Americana Rock ‘N Roll Musician, STEPHEN KELLOGG Discusses His Newest Album, “South, West, North, East” and More!
Posted On 01 Mar 2016
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, American Beauty, Americana, Armed Forces, Artist Interview, Atlanta, Boulder, Cat Stevens, Connecticut, Counting Crows, CSN, East, Gregory Alan Isakov, Jeff Lynne, Josh Ritter, Marshall Altman, Men of a Certain Age, Mercy, Nashville, North, OAR, One Tree Hill, Sheryl Crow, Singer-Songwriter, South, Stephen Kellogg, Sugarland, TEDx Talk, Train, Washington DC, West, Whitesnake, Will Hoge, Woodstock
For his first independent release in more than a decade, acclaimed singer-songwriter, Stephen Kellogg, celebrates his freedom with the expansive four-part album, South, West, North, East. Already known for an eclectic Americana aesthetic that embraces folk, rock, pop, and articulate and emotive singer-songwriter lyricism, the iconic underground artist takes his artistic wanderlust further through traveling to the four corners of the nation to explore the modern indigenous sound of each region. The result of the undertaking is a 20-song body of work that encompasses Southern rock, indie rock, singer-songwriter, and vibey cowboy Americana with assured artistry.
“You often hear about the importance of ‘picking a lane,'” Stephen says. “And while I completely understand the marketing savvy and focus of that concept, I picked my lane a long time ago-it’s called the ‘words that describe what I believe to be true’ lane.”
In every way, South, West, North, East is all over the map. Each section of the album was recorded in a different region of the USA with different co-producers and musicians, and each of the four album parts reverently reflect their recording locale. The end result is a collection of 20 songs that defy categorization. The Southern rock flavor ofSouth (recorded in Nashville and Atlanta) slides into the cowboy motif of West (recorded on a farm in Boulder, CO); and the more indie rock feel of North (recorded in a cabin in Woodstock, NY) gives way to the songwriter pop of East (recorded in Washington DC). “I’ve never felt that the genre was as important as the message, and making the record this way was a chance to really explore that idea,” Stephen says.
Stephen is a beloved indie artist with an engaged fanbase and heaps of critical acclaim. His music has been featured in numerous films and TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Men of a Certain Age, Mercy, among others. He’s also packed audiences sharing the stages with household names such as Train, Sugarland, OAR, and Josh Ritter, to name a few.
Over the last decade, the Southern Connecticut-based artist has performed more than 1500 concerts in more than a dozen countries, both solo and with a band. Recently, while on a tour of Europe, SK (as fans often refer to him) made a detour to play the Middle East, Africa and an aircraft carrier for the Armed Forces. In 2013, he gave a TEDx Talk about job satisfaction.
Learn more about Stephen in following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, how’s 2016 been treating you so far? What are you most excited for this year?
Well you know, it’s really great on a macro level. Got in a car accident yesterday and found out I’m getting audited in the last two days, but that’s the micro stuff here, ’cause the family, the music and the soul are all off to a good start this year.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I think from when my big sister first took me to see Whitesnake at 10 years old I realized this was a desire of mine. I went through various levels of denial about that, usually when it would get hard, but I don’t think it ever left my view from that point on. As for the memories, most of them are of my father coming home from work and putting on CSN or the Dead’s American Beauty, Cat Stevens, things like that – it was how he would unwind and connect.
How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard your music before?
I’d say it’s lyric-based Americana rock-n-roll.
Can you talk about your soon to be released album, “South, West, North, East”? What was the inspiration for the collection?
Sure thing. I always have straddled the genres and suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, especially in my recorded work, so I was talking it over with a friend and got this inspiration to make a four-part record with a focus on the various styles I like to operate in. Unapologetically give over to what I’m doing in each section. I ended up making “South, West, North, East” – each part in a different section of the country with a different co-producer and different musicians. I needed to be a co-producer on each part because I was the thread of continuity in the different sections. It’s been a hell of a ride and I’m looking forward to sharing it with all who might need it.
So, why did you decide to record this album all over the US? How do you think it has affected the collection as a whole?
(Laughter) I’m always forgetting to read ahead – well, the geographic thing I thought would be cool. It really came down to finding spaces that the people I was working with were comfortable. It was all a conversation, but it became kind of a neat way of articulating the concept and let’s face it, when you’re trying to reach new people that’s part of the battle.
How did you go about selecting the different producers for the album? Was this a hard decision to make?
I reached out to lots of trusted friends along the way. One producer, Marshall Altman (formerly an LA guy), even took the time to weigh in repeatedly on the project even after we realized our schedules weren’t gonna align. We talked about every song under consideration. Lots of folks offered similar feedback, and it was a lot of logistics and work, but eventually the right fits seemed to take place. No regrets on that front – was great to go through the four different processes and kind of reconnect with where I’m at as an artist and what I want for myself.
What artists have consistently inspired you and your music? Who would you love to work with in the future?
You know, Gregory Alan Isakov (who did co-produce “West” with me) has been a game changing inspiration of late – love the man, love his music – needed some of that in my life. Also Will Hoge and Josh Ritter are go-to people for me. Moving forward, I’d love the opportunity to collaborate with the Counting Crows, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Lynne, ya know – people interested in collaborating with me.
What was it like playing in the Middle East, Africa and then in an aircraft carrier for the Armed Forces?
It was humbling. Our service men and women give up a lot of time to protect the good (if occasionally flawed idea) that is America. Being on an aircraft carrier is something I will never forget, even if I almost puked landing on it… (Laughter)
I’d like to be. I’m ready to be back out here. We’re working on Europe these days as well so it’s a juggle and always want to make sure that we are bringing something fresh so there is never a tour to miss or “catch next time.” Hoping with my team and our brain we can create the opportunities that make sense and will psych fans up, make new fans, etc.
What do you hope is the message of your music at the end of the day?
I hope it lets people know that they are not alone in their experiences. I hope it helps people consider their own ability to choose and create love and with it, happiness in their lives and the lives of those they touch.
Thanks for the thoughtful questions!