"It’s a whole different mindset going on stage without a partner" We chat to Kelly Willis

Hey Kelly, what have you been up to today?

Today I have been unpacking from our family vacation we just returned from yesterday! And rehearsing for a long set at a honky-tonk here in Austin called The Broken Spoke.

Where are you right now?

I am at home in Austin Texas.

What can you tell us about your first solo record in ten years, Back Being Blue, in two sentences?

It's an attempt to create music infused with my inspirations. Rockabilly, early country music and roots rock.

What’s it like singing going solo again after all that time?

It’s a whole different mindset going on stage without a partner. At first, I found myself a little exhausted after a show. But now I’m in shape again. I miss being the harmony singer sometimes.

How did you go about writing and choosing which songs to record?

Well if I finish a song it’s because I like it. So I record those. I guess I have a few written that I haven’t recorded. That is probably because I didn’t write enough other songs in that era to justify a record for me. They don’t really fit the vibe of the project I just made.

What’s the one song on the record that you really want people to hear?

'Only You'

How come you chose to record to analog?

My husband produced the record and his studio is all analog. It’s his current passion. The musical era I was inspired by for these songs was an analog era. So I thought it was a good fit.

You’ve obviously been working with Bruce for a while (and married even longer) what was different about him being behind the “curtain” this time?

We prepared for possible conflicts. (Being married is already a bit of a power struggle) We just remembered that making music is fun and not to get weird about anything. We also have learned to really value each other’s contributions over the years.

What’s the biggest difference in you from your debut record?


And what’s the one gem of knowledge that you’d want to pass onto someone new to the music industry?

Pay attention to what is going on around you. Write it down. Appreciate other people and their talents.

Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general life at the moment, have you ever felt you were treated differently as a woman in your industry?

When I first started making records they wouldn’t play female artists back to back. They said women were the country music audience and they didn’t want to hear women. Ha!! So ridiculous.

What’s the hardest thing about being a woman in country music?

I’d say the hardest thing about being a country artist is that that label means something different to so many people. It’s hard to please them all.

When was the last time you were starstruck?

I met Elvis Costello backstage at an Austin City Limits event. I was giddy as a school girl.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

I have a string of Honky Tonk dates with Bruce. That tour runs through September. Then in November and December we begin our annual Holiday shows we’ve been doing for 20 years now!

If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be?

Jesse Dayton 'May Have To Do It, Don’t Have To Like It'

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?

What’s it like working with Eleanor Whitmore? She plays with Steve Earle now ( and her own band The Mastersons) but she played with me for years back in my “Translated From Love” era. She really made so much of this record work. I really wanted to capture that 50’s country girl duo feel. She was essential on this record.

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

Strong, no fancy flavors, with 2 creams.

For more information on Kelly you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or see what she's up to on Instagram.

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