be, and the sound you guys created together?

BK: It’s a very raw sound. Essentially with Koziol Kennedy you’re getting me and Matt singing the songs we wrote together. We met through Matt Odmark back in late 2015 or early 2016. I think Odmark kind of knew what he was doing and said to Koziol “You’re the male version of Bre. I think you should write.” Koziol also played guitar in my band so when we weren’t playing music or touring we were writing songs. He is one of my favorite people to write with. So we wound up writing 6 or 7 songs and thought “Lets do a Carol King, James Taylor thing. Whenever we have the songs let’s just put them out. No rules, no boundaries.” So essentially the dream is to make as much music as possible, so when we’re 50 or 60 years old and playing the Ryman we can play songs from my catalog and Matt’s catalog. It kind of just happened on a whim.

MM: Do you have a tour in place after the release of your EP? If so, what are some places you’re looking forward to most?

BK: So I’m working right now to figure out who I’m going to be opening for and what places I’ll be going to play. I believe I’ll be starting in Nashville, then probably going out to California, and finishing up in New York.

MM: What’re your favorite spots to play in Nashville that you’ve played in the past?

BK: My number one is The Basement. It’s the first place I ever played and I still love it. It’s my favorite and most intimate room because it creates a lot of awkward moments. I also love playing The 5 Spot and Hotel Cafe. I really want to play The Basement East this year.

MM: If you could open for any artist, dream scenario, who would it be?

BK: 100% Brandi Carlile.

MM: And venue?

BK: Man! Well obviously the first thing that comes to mind is The Ryman, but also Red Rocks. It’s a dream to play both. It’s 100% a dream to walk out onto the Ryman and to see my dad in the crowd and all my friends who helped me become a better writer and just look at them and say “I’m doing it! …I think!”

MM: Finally, what advice might you have for any young songwriters who are starting to figure it all out and want to do what you’re doing?

BK: Just put your music out and don’t be so precious about it. Just keep creating, because failure is important. Keep creating, and know you’ll have someone who’s not going to like your music, and someone who will love your music. Just keep working on your craft. You’re never done. You have to do the work. It’s hard work, but what else would you rather be doing?

For more information on Bre and her music, check out her Facebook page HERE.

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