Q&A with Nashville singer/songwriter, Corey Kilgannon

Corey Kilgannon creates the kind of tunes you would listen to on a relaxing Sunday morning with a piping hot cup of coffee in hand, while watching the sun rise over the mountains. His smooth vocals combined with acoustic melodies make for a beautifully composed and heartfelt work of art. Lucky for us here in the Pacific Northwest, he’ll be in town next month to perform live, opening for the band Joseph.

Kilgannon, who was born in New York, raised in Florida, and currently resides in Nashville, made a recent visit here with his sister while on a road trip. The pair drove from Nashville to Los Angeles to Seattle, and then back to Nashville.

“The Pacific Northwest was definitely our favorite part of the trip,” said Kilgannon. “We hail from Florida originally, so the scenery was really mind-blowing. We spent a few days in Seattle, and were able to take a day trip out to Mount Rainier which truly is one of my favorite memories. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen! I’ve been thinking about y’alls (please excuse my southern lingo) part of the country a lot since then … who knows I may just be a Western Washington local someday.”

Q:  Where were some of your favorite places to visit while you were here?

A: Well as I mentioned, the trip to the mountain is a highlight of possibly my whole life. Besides that we did a bunch of touristy stuff, honestly. I watched the sun set over the Olympic Mountains on the beach at Alki Park. That was a favorite for sure. We also did the underground tour (probably tacky to a local) but I was fascinated by the history of Seattle! There’s an entire ancient city underneath you guys! That’s the coolest. Obviously we rode the ferry over to the islands, went to the Space Needle, etc.  I’m friends with a bunch of songwriters and I feel like every single one has some kind of song romanticizing the Northwest…. and I TOTALLY get it.

Q: So, about your music career. How old were you when you started playing/writing your own music?

A: I started picking around on a guitar by age eight, but it wasn’t till early high school that I started writing. I really don’t know how to explain how it started. I was just sitting one day playing and stumbled into a song idea and an hour or two later I had the finished thing. There’s this crazy feeling you get when a song doesn’t exist, and then in a short period of time you cause it to exist and I think I’m probably addicted to that. I started putting out EPs and wanting people to hear my songs by my junior year of high school, and it’s been a pretty good time since then.

Q: How does your song-writing process go? Do you write lyrics first or compose a melody and write around that?

A: I dropped out of songwriting school because I really don’t think there is a formula for this stuff. At least not for me. Sometimes I noodle my way into something pretty on the guitar, sometimes a thought or a lyric will get stuck in my head. I can usually feel a song coming for a few days, and then I’ll catch an hour or two to write and it comes pouring out. At least that’s how the good ones go.  I usually write a song in either two hours, or about eight months. Never anything in between.  I’m really not prolific, or efficient in my songwriting; I just do it when I feel that I need to. It’s incredibly therapeutic for me, a totally necessary part of my life, and I’d hate to jeopardize that relationship I have with it by turning it into something that I try to churn out every day formulaically.  When I can, I pay attention to what I’m feeling (or what someone I know is feeling) and I attempt to allow myself to feel that, and write it. It’s weird, and mystical, and I have a tiny niche audience because I’m not very sellable, but I love what I do.

Q: Any bands/artists you credit as influences in your music?

A: I haven’t come up with anything game-changingly original musically by any means so I have to credit a lot of people. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, music should be shared not competed for.  I’m hugely influenced on a deep level actually just by the folks in my life personally whose music I encounter. Nick Johnston has a project called Mr. Manager that I listen to daily, Molly Bush’s album (coming soon) has been on repeat since she sent it to me, the folks I’m touring with Joseph and Penny & Sparrow are hugely influential and inspirational to me. Those are just a few, but I’m just really thankful and proud of so many of my friend’s music. Amongst big artists that we all know and love, I’ve been a big fan of the Avett Brothers for a long time, I love Ryan Adams, City and Colour, Gregory Alan Isakov….. all sad acts really. At least for the music side. For lyrics I try to let myself be influenced by all genres. I’ve been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore, and I also gravitate toward mid-2000s pop-punk like Mayday Parade.

Q: What are some of your music recommendations?

A: Steven Fiore – Youth and Magic.
Liza Anne – Two.
Gregory Alan Isakov – The Weatherman.
Bryan John Appleby – Fire On The Vine.
Penny and Sparrow – Struggle Pretty.
Joseph – Native Dreamer Kin.

Q: How about your top 3 favorite records of all time?

A: I’ll give you a variety:

The Avett Brothers, Emotionalism. I went through a bad break up a few years ago. I should really say break down actually….. Family fell apart, I started going a little crazy, and my girlfriend peaced out (screw high school).  I got in the car solo for spring break that year and drove a few thousand miles by myself. I’d sit in silence for a while thinking, and then I’d pop that record back in and listen front to back. It’s really a masterpiece.

Mayday Parade, A Lesson in Romantics. Not kidding, there’s some lyrical gems on that record and every song is a jam.  That record meant a lot to me in middle school, and it still holds up today.

Mr. Manager, Night Songs. Nick is one of my best friends. I think he knows I have a massive musical crush on him but I’m not sure. I’ve listened to his EP thousands of times. Cried alone in the car to it. It’s deeply profound and beautifully humanizing. Can’t recommend it enough.

Q: Lastly, what can we expect from you in 2016?  

A: I’ll be releasing a B-Sides project called Bleeding Out Slow on Noisetrade Feb. 5, and a three-song concept EP called She is Blue Sky, I’m the Gray” on Feb. 19 just about everywhere. I’m super pumped to be releasing that much new music in a short period of time, and I’ve never been more excited to share recordings than I am those. I’ll be on tour with Joseph for two weeks in February, then you’ll find me traversing the eastern side of our country with Penny and Sparrow through mid-April. After that, I really have no idea. I’ve been writing a full length this year, and I’d love to hit the studio again soon. Also thinking of spending some time off the internet grid, maybe living in New York City for a few months. I never really know what I’m doing with my life, but I will do my best to keep anybody who wants to know posted!

Catch Kilgannon on tour with the band Joseph when they come to Seattle on March 3rd at the Columbia City Theater. Can’t make it to that show? Don’t worry, you can still see him at any of the following nearby shows (a mini-road trip is required):

Saturday, February 27 – Bellingham, WA at The Green Frog (tickets)
Monday, February 29 – Bend, OR at the Volcanic Theatre Pub (tickets)
Wednesday, March 2 – Eugene, OR at Sam Bond’s Garage (tickets)
Thursday, March 3 – Seattle, WA at the Columbia City Theater (tickets)
Friday, March 4 – Vancouver, BC at Biltmore Cabaret (tickets)
Saturday, March 5 – Portland, OR at Doug Fir Lounge (tickets)
Sunday, March 6 – Spokane, WA at The Bartlett (tickets)

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