Campfire Tales: a chat with Vikesh Kapoor
With a recently released debut album under his belt and a UK tour supporting The Handsome Family, we thought it was about time we had a chat with Pennsylvania's Vikesh Kapoor. Want to know about that debut, The Ballad Of Willy Robbins, that support slot, and future plans? Read on.
Please introduce yourself to the TMF readers.
Hello, TMF readers! I’m a songwriter from the United States of America. Pennsylvania to be exact. A few years ago I was invited to sing at Howard Zinn’s memorial service next to Noam Chomsky and a few prominent civil rights speakers and that experience led me to writing my debut album, a collection of story songs. Pete Seeger was a large inspiration for this album. It was released this April throughout Europe and for that I’m grateful.
How does it feel having your debut album out in the wild?
And how would you describe it to people who haven’t heard it yet?
This album is for all the people that work hard, yet struggle to keep their spirit intact. This one’s for you.
What has been your favourite part of the album process so far?
Getting to sing the album’s songs for so many kinds of people in rock clubs, art spaces, theatres, inner cities, cabins, rural towns, punk houses, festivals, old folk’s homes and even for children.
How did the tour with The Handsome Family go?
I love The Handsome Family first of all. They were very gracious and no one writes songs like they do. The tour is complete now and thinking on it I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience touring throughout the UK. It was a sold-out tour.
I arrived at my first show (in Belfast) very jet-lagged after five different flights from Portland, Oregon. I then proceeded to play in a big white marquee for 550 people, who were completely silent. To have a silent crowd listen as I stood on stage alone was, and will always be, very encouraging... hallucinatory even. Most of the tour followed suit. I ended the tour with my own headlining show in East London which was very special.
And do you have any plans for a headline UK tour?
I certainly plan to! When the time is right.
Do you have an earliest musical memory? Was there a record or act that made you think 'I want to do this'?
Discovering punk rock music as a teenager; buying a Johnny Cash LP for 25 cents at a church swap; seeing the inspiration and humility of Pete Seeger, and unearthing the treasure of Bob Dylan just at the right time.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Writing better songs and loving someone.
If we were to look at your MP3 player, would we find any of your own music on there?
Only demos for new songs (me singing strangely and partially out of tune in motel bathrooms)
What’s your top tip (or tips) for other artists who are starting out?
Write with truth; your only job is to be true, even if it’s not what you think people want to hear. Think wider than just today. And turn off your iPhone.
What other artists are you listening to at the moment?
Nina Simone, Saintseneca, Tinariwen and Conor Oberst’s new album.
What's up next for you?
Touring France in June with Alela Diane, the west coast of America in July and numerous festivals through the summer. Hopefully the UK once again this fall!
Vikesh’s debut, 'The Ballad Of Willy Robbins', is out now on Loose Music. You can find out more on his website, vikeshkapoor.com