Interview and Gallery: Kingsbury on Live Shows, Influences, & Fashion

Caroline Kingsbury embarked on her first tour as Kingsbury this summer supporting Alex Lahey. She sat down with Suburban Rose to chat about playing live shows, her influences, and expressing herself through fashion.

How has tour been going so far?

It’s been great. It’s my first tour for my music, so it’s a huge learning experience. Every night I’m trying to push myself to be better than the night before, but [it’s] mainly just a huge learning experience.

Does playing your songs live to an audience ever change your relationship with the songs?

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, most of the songs I’m playing are unreleased, so I have a lot of freedom to kind of fuck with them and change them if I want to, so I’ll change certain things about them depending on the energy that I get from the crowd. [It’s] fun having that creative freedom right now.

Are there any songs that you especially enjoy playing live?

There’s a song called “Galaxy” that I wrote a couple weeks before tour […] I sent it to my band a week before tour: I was like, “Hey, I know we already have the setlist, but can we maybe add this?” and we played it together and it was clear that we needed to add it. It’s the closing song and it’s set in an almost apocalyptic future, and I’ll leave that there.

What does your writing process usually look like? Do you usually start with lyrics?

My writing process is weird. It really truly depends on just where I’m at in my life. A lot of times I keep a running note on my phone and just little thoughts or a line or like if something happens, […] I’ll write it down. Usually when I sit down to write, I sort of already know [which] thing in my notes I’m going to sort of dig into, but since I’m a producer, sometimes I’ll make instrumentals […] and then kind of open them up again and start tracking. It really depends. It’s different for everybody, but the running notes thing I think is the unifying factor of that.

I read that you’ve lived in Florida, Nashville, and LA. Have you noticed living in those different environments influence how you make your work?

Moving to LA was the biggest difference I could see in my music. I guess living in Nashville was just a huge learning experience and playing out live all the time and learning that and getting connected and collaborating with other people. I did that for three years hardcore, [then] moved to LA and I started producing for myself and feeling really motivated to work […] on my own. [That] has […] brought me to the point where now I’m on tour, and I do attribute that to being in a bigger city where I’m weirdly more isolated, so I’m forced to work harder. And I like the energy of LA.

I’m always fascinated with how different mediums of art intertwine. How do you go about coming up with the visuals that you want to use for your music?

I design all of the artwork that I do and my merch, but it’s just trial and error, honestly. [And] it depends on the song. I’m [still just] starting so it’s all been like, "What tools do I have available to me; what people do I have available to me?" and then sort of going from there rather than “I don’t have a huge budget yet” – [it’s] mostly just working with what I have.

What kinds of mediums of art do you usually get inspiration from? Is there one specifically (e.g. literature, visual) that inspires you?

Well, this year it’s been books. I read a book called The Chronology of Water earlier this year, and it changed my life and…

*huge wasp flies at us*

Oh my God, there’s a giant wasp waaaah – a giant-ass wasp. Okay, coming back, coming back. That was huge… I read a book called The Chronology of Water earlier this year, and I felt like it really opened up my emotional floodgates, if that makes sense. It really impacted me and so I’ve sort of just kept reading and that has been really, really helpful for my writing process. But honestly I guess it’s just mainly books because I do listen to a lot of music which is inspiring, obviously, but mainly books. I like visual art and I like going to museums; I’m just not as inspired [for] music with visual art as I am with literature and words.

Are there any albums that you’ve been loving lately?

Yeah, Japanese House – I love the Japanese House album that came out. Let’s see. Tamarind, there’s an artist named Tamarind and she has an album. I don’t remember what it’s called, but I started listening to that and I really loved it. Clairo’s album just came out – love that. Was listening to Shania Twain in the car. Shania Twain’s, like, which album was it… it was one of her earliest albums. I don’t even do country – I don’t know why I’ve been so into, like, cowboy hats and just into Shania Twain right now. I don’t know what it is – delusion, that’s what it is.

You have a really fun style – does fashion play a large role in how you express yourself as Kingsbury?

Yeah, absolutely. This year has been a turning point in my fashion. Before 2019 I never really felt that way, and I went through a really difficult breakup and was confronted with the fact that I had lost that sense of inspiration. I basically in the healing process [have] used fashion in conjunction with music to express myself and push myself and see just sort of like what I’m capable of. I don’t know, being uncomfortable.

I love your earrings!

Thank you! I got them from this random lady in Nashville. I was walking by and she was selling them on the side of the road and I bought some and she made them in the 90s. It was just really funny– yeah, I know they’re really cute. They’re really lightweight.

I saw on your Instagram that you were wearing your mom’s dress in one of your photos?

Yeah, from 1989. My mom had that dress and I went home to Cincinnati to go to a Killers concert with her in Columbus. Or Cleveland? I’m really bad with Ohio, but she had it in her closet and I was like, holy shit, I need this for tour, and she’s like, “Have it.”

I read that you used to have a folk rock project. What made you decide to evolve the type of music you were making and to make your music so personal with Kingsbury?

The genre changed, so I was on tour opening for some other artists and bands right [when] I dropped out of school. Then I went on the road with some other artists and being in larger venues and watching these other artists play every day just made me realize that I really wasn’t doing the genre that I wanted to do. I felt like I could do more and that I was capable of more and that started the process of me being more open to pop music and rock music and different sounds and synths rather than just purely acoustic instruments… Yeah, [that’s] sort of what started the process of Kingsbury and stepping into a new era for me.

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