Interview | FFS Chats with Kellen of Troy about Making Music, Meeting Fans, and Getting Sweaty

Nashville indie folk-rock artist, Kellen Wenrich, once found himself a fiddle player in Apache Relay. Now, the multi-instrumentalist begins his solo career with a debut LP, Posthumous Release (out 16 February). Wenrich has performed with Jenny Lewis, Mumford & Sons, The Wild Feathers, G. Love, The Devil Makes Three, JP Harris, rayLand Baxter, Gill Landry, Desert Noises & more. His Sad Bastard EP was recently hailed by NPR as one of World Café’s “Indie Discoveries Of 2017“.

KoT’s Posthumous Release finds Wenrich mellow, focused, and rich with realization. The impassioned new record employs situational irony, with self-reflective and somber lyrics that are often defied by cheery, blissful and breezy indie-folk countermelodies. He pens parables from personal and professional life and backs up his vulnerable confessions with dense arrangements.

As Wenrich gears up for his February release, he was kind enough to take a break and share the origins of Kellen of Troy, and what he hopes to accomplish in the near future.

Can you tell us about your music and how Kellen of Troy got its start?

I make folk-pop-rock from Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been playing music in various roles since I was a kid, but I started writing and performing as Kellen of Troy after an old band and an old relationship fell apart simultaneously. KoT started as a practice in self-assuredness, but I began liking what I was doing and thought it deserved to be heard, so I started recording and playing shows.

How do you engage with your audience?

I love talking and getting to know fans in person, especially if they don’t realize I’m playing in a group they’re a fan of. One of my favorite things to do is get fans on the guest list to shows I’m playing, if they don’t have a ticket or can’t afford one.

Social media gives me anxiety. I try to avoid it as best I can, but I do think it’s an import part of a career. For better or worse people judge bands on their vanity numbers, how many followers or likes they’ve got online. It’s a bit of a necessary evil in my opinion, but I suppose music lovers like seeing behind the curtain of their favorite acts.

What is the hardest part about being a professional musician?

Making money.

What are some goals you hope to accomplish as a musician?

The dream goal in music is to only have to play the gigs you want to play, but I’m not sure that’s achievable; I imagine whatever stage of your career you’re in, there will always be commitments you don’t want to have. If you’re making and playing good music that you believe in, I’d say that’s a pretty good and achievable goal; trying to predict your career trajectory beyond that is a bit of a crapshoot. But it’s better to play good music at a bad gig than bad music at a good gig. However, what artist wouldn’t want audiences to sing their choruses for them?

Do you ever find that there are times when you have to step away from the creative process?

I like doing things that have nothing to do with music whatsoever. When I’m home I spend a lot of time woodworking and remodeling houses, and I think getting sweaty and dusty does wonders for getting out of your own head. A lot of my favorite lines I’ve written happened while mindlessly swinging a hammer.

Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)

Photo: Madison Fuller