BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ
Kenzie Moore is able to fuse a variety of emotions into a delicately crafted album titled Dear You. Her latest project enamors listeners with stories of unrequited love and words that we often find ourselves locking away in journals. A sense of tranquility and ease washes over listeners when hearing tracks like the heartbreakingly beautiful “Burn.” Kenzie Moore talks with Unclear Magazine about the transition from having an audience of shampoo bottles to fans anticipating releases of her new music, leaving Chicago, and the prospects of a full-length album release.
While you're writing music, do you ever think to yourself about the effect that your music can have on somebody or how it can positively resonate with someone?
KENZIE: There are definitely a lot of moments where I’m in the studio and I think about the message I’m sending. I mean, first and foremost, I write what I personally am feeling and/or going through. But at the same time, knowing that people will be listening to this and hopefully walking away with a positive feeling of “okay, this song really gets me” or “I am going through the exact same thing”. That really makes working hard all the more rewarding.
As you grow older and gain more experiences, do you think the songs in the Stories EP versus those in "Dear You" show a dynamically different perspective? Did you find yourself experimenting more with lyrics, vocals, and instrumentals on "Dear You”?
KENZIE: I personally think that the changes are astronomically different between Stories and Dear You. Not only were they written at totally different times in my life, but I have just really grown as a songwriter since I began this whole journey. As a musician, there is always room to grow and develop better abilities when you’re in the studio. I definitely experimented more with all sorts of musical changes for Dear You. I think you really can hear the difference between the two albums. When I first started Stories, I didn’t know anything about this industry so I was able to learn so much during that time period. And then once I started Dear You it was really great to have more knowledge of what really goes into a record.
When I was a teenager I found myself expressing my emotions easier, were you ever afraid of growing up and no longer feeling emotions as strong as you did when you were a teen?
KENZIE: I have always, ALWAYS had a difficult time expressing emotions. I have always and will continue humor as a defense mechanism so it will always be difficult to express any feelings. But, I don't think that's a negative. In fact, I think the reason why I write such emotional songs is because they are my biggest outlet for these feelings. As for growing up (something I really never plan on doing), I don’t really have a fear of losing strong emotions because I really think that you can find inspiration in almost anything. Always carry a notebook. Yes, half the things you write will be crap but it's always good to write down any lick of an idea that you have.
In your song, "Burn", I found the saddening experience you sing about heartbreakingly beautiful, there's almost a hidden beauty in the suffering one goes through when they find themselves heartbroken. That's why a lot of us bask in The Smiths or other really nihilistic songs. Is there a certain song that makes you feel at ease or comforted in the times you feel inconsolable?
KENZIE: Wow, thank you so much. I’m happy you liked the song. That definitely was probably one of the more emotional songs on the album for sure. For me, whenever I feel sad or upset, I listen to Johnny Cash a lot. Probably an unhealthy amount, but that can be blamed on my father and his obsession with good music. Thank you dad for creating a music snob.
As a songwriter, do you find yourself gravitating towards making more sad songs or confidence-boosting anthemic tracks?
KENZIE: Well, as someone who has written mostly ballads, probably sad songs. But I love creating both! I’m not a sad person, I feel the need to clarify that! Haha, it's just easier for me to write those sad ballads because I feel like my voice really excels in those songs. However, the great thing about confidence boosting tracks and what not, is that the music is so much more uplifting so I tend to have a more fun time in the studio when I’m recording those.
I know of some artists who often write lyrics of situations that are not personal to them, they will write about characters in stories they read or maybe two characters in love from a film. Do you think you must portray honesty and bare your emotions/personal experiences on songs? Or do you think it is okay to weave stories within your songs that are merely a reflection of fictional situations or dreams?
KENZIE: Mostly personal experiences. But, once I define the overall message in a song, I definitely pull a lot of extra emotional oomph (if that's the right word) from books I’m reading. I am a total bookworm so it's hard not to utilize just a little of those fictional love stories to add fluff to my music.
A lot of people usually hide their dreams of being a musician and go on to pursue a normative life of going to college and getting their degree, when in reality that's not what they want to do. How did you persuade yourself to have this persistence to keep following your dream?
KENZIE: Well, first, let me tell you that it was really hard balancing that normative life while going after my passions. I graduated from Loyola University in May with a finance degree and I am utterly shocked that I was still able to release this full length only a few short months later. For me, I didn’t feel as though I was sacrificing anything while I was working on school. I know that since music was something I thought about everyday, then I really need to do something with it, otherwise I would be miserable. There were many sleepless nights, frustrating phone calls, but also blissful moments of sheer happiness because I was able to do it. My biggest push was myself and the feeling I get when I am working on music.
On your YouTube channel, you covered "When We Were Young" by Adele, do you find yourself completely awestruck by Adele? Is she someone that has always inspired you?
KENZIE: I love Adele. I am her BIGGEST fan. She is one of my biggest inspirations so I was super nervous about trying to cover her. I think it went well though and I was happy with the results. I would give anything to work with her, even meet her.
Even the album's title, "Dear You" is almost representative of a letter, the whole album is seemingly you splaying out all the words some people rarely get to hear. It reminds me of how people write their inner-most thoughts when they write in their journals or diaries. "Dear You" is basically you sharing your personal journal to all your listeners, and I completely admire this. Do you find that writing the tracks on the album almost had a therapeutic effect on your life?
KENZIE: First, thank you so much. Second, I guess for me, since it's really, really difficult for me to open up to anyone, yes. What I really love about the fact that I am able to release whatever emotions is that I’m able to do it utilizing my passions while also keeping that anonymity to it. You can hear my story but not the dirty details of whom they are written about. It's the perfect set up for people who can’t open up. So, to my fellow hermits, you now can have an outlet! :)
Will we ever catch you going on tour soon, so your fans can finally experience the songs off "Dear You" live?
KENZIE: I hope to! I was able to perform a few songs last month while opening for Heffron Drive which was amazing! I love being on stage. I don’t have anything planned right now, I’m focusing mostly on this release but I hope to be on the road soon. Stay tuned!
What would you love to see yourself achieving by the end of 2016?
KENZIE: You know, I just really hope I’m able to share my music with as much of the world as I can. I really, really love what I do and I’m very lucky to have the ability to do it. So, I guess I hope that people learn to love Dear You as much as I loved making it.