Growing up just outside Chicago, Hadley Kennary always loved music. The singer-songwriter attended Berklee College of Music and after graduation, moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. A finalist for the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival's Songwriter Showcase in 2015 & 2016 and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's Troubadour Songwriting Contest in 2015 & 2016, winning 2nd place in June of 2015, Kennary released her latest EP, the incredibly honest, Momentum, in August. Recently, she kindly took the time to talk about the EP and much more.
When did you first become interested in music? Was it something you always wanted to pursue?
I’ve always been musical whether it was playing piano and guitar or being in band and choir. I went to Berklee to pursue songwriting, but I ended up majoring in music business. However, I moved to Nashville about two and a half years ago and am currently pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter.
You've released a full-length album and two EPs. Where do you draw from in your music?
My music definitely has some Country in it, but it fits in more with the contemporary Americana movement that’s happening right now - and that’s one of the reasons why it’s nice to be in a place like Nashville because while there’s a strong commercial Country theme, there’s also strong Roots and Bluegrass themes as well. Personally, I draw from more pop-minded singer-songwriters like Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson as well as the powerhouse female singer-songwriters from the 90’s like Shawn Colvin and the Indigo Girls. They’re my roots, my Bible if you will.
Your latest project, Momentum, was released this past August and contains five new songs. Did you write them all?
I did. The majority of the time I tend to write by myself; I’m not against co-writing by any means, I do it every once in awhile, but I find when I want to tell my own story writing on my own better serves that purpose.
Why did you choose to title the EP Momentum?
On a surface level, it’s a word used in “The Runner,” but I think that word and all it stands for represents a good mantra right now in my life and in a lot of my colleagues lives as twenty-somethings in the music industry.
[In this business] It takes time to get your footing, meet people, and figure it all out because unlike a lot of jobs there’s no job to apply for - you can't apply for a publishing deal or a recording contract. It's easy to get into some sort of rhythm and not see progress, but the most important thing I’ve learned here is to keep up the drive and motivation to do well. Keep playing shows, getting out there, and meeting people, but however you do it, I think "momentum" is a good word to live by in this industry. I’m lucky enough to be doing what I love and I just have to keep at it.
That’s a good mantra to apply in any job .
Your current single is "Painkiller." Is there a story behind the song?
I wrote that when I was in school. I originally had another artist in mind for it and I had them sing it, but then I put it on the back burner. When I was gathering songs for this EP, I pulled it out of the woodwork and played it with the band. They loved it and my producer was excited about it, so I decided to reclaim it as my own. It’s actually one of my favorite songs to perform live - I'm able to get in character and go to that dark moody place.
The song really does have that dark feel which comes across in the video you recently premiered for it.
Yeah, for sure. The song is about being so attracted to, and involved with, someone to the point where it’s almost like an addiction. It's like you’re craving another fix as it says in the song, “Need another, need another then I’m gonna be alright.”
I wanted the video to be like I was going through some sort of withdrawal and feeling trapped, which sounds desperate - and on some level it is I guess - but I wanted to convey the feeling of how needing to be with or see another person is its own kind of addiction. There are shots in the video that are just me in a white room or an elevator that are showing how someone can feel trapped, and anxiety ridden, until they get to that next place. I think we did our best to make that come across and I’m happy with how it turned out.
My favorite from the EP is “Speak Fondly.” Can you tell the story behind the song?
I wrote that as a bittersweet farewell to someone. We had to take different paths in our lives and although it sucked at the time, we both had to do what we had to do. I wanted the person to be happy and to let them know, without any bad blood, that we both have to respect what we have to do in our own lives. It’s been a dark horse on the EP and we seem to be getting a good response to it.
You have played SPACE in Chicago, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and several shows in Ireland and the UK. Are there plans to tour anytime the rest of 2016 or early 2017?
December is a weird month in the business, everyone looks forward to the holidays and everything kind of shuts down, but I have been playing in Nashville and regionally in the Southeast. After the EP came out I went on a two and a half week tour up the East Coast by myself, which was a lot of fun. Next year, though, I want to be on the road a lot more and bring my band out with me. We have a lot of good shows in the works.
Finally, as the year winds down and everyone makes their lists, I have to ask, what’s your favorite record of the year?
One of my favorites is I’m Alone, No You’re Not, by Joseph an indie-pop trio of sisters who write beautiful, heartbreaking songs with incredible harmonies. And I’m late to the game, but Beyonce’s Lemonade is one of my favorites, for sure.
For more information visit her official website
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