Kristen Englenz music is like stream of consciousness Beat poetry imbued with good-down-home Southern sensibility. Kristen’s debut record Extent of Play is a lightly adorned record that gets straight to the point: a singer, an earnest acoustic guitar, and the keening of a pedal steel. “Rebound”—off Extent of Play—is a plaintive track that cuts deep. It’s a little bit Stevie Nicks, and a little bit Azure Ray and a-lot-a-bit excellent. Kristen joined me to talk about repetition, writing, and catharsis.
You can listen to "Rebound" here.
SC: This is a heart wrenching song told from the perspective of someone who is the “rebound”. There’s a lot of repetition in the song--the questioning of “do you blame me?” the musicality of the acoustic guitar against the passing voicing of the pedal steel--how the speaker is “just trying to swing back for you,” and even the slight repetition of so in “I think we’re a different place so so soon”. How do you feel repetition is working in the song?
KE: The lyrical repetition works in contrast to the structure of the song which is mostly through-composed and brief. The musical structure serves as the timeline of the rebound while the lyrics are the mind of the rebound person.
Of course there are exceptions to this, but as a rebound you either know or find out you are experiencing something which will not repeat. It will not evolve into a romantic relationship. The bitter reality is that you are just a blip on the other person's radar. You're left in a place alone, with feelings which aren't returned, trying to process what happened while everything else including the person you were with is quite probably moving on with little thought about the event. The repetition of lyric is a mirror to the mental process of trying to come to grips with such a situation.
SC: What was your writing process like for "Rebound"?
KE: I actually wrote "Rebound" faster than any song I've ever written. I hadn't ever been in the sort of position of being someone's rebound. I felt like I had been duped. I remember laying down on the floor of my bedroom crying like people do (I highly recommend floor crying to anyone going through any level of heartbreak). My guitar was on a stand next to me. I sat up criss-cross-applesauce, picked up the guitar, and out came “Rebound.”
I was actually doubtful of the song because of how quickly it was created, but oddly enough it tends to be most people's favorite. I think people can relate to the emotion. Rebounders unite!
SC: How often do you write? Do you keep a songwriting schedule or do you wait to be inspired?
KE: I write stuff down all of the time, but only 30.42% formulates into a song.
People are always saying wonderfully weird and brilliant things in their day-to-day speech which I copy down. Then there’s my mind which is constantly buzzing in interpretation and observation. I was raised to trust but verify, which has seemingly turned into trying to understand every possible angle of any one thing. It's very distracting from "the moment," but notating the interesting bits can help.
Rarely do I sit down with the purpose of writing a song and produce anything good. There are usually just moments when all of the words from above become accompanied by a melody and an emotion strong enough to weld a song.
Writing songs is like therapy. I should probably keep a schedule and make a point to go more often, but frequently it only happens when shit gets real.
SC: How does your community of songwriters influence your writing?
KE: I somehow became surrounded by some of the most incredible musicians and songwriters of my generation. They've influenced me with their bravery. These are all people I feel should be playing in every household, car, and device. Unfortunately, they are not (yet), but they don't give up. That's how you know they're real in a way. They can't give up. Music is this strange, miraculous, mysterious, invisible thing. Honestly, it’s much like love. I'm lucky to call friends the people who have the courage to give themselves over to this force. To approach one's art and life this way is the material heroes are made of. I guess that's how they influence me. They inspire me to live fully, be myself, and persevere. If you do those things you cant help but live a wonderful life.
The Sound Connector is an online magazine for songwriters. We feature songwriting challenges, monthly interviews, and the opportunity to discover new songwriters. We are interested in all things related to the craft of songwriting.
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