Interview: Kelsey Kopecky talks songwriting, mother earth, and tour life

By Drea Atkins

September 9, 2015

We recently spoke with the spritely yoga enthusiast Kelsey Kopecky, of the indie rock band Kopecky. Kelsey and the band had been enjoying a rare vacation from tour life, visiting family and getting recentered for their upcoming shows. Formed out of Nashville in 2007, Kopecky (formerly Kopecky Family Band), started as the brainchild of Kelsey Kopecky and Gabe Simon while hanging out together one Halloween night in college. Kelsey and Gabe were both developing their own singular musical acts when they realized that their voices and styles blended beautifully together. Within a few months they had filled out their six-piece band, and in less than a year released their first EP, Embraces. Their eclectically hip, pop-driven sound has made them a festival favorite at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and so many more. They live most of their life on the road playing festivals and supporting favorite bands. They have crafted four EPs and two full length albums, their newest release, Drug for The Modern Age and Kids Raising Kids. The first full length album, Kids Raising Kids produced a top-10 hit, “Heartbeat”, that broke them into the mainstream music scene.

Kelsey has a calming and warm presence, like a waving wheat field in summer. We chatted about the band’s formation back when they were in college, music friendly wardrobe planning, God, where inspiration comes from and more.

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www.concart.com

CLTure: Recently on Twitter you wrote “Remembered why I make music tonight. So good.” What happened to make you remember your why?

Kelsey: I have been working on collaboration with Boom Forest and it was just very experimental. It was eyes

closed connecting and just feeling the music. It was non-judgmental and so freeing, magical. It is so hard to stay in that creative space versus figuring out the next type of song you will need to get aired on the radio, to complete a specific album, etc. During our break, I’ve been working on solo pieces and playing and experimenting. It’s been fun.

CLTure: We saw that you moved recently and wondered what was the most sentimental thing that you found when packing/unpacking?

KK: Oh, from my Grandma Carolee, she is the one who gave me her vinyls when I was little. She was a total hippie in her day!  She had this mustard yellow mini radio from the ‘70s that was for a bike. She gave it to me and I don’t think it even still works but I have never seen one elsewhere. And her love of God is huge, she gave me that too. So I’m moving and this random box is shifting and the old radio clicked on and a gospel station started playing out of nowhere!

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Gabe Simon photo by Maggie Saverns

CLTure: So how has it been visiting with family?

KK: It’s been great! Family is really important to all of us, and we are from all over the country so taking time to actually see our relatives has been wonderful. Gabe, our other lead vocalist and guitar player, is preparing for the arrival of their first baby, a little girl.

CLTure: Congrats to Gabe! Tour life isn’t for the faint of heart. What do you do to fill your creative cup while on the road?

KK: Often we say that we are professional travelers and part-time musicians. Ha! We take time to stop and connect with nature, God, earth and space. I remember we were hiking in Yosemite National Park and just taking it in, this huge waterfall, and realizing that every human emotion is purposeful, to move you forward in some way. The only exception is awe. Awe is simply there to hold you in wonder. That’s important, too. Nature, connecting with something bigger refills our creative cup and breaks up the exhaustive experience of always being on the road.

CLTure: Speaking of human emotions, what do you want people to feel when they hear Kopecky?

KK: I honestly think it is just that, to feel. We think of ourselves as guiding people back to their heart, their source. Songs can add to release, to awaken something. Like our song, Closed Doors, it’s all about letting go, releasing heartbreak. Maybe that song might get someone a step closer, to help heal that heartbreak and move on. Talk to Me and My Love are songs about connecting.

Kopecky

CLTure: The new album, Drug for the Modern Age, is such a wonderful mix of chunky and smooth, like great peanut butter. What song was the most challenging to write, that stretched everyone?

KK: Hmm, I’d have to say Better Luck Next Time. It was definitely the most challenging; we had to rewrite it twice. We found new things in it. That is a great thing that happens when you are playing the same songs over and over.

CLTure: What is your Drug for The Modern Age?

KK: It’s different for all of us. For Gabe, it’s his wife; she is his cure to this modern world. For me it is my nieces and their pure and perfect innocence. We wanted to say that we are all in this together, to choose love and real relationships over the technology addicted trappings. Some people are obsessed with an ageless society, of false connections.

CLTure: What if someone was from Mars, what is the first track you would play them so they would understand the vibe and sound of Kopecky?

KK: Ha! I would play Howlin’ At the Moon off of our album, Of Epic Proportions. It’s purely unadulterated Kopecky! It has this interesting time signature and I have a funny emotional connection with that song. I think Martians would like that vibe! I would play Vancouver and Natural Selection next. Those are both on Drug for The Modern Age. We always play a super diverse set to create different energies throughout the show. We switch from acoustic and intimate to wild and rowdy.

Photo by Kristen Hill
Drumstrong 2014 Photo by Kristen Hill

CLTure: You play so many different instruments, do you have a favorite?

KK: I have rediscovered my electric guitar while on this break. I have been having a blast with that, it’s such a different sound and so percussive compared to keys. I’m working on my solo album, which won’t be out for a while, but my electric guitar has been so fun.

CLTure: What is your favorite part of playing live?

KK: I love how every show is totally different because of the audience. It’s fresh for them each time, always a new experience.  But the connection with new people is awesome. That’s amazing.

Kopecky plays Weenie Roast in Charlotte, NC on Sept. 12th.

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