Nashville’s Voodoo-Witchy Woman: A Conversation With Kim Logan
Nashville’s voodoo-witchy woman, Kim Logan is back in the studio again working on her second chapter of recordings with Vance Powell, the wizard behind the mixing board for Jack White, Third Man Records, Buddy Guy, Chris Stapleton, and many more.
Minimal Beat: Tell us about your musical background, you mentioned that you sang Opera when you were younger and we could hear it in the power of your voice. How do you combine Opera, Honky Tonk and the Blues so well?
Kim Logan: Opera and rock & roll are not so different, in my mind. They are both this arc of story and song, visceral and theatrical, and containing all manner of musical styles/instrumentation. Both classical and contemporary music have always been a part of me, and I consider stuff like delta blues and classic rock and jazz to be as timeless and important as Puccini and Mozart. We’re just closer to those. I still sing with the Nashville Opera actually – “Turandot” this fall will be my 4th season with them, and my 17th opera production in my lifetime. I’ll be doing it until I die, and as I progress in both the classical & modern fields it becomes more and more important to me to de-stigmatize them from each other culturally and pedagogically.
Minimal Beat: In what sort of environment do you like to surround yourself in when you’re going to write a song and how does that change while you’re on the road?
KL: Writing on the road happens sometimes, but usually I’m pretty busy… I get a couple magic moments or ideas written down or recorded every time I go out though. It’s something about the act of traveling that can make you feel like you’re reaching the zenith of human experience… a good time to write I guess. When I’m hanging out in Nashville I write pretty constantly. It’s been important to make my house here a kind of sanctuary for creativity, protected from the music business party scene and booming city growth we’re steeped in here.
Minimal Beat: What made you make the move to Nashville from Florida?
KL: I had a couple years in between there in Boston and New York City, going to school and being crazy. That was my first step out of the nest, and I had just turned 17 and was a total idiot. I came to Nashville from the northeast when I was 19 because I needed to get back to the South. I was freezing up there, and depressed, but I learned at Berklee that I definitely wanted to write songs and make records and tour for a living. And here in Nashville, I could do all that better than anywhere in the country, and I could do opera too!
Minimal Beat: Tell us about your second album that you’re working on with Vance Powell over at Sputnik Sound, when did you start recording and who are you playing with now a days?
KL: It’s less of an album and more of a chapter. We’re still figuring it all out in terms of putting the project together, but Vance and my management GPS (also Vance’s management, which makes it really feel like a family), are sort of letting me write my own rules as to how I release and present my art to the world. This next batch of music is going to be combined with visual art, film, poetry, and performance art to become something bigger than an album. Albums are what made me fall in love with the art form of recorded music, but it’s a struggling medium right now, and I’m hoping to breathe new life into the idea of what a group of songs can really mean.
Minimal Beat: Your roommate, Kar Zano, is an incredible photographer and has captured some distinctive images of you through her creative production company WYLDSOL, and she also plays in Nashville’s psychedelic glam pop band The Jag. How did you two ladies come across each other and form such a strong relationship in the short amount of time you’ve been in Nashville?
KL: We both had a thing with the same guy, actually, and he was a real asshole. Both of our involvements with him ended badly and were kind of bullshit to begin with, so it brought us together. It’s definitely hilarious now, and we were best friends within about a day of getting to know each other, which was a little over a year ago. I am so thankful for her! She’s the visual brain to my sonic one, and our overlap in interest and skill in both areas allows us to collaborate in a way I’ve never had before. Not to mention we live together, which makes it so easy… we wake up in the morning, smoke weed, drink coffee, read our horoscopes, and get right down to making art.
Minimal Beat: Can you think of any influences of yours that would probably not be apparent to the listener?
KL: What’s cool is I don’t actually know what’s apparent to my listeners, other than obvious influences like Jack White and Bonnie Raitt, because I’ve had so many people over the last few years fling so many different references at me as to what my music reminds them of. I absolutely love that… my goal is to always be representing everything I’ve ever loved at once, which includes everything from Aretha Franklin to Herbie Hancock, Maria Callas to Hank Williams Sr., the Black Angels to Lana Del Rey.
Minimal Beat: Who’s on your record player right now/ what book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading the Diary of Anaïs Nin, and I’ve got Laura Marling on my record player.
Minimal Beat: Any advice to the young women trying to make it in the music industry?
KL: Don’t take ANY shit, and I know that sounds trite but I’m serious. There ARE men out there in the industry, and it’s more common than you even think, who will try to use you and fuck you and take credit for your ideas. Don’t let a man ever take your work away from you or try to tell you how to do it. Your art and your mind, your image and your sexuality are all YOURS to do with what you please.
Minimal Beat: Where can we find your music and merch?
KL: Everything I’ve put out can be found on my website at www.kimlogan.net
Minimal Beat: Tell us non-Nashvillians about the scene that’s going on over by you guys. There are a bunch of killer bands coming out of the area and everyone seems to know each other pretty well. It’s pretty cool visiting a city that has live music at every bar 7 nights of the week because we don’t really have the same display of live music here in Chicago. How do you distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd and not over saturate yourself in a musical city such as Nashville?
KL: This has been the battle of my life for the last five years in this town. The history of Nashville is so weird… the attention paid to it has come in epic bursts, with a lot of poverty and sociopolitical neglect in the in-between parts. We’ve always been a government city, a church city, AND a music city which makes for Nashville’s unique issues and infrastructure. The last 15 years have seen the greatest growth since the golden age of country music. At first it was radio country, and then that became universally acknowledged as bullshit and Americana started to become the new cash cow, and now we’ve got this monster brewing from the massive underground of Nashville that is a community of literally hundreds of rock, blues, psych, pop, reggae, hip hop, jazz, and electronic artists just ready to blow. We weren’t ready for what started to happen here at the beginning of the new millennium, and it sort of always feels like surface tension nowadays. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m glad I’m here to be a part of it. I’m glad I’m making my art with honesty and bravery in a time where there is so much sameness and disingenuousness … I have high expectations for my brothers and sisters here in Nashville and what we’re all creating.