Craig Kierce, born in the USA, lives for and off his music. He breathes notes and lyrics and when he talks about his music you feel as if you’re a part of this magical bubble of his.
A couple of weeks ago I was at one of my friend’s living room concerts where I got the chance to listen to Craig Kierce’s music and, boy, was I blown away. Encouraged by my friend, I chatted him up and asked him for an interview but since he didn’t have much time – as the concert had to be finished at one point that night- we delayed the convo to Facebook. So, voilà, an interview brought to you thanks to social media.
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The concert stuck to me because his songs are rare raw, real tunes with sweet messages or sweet songs filled with real reminiscence of the past. SO here are my (supposedly deep) questions about his music and his philosophies in life.
1. How and when did you get into music?
Hard to say – I grew up in the 90s when all the cars had tape players in them – my mom’s car had Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA”, and my dad’s van had They Might be Giants’ “Flood” and Squeeze’s “Singles, 45s, and Under” – and somewhere in there was a “50s hits” tape. So, on the playground in first or second grade, I would build a stage in the sand and sing “Rockin’ Robin”
2. What was the first song you wrote and do you still like (maybe even perform) it?
I started writing parodies of other songs (like Weird Al), and then eventually wrote an original one, called “Light Switch”. There’s not much to it… it’s not completely terrible, but I haven’t played it in a very long time. A lot of the songs I wrote around that time I think sound a bit trite.
3. You mentioned your project – you used to write one song a day: How did that idea occur to you? How did you manage to stick to it?
I was drawing in notebooks and writing songs in Math class in 7th grade, and realized I had written one every day for a week or so… so I started numbering them to see how long I could keep it going. I got up to five thousand something, I think.
4. As journalists, as authors, but particularly as writers we are obviously interested in words – can you give us an insight into your writing process?
I got to a point where I could write passable songs very quickly, and I think that writing a song a day was very useful practice that helped me to get to that point. Almost every song I write takes me less than ten minutes. There are a few that I go back and revise. But for a long time, I would write by kind of writing the first verse in a stream of consciousness, and then base the rest of the song around what happened there. Mostly I’d delete the first verse after that.
5. Your music is predominantly relying on acoustic performances with no additional electronic sounds – would you ever consider changing that in the light of recent musical trends?
This sort of depends where I am and what I’m doing. When I play an acoustic show, yes I rely on acoustic performance. But I actually prefer to play with a band – electric guitars, bass, drums… standard setup. I think songs should be strong enough to be played with just an acoustic guitar, but I also like the idea of adding more to that. That having been said… I’m not super into adding ambient sounds and such, just for the sake of having them… and I guess the opposite of that would be making everything super poppy and danceable… which I’m not really as opposed to, as long as there’s some direction. I don’t know. I’m not really into the idea of writing the next dance-pop hit. I’m writing to my own tastes, which I think happen to be sort of mainstream. But I don’t think I’d change anything just to keep on-trend, per se.
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6. Who are your musical role models?
Mostly Elvis Costello. There are plenty of others, but I’d say he’s probably the main one. Both career-wise and musically. I’ve always liked The Decembrists and I think that adding that sort of storytelling to more mainstream music is probably a good thing.
7. Touring seems to be a big part of your life: What and where was your favorite place to perform at?
Well there was this living room concert in Hamburg… actually that was really great! Definitely one of my favorites. I really like playing in Germany in general.
8. Since you have quite the repertoire of songs, do you have set lists or do you choose songs befitting the atmosphere?
I don’t think I’ve ever written out a setlist for a solo show… usually if I write a setlist, it’s because I’m playing with a band. But even with a band, I’ll still call out the songs just before we start them. Probably drives the band crazy.
9. In the age of social media how do you engage with your followers and promote your artistry?
Poorly! I’m not very good at social media promotion. A lot of my friends are… they’ll post regularly about shows, releases, whatever, on all of the networks. Even Snapchat. I barely can figure out how to use Snapchat. I should probably get someone to do this for me. I’ve never really gotten behind the idea of being a brand or product, rather than a person.
10. Do you have any upcoming projects?
Sure – I’ve got a new album to record, and I should probably get around to shooting a music video. I keep putting both off, for whatever reason. I keep coming back to Europe instead, to tour. Like now, for instance. Right now, I’m on a train in Austria.
11. What are the next events we can see you perform at?
Depends how far you’d like to travel 🙂 I’ll be playing a few shows with my band in New York in a few weeks, but I should be back in Hamburg in a few months- January, at the latest.
Thanks again to Craig and his thorough answers to my long list of questions! YOU ROCK, CRAIG! 🙂
CHECK CRAIG OUT:
Maria was listening to Last Laugh by Craig Kierce while writing this article.