For Kim Garrison making a living playing music has been a difficult path but also one of the most rewarding. CH caught up with the California-native behind the hauntingly emotive vocals for a chat about moving to NYC, songs, summer and lip-synching.
Have you always been in the music industry?
Not exactly the "industry" but I've been around music my whole life. I played saxophone growing up and didn't switch to guitar until a few years ago. I was living in San Francisco and working as a booker/talent buyer at a few music venues and just kept coming back to singing/songwriting until one day I quit booking and decided to give my own music the attention it was craving.
What is your first memory of being inspired by music?
I was always obsessed with music from a very young age. I used to choreograph dances to Madonna and make the neighborhood kids perform them with me. And then my sister, cousin and I would get all dressed up and put on concerts for the family, lip synching to Duran Duran. I also kept a binder of songs lyrics that I typed up. I always had to know every lyric to every song I ever heard.
When did you realize you could actually do this as a career?
Well, in April of 2007 I left my life in California and came to NYC to make a go of it. It's been a beautiful experience so far.
What has been the hardest part in getting your music out there?
I wouldn't say it's been "hard." For me, really, being able to write and perform and feel like what I'm offering is my own vision and voice, well, that makes me happy. My biggest "hurdle" has only been myself and the battle to be who I really am [and] to really find out who that is. If I had to call out a frustration it would be that many people consider being a musician some sort of competition and that can create a situation where you feel you have to "prove" that you are good enough. But good enough for who or what, I haven't really heard a great answer.
What was the inspiration behind You Are Loved?
The songs on this first record have focused mostly on themes of love and loss, solitude and regret. And also the process of healing and forgiveness (of self and others) that comes when you can be real honest with what you are going through and who you really are. About half of the songs were written right after a pretty gut wrenching break-up. The general theme of these songs is definitely about intimate relationships and the ways in which we show up in them. There's also a cover of Chris Bell's "I am the Cosmos" which for me, really fit perfectly on the record as a closing sentiment and farewell to that period of my life.
How would you classify—if you can—your music?
For me, my music is really an expression of who I am, where I've been and a real honest look at my own life. The songs up to this point have been very personal, very emotional and feel like the place where fear confronts love and it grows into a place of being at peace and happy with where I am right in this moment. As far as a genre, I call it "electric-folk-rock" or "swimming-in-the-sea/dissonant-indie-rock."
Who is your inspiration?
Music really took a turn for me in college when I was first introduced to the amazing art of Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey and Nick Drake. It stirred up emotion in me that took many years to sort through and I am forever in gratitude to their offerings, for teaching me how to get in touch with my own muse.
Where do you hope to be by 2011?
Hopefully I'll have another record or two out and be touring in Europe at least half of the year.
What's the best piece of advice you have received?
Ask yourself what you're afraid of, find that cliff and then leap off into the abyss.
What advice would you give to other musicians trying to get off the ground?
We all have to find our own way now. Growing up there was only radio, ticketmaster and a few major labels. Now there are almost as many labels as artists and online radio and cult followings of a million bands I've never heard of. If you do what you love and have fun doing it, then nothing can really stop you from doing what you do.