After a successful Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of the year, Chicago-area singer/songwriter, Kevin Andrew Prchal, is now ready to release his latest work, Sorrow Sings. The record, a follow-up to his 2012 debut, is indie-folk at its absolute best.
Kevin will be celebrating the record’s release this Friday, 8/8, at Lincoln Hall, and the 21+ show kicks off at 9 PM with performances by Daniel Wade and Mike Castle. Tickets are $12 at the door or you can save yourself some money for merch by picking them up online for just $10. In anticipation of the release, we talked with Kevin about crowdfunding, religion, and escaping the Midwest through his music.
In February, you successfully raised just over $6,300 on Kickstarter to fund the production of Sorrow Sings. Do you see the current crowdfunding trend as a replacement for the slowing fading record labels?
No, I wouldn’t say so. I think it all depends on what the artist hopes to accomplish. Labels are no longer needed to make records, but if someone has big dreams to become the next Beyoncé, chances are they’re going to need a label to help launch them there.
Do you think that level of involvement has an impact on the way people react to and interact with the music that they support?
Oh, definitely. If my supporters weren’t there from the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign, they would be less excited for the release. And honestly, so would I. But that’s what makes this album so special to me in the end – the simple fact that it couldn’t have been possible without them.
When I saw that one of your campaign’s perks was a vinyl copy of Sorrow Sings, I was excited because traditionally vinyl pairs perfectly with the folk genre. Was there a reason that you felt it was important to press Sorrow Sings to vinyl?
Each song on the album was written with consideration to the others. So, when people sit down with it, my hope is that they’ll absorb it from start to finish. Music and art have become so disposable these days. Even for me, I mean, I’ll find myself listening to a song on Spotify and changing it after ten seconds of hearing it. And while I expect that to happen with my music, I felt a responsibility to at least present the album in a way that could make it less of a disposable experience for people.
Did your approach to writing this record differ at all from that of your 2012 release, Eat Shirt & Tie?
Extremely, yes. I think the biggest difference was that I had a clear vision from the start of how I wanted Sorrow Sings to sound, look, and feel. With Eat Shirt & Tie, it was just sort of like, “well, I have some songs written, so I think I’ll go ahead and record them now.” Sorrow Sings was a very deliberate process that took a lot of time and exploration. Moving forward, I hope to be just as deliberate about the writing process, but a little looser on the recording side of things. Too much time sitting on a song can make you forget why you loved it in the first place.
Other than the incredible acoustics, was there any importance in your choice to record this album in a chapel?
I wanted something unique and unconventional. Something that would keep us inspired and connected to the sound that we were trying to create. I think, had we recorded in a traditional studio, it would have felt more like a job, whereas the chapel made it more of an experience for us.
Strange, but this question makes me think of Alexander Payne’s excellent film, The Descendants. At the heart of that film, it’s really a devastating story. But the experience of it being told against the backdrop of a Hawaiian landscape makes it lighter and easier to digest. If that film took place in New York City, for example, it would have been unbearable!
So, in this same spirit, I wanted the experience of creating, and listening to the record to reflect the place where it was recorded. And, from my perspective at least, I think we were able to accomplish that.
Moments of Sorrow Sings almost have the feeling of a religious experience which I think contributes to the album’s nostalgic feel. While modern takes on the genre have strayed from its religious roots, is there a reason you enjoy a more traditional approach?
Interesting. Well, I wouldn’t really say it’s connected to the genre of music per se, but more so to my ongoing fascination with religion. I grew up going to church, and it’s been interesting to see how that experience has translated into my adulthood. As I grew older and developed a sense of identity and awareness, I found myself at odds with religion. Almost angry with it. Like many people in today’s age, I wanted truth over myth. But what I quickly learned is that there are very little truths that can comfort me during hard times. And I think this conclusion sort of unfolded during the writing of this album.
Do you think that being from Chicago or the Midwest in general has had an effect on the music that you make?
Yes, but not directly. I come from suburban Chicagoland, so the backdrop of road construction or a shopping center doesn’t exactly make for an inspired piece of work. But during the process of writing this album, I sort of cooked up these imagined landscapes in my mind. I love the Midwest and I don’t ever plan on leaving it, but I tend to use my songs as a way of escaping from it. So yes, suburban Chicagoland inspires me not by what it is, but what it isn’t, if that makes sense. If I were living in the mountains somewhere perhaps I’d feel more inclined to write about shopping centers, who knows.
You have a talented group of musicians that contributed to the record. How collaborative was the writing and recording process?
Quite collaborative, actually. The core group of musicians on the album are Aly Krawczyk on backup vocals, Jeremiah Higgins on vocals and guitar, Nate Erickson on keys, and Zach GoForth on bass. Outside of that core group, I was able to pull in outside talents such as John Morton on violin, and Todd Pertll on pedal steel. Everyone that contributed to the album made it sound better than I could have ever imagined.
The series of stark black and white videos that you’ve released offer a nice visual companion while still allowing the music to be the focus. Was there any specific reasoning behind such a minimalist approach?
I think you nailed it in your question, actually. I wanted a visual that represented the aesthetic of the album without compromising the viewer’s awareness of the song. Justin Thompson and Rhapsody Productions did an excellent job at producing that vision.
Don’t miss the Sorrow Sings release show at Lincoln Hall this Friday, and be sure to keep an eye on Kevin’s social media for updates on the release and future events!