The Wild Reeds, a female-fronted folk-rock quintet from LA, first came to the Twin Cities on their 2017 tour. At that time, female members Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe, and Sharon Silva had signed with Dualtone Records, added “the Nicks” to their rhythm section, and
The seamless switch-off of lead vocals is one of many things that makes this band so interesting to listen to; that and their mesmerizing harmonies. Working with Lucius producer Dan Molad on Cheers has resulted in a shift from their usual style, resulting in a looser, more free sounding record than previous albums.
Inspired by a collection of unparalleled yet intersecting experiences, the three songwriters focused more on their individual styles and songwriting visions. Each band member was given the creative space to compose and orchestrate their own songs. Ditching the standard singer-songwriter paradigm has given us a variety of songs that are creatively incongruent yet threaded together with their signature, dazzling, three-part harmonies.
I had the opportunity to chat with member Kinsey Lee about the creation of Cheers, the recent music video release for “Lose My Mind,” stoned online shopping mishaps that led to hit track “P.S. Nevermind,” and, of course, good ‘
MIM: So, just a few days ago you released a music video for “Lose My Mind.” I was browsing and saw that. I am not a huge music video person, but I was trying to get caught up to speed. But, that one was really cool and also kind of unique. Yeah, I have a lot to ask about Lose My Mind. You were front and center for that one
Kinsey: Yeah! It’s funny that you say you’re not huge fan of music videos. I kind of feel like I was like that. Talking to my friend Michael about making the music video, I wanted it to be fun! I wanted everyone to have a good time. It’s strange, you know to think where music videos have a place in the world these days. You know, thinking back watching MTV, watching all the music videos get streamed, you know? It came out so beautifully! My grandparents are in it.
MIM: Oh! Those were your grandparents? Oh that’s really special!
Kinsey:Yeah! I showed them the day I left, I came over for dinner. My grandpa was like, ‘whoever took the picture did a great job!’
MIM: Haha, oh that’s very sweet. So, I’m guessing some of the home videos in there, was that you?
Kinsey: Yeah! So, Michael has been a friend of ours for a really long time. When I told him I wanted to make a music video for “Lose My Mind,” he came up with the concept. I told him, the song is about support and about that person. You know if everything goes wrong and you can’t speak for yourself, they speak up for you. It’s about my best friend Ben who I would want to stand in for me. So, he wanted to make the music video loosely about support and family. He took home a couple of my home videos, haha. And chopped some images in, which was pretty fun.
MIM: That’s awesome! Haha, so I have to ask about the clown makeup. What was that about?
Kinsey:Haha, yeah his inspiration came from a lot of old Beck videos shot with a lot of interesting profiles. It’s hard these days to keep people watching anything, because we’re all instant gratification. So, to create a music video that holds you the entire time, I was really impressed with Michael’s technique. Weird twists and subplots and clowns… It was fun to tangle friends in there and just add a little bit of flair and something interesting to look at to keep people pulled into the video.
MIM: Yeah, definitely! So, that’s Michael Delaney? He’s a friend of yours and also the director of the video?
Kinsey: Yup! And, something funny about the video too that’s always been on my ‘to do list,’ in life, I’ve always wanted to dance in a music video. And, I’m not like a great dancer, haha. I go
MIM: Yeah! Haha, I know normally you’ve got the guitar or tambourine or at least something. Yeah, when it’s gone you’re a little bare, a little vulnerable. I will say it came across as very natural. If you were nervous, it didn’t look like it.
Kinsey:Thank you! I think it’s really important to challenge those insecurities. On this tour, when we’re performing it, I’m going to do that for a like a minute of the song. So, I’m trying to explore that. Sarah, she was a friend I was just really comfortable with. She helped me through it and when we were making the music video, I was like ‘I really don’t want anyone else, but Sarah.’ She’s someone that makes me feel so comfortable and accepted and moves with my natural movements you know. So, that was really fun!
MIM: Haha, so she was on the sidelines probably dancing with ya off camera?
Kinsey:Yeah, she was with me the whole time.
MIM: That’s a great friend! Well, that song was definitely one of my favorites from the new album. Cheers
Kinsey: It was really cool. Ever since our band started we struggled with the fact that we wanted to create one sound. It’s hard for people to digest that there are three different songwriters and three different front women in the band. So, for the last couple years, when we ask ourselves ‘okay, what’s the thing that binds us together?’ it’s the harmonies. That’s the thread that pulls us all together.
Oftentimes we’re trying so hard to make something that matches each other’s styles that we don’t do the song justice… Allowing each other to let go of that idea or that boundary we make for ourselves that we have to be a harmony-based band, and kind of just going with the creative muse of the song, it allowed us a lot more freedom. It was a lot more comfortable in the studio, we all trust each other. It was collaborative still in a huge way, but together we let go of that boundary we created which was nice. And, we all love the way it sounds. So, we were like, ‘yay! It worked! Yes!’
MIM: It’s nice to give each other that creative space, to compose and write your own songs. The themes of love and recovery, those seemed to ring true in every song in some way. Also, the harmonies tie it together as well.
Kinsey:Yes, naturally we have themes that go along with one another because we all are in the same band and are friends outside of music. If one of us is going through something heavy, we all kind of go through it with them. A lot of those themes rub off on each other.
MIM: Definitely. So, the song ‘P.S. Nevermind.’ had a little bit of a pop-punky feel to it. You were very strong in that one. There’s a line in there talking about “sacrificing wonder,” overall channeling a lot of self-doubt. I wanted to ask you more about that song and how it relates to you personally.
Kinsey:Yeah, that song is kind of funny to me. Initially, it was a joke when I wrote it and we ended up changing the lyrics.
MIM: Haha, really?
Kinsey:Yeah, haha. Originally, it was a song I wrote when I was stoned and it was about online shopping.
MIM: Haha, seriously?
Kinsey: Yeah we thought we were funny, but we actually played it and created a really dumb demo and sent the label 25 songs and they said that “P.S. Nevermind” was a hit. Haha, and we were like ‘Oh god, no’
MIM: Oh that’s pretty funny, haha.
Kinsey: Yeah the original lyrics were ‘I clicked it, I bought it, it came in the mail’ It was literally about doing online shopping when you’re stoned. Yeah, haha I really struggled at first to make that song have depth. Because it’s kind of an annoying pop-punk song. I mean, I think you can definitely tell who my influences are with this song. The bridge, that’s kind of the saving grace of the song for me. It’s just kind of about our world these day, “sacrificing our wonder.”
I mean, if we ever want to know something, all we do is look at our little computer in our hand. We have this unlimited knowledge now and it’s pulled away from our ability to question and wonder… that bridge is about giving up the magic and the wonder to just rely on the gods we’ve created around us, technology.
MIM: Yes, always consuming something rather than just being present and open. Definitely. Side note here, but having 2018 and 2019 be some pretty rough, politically charrged years I’ve kind of leaned on a few of your songs. I’ve tried to focus more on seeking out strong, female-fronted bands in the world of music. I will say, I’ve blasted “Capable” so many times! Haha, it’s kind of an ‘F-you!’ kind of song. If I’m blowing off some steam, that’s always a good go-to.
Kinsey: Oh yeah! Absolutely, love that song. That’s a great one.
MIM: Do you have any songs that have really resonated with you, not just from Cheers, that you’ve been drawn to?
Kinsey:I mean out of all the songs that we perform live, I definitely feel “Capable” every time. That’s a song that can be powerful in so many different setting and ways for me personally. My favorite song… I love performing “Let No Grief” with Sharon. That’s an older song. There’s just such a sense of unity between us when we perform and sing that song. No matter what anyone in our band is going through, like I said earlier, we all share the same kind of grief. In that song, it really feels like we are united in the urgency of the pain… Yeah, I still really love that song. We don’t perform it as much anymore. For many years, it’s felt very powerful for me.
MIM: Yeah, combining hardship with kinship among the three of you. The new album is called “Cheers.” The name choice seems ironic. It’s kind of a dark, melancholy album. You definitely get to some darker, gloomier depths with a lot of these songs. Where did that title come from?
Kinsey: Actually, one of the songs on the record is called, “Cheers.” It’s the last song, our title track. We kind of just started talking about names, what to call it. And, we were looking through the album tracks and thought, ‘yeah, cheers would be great.’ We had a lot of fun making this record, there was a lot of comradery. It does feel a little ironic, I mean it’s such a simple cover and a simple name, but it’s kind of a ‘yeah! cheers!’
MIM: Yeah, well overall I think it speaks to a positive experience creating and lifting each other up. Yeah, a little comradery there. I like it. What are you most excited about coming back to the Turf Club? I did catch you last time you were in town, not at Turf. It was with Wild Child headlining, the blizzard night!
Kinsey:The blizzard night! Oh my gosh yeah.
MIM:Do you remember that last April?
Kinsey:How could I forget that blizzard! We had to drive to Eau Claire that night. It was scary and sketchy, the freeway was just completely white. Haha, we had to get out because we would’ve gotten stuck if we stayed in town.
MIM: Yup! Yeah that’s the toss up with Minnesota in April. You can still get a snowstorm, haha.
Kinsey:Man, but we’ve had some great shows in Minneapolis. The Current, that’s your radio station?
MIM:Yeah! Love MPR, love The Current.
Kinsey:Yeah, the first time we came to town, The Current was blasting us and I think we sold out that show at the Turf Club.
MIM:You did! I’m pretty sure you did. I remember it being really packed.
Kinsey: They totally pumped up out music. That was the first time we really experienced radio support in a way that we could see. We were like, ‘holymoly, we don’t even play here much and look what the radio did for us!’ That was really cool. We love The Current and we’re grateful to have them as supporters… also, we have this group of gals that met at our shows and they come together when we’re in town which is fun! I think they met that night of the blizzard, and some of them are from Planned Parenthood and they’re really supportive of us too. We just have a lot of people come together. I love to see that female comradery at our shows.
MIM: Oh yeah, for sure! I definitely feel that when I see you play, and when Wild Child played last April. You know, they also got high-powered vocals there. You know, with her and her brother, the two of them sing together. That was a really fun show. It’ll be nice to come full circle, back to Turf Club and experience you guys in that space again a couple years later. I’m really looking forward to that.
Kinsey:Yes! It’ll be fun!