NOW! Records artist Briana Kidwell rocks. Understood? The end. I mean, why overindulge ourselves in unnecessary verbiage? The music just rocks. But here's the thing...there is so much going on in this brand of rock that it is very worth exploring on a higher level. I was able to do just that in the interview with Briana that you are graciously about to read. Enjoy...
CL: Ok, so first things first...who is Briana and why does she love rhinestones?
BK: Briana is a midwest farmgirl who always had an eye for fashion and fun. At an FFA convention in the formative years, in a sea of conformative uniforms, there was a performer on stage in a Manuel suit that caught the farmgirl's attention. The music combined with the attitude of fashion on stage demanded attention. From that day on Briana had rhinestone stars in her eyes ... fast-forward five years, Briana moved to Nashville and was writing songs to make herself and others happy. She thought, "Why don't I write about rhinestones?" Her fate was sealed and put into song.
CL: I hear countless genres in your music being represented. How would you define your music?
BK: rockinrollcountrypunkinsoul...another fun term is country/garage...
CL: Very cool...and very accurate. The distorted vocal on some of your songs, like "Brian Jones" and "Rhinestone Man" is just so killer and different. What inspired you to record your voice that way?
BK: When recording 'Rhinestone Man', I wanted everything in the red...so the vocals on that track were inspired by In-the-Red Records and Crypt Records style for sure, two of my favorite record labels growing up. Combining the distortion and retro recording techniques on my voice was fun and felt natural for a vintage feel on the song. On 'Brian Jones', the inspiration was The Rolling Stones' own Brian Jones...the early Rolling Stones inspired the sound and song.
CL: Do you feel living and recording in Nashville has changed your sound?
BK: Nashville inspires...being surrounded by many of the best musicians on the planet definitely makes you aware of the songs and sounds that you make. I believe it has 'raised the bar' for this country girl and I have become a better songwriter and guitar player by Nashville's influence. 'The Nashville Sound' is always changing and we all influence each other...I believe we all have our own sound in our mind that we want to express that has been made up of our influences in this life. Nashville has not changed my sound, but enhanced it and made it more rich. Nashville has inspired me to record my sound so others can hear it.
CL: And how about your style?
BK: Rhinestone Revolution...When moving to Nashville, I met the 'The Tailor to the Stars', Manuel. I always had my own sense of style and flair growing up in the cornfields of Missouri, however my style went couture by wearing rhinestones and art when Manuel designed his first shirt for me. I felt this country girl who once wore that FFA jacket and her Chuck Taylors, was now wearing a Manuel; and now I was ready for Music City, where style and sound are synonymous. Music City has all kinds of music; rap, jazz, latin, rock, garage, americana and country...it is a beautiful community of artists that inspire and create. I am so happy I chose to live in Nashville and to be a part of it.
CL: In my book I state that "Passengers" is one of the best rock songs I have heard in the past ten years. Who are the players on that track?
BK: Thank you, Chris Levine! I love that you have written your book and follow your heart with music...inspiration for us all! 'Passengers' is a monster! That was recorded in my living room in Nashville. It was done in the spirit of love and fun! Produced by 'The Book Brothers' at NOW! Records (Kevin Smith and Gregory Lattimer), and those two gentlemen did the guitar and bass tracks. Todd Jewell did the over-the-top drumming as he knows best (he tours with Wanda Jackson), and my sister- Clementyne Howard, did backing vocals on that track.
We did it as a team and had fun. I believe that is what the listener hears.
CL: I can see that. That's what this listener hears. Ok, so speaking of fun...I'll name a genre, you give me some of your influences, ok?
BK: Let's go! Top Ten!
CL: Bring it! Punk?
BK: New York Dolls, The Oblivians, The Revelators, Nine Pound Hammer, The Swingin' Neckbreakers, The Stooges, Plasmatics, Cramps, X, Patti Smith
BK: Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Rose Maddox, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, The Louvin Brothers, Gram Parsons, Jeannie C. Riley, Jason and The Scorchers, Steve Earle
BK: Arthur Alexander, Sir Douglas Quintet, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Sam Cooke, Jackson 5, Sly and the Family Stone
Ike and Tina Turner
BK: Beck, Elvis Costello, Black Crowes, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Sonic Youth, Camper Van Beethoven, The Replacements, Babes in Toyland, Fugazi, The White Stripes
CL: Hip Hop?
BK: Grand Master Flash, OutKast, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Easy E, Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, The Roots, Arrested Development, Digable Planets
CL: Classic Rock?
BK: Rolling Stones, Joan Jett, The Who, Cheap Trick, Roxy Music, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, CCR, The Pretty Things, AC/DC
CL: Now let's leave it open ended. Who else has musically inspired you?
BK: Cajun Musicians! Doug Kershaw and Jo-El Sonnier are my favorites. I love it when the culture and tradition of the region comes out in the music...and music is a part of the culture and tradition. I am inspired by Doug and Jo-El because they brought the regional traditions to the world through their own style of performance and recording! Above all, I do feel a connection to the Johnny Cash story. He grew up on a farm, lost a close sibling at a young age and was a hard worker. He also could use his experiences to interpret many types of songs from all different genres. My life has mirrored his in some ways and feel he has influenced me the most as an artist.
CL: Do you have a favorite song in your own catalogue?
BK: My favorite song I have written is 'Rhinestone Man'.
CL: Why that song in particular?
BK: I feel it is an anthem for all of women in search of the elusive male in our mind that is different from all the others! It happens in two minutes or less and I just wrote the words down as they came to me, also, I just love playing the blues based rockabilly rhythms. I love that song because it is who I am as an artist and a female.
CL: If asked what about your music the world needs right now, how would you answer? And don't be modest...
BK: Right now what the world needs the most in music is love. I do music for the love of it...I feel that is what you will hear in all of my songs. A long time ago in my life I found out life is too short to do a song that doesn't mean something to you. So every song I do has meaning for me and I want the listener to be able to take their own experience away from it. Music is my passion and I put my soul into it...I feel every single one of us can change the world in our own way by creating and using our art, whatever it may be, to share with others. I am sendin' my love from Nashville.
CL: Thanks, Briana for the great music and for the opportunity to talk.
BK: And thank you for sharing your art, CL!
I encourage you to discover Briana Kidwell and her music. You will not be disappointed. You can check out Briana at NOW! Records on the web. Check out "Passengers" at http://www.nowrecords.net/content/briana