I have had many “identities” as a recording artist. In music industry terminology, finding your musical “identity” is akin to deciding who you are as an artist. WHO are you? WHAT do you sound like? What image are your trying to portray? You have to nail that down. Once your music hits mass media, you must not vacillate. Then the “public” will decide (in their opinion) who you are. Who/What do THEY think you sound like? Who/What do THEY think you look like? Are you authentic? Are you a rip off of another artist? Are you better? Worse? I never thought I would have to be so calculated when I wrote my first song but I was mistaken.
When I was between the ages of 13-18 years old, I liked a lot of good music. I also liked a lot of really shitty music. I liked Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Cars. I equally loved every Drive Thru Records band ever released, (yes, even the really bad ones). When I started my band, Kelsey and the Chaos, I wanted to sound, look and act like the bands I listened to. I wanted to be cool and angst-y. I wanted to write about being screwed over by boys and get really pissed off. I wanted to sound like The Startling Line, Reel Big Fish and All Time Low all wrapped into one. (Frightening, right?) The minute my band released our first single, “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, out came the internet trolls. We were pegged, “Paramore rip offs”. The interweb was abuzz with comments such as, “She’s the next Hayley Wiliams” or “She sucks so much. They’ll never be Paramore.” I was a kid and I wanted to play music. When we made our first record, I wasn’t thinking about who I’d be compared to.
After I left my band to pursue my career as a solo artist, I was over being in a band; too many opinions and way too much drama. I am a “Type-A” personality kind of girl. I like my control and I like to call the shots. So off I went. At this particular time, I was 20 years old and had outgrown my Drive Thru Records loving days. I wanted to sing pop music. I wanted to sing about turning 21, partying, breaking up with my then boyfriend and making out with dudes in bars. I was changing as a human; becoming an adult woman. I no longer wore my tour laminates on my jeans and I traded in my band T-shirts for girly dresses and high heels. In came a new girl and with that, a new music artist. Instead of playing rock clubs, I was playing nightclubs in New York City and writing dance songs. Evolution.
As human beings, we are ever-evolving. We are constantly in the throes of impermanence. I’m not the same person I was when I was 18. I’m not the same person I was when I was 21 or even as I was yesterday. How can a recording artist be expected to write the same kind of songs or keep the same look as they grow older? Change is inevitable. In 2013, I have found a very happy medium. I am still a solo artist but I’ve also recently joined a three piece girl group called, Those Girls. We write, compose and produce our own music. I know who I am. We know who we are. I’m no longer afraid to express myself. I’m no longer overly concerned with the background noise , opinions, or musical trends. Basically, I am not interested in being anyone else but my crazy, Nintendo loving, weirdo self. But, if I could switch places with another artist, I would without a doubt choose to be Snoop D-O Double G in the “Doggy Style”/G FUNK/Death Row Records heyday. I think we all know that is never going to happen. However, if encouraged, I will do a MEAN “Gin and Juice” Karaoke complete with break dancing. Ask my friends.