"Listen is an album for the forgotten, the silenced, and the hurting" We chat with Kyshona
Here are TDF we first noticed Kyshona in 2017 when she released The Ride 2.0, then we saw her singing impromptu vocals with Bonnie Bishop at AmericanaFest UK in Hackney in January 2020. Now, with her new album, Listen, just released, we asked her a few questions about the record, her live streaming shows, and experience in the music industry.
Hey Kyshona, how’s your day going?
Today started off a little rocky, but the day has definitely gotten better.
So... where are you right now?
I’m just outside of Nashville quarantined with my cat.
Tell us a bit about you, what do you do for fun?
I’m a former touring singer/songwriter, new-found candle maker and baker extraordinaire.
You released your album, Listen, a couple of months ago, tell me about it in two sentences?
Listen is an album for the forgotten, the silenced, and the hurting. We recorded it live, to tape, here in Nashville and I’m so proud of it because I got to show off my friends and their musicianship.
What can you tell me about ‘Fallen People’?
I wrote 'Fallen People' with Jenn Bostic and Maureen Murphy here in Nashville. When I play this song live, I liken it to 'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz. My supervisor gave me a copy of the book years ago when I was a music therapist interning in the Bronx, NY. Two of the agreements are “Don’t make assumptions” and “Don’t take anything personally”. I feel 'Fallen People' speaks directly the heart of those two agreements. We are all walking around with past pains, traumas, and experiences. If we can see each other through that lens and not assume everyone is out to get us or against us then maybe we can walk into conversations with a little more grace and understanding. We are all people who hurt.
What’s the song on the record that has the best story?
The first track, 'Listen', was written just after a tour with a couple of friends. During our travels, we got into a conversation about the Me Too movement and politics (as you do on an eight-hour drive in a small car). After one friend asked my opinion on the subject, every time I stated my opinion it became a “yes, but” situation. I never realized how frustrating “yes, but” could be when you’re telling someone what your experience in the world is like. (Side note: I was the only woman of color in the car). In the end, this friend said to me that she just wanted to know how to be a better ally. All I could think to tell her was “stop talking and listen”. This is something even I struggle with. Coming from a therapy and educator background, I want to fix everything. But so often we aren’t looking to be fixed, we just want to be heard. It's hard to remember that when you yourself are carrying weight. But when we truly listen and HEAR where someone is coming from, that can open the door to us seeing the world through their eyes, acknowledge our privileges, and adjust appropriately.
You recorded it in The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, how was that experience?
The Bomb Shelter is seriously one of my favorite spaces to record. Andrija Tokic pretty much hand-built that entire studio. You’re surrounded by that love and intention when you walk into the tracking room. Andrija applies that same warm, creative energy to every project he produces.
How much do you think of other artists that have recorded there when you were making the album?
Honestly, I’m so focused on the music, musicians, and message that I don’t have time to think about who was in the room before me. I love to get caught up and focused in the moment.
You’ve been doing some live streaming shows, how have they been?
The live streams have been both challenging and rewarding. It’s been nice to be able to bring music into peoples’ homes, especially during the first two months of the pandemic. The challenging part has been the technology. I am very grateful for my techie friend that has helped me troubleshoot all of the various bleeps and bloops that have occurred in this new phase of live performing.
I usually ask, what have you got planned for the rest of 2020, but I’m not sure any of us know… so, what’s the thing you’re looking forward to doing most when things settle down?
When things settle down, I’m really looking forward to playing with my band and singing with my friends again. I’m also looking forward to continuing some of the good habits/coping skills I’ve picked up these past few months.
Gender and diversity are much discussed in the music industry, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
As a black woman, personally, I enter every space and interaction with my race first in mind rather than my gender. Most uncomfortable or negative interactions tend to happen during the setup/soundcheck or at the merch table after a show. At the merch table, it tends to be inappropriate or unwarranted comments that I feel come out of either ignorance or insecurity.
Have you noticed a difference at all in the last couple of years?
Sure. I feel that there has been more trust on both sides of the microphone, for sure. Trust that my band (who is mostly female) and I know what we need and how to ask for it. And my band and I trusting the audio team to hear us and follow through when we state our needs.
Give me a flavour of the kind of music you listen to in your spare time.
I’ve been in nostalgia mode lately. My 'frequently played’ list for the month is full of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Emily King, and Fiona Apple.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Just one?!?! oof. Liz Longley just released new music that is gut-wrenchingly good.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Who was my favorite Winnie the Pooh character: Tigger. He had non stop enthusiasm that sometimes got him into trouble…. but you always knew that he meant well.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Just with honey. (laughs)