Catch up with Oliver of Kennan Moving Company and look for their sophomore EP, New Colors, out now.
What brought Kennan Moving Company together?
Well, it's a solo project in the sense that I write the music and it's my band, so the other members are people who I've met and hired to play with me. But, really, it's not like everyone's a hired hand; we're all close friends now, but it's my project.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
There are influences that go back a long time, like I'm a huge fan of '60s rock and roll, RnB, and soul music: Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, that kind of '60s hippie music was a huge influence when I was a teenager. I was also really into Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem, but that kind of stuff was more when I was in high school and college; formative years. More recently, I listen to a lot of different things. My favorite record I've been listening to the last couple weeks is the new Thao & The Get Down Stay Down record or I've been listening to the new Lucius record a lot which I love, so it's really a melting pot.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Oh god [laughs]. Vaguely. I couldn't even tell you what it was called. Actually, no, I do remember, it was called "It Ain't Easy". I started playing guitar when I was 17 and I pretty much started writing songs immediately, mostly because I was so bad that I couldn't really even play covers of other people's songs [laughs] so it was easier to write my own.
What words would you use to describe your own sound?
We call it indie soul. We definitely draw a lot on soul music, RnB, and rock and roll, but it has a lot of modern touches. The band I play with varies depending on the show, like, at our last show, it was eight pieces, so I play guitar and I sing, and then we've got electric bass, drums, keyboard, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and a backup singer, so that lineup is a very classic lineup for a soul or RnB band, but the sound we're using, like my guitar sound or the keyboard sound, are more modern and we put them through modern effects pedals, so those are the sounds you wouldn't have heard from an old soul RnB band. A lot of the lyrics in the songs are things that wouldn't necessarily have been in a '60s soul song. I mean, obviously, I talk a lot about the same things as other artists do - love, loss, heartache - but I also talk about problems with my family or thoughts on religion, atheism, and subjects you wouldn't find in a normal soul song, so that's why we call it indie soul. A mixture of old soul style and more new soul touches.
Could you tell us more about your new EP, New Colors?
Our first EP that we put out about a year ago, I didn't have a band when I wrote those songs, so that was just whatever was coming out and then we just figured out ways to play them for the band, but these songs were really the first songs that I wrote for this band; I already knew who would be playing the drums or the bass. Stylistically, I was able to write for my band, which is important because now I know what everyone's strengths and weaknesses are. Thematically, the songs are all coming out of that time right after college so, for myself - and I know a lot of people - it's a very confusing time because you really experience real life for the first time, not having this simple life of a student where you go to class and you do your work and you know exactly what you have to do. A lot of it's about that confusion: I'm trying to figure out what my life is about or what I want to be doing. A lot of feelings of being overwhelmed by how complicated life can become, feelings of sadness about where the world is at right now, and really starting to see the bigger picture of New York or America or the whole planet in the 21st century.
How would you sum up New Colors in one sentence?
New Colors is a young man really opening his eyes for the first time.
Now that the EP is out, is there one song that stands out to you that you're most excited to be sharing with your fans?
It's difficult to pick one because they're all a little bit different. Part of that is that what I try to do is make different songs that will hopefully appeal to different people, like a person who likes one song might not like another, or vice versa. I think "Charades", for me, was the song where I really realized that that sound could work for me, kind of a funky soul sound. It really worked for me and was satisfying and worked really well for my band; I think we play that kind of music very well, so that song was definitely a little bit of a turning point.
What do you hope your fans and listeners are able to take away from your music?
I mean, obviously, I hope they can relate to it. I hope they can see themselves in it, which is what I get from the music that I really like. It's someone else putting a feeling that you maybe didn't know how to describe into words. Basically, I really just hope that it maybe addresses something that a fan is thinking about or feeling in their own lives and just letting them know that I've been there and other people have been there and you're not alone.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
This is just a part of a continuation and we're about to have another show in a couple weeks on the 26th at The Lively. Also, we're filming a short film right now and we're about to go back into the studio to start recording another record and you should keep following up with us because we're just beginning and we're going to be releasing a lot more cool music and, hopefully, it just keeps getting better and better.