Inspiration: @KirbyLauryen Is Writing A Song A Day In 2012

8 Apr

Originally Posted on HeartsConverse.com

“I wrote a song for you today, will you tell a friend?”

This is Kirby Lauryen‘s signature line on every new song, she pens, records, and uploads daily to her Youtube page“KirbyLauryensings.” She is now at Day 96, only 270 days to go.

Yes. She literately does this everyday. No gimmicks here. With every video, viewers are greeted by Lauryen, hair sometimes up in a ponytail, curly, or straight down over her shoulders. She then sits at her piano and belts out a raw ballad or upbeat scenario on life and love powered by her church-rooted soulful vocals. Her confidence and talent, yet humbleness, is inspiring. But Lauryen had to move away from her own fears in order to begin freeing her deepest talents.

In December 2011, the 23-year-old from Memphis, now living in Mississippi, was your typical retail worker thinking about everything but the chaotic climate of clothes and holiday cheer (or lack there of) that comes with working in the mall during that time of year. Most importantly, she wasn’t doing what she loved – singing.

December 31st arrived and Lauryen had given it enough thought. “I had nothing to lose,” Lauryen said. Not accepting the fate of broken pipe dreams, “A Song A Day” with Kirby Lauryen was born. She decided to put to work the songwriting chops she developed while studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The next day, January 1st, she uploaded her first video.

By early February, she chucked the deuces to retail and says singing and songwriting in 2012, is her job. And after listening to songs like Day 5 “Picture Perfect,” Day 60 “Always,” and Day 87 “Dance With You,” one must wonder what her rich vocals were doing in the mall, subdued by repetitive clothes’ folding and dressing room drama.

Though Lauryen is at the very beginning of her journey as an artist, her creative and clever strategy of presenting a quality song daily to the world, makes her worth highlighting. Who can ignore consistency? Lauryen is kicking her doubts to the curb and letting her piano, voice, and camera be the vehicles driving her towards greatness.

You’re at home in Mississippi now, but you were in Boston at Berklee College of Music for a few years studying Songwriting and Music Business. What was the situation? Why did you move back ?

I really miss the east coast. Of course Mississippi is my home, but I feel east coast is just my second home. Like I love loved being in Boston. But after I left Boston, I moved to Atlanta for a year, and tried to do the whole music thing there and it didn’t work out and it brought me back home. So I think home is where I need to be, I definitely see myself living on the east coast. I just feel like artistically it’s the safest place to be.

So when you were in Atlanta, how were you pushing your career? Were you doing open mics and stuff like that? 

Well I just randomly moved to Atlanta. I just packed up. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have anything. I just said mom and dad you know, I have a dream and I want to move, and they were supportive. Ironically they did support me. I found a job at this place called Eddie’s Attic, which is like a premiere songwriting venue. But it was just really, you know I was young, I was just leaving out of college. When you’re in college, you don’t really know anything about life. You’re just involved in that whole college world. And to move to Atlanta you have to have a job, and working to live was just like a culture shock for me coming out of school, and having to really like support myself, it really was just a humbling experience so I had to fail. I hate to call it a failure but I do feel like I experienced failure more so than I’ve ever experienced while I was in Atlanta. And it grew me up, it really did. I went to open mics, I did all that, but it was more of a life experience.

Did you have any leads out there? Or was nothing solid?

You know culture is not really welcomed to you making art as a living. So when you’re working and stuff like that, it’s basically hard to find a balance to basically work to live and create your art. And I couldn’t find a balance. I can’t tell you how many songs I wrote in Atlanta. I can’t remember one. It was more of a creative drought. I did meet a couple of cool people. I met some cool rappers. I met some cool producers. I mean there were things, but creatively it was just there’s a time for everything and just timing and the stars were not aligning. It brought me back home. And now I’m here.

Going back to growing up, when do you remember first singing?

I know it sounds so typical, but it’s like singing in church, on a hill in Eudora, Mississippi — when I tell you it’s the boonies, please believe, it’s like country-er than you ever imagine. And thats where I remember singing. You know Easter Sunday solos, Christmas solos. My sister plays piano so when she would play, I would hop up and sing so I want to say 7, at least.

And was there anyone in your family who influenced your singing?

My sister was probably my biggest musical influence. Because she’s a connoisseur. She used to buy music all the time. From like 7-years-old, knowing all these Jodeci songs, cause my sister has all their albums, you know all these R. Kelly CDs. Like all this R&B stuff. You know racks on racks on racks of CDs.

Any other music you remember hearing growing up? 

Man a lot of TLC was always playing. But of course, when I was living in Memphis, I would always hear like Three 6 Mafia. I was really into southern rap. That’s what really bangs in the car. When you’re in the car and you want to hear something with bass. So my preference at that age was hip hop. Project Pat. It was straight up southern rap, that was what was on the radio. Toni Braxton. Oh my God. Janet Jackson. Yeah we had a lot of 90s R&B. My mom, she’s not really into soul. She would listen to sometimes Anita Baker, but she’s not like an R&B lady who had all of Luther’s songs or all of the R&B hits from back in the day. I didn’t really grow up listening to that, ironically.

Did you ever write a rap before you wrote a song, given your preferences listening-wise. I mean I’m just curious?

It’s a wonder that I didn’t, because all of the hip-hop that I listened to. It seems to be that would be the path I would have taken. But no I probably know all of the words. I would definitely rap “Chickenhead” right now (Laughs), but no. But singing is just one of those natural things. I guess you combine the gospel, you know that kind of brought the singing part. But you know the radio was on southern rap.

Any singers/songwriters that influence your writing if any?

I’m really into country music and this has only started from a “Song A Day.” But solely when it comes to songwriting right now, I’m really influenced by like Lady Antebellum. The story lines in country music are like the basis for any good song. And as far as singer songwriters, of course Frank Ocean; he’s dope. I really like R. Kelly’s style of songwriting. Of course Adele. She’s like the greatest right now. Oh and I like The Dream. But when it comes to songwriting at the core, as far as the technique of it, right now it’s put a country song on for me.

And going back to gospel because you said you grew up singing in church. Do you have any gospel influences as well?

You know not purposely. Kirk Franklin, I really do think he’s a great songwriter because he writes about life. Israel Houghton I think he’s awesome as well. But I cant really say I purposely had any gospel artists that I said I’m going to put you on and I want to be influenced by you. I think it’s just probably something that happens in my subconscious you know from life and something that I’m really familiar with and it’s organic. But no I wouldn’t say there were any gospel artists right now that I’m purposely influenced by. Ironically.

So that’s very interesting because people think they can tell what may influence an artist based on how their music sounds. But you never know until you ask them. Now I want to know about the Song A Day movement. When did you decide you were going to do this? 

It was after Christmas 2011 and I had taken off from work. I worked in retail so Christmas season, you’re working like crazy. So I said Christmas season I’m going to take off. I’m like ok, what in the world am I going to do? I have all this free time and I’m not doing anything productive and that really irked. And I really just think it came out of just a disappointment of not working on what I know I can do and not having any product. And it was just Oh my God, I can not go into 2012 and be where I am right now. And it was a light bulb that came on and the idea it just came in my head and I was like Lord. I didn’t tell anybody. December 31st came. I’m still like something’s gone have to give. So I went to Best Buy. I bought me a Canon Rebel. I made a little investment so when you invest money in something, it’s like something’s going to have to come. So I’ve been writing ever since. I think if I would have thought about it and really sat down and said how in the world are you going to write a song a day, I would’ve been discouraged. If I would’ve told people before January 1st like “Hey guys I want to write a song a day, what do you think?” Everybody would have been like no that’s too much work. But I didn’t have anything to lose. So that’s where it came out of. Not being satisfied with where you are.

Speaking of life’s struggles, you sing a lot about this and also the ups and downs of love. Where does that come from as far as personal experiences?

Relationships. You know whack relationships, or really good relationships. I don’t want to be a person like “HE DID ME WRONG!” I do not want to be that singer. So I’m not doing that. I could go back into middle school relationships or high school relationships and the emotion is still there. I just really tap into that, into what I want now, and into what I know my friends are going through. I could see a movie and be influenced. But most of the songs I would say are definitely — they come from life, what I lived, and what I been through and what I felt. Isolated moments and feelings and I just expand on that.

Is there any particular man that influenced any of your songs that you can speak about?

Yeah is there a particular person. Yea I definitely have a muse for lack of a better phrase. And let me tell you something, that muse is part of why I did a Song A day. Because I really wanted to be able to write songs and not necessarily have to depend on having a person in my life and say, “Because you’re here I can write but if you leave I can’t write,” you know what I’m saying. A lot of artists feel like you need a muse in order to create good music. You need to be in a breakup relationship to write a break up song. But I wanted to challenge myself and really just be my own muse. That’s partially why the creative drought happened in Atlanta. Certain situations that happened and the muse was not as present, and I didn’t want that to happen to me anymore. I want to be able to write whether a person is in my life or not. It’s a gift and I say that humbly. You should be able to express it no matter who’s in your life. You can’t be the reason I stop writing. And that’s part of what I really wanted to do, was be my own muse.


Did you expect the feedback that you’re getting now?

No not at all. I just think it’s a God situation too really. I didn’t have a lot of subscribers so I’m thinking how are people even going to find the videos on Youtube. But I just shot a dart out into the sky and just hoped maybe it’ll land somewhere. But I couldn’t think about that. All I knew is that I wasn’t doing enough and that was a problem and if people saw, that would be great as well. But, I couldn’t be comfortable anymore. I just needed to do something with my music.

Now looking into the future. Where do you hope to see yourself? Do you plan on doing this next year?

Of course I’m taking it a day at a time. I really try not to even think about 366. Because I feel like if I talk about it, then I will be overwhelmed. But I want major distribution. I want people to be able to walk in Best Buy and see my C.D. Hopefully I would be in the front of the store. I really do want to be a major artist. I think the music itself apart from me the music and the voice itself deserves to be heard by people. I think people want to hear it and the best scenario for me would be for people to be hearing it everywhere you go.

Definitely. Anything else you want to say?

I’m so grateful. Four months ago this time I was folding clothes and folding t-shirts and getting people in dressing rooms and so for me to even have somebody who knows the music, like I’m just so grateful. But thank you to anyone who liked it. But Lord forbid anyone who doesn’t like it, I’m just grateful to be heard.

Kirby Lauryen will be releasing her new EP on Monday 4/9. 

Follow @KirbyLauryen for Updates.

Watch more videos! Youtube.com/KirbyLauryenSings

-Natelege Whaley

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