Brooklyn-based queer folk artist, Kailey Prior, has recently released her debut EP titled ‘We’re Okay’. The five-track folk-rock EP was both written and produced by singer-songwriter Kailey, and was mixed and mastered by Tom Gardner and Joe Lambert.
In a world where striving for perceived perfection both on and off social media seems to be at the forefront of our collective conscience, ‘We’re Okay’ serves as a grounding anthem reminding us that by accepting ourselves in all our imperfect glory, we are doing more than enough. Kailey Prior speaks of the importance of allowing your own personal growth to be a process and urges the listener to feel empowered rather than defeated as they navigate the turbulent waters of being imperfectly human.
Pulling from personal inspiration, Kailey bares her soul throughout the EP with the help of perfectly plucked strings and vibrant percussion. Her hypnotizing musical landscapes and thoughtful lyrics celebrate “otherness” and encourage us to be gentle with the broken aspects of ourselves. ‘We’re Okay’ acknowledges the tired and broken in all of us, while firmly, enthusiastically, and powerfully pointing us towards a better tomorrow.
For Kailey, her voice and poetry are a means to connect with and articulate her experiences as a queer woman, and as a human. Her passion for music has led her throughout her life to participate in a variety of musical endeavors, and her diverse experience is mirrored in the intricacies and unique character of her songs. While Kailey shares much of her experience in life with listeners, she has no interest in just serving as some abstract inspirational ideal and rather staying committed to being herself, a fully realized person with flaws and dreams and real emotions.
Here, at CelebMix, we had the chance to sit down and chat with Kailey Prior about her latest offering, musical career so far, future plans and much more.
Welcome back, Kailey. Where does this interview find you today?
Glad to be back! I’m enjoying some time off, writing some new tunes, and enjoying the sunshine.
Congratulations on the release of your debut EP ‘We’re Okay’, it’s a beautiful piece of art. Tell us more about your latest offering.
Thank you! I’m glad you like it. The songs on the EP are all various colors of me dealing with heartache and loss, and figuring out who I am along the way. I wrote all five songs at different times, but collecting them together for the EP, I realized they all centered around the same theme of self-discovery and self-love. I guess that’s something I’ve always been grappling with in some way. I love all the songs independently but I think they’re strongest together, and I’m so excited they’re out and available for everyone to hear.
Was this always meant to be such a personal record or it rather evolve into it? What else inspired you much to write and record this EP?
I think my music always has, and likely always will be pretty personal. I write as a way to process my feelings and my thoughts, and I think the more vulnerable and honest I can be in my work, the easier it is for others to relate to it. That being said, I do like to balance out the heavy with some light here and there, so I’ll try to work in a pun or silly metaphor whenever I start taking myself too seriously.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was this always something you thought you could make a career out of? If not, what else you could see yourself doing?
Music has always been my happy place. I found some of my closest friends through music and theater, and always knew I wanted my work to be in some corner of the music business. I accidentally fell in love with writing and performing my own material, and now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else! There are so many moving pieces on both the creative and business sides of being an indie artist, but even on the most chaotic of days, it feels like the only thing I want to be doing.
How do you think music, in general, has therapeutic or healing benefits?
I think music can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it helps me feel less alone in my own thoughts and feelings. Being able to communicate a state of being, or a mindset to someone through music rather than in a conversation makes me feel heard and seen.
Indeed! So tell us, Kailey, which artists have continued to inspire you? If given a chance in the future, who would you like to work with?
Brandi Carlile has always been a huge inspiration for me. If I could play with her and the twins (Phil and Tim Hanseroth) I would be living the dream!
We’ve heard that you play a total of 20 instruments which is absolutely remarkable. How did you find the time to learn so many and which one did you first start to play?
I started on violin when I was 6, and then when it came time to choose orchestra or band, I chose to play trombone ‘cause all the other girls were choosing the flute and I thought we should mix it up a little. I eventually switched from violin lessons to piano lessons, and then from piano lessons to voice lessons. I learned the bulk of the instruments as a music teacher at a Mommy and me music school where we demonstrated a different instrument every week. The double bass was absolutely the most fun to play, and I ended up being horrible at the flute. Go figures.
In what ways has your upbringing and your personal music taste that you grew up on has inspired your music style and creativity?
Growing up I actually listened more to books on tape than the radio, and then whatever my parents were listening to. That’s probably why I still gravitate more towards artists like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Melanie, than Top 40. Although I did love and memorize the entirety of Avril Lavigne’s album ‘Let Go.’ I love songs that tell a story. I love songs that get you feeling and thinking. And I love a good yodel. I try to work all these things into my own music.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people to take away from your music? What do you want your fans to learn about you?
I hope my music gets people feeling. I love hearing random and specific ways my songs have connected to people. One of my girlfriend’s little cousins requests “Little Bird” as his bedtime song and when I heard that, my heart damn near exploded.
Do you get much time away from work to chill? How do you unwind?
I keep pretty busy. Too much downtime stresses me out, so I usually end up piling a sensible mountain of “to-do’s” on my plate. I try to get to the beach a good amount in the summer, spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend, and of course, I’ll never turn down a good day of Netflix and Seamless.
What’s next in 2019 for Kailey Prior? What are your current projects that you are working on? Are you planning to hit the road?
I’m currently in the final stages of one music video and starting the planning stages for a second, which I’m really excited about. A longer tour is certainly on the table for the near future, but right now I’ve got some shows in MA in the works and will be playing around Manhattan and Brooklyn as much as possible. More details to come! I’ll make all announcements over on Instagram and Facebook at @kaileypriormusic.
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