Michael Green Interviews.... Kevin Rhodes
Originally posted on June 10th 2020 here is a Q & A with singer-songwriter Kevin Rhodes. He talked about his experiences in music.
Where did it start for you getting into music?
I feel like I was sort of born into music. My mom and her whole side of the family have always sung and played and my dad's side has musicians too as well as a general love for music. I started singing at a very early age and always loved it right from the beginning! I began playing around on my cousin's drum kit when I was in 5th grade and got my first guitar at 15. I enjoyed fooling with various instruments but always came back to singing, my first love. My passion grew more and more as I entered the heart of my teenage years and got into bands. Some of those early performances were rough to say the least but all we wanted to do was play! After playing in several cover bands, Brian Fulkerson, my long time best friend and guitarist, and I, decided to start creating originals. Thus the beginning of my music career was born. We played in several bands together over a ten year span; progressing from pop punk to hard rock and heavy metal. I know that seems like a long answer to "Where did it start for you getting into music?" But save a couple of experimental bands and one really great project that only lies dormant and is never truly over, I have been absent from music since I left the last band I performed with in 2015. I started over in music just a few short months ago. I realized that this still calls to me every day of my life and it's never going to stop unless I listen.I started then for the same reason I'm starting now, this is my passion and I must pursue it. Who are your influences? Metallica, The Beatles, Incubus, Eminem, Soilwork, Michael Bublé, Chris Cornell, Massive Attack and several others. I love all sorts of music and find inspiration in lots of places.
What's your process when creating and producing a song?
Typically lyrics come first but if things are getting stale I will start with building in GarageBand or playing guitar. Then I will experiment with melodies for the other parts. Sometimes I go for a specific sound or tackle a certain topic. Other times it's just what feels good in the moment. Regardless of how the process begins I like to end with creating something people can relate to and sing along with. I will most likely put out some behind the scenes footage at some point to show the writing and recording process a little more in depth.
How important do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
I think it is key to listen to all sorts of music, especially when you are just starting out. Listening from multiple perspectives as well; finding music that speaks to you and then understanding how to recreate those elements in your own way.
I think once you find your sound, listening isn't as important and can sometimes be dangerous when you are in the writing process. You want you own flavor to shine through your music. You want just the right balance of inspiring creativity while avoiding becoming a copycat.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
If you have never been on stage before, it can be pretty daunting, whether it's in front of one audience member or thousands. Assuming you don't want to be that person we have all seen that is barely singing or playing audibly and appears to be frozen yet simultaneously made of sweat, I would suggest watching some live performances of people you enjoy before taking the jump!
My bandmates used to say I did the two-step when we first started performing. I was notorious for taking two steps in each direction, making a small square on stage and rarely moving from that spot. I didn't even think it was a problem until someone recorded video of one of our shows. I looked nervous and out of place. As I stated previously, those early performances were rough.
Even singer / guitarists who stand in one spot in front of a mic need to have some sort of moves. Study your favorite artists and gain inspiration from their movement like you do their music. Going to live shows will always be a great time as well as a great tool! Watch how the frontman commands the crowd. Feel the energy of the room. A great show has great energy and it starts with you!
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into music production?
Be prepared to pour all of your life into this craft. Recording music is easier than ever but writing great songs and producing high quality audio tracks takes a trained ear and years of hands on experience to perfect. I am nowhere near that by the way and that statement shouldn't deter you, just don't expect to sound like the greats over night. Those bands and artists you love all sucked at some point and it took years of dedication and determination to get where they are today.
Finally what advice do you have when it comes to songwriting and performing live?
When it comes to songwriting I have three main pieces of advice. One, write something that speaks to you. If you aren't doing it for you it will be hard to find fulfilment in the craft. Two, unless you are writing Prog Rock / Metal or making Orchestral Scores, keep it simple. A certain amount of complexities can bring life to a song but too many changes or too much going on can tire your listener and have them skipping your track in favor of the next new artist.
And finally Three, don't be too cool for school. I know that's a cheesy saying but it's serves a purpose. Don't, like I used to, decide that you didn't want to know music theory because it might stuff up your creative drive. I used to think that the educating myself would make things stiff and methodical. I was afraid that creating music would become robotic and unnatural. This couldn't be further from the truth. The more I learn about music theory the easier songs come. You can know where you want to go next instead of guessing what comes next.
As for live advice, that is kind of what got us connected in the first place. And my best advice again comes in threes. First, follow all the stuff from the "is it important to watch other acts perform" question.
Second, practice your butt off. It may feel redundant at times but all sorts of things change when playing for a crowd versus practicing in your mom's basement.
The more comfortable you are with the music you are playing the better audio and visual experience you can provide for the audience and the more prepared you will be when something goes wrong. Third, something WILL go wrong! But the fun part is, in most cases, nobody else has to know about it. Sure technical difficulties can't be avoided and they can be blaringly obvious. Your own mistakes can be smoothed over by just carrying on. The few short seconds worth of mishap will be overwritten by an otherwise stellar performance.
And if you are messing up constantly and can't seem to stop, you probably have some anxiety that you can overcome with more stage time or you need to go back to my second piece of live advice. Practice practice practice. I truly hope this helps even one new musician along their journey. Competition can be great but being here for one another and building a community that helps everyone thrive is far more valuable!
Thanks for the interview Michael, it has been a pleasure!
To find out more about Kevin click below
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