John Kelley talks about recording his first two albums, reveals his thoughts on the writing process, and shares his advice for aspiring artists.
Last week, local Indy rapper and artist John Kelley came into the LemonWire offices for a special performance in our Music Corner. After he performed, I got the opportunity to sit down with him for a few minutes to learn more about his writing process.
Interview with John Kelley
LemonWire: So could you describe the differences between your first two albums in writing and recording? Did you have the same process for both of them?
John Kelley: Well for “I Am John Kelley”, I didn’t have own studio at that point. I was using my friend’s studio so I didn’t have, like, the luxury of time, you know. So I just would record when I could and knocked it out, you know and didn’t have much time mixing or doing anything like that. Then “Lifestyle Livin’”, I poured some songs from even before “I Am John Kelley” just to get them out of my catalog, because I didn’t want them to go to waste. And then I also had my own studio, but it was bad equipment, you know. Then in the midst of it someone steals my laptop. So the whole CD didn’t get mixed. I just released it, I wasn’t going to get down on it or dwell on it. I just released it and it’s like, I’m not gonna do what I want, but it still sounds better than most people’s mixes.
LW: How do you think you’ve grown or changed since “I Am John Kelley”? Do you think your style has changed?
JK: It’s a lot more effortless, you know what I’m saying. The writing process. Even with my delivery, everything, you know. Because I used to be a whole lot more aggressive with the music. I mean, so now my delivery is a lot more relaxed.
LW: What’s your writing process like?
JK: The process of what I do – like, literally, if I can’t freestyle it, then you’ll see me like writing something down to just pick up where I can. Where I want to maybe be a little less melodic and more lyrical you know.
LW: Do you write most of your songs by freestyling?
JK: Yeah, always freestyle the vibe and always – I always find myself in the music. I’ll probably hear the beat and freestyle what I’m going to say, you know, and then get it right before I even lay it down. Then I might have to do five or ten takes to hear what I want to hear.
LW: How do you think your experiences have shaped what you write about?
JK: I mean I don’t hide from my experiences, and I live my experiences you know what I’m saying, so, me just being in tune with all that and and being connected with everything, it just makes it better because I can get back to those moments or those vibes and always try to relive a moment or a vibe.
LW: What’s next for you? Do you have something on the horizon that you’re shooting towards right now?
JK: Yeah. Putting together a multiple city tour.
LW: When’s that going to happen?
JK: March 2020. I’m looking for the right acts and the right sponsorships. Gonna base it around the arts community, little college towns, and then really this region, so we can be efficient with travel. Cause it’s not like we’re working with any type of budget.
LW: What kind of impact do you want your music to have?
JK: So what my goal is specifically, is probably just love. Spread love, man. Because I mean, that’s the only thing that’s gonna change the world.
LW: Has anyone ever given you a piece of advice about music that has stuck with you?
JK: Don’t let anybody hold you back. Not even yourself. I mean, nobody can make or break you.
LW: And do you have any advice for people who are trying to do the same thing that you’re doing?
JK: Just make sure this is what you want to do.