SO COOL to talk with Ken Fox – what a genuinely rad guy!
As I’ve mentioned…November has been an inspiring month already in meeting some truly focused artists & bands, and Ken Fox is one of them for certain. I really enjoyed this interview personally…it was awesome to talk about the new Echoes EP with him, how it was made and what-all went into making it; but also really awesome to hear how he avoided the trap many of us musicians fall into – that whole thing about how you’ve got a lifetime to make your first record, and two-weeks to make your next album…that whole trap. Ken Fox came out sparkling on the other side of his latest recording, and the way that it was recorded, made and achieved is a lot more freeing & organic in nature…as he’ll describe better than I could in the interview below.
So…I’ll stop there…otherwise I’ll risk writing another page and talking about this fantastic singer/song-writer. But let me say this clearly: If you don’t make it to the end of this interview (particularly, the second to last question) you’re doing yourSELF a disservice – Ken has a lot of amazing things to say, but towards the end of this article, I think he really drives home the point in speaking about how the art & music should drive you to want the best for yourSELF each and every day…no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing…
…you see? There I go. I’m gonna shut-up now and let you read the interview because again, he’s going to tell you the key-points much better than I can…from a raw, real & honest perspective of a man/musician that truly just loves to play. It was an absolute pleasure to talk with Ken Fox…enjoy the interview.
Interview with Ken Fox
SBS: Ken! Like to say a huge thank-you to you and welcome you to our pages! From everything I’ve read and researched, anything I could find about you on the internet all lead me to a ton of things to talk about with you today…but before we get right into it, let’s start at the beginning for those that don’t know about you yet. What brought you into a lifetime of music? Where did it all start and what kept the passion to continue roaring throughout the years? A little history if you will sir!
Ken: Thank you for hosting me!! I kind of fell into music in my teens. I was singing at a party, kind of to myself and my friend secretly recorded me on a little recorder he had. But, growing up I listened to music all of the time. I lived down the street from a bar that always had its doors open playing the latest hits (Of the 80’s). When I got older I discovered Nirvana, The Strokes, 3EB and Older soul music. I wanted to write music so I got a hold of a guitar and taught myself. I was signed to a indie label (Xpat Records) 2010-2012. The business is and always has been shady. But now I choose to do everything independently. The challenge of staying involved making music is having something to say. And as long as I have that, I think I will sing.
SBS: Now…you’re more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong…but it seems like a pretty exciting time to be Ken Fox – you’ve got a new EP, Echoes, out on Nov. 15th of this year…tell us a little about that! What went into the recording of it, where did it happen and how long did it take?
Ken: It has been tough year. But, I am excited about the EP. It shows a side of me that I’ve never put out there before. Echoes, is my most intimate collection of songs. I wrote it all pretty quickly. I think within two months. At my apartment. With drink in hand. I recorded it as i do all of my records but this one I wanted it to very stripped down and raw. I think it sounds pretty vulnerable.
SBS: From what I’ve read and heard, of course this isn’t your first time in the studio. What did you learn from your previous experiences that helped guide you to success over the recording of your new EP? Was there anything from the past that had held you up in the studio that you were able to get around easily this time simply from having learned through the experiences of the past when recording your album Good Morning & Good Night?
Ken: Well, Good morning & Good Night took 3 years and a lot of starts and stops (haha). I always experiment when I’m recording or mixing because it can bring something to life fairly quick. With Echoes, I already had the project laid out in my mind before I tracked anything. Most of Echoes is first and only takes. I didn’t want to overdub things. I wanted people to hear it as i felt it.
SBS: My first impression of listening to the lead-single from Echoes, “It’s Not Too Late For A Kiss Goodnight” was that the sound overall…the feeling of the song & the atmosphere…I dunno Ken…I might be crazy here in saying this my brother, but, it all seemed a little more personal this time around. That might not be the best way to phrase it…but I suppose what I’m saying was that I felt like there was a noticeable evolution to the writing, sound and performance…it truly seems like your best work is about to come out right now. Do you feel the same about all that? What made the recordings different and unique from the rest of what you’ve accomplished & recorded in the past?
Ken: Thank you very much. I truly feel like this is my best work. I just want people to listen to it. It was definitely more personal and inspired. “It’s Not Too Late For A Kiss Goodnight” was the first song I wanted people to hear because I think it sums up how I felt writing these songs. I wanted to be as direct as I could without losing the listener. I should’ve titled it “I think we had fun, now give me a kiss…every night” haha
SBS: I’m wondering Ken…if the release of this next EP does anything at all in terms of how you might feel about confirming your place in music…that you’re right where you belong kinda-thing. It always takes a while before any of us really feel like we’re not going on to something else right away once again…that we’re established, safe, and secure in what we’re doing or the position we’re in. All things considered, work, music, LIFE…all that stuff has to really combine in just the right way in order for that security to really exist I suppose…but I’d still be willing to bet that consecutive releases this year alone has got to be pretty encouraging, isn’t it? How secure does the music-dream feel these days Ken – is it all clearly a part of your reality now?
Ken: Great questions man. There was never an aesthetic aspect to the records I make. I really have tried to find my voice as a song writer and singer. And I’m still not a hundred percent sure of which is more important. I do know that people listen to songs and if a song is good they will want to keep listening to it. I like singing how I performed on Echoes, and I hope to continue down that path. I had someone dear tell me that they loved the new single and if they didn’t know me, they would find out who I was and all of my music and buy it. On the strength of that song alone. That means a lot to me.
SBS: To come back to the new-single for a moment…honestly I was completely impressed. I thought the way that you sing on “It’s Not Too Late For A Kiss Goodnight” was spot-on perfection, truly. And after reading that you combine elements of Soul into your style of Americana-music, well, I really felt that Soul come through on the new-single through the passion in your voice. What singers/song-writers did you listen to growing up that you feel have an influence on what you write today?
Ken: Thank you so much man, I appreciate that. As I said before in my teenage highly impressionable years. It was Nirvana, The Strokes and other bands. But then something happened when I heard Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Daryl Hall, Lauryn Hill and Jimi Hendrix – who I don’t think gets enough attention for his voice. But if you go listen to “Have you ever been to (electriclady land)” you can hear how beautiful his voice actually was. My Mother had a pretty voice too. All of them have impacted my singing.
SBS: I want to keep you in that moment for a second Ken…back in your timeline, back in your history somewhere along the way…one of those influences, or perhaps some other artist or band completely changed everything for you along the way somewhere, somehow. You saw something…you heard something…you saw something LIVE in front of your eyes, or maybe met someone you idolized…but SOMETHING Ken…something changed it all for you, and turned music from something you WANTED to do, into something you NEEDED to do…and solidified the direction you’d put yourself on to become a musician, full-on. Any idea where that moment in time exists for you along the way…where it was, who, what happened and what made that massive impact on you?
Ken: I think it was Nirvana that I first heard before I was legally able to buy cd’s from the store that had the P.A sticker. But, In Utero was a huge WOW moment for me. I was engulfed for years. But, I would say Third-Eye Blinds self-titled album changed something in me. I heard it on the bus going to school and i remember thinking “I have to do this”. I have to connect with people like this. Like this guy is probably causing his ex to turn devil-red right now. The song ” I Want You” was on every mix cd I made until I was 25.
SBS: Was there anything in particular that you set about to achieve specifically in recording the Echoes EP? What inspires your writing Ken – and when you’re listening to the final masters of the songs as they come back to you…how do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you got everything recorded exactly as you were looking to do, and that the song is truly ‘done’ and ready for the rest of us?
Ken: I wanted to make two statements with Echoes. Artistically, I wanted to show that I can really sing.. and write from a personal place that hopefully, allows people to relate. And secondly, tell my story. I knew what I wanted to do sonically. I had a minimal approach to the arrangements and production of the songs. When it was mastered, I just knew it was finished. The way I tell if a song is ready to be played for people to hear it is when I just hear the song. Not the effects or mistakes but, when I just hear the song for what it is. Just like if you’re listening to someone else’s music. Matthew King, a great guitarist played all over Echoes, his playing brought a lot to these songs. Before I sent them off to him I knew they needed something and thankfully he graced me with playing on them.
SBS: Hey…I should probably make sure the people know where to find all that new music anyhow. Makes sense while I’m here talking to you anyway Ken…I mean…I’m in promotions dude! Where did you want us to send the people online to find the new EP and your past material? Are you accessible as an artist? How often are you able to connect with the fans? Especially during all the recording, I’d imagine it’d be tough to always be around & online…but is there still a way for people to reach you and genuinely connect?
Ken: (haha) The sites I recommend sending people to are my facebook.com/kenfoxmusic page and youtube.com/kenfoxmusic firstname.lastname@example.org is my booking contact. I’m eager to meet people that like the music. So feel free to hit me up! Echoes will be available in online services and stores in Nov. iTunes, Googleplay,Spotify and all of those services. There should be a visual on the way as well.
SBS: Now…I’m not implying that anything was ‘left out’ of the upcoming EP…I’m just realistic Ken – I know that as an artist, we can’t say it ALL upon the 4-6 songs on an EP, or even a single album. So I’m wondering what you might feel is still on the table that’s left for you to say…musical-terrain you’ve yet to explore that you’d like to… I know it’s harder to conceptualize during the excitement surrounding the current Echoes EP, but where do you feel like you might take the music in the future?
Ken: I have my next album “Fending off the Night” about 80% finished. So, i have been super busy doing studio work. Hopefully that will come out next year some time. Some times writing comes in short bursts, So I wrote a bunch of stuff and really worked hard at it not sounding the same. So the next thing is a little different sounding than Echoes. But, I do want to expand on my voice and song writing.
SBS: What’s the machine itself up to Ken? Is it firing on all-cylinders? How are you going about supporting the new record through promotions and live-shows and all that? What’s coming up for you?
Ken: Right now, I am looking to play some dates throughout the winter. Next year I plan to get into gear a bit more and get out there. I really want to share these songs with people wherever I can.
SBS: Personally, after listening to your music Ken…I’d have to say it’s really that soulful aspect of your voice that seems to set you apart from the rest out there – but that’s my own impression. What do you feel are the strong, defining qualities in your music that would allow listeners to pick you out of an entire random playlist of songs blindly without seeing your name attached to what they’re hearing? What does a Ken Fox song have to include in order for YOU to be happy with it?
Ken: I feel like my voice is what draws the attention of people. That and I’m drunk. Just kidding. I feel like my voice is fairly recognizable. More so than a trained vocalist. And the songs are always from a pure place. I try to write while the subject is fresh in my mind.
SBS: Seems almost like a corny question to ask you Ken…but honestly, where do you see yourself five years from now? You’ve obviously got a ton of drive, a ton of momentum and a ton of support…where do you seeing it all lead to and what’s going to make sure that you get there?
Ken: To be successful (whatever you relate that definition to) takes a lot of work. Relationships with people take a lot of work. Obtaining trust from people, listeners is a lot of work. Lies will tear things down, including integrity. If you show that you want to be where you are then prove it. Mentally be there. Physically show up. If you work really hard on the right things you will have happiness. That’s what I think success is. I don’t make new year’s resolutions because my motivation comes from me. Every day. I fear that there is active consciousness now that causes people to say check me out I’m cluster B and free! In five years from now I see myself with the same attitude I have now. Learning more and implementing that into what ever I am working on at the time.
SBS: The SBS ‘open floor!’ Ken, again…I can’t thank you enough for putting up with all this rambling, and for your time – I truly appreciate it and completely look forward to what you have to say to us all. Wishing you the best of success with the Echoes EP release, and continued success thereafter of course! Please take this next space to mention anything else at all that you’d like to! It’s the ‘open floor’ – so you lead the way my friend, no final questions for ya…just an opportunity to express anything else at all that you’d like to say. Cheers my friend – thanks again Ken!
Ken: First of all. Best. Interview. Ever. Thank you so much for coming through man. I am super happy that you took the time to research and dig into my history. Thank you for the thoughtful questions and making me feel comfortable man. Really thank you!! I will add that I hope people continue to support music. I see trends that reflect music is losing it’s importance in live venues and towns that used to show so much support for the arts.