Interview With Singer & Songwriter ‘Kelsey Montanez’

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a singer songwriter out of Chicago. Music has always been the biggest part of my life. My dad was in a rock band, my grandfather played the blues, my grandma played bass in an all girl band in the 60’s. I’ve been writing songs and making music since I was a kid and at this point it’s just a part of my every day.

How did you come up with your artist name? 

My parents came up with it.

How long have you been in the music industry? 

I guess you could say since high school. I started writing my own music in middle school and by the time I got to high school I was performing my music in venues and bars.

How did you get started in the music business in the first place? 

Growing up my dad was in a band and I would go to his band practices and shows with him. When I started writing my own music as a kid it just seemed like the natural next step that I would start playing in venues.

How would you describe your latest single? 

It’s very bluesy and rock and roll. I’ve always really loved classic psych rock bands like Zeppelin and Floyd. I’ve also been really heavily influenced by the blues because my grandfather was a blues musician. You can hear a lot of those influences in the guitar tones and chord changes in Let Me Love You.

When can fans expect the visuals for the single?

Leather jackets and electric guitars,

Who are your inspirations in the music industry?

I really like Rick Rubin’s philosophy on creating. I also really respect Lana Del Rey’s ability to maintain her sense of artistry and poetry despite making it to the top of the pop game.

How do you go about writing a song and what is your process?  

I usually start by strumming random guitar chords until I fall on something that feels right and then the vocal Melodie’s and lyrics start to slowly take shape. But I never have a plan of what I’m going to write about when I sit down to write.

What is the concept behind your forthcoming project if working on one? 

I wanted to make an album that felt classic and timeless like a lot of the old music I listen to. It was important to me to maintain a sense of musicality and excellence which is why I brought in some of the best musicians I could find to the studio instead of programming sounds. This album will be a nod to the 60’s and 70’s which is when some of the best music ever was made.

Any plans on touring to promote your latest single?

Right now my main focus is recording this album and making it the best it can possibly be. Once it’s done I know that touring is the next logical step which both excites me and terrified me! But once more of the album is done my focus will shift more to the live shows and touring.

What did you buy with your first check off music?

I just put it back into the studio. I could have all the money in the world and I’d probably still be doing exactly what I’m doing which is trying to make the best music in the studio that I can.

What are must haves when your in the studio working?

An open mind.

What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed?

Stay authentic!

Will you be collaborating with any other artists in the future?

I’m always collaborating with artists and musicians! I am very thankful to have a team of excellent musicians working on this album. I’m inspired by the musicianship around me every day. The session musicians working on this album have toured and created with some of the biggest names in music and it’s a privilege to be able to learn from them.

What artist have you had the pleasure of working with and what was it like?

I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with Chance the Rapper on a song and music video called “Out of Sight.” That video was a blast to make and Chance is super cool. It was definitely an honour to work with him on something and I’m really proud of all the work he does to give back to the world.

Name an artist(s) that you would love to work with?  

I’d love to work with Rick Rubin or Lana Del Rey.

Do you think your music is mostly enjoyed more for the beats  or for the lyrical flow and content?

If I had to guess for the content and lyrics. But now with so many amazing musicians working on the album I hope more people will come to love every element of the song.

What area do you need to improve on in regards to your career? (Example: Better production, Delivery, Stage presence, etc…)

I struggle with the concept of “selling” myself. I just love music and I love what I’m doing but the whole marketing aspect of it can feel daunting. I’m not a very showy person and I don’t naturally gravitate towards the spotlight but I know that it’s a big part of it. I try to tell myself it’s more about connecting with people and that seems to help.

What’s your all-time favourite song? 

I can’t pick just one!!! I have like a million!

What was the last album you listened to?

The New Abnormal by The Strokes

Your favourite artist of all time and why?

This is an unfair question! I have way too many to choose!

Whose your favourite five artists right now? 

Currently it’s the Strokes but it changes like every week.

In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?

I think Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is so iconic. I love the way she writes, I love her lyrics, her style. I don’t know if she’s the most influential ever but she’s influential to me!

Who have been some of your favourite artists that you’ve been able to work with? 

Chance the Rapper for sure. But I also really find the hustle of local musicians inspiring. I love seeing people create something out of nothing.

How do you feel about the current state of music? 

I have no idea how to feel about the state of the music industry right now. It seems like the industry makes a massive shift every couple of years and it’s a lot to keep up with. I think in a lot of ways it’s the easiest AND the hardest it’s ever been to really carve a clear path in music. It’s the easiest it’s ever been for people without huge budgets to create music which is great, but that also means the competition is enormous. I just try to stay grounded in making good music (or at least what I think is good music)and focus on what makes me happy while the industry is in upheaval and hope I make it out alright.

Any dream award shows you hope to one day play at?

I’ve never really thought about that. It would be cool to win a major award. I think any artist would like the seal of approval from getting a Grammy or something like that. But I also don’t really like the competitive aspect of award ceremonies bc I think it can take away from the art of making something that speaks to people which should always be the main goal.

What is your main goal as far as music?

To make music I stand behind.

Who would you say your music relates to the most?

It’s always surprising to me who relates to my music and really takes it to heart. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed one specific type of person who relates the most. I get messages from people of all walks of life who tell me something about my music moved them or they could relate to it somehow. Music is universal and I think if a song does a good job of touching on a universal emotion, it could catch anyone at just the right moment in time.

What separates you from other artists? (What’s makes you different?)

I’d like to think I have more similarities than differences with other artists. We’re all out here just doing the thing we love most and chasing the stuff that inspires us and I love that about artists. I’m definitely an oddball when you get to know me but I believe every human is an oddball when you truly get to know them.

When your not in the studio, What do you like to do for fun and relaxation?

I like to read, go on long walks, explore book stores, record stores, new restaurants. Sometimes I’ll go to new cities or neighborhoods and wander around until I find something interesting.

If you could work with any producer who would it be?

Probably Rick Rubin.

What’s the biggest highlight of your career thus far?

I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of cool shit like make a music video with Chance the Rapper or live rent free for a year in a luxury high rise hotel for a music residency, or travel around and play amazing shows and meet fascinating individuals, but I still think the best is yet to come.

What is your dream venue to perform at?

Anywhere where the sound and lighting is immaculate.

What’s the name of the last book you read and by whom?

Right now I’m reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon.

What’s your favourite sports team and why?

I hate to say this but I know nothing about sports. (Much to my dads dismay.) If he had it his way we would be at every single Cubs and Bears game ever together. Sadly he only passed his love of music down to me but not his love of sports.

Whose your favourite actor or actress and their best movie?

I don’t know if I have a favorite actor or actress but I think one of my favorite movies is Deathproof by Quentin Tarantino. I love that style of film!

Name someone famous who inspires you and why?

Michelle Obama. I just think she’s a good person and she does a lot of good in the world.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Lots and lots of music.

Where can the fans check out for your music?

I mostly post my music updates to Instagram. Handle is kelsey_m_montanez_

Musician Kelsey Montanez by Christine Kozol

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