With his debut EP ‘How Was I To Know’, Gil McKinney has proven that he possesses huge musical talent. The soulful crooner’s first collection of tunes is truly incredible!
Over the years, Gil has established himself as a prolific actor and he is famous for his much-loved roles in: Supernatural, ER, Friday Night Lights and Once Upon A Time.
Now, the talented Texan is making waves in the music industry with his very first EP. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign and the ongoing support from his dedicated fans, Gil has shared his phenomenal vocal abilities with the world.
We recently caught up with Gil McKinney on the phone. In our exclusive interview, he discussed: his experience working with Jason Manns, the inspiration behind ‘How Was I To Know’, the possibility of returning to Supernatural and much more.
You can read highlights and hear our full interview with Gil McKinney below!
You recently released your debut EP ‘How Was I To Know’ – how does it feel to finally have music out there and how have you found the response to the record so far?
“Well, the response has been shocking honestly. I didn’t expect to have the response that I got almost instantaneously and the fans have just been so wonderful and supportive. Honestly, it feels very surreal. It feels great. My wife and I were listening to it last night and I was like ‘wow, I actually have a real album that’s out there’ and it feels special. It feels like something that is forever, you know, if that makes sense. It’s really cool.
I mean I’ve listened to these tracks so many times over the past several months as we were putting this thing together; to the point that I was almost sick of them honestly. I started to question a lot of things about them but then once it all came together, and now they’re on this one album together, it just feels really special and I’m very proud of it. I didn’t expect to land on the iTunes charts or the Billboard charts or anything like that but it just goes to show you the power of these fans. When they get behind you on something, they really support you from start to finish and it’s pretty awesome.”
Jason Manns produced the record – what was it like working with him creatively? You’re friends as well so how was that?
“Yeah, it was good. Jason’s a very talented singer himself and it was nice having him kind of helping guide me. The thing I told him from the beginning is that I’ve sung a lot of different styles over the years and I’m still I think, as an artist, trying to find what is my voice and what is my style? What is it that I want to put out there and what represents me? He kind of helped me find that with this. We attempted eight or nine songs but only ended up putting seven on the EP; the seven we thought were the best.
He really helped me kind of find a through line from song to song because there’s so many different styles. It is more a kind of jazzy pop album but every song has its own unique qualities to it so I wanted to make sure that I sounded like the same guy song to song. He helped me with that. He also told me ‘look, we’re recording in the same studio and it’s the same musicians that are backing you for every song’ so it was going to have that kind of feel. It was going to feel like the same guy and it’s going to have the continuity throughout which is what I really wanted. He was great at helping me with that and also helping me technique-wise. There’s some things vocally that I had to work on in the studio and at first, there was a couple of notes that Jason gave me that I wasn’t so sure about but I just trusted him. At the end of the day, he was right.”
Did you find it hard choosing the tracks then? Obviously you said there’s two that didn’t make the EP – do you reckon you’ll ever release those in the future?
“I hope so. There’s one in particular. It’s a cover and I think if we’re going to record it again in the future, we need to approach it from a different angle. It’s a great song and it’s a very well known song so I want to do it justice. It was one of those that I thought was really going to fit my voice perfectly but there was something about the arrangement that just didn’t work for this. So maybe we’ll take another look at it in the future.”
The title track ‘How Was I To Know’ was written by yourself. For people who haven’t yet heard it, how would you describe the song and the inspiration behind it?
“When Jason and I decided to do this, I told him I wanted to have several covers but I wanted to write something because I had attempted to write music in the past but just never went forward with anything really. This one was special and it kinda just happened; it wasn’t that hard of a song to write. I’ve heard some singers and some songwriters say that sometimes that happens. It just kind of comes out.
The inspiration for this was that I lost my father last year unexpectedly. He was one of my biggest supporters and always encouraged me to sing so it was just a really heartbreaking time. I wanted to write something as kind of a tribute to him or for him. Anyway, my wife and I were in New York City for a couple of weeks. She was there for work and our daughter was only a few months old at the time but we were back in New York City. That’s kind of the opening line of the song because a year prior to that, we had been in New York with my parents and that was the last time I was really with my dad. A couple of months after that, he got very sick and passed. I basically just, one day, sat down and started writing the lyrics. It was more like poetry or whatever. I just kind of wrote this thing out and then I started thinking of the music after that. It was a great experience. I mean I’m really proud of it. I think it’s a really great song and I hope I can follow it up with something as good or better.” (laughs)
Can we expect more original songs from you soon? Are you writing at the moment?
“Yeah, I hope so. I feel like I’ve kind of got the bug a little bit. I think I’ve got over a little bit of that self-doubt and fear. I know that I have it in me to create music and write my own stuff. It’s not something that just comes completely easily or naturally to me but I’ve been working on something already that I’m really into so I’m hoping we’ll record that in the near future. I would love to write several songs. Maybe the next time around, we’ll do something that’s closer to a full album where I have many originals on it. That’s the goal.”
Over the years, you’ve attended Supernatural and Once Upon A Time conventions all the over the world. What’s your favourite thing about the events?
“There’s so many things that I really enjoy about them. First off, the travel is really great. I enjoy travelling; especially overseas. Before doing these conventions, I hadn’t even been to Europe so it’s kind of just opened up my world in a way that’s really awesome. I’ve been to London a few times, I’ve been to Barcelona and I’ve been to Rome a couple of times. My wife and I were able to basically travel through Italy and do a honeymoon that we had kind of postponed. We did that last year. We spent two weeks in Italy and popped over in Rome to do the convention right in the middle so that was kind of cool. Yeah, the travel’s great and then honestly just the friends that I’ve made. There’s so many amazing fans that I’ve met from all over the world. They’re really just genuine, wonderful people and it’s very cool to have that kind of support. Then obviously there’s the actors that I have met along the way. I have so many close friends now through this experience and it’s opened the door for me to do music. It’s something that I had kind of stopped doing quite a while ago. So, it’s just been an awesome thing in so many places in my life.”
If asked, would you ever return to Supernatural or Once Upon A Time?
“Oh, I would love nothing more honestly. I don’t want to say that I’ve given up hope on that happening but I want nothing more than to return to Supernatural because it’s been several years now. I think it’d be great for Henry to make a reappearance. Plus it’s just a fun show to work on. Now that I’ve done these conventions, I feel like I’m a part of the show even though I’m not on it anymore. I feel like really plugged in and I have so many friends that are on it now and that have been on it. I’ve got close to Jared and Jensen over the past few years so it would be a really fun show to walk back on. The crew is just fantastic and I love shooting in Vancouver.
And with Once Upon A Time, who knows? I got to make a small appearance this past season but the show is kind of going in a different direction so we’ll see. I’m hopeful that because some of the regulars went on to do other things, maybe there’ll be some room for them to develop other storylines but I know that they’ve brought in a whole new group of series regulars. I’m not sure what their intentions are with that show but, of course, I’d love to go back on it as well.”
With Henry Winchester, is there a certain way that you’d want him to return to Supernatural? Would you maybe want it to be another flashback?
“Yeah, the flashbacks are cool because I like the period element of it. I love to go back to the 1950s because that’s kind of fun. I think it’d be interesting to see his kind of home life with his wife and child. That would be cool. But then of course if there’s any way that Henry could hit the road with Sam and Dean in the Impala, I mean that just sounds like so much fun. So we’ll see. I really hope it happens. I feel like, at some point, they’re going to bring back a lot of characters to at least make some kind of appearance so we’ll see what happens. I literally know nothing; they tell me nothing.”
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Gil McKinney?
“I’ve got probably at least seven or eight conventions to do in the coming months for Supernatural and Once Upon A Time. Hopefully some acting work will present itself sometime in the near future. I definitely want to keep doing that. In the meantime, as I said before, I’ve kind of got the bug to work on my music and write some songs. Then to put together a live show. I love rehearsal. If I’m going to do a live show of seven or eight songs, I would really want to work on that and kind of put together a polished performance so to speak. That’s something I’ve got kinda in the back of my head too. So I’ve got a lot of things going on and being a dad. I’ve got a baby girl who’s going to be turning a one year old in September so that’s just been an amazing blessing in my life over the past year. So yeah, there’s a lot of going on. It’s a very special time. I say this often at the conventions but I don’t know know where I would be if I hadn’t booked that guest star on Supernatural. If I hadn’t booked Henry Winchester. I mean it’s really such a great gift to get to play that part but then it’s changed my life in so many amazing ways.”
If you could leave a message for your fans, what would you say?
“I just want to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the support you guys have given me, for all of the cheers, all of the laughter, all of the hugs and smiles. I’ve loved meeting each and every one of you. I hope that I can continue on this path, get some great acting work, create some music and really continue to build a well-rounded wonderful career that I can be proud of and that you guys can continue to support and love.”
‘How Was I To Know’ is available here on iTunes and here on Spotify. Physical copies of the record are also on sale here on CD Baby. It’s an incredibly strong debut EP and Gil’s first original song (the title track) is quite frankly outstanding. We’re impressed.
Make sure you follow @GilMcKinney on Twitter to keep up with his: acting roles, musical ventures, convention appearances and personal updates. As mentioned in the interview, Gil has lots planned so there’s a lot to look forward to in the near future.
Have you purchased a copy of Gil McKinney’s debut EP? If so, which is your favourite track on the record? Let us know over on Twitter @CelebMix!