Kelly Pardekooper and I spoke for a couple of hours and talked about a bunch of things, including:
* How he landed his first record deal and started touring in Europe.
* How he got his music on high-profile TV shows like True Blood, Sons of Anarchy, Longmire and Justified.
* Why Kelly agreed to sign an exclusive deal with Black Toast Music and what he did to vet them beforehand.
* Why keeping a part-time job with human interaction is central to his creative process and successful music career.
Kelly’s Latest Album
I’m going to share a few of my favorite Kelly quotes with you in a second but first, please hit play and enjoy the goodness below….
If you just want to go ahead and watch the full interview, click here.
For tasty appetizers, read on…
On getting started – “I didn’t put my first album out until I was 30 and even that, I would consider now a pretty rough demo. I think it’s hard for a lot of musicians to look back 20-25 years and listen to their recordings but it was certainly a very necessary first step.” [04:00]
On cover songs and original music – “I quickly started writing my own songs. I never had any interest in being anything else other than a songwriter who’s creating his own music.” [07:50]
On finding inspiration and structure in the day job – “As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate that, for me and the way I write songs, that are kind of character story songs, I absolutely need to be interacting with people and these different jobs helped me that way.” [08:30]
On touring in his late 20s/early 30s – “We were at that point in life where we could really drop everything and live very poor out of a van and just sort of go try to play music. […] The very pragmatic side of me felt like: this is a good time to try to do this. I have time to go have a regular job later.” [21:10]
That single-minded focus on playing gigs reminded me of the interview I did with Justin from The Blue Stones.
On building an audience. – “Our band was only concerned about putting on a good show, performing live as much as we could. It was a very grassroots following we built. […] It was before social media. […] Feedback was instantaneous. You could tell if people were up dancing and having a fun time. […] I joke that my music career was about making relationships dozens at a time, not hundreds or thousands.” [23:45]
On writing with licensing projects in mind – “My best advice to any songwriter is to try to tap into what inspires you the most and worry about where it might land later.” [30:45]
On doing due diligence before signing an exclusive deal – “Him wanting to work with me was a pretty quick decision. Me deciding it was ok to sign an exclusive deal was a longer decision. […] I went in slowly and he was fantastic. […] Still, it’s a stranger who’s asking you for the exclusive rights to your music. […] I looked at what he was getting placed. I spoke to some of his other artists – I tried to do due diligence – and they got back to me right away and said wonderful things about him.” [37:00]
For the record, Bob Mair and Black Toast Music ended up placing many of Kelly’s songs in numerous high-profile TV shows.
On dealing with rejection – “The rejections are going to come and, as you get older, you don’t take it personally. You just can’t. […] They love the songs, it just doesn’t fit that project.” [49:50]
On asking more experienced people for help – “We were young and we probably thought we knew what we were doing but we didn’t. […] The sooner you feel confident enough to be reaching out to people who are better at the skills you don’t have, the better.” [01:08:35]