Garland Kelley is an alternative rock artist and music producer from Nashville, TN. His music is thought- provoking and edgy while remaining personable and relatable. His songs often explore existential issues including mortality, individualism, mental health, and philosophy. While clearly a devotee of classic and alternative rock, his distinctive voice and progressive perspective ensure that his style is all his own. We’ve loved everything we’ve heard from Garland so decided it was high time we and our readers got to know him a little better…
We love how you cross genres and develop your songs from simple-sounding folk songs into full-blown art rock by the end of the track! How would you describe your style of music?
I really appreciate your thoughtful questions and insight. The genre-blending is not conscious but I believe is due to my musical influences and background. I think you have provided an apt description of my style and sound. In the rock realm, I feel that my music rests somewhere between indie and alternative rock with elements of pop rock, prog rock, and art rock. I also feel that there is a folk/singer-songwriter element that many people notice and I am certainly as influenced by that sound as much as some of the more obvious rock genres.
Your lyrics clearly draw on your own experience. How do you put together your songs? Lyrics first? Music first? Everything all at the same time?
I feel that a song comes from the culmination of multiple factors at work and the seed is “given” to me by the muse, as they say. Sometimes, this can be a simple guitar part, a lyrical idea, a melody, or a feeling. Each time is different. Sometimes, the songs seem to write themselves and are finished quickly. Other times, the song develops over the course of time, sometimes years and eventually clicks with another snippet of melody or lyric. Often, song ideas are unfinished but I feel that everything created in a moment of inspiration is at least a means to a new inspiration and is an important part of growing as an artist and songwriter. There is certainly a spiritual aspect of music and art for me and I seek to be as genuine and authentic as possible.
What are you working on at the moment? What can we expect in the near future?
I have 3 more songs to release from my debut EP. My recent release, “The Point of No Return” is the second of five songs to be released this year. In the meantime, I am writing, gigging, working on my home and family, planning adventures, and seeking to become a better human and artist. I plan to continue writing and releasing music as long as I am inspired and have something to say. Hopefully, I will be granted a long and healthy life and can produce music that inspires people.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have been given is to breathe. I am continually astounded at how much is connected to our breath. Like water, I feel that breath is taken for granted and often overlooked as a conscious practice. Posture and breath are connected and are essential to the proper functioning of the body. I have found controlled breathing to be the best way to alleviate tension and stress. The breath is essential to any athletic performance and musical performance. Often, I am most inspired in “zen” moments of mindful breathing and meditation.
What’s the worst advice you’ve been given?
The worst advice I have been given is to play it safe. I’m not saying to be foolish or bull-headed but we all die in the end so you may as well do what you love, take risks, and be an adventurer.
Tell us about the musicians you work with.
My favorite thing about living in Nashville is the incredible musicians and people I call my friends. Every musician I play with is truly world-class and I am constantly inspired by them. Many of the people I play with are leagues beyond me as musicians, and this constantly pushes me to become better. My primary bandmates and I have been playing together for years now and there is no substitute for time and experience. I am fortunate to be able to perform with my wife on a weekly basis as well and I love the time we have together on stage.
Is Nashville as crazy a city as the press would have you believe? What’s it like being a non-country genre musician in Nashville?!
Nashville is definitely as crazy as the press would have you believe, possibly even more crazy in some regards. I have been here for over 8 years now and have seen some significant changes. While country is the undeniable dominating force here, there is definitely space for other genres to exist and there are plenty of talented bands and artists who are outside the country/roots realm. I feel that as the city grows, the space for these other communities also grows. I hope that Nashville continues to allow room for an eclectic culture.
Tell us about your passion for world history.
This is a cliche but understanding the past helps me to better understand the present and provides me with a connection to the common threads of all humans throughout time. The parallels and trends throughout history are fascinating and often terrifying. One of the most fascinating facets being that much of the knowledge we have of ancient civilizations and empires comes from stories, literature, and art. For example, some of the best insight we have into Ancient Roman culture is through the journals of one of its greatest emperors, Marcus Aurelius. His writings continue to inspire leaders throughout the world. I am intrigued by all world history but am particularly fascinated with Bronze Age civilizations and Ancient Roman civilization. The most interesting and terrifying aspect of the Bronze Age was the rapid and widespread collapse that sent those civilizations into a centuries-long “dark ages”. The exact cause or causes are still not fully understood by historians but the parallels to our current world are eery to say the least.
What is your favourite song to perform, and why?
My favorite song of mine to perform is an unreleased song entitled “Mortal” which will be out later this year and is the title track of my EP. Currently, my favorite cover song to perform is “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots.
Do you have any upcoming shows to tell our readers about?
I perform regularly in Nashville so you can see me live around town. I update my gig calendar regularly and plan to start branching out to other regional cities soon.
Thank you Garland, we wish you continued success and awesome music!!