Kassia Conway loves the idea of limitless possibility. Pursuing a solo project has been her way of being open to anything. The musician and songwriter, former bassist and singer in Los Angeles group All Wrong And The Plans Change, began writing solo material three years ago with the goal of having no boundaries when it came to genre or style. “It’s one thing to listen to a bunch of different kinds of music...but quite another to let yourself embrace them all as part of your own voice…especially since people love to put things in boxes.” Her debut EP, Big Talk, released in September 2013, reflects this pursuit, its four songs embodying various aspects of Conway’s story.
Recorded in early 2013, Big Talk reveals four sides of what Conway believes exist in most people. The songs largely originated in their propulsive rhythms, a result of Conway’s experience on the bass and her interest in creating layered beats that bolster each song’s narrative experience. “I write constantly, on any and every thing around me...so I always come to the studio with something to say. But somehow, I still end up writing a lot on the spot. I’m very inspired by the vibe in the air, my mood and usually a drum beat. I love the energy that comes in the moment.” Her inspiration was drawn from a range of artists, from Talking Heads to Joy Division to Outkast to Miles Davis.
“Everybody has multiple personalities,” Conway says of the EP. “‘Hustler’ is about being smart…and having the ability to shift as things shift around you. ‘Killer’ is a narrative about both sides of a relationship. ‘Take Me Back’ is super vulnerable and open. ‘Big Talk’ is fun, like a party, but also really blunt/sarcastic..like a conversation. I’m trying not to control what comes out. It’s easy to get trapped into one persona or genre, but music can step into so many different places all at once. I tried not to be afraid of that here.”
The musician, who is putting the finishing touches on her debut album, expected out on Columbia in 2014, sees the music as part of an overall artistic vision, one that could be highly visual...with space for collaboration and evolution. Conway directed, produced and edited her own music video for the quirky “Big Talk.” “Basically, my laptop became an all-in-one production studio. iTunes for play back, iMovie to edit and the little built in camera to shoot. I carried this thing around for 3 weeks and then sat in my 90 degree apartment editing for hours on end like an OCD psycho. Then ‘bang’ video’s ready!!” The collage-like clip embraces an organic aesthetic of using whatever you have on hand to create imaginative, innovative art – a sensibility Conway has held since she was a kid. The question for Conway is always “What can this become?” It’s an ideal she applies to her live performance, a dynamic, impassioned delivery that ebbs and flows with the same variation as the songs. She even creates her own stage costumes, reveling in the joy of wearing colorful, evocative outfits.
“I would like to continue to work with artists, video directors, writers, photographers and costume designers,” Conway says. “I want to make art and be involved in multimedia that supports my music. Music is supposed to be a conversation. For me, big picture, I’d like to blow that out to as many aspects of the creative world as I can. I want to use all aspects of art to dream and create a compelling story.”
Conway began playing live in September with a backing band that includes her best friend Amy Wood on drums. Although the musician sees Conway as a solo project she feels the band is integral to translating the music to the stage. So far the group has performed at CMJ, supported both St. Lucia and The Fratellis on U.S. runs, played live on PDiddy’s RevoltTV network launch and opened for bands like Cults, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and NONONO. These live shows have introduced Conway to several of her current collaborators, including renowned artist Zach Gold, who directed the video for “Hustler.” The performances reflect Conway’s desire to offer an intelligent alternative to contemporary pop music, one founded in sincere emotion and honest storytelling. Conway speaks her mind, always expressing what she sees and how she sees it. “I want to broaden the range of what pop can be while still accessing a lot of people,” the musician says. “I want to allow for depth in my songs.”
In many ways, Conway is the result of a carefully constructed vision, one that incorporates all possible aspects of artistic expression. But in another it is the product of a musician who has learned to release control and accept what comes her way. There is a perceivably unabashed freedom inherent in the songs she creates and it’s one that translates to the listener.
“I have to let go,” Conway says. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because of it. I have no idea what’s going to happen but I’m doing it anyway. At the end of the day there can be no regrets or stones unturned.”