Oakland-based singer-songwriter discusses Toro Y Moi-produced new album
Madeline Kenney rocks. She’s a professional baker with a degree in neuroscience who makes kick-a** music. A nanny by day, this singer-songwriter knows how to turn up the volume come nightfall.
Kenney has already caught the ear of some of indie rock’s most venerable individuals, and is about to release her Toro Y Moi-produced debut album, Night Night At The First Landing. She’s not one to write the typical love song. Rather, the multi-instrumentalist sees things through a lens of humor that adds a unique depth to her songwriting.
ARTISTdirect caught up with Madeline to discuss her debut album, find out about her Washington State origins, and learn who she would have accompany her for an all day drive.
Hello – Please introduce yourself.
My name is Madeline Kenney! Hi.
Where are you right now?
Sitting on a couch in Bushwick.
Please name your fellow band members and their roles… oh, and who has the best dance moves?
My backing band consists of Aaron Gold on drums, Derek Barber on guitar, and Scott Brown on bass. Derek has killer Morrissey-esque moves on the dance floor or kareoke stage, but I have to say that Scott has the best overall body-groove when we play a show.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
I recorded most of the stuff myself in my house in Oakland, CA, but got some help with the drums and bass from my friend Carlos and did some overdubs with Chaz at his studio. I think the record is about people, and maybe about jokes about myself. There’s always Candy.
How do you describe your music to new friends?
Like loretta lynn with a loop pedal. Trying to emote like bjork but get tones like stephen malkmus. Key word: trying.
How did you first meet, and where exactly did you become a band?
I met my backing band through the family that is the bay area music scene. Everybody plays in everybody’s bands, and it’s a beautiful support system and scheduling nightmare.
Other than Madeline Kenney, what should your hometown be known for?
Other than being the location of the falls in Twin Peaks, my hometown doesn’t have much going for it.
Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you (and that your relationship with it/them). Can we see a photo?
My good friend Bri is walking around her apartment right now! She’s a gem of a human and supremely talented artist. It’s too early for a photo! She’s gorgeous, just trust me.
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…
I’ve played music since I was 6, but I guess I ‘pursue’ it because I don’t know how I would exist if I didn’t make music.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
Be relentless about holding on to your vision, it only gets harder and harder.
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
What song best sums up your life right now?
That is a HUGE question. Can I give you an album instead? Mangy Love by Cass McCombs.
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
Somebody in Philly told me my music gave them a safe space to be… I don’t know if I earned that but damn if I wasn’t knocked out flattered.
Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?
Hoboken, NJ, hanging with Yo La Tengo.
What’s your next step towards that dream?
Maybe I will Tweet at them.
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