I'm really excited to bring you a fun interview with a friend and local musician, Kari Lynch! I was introduced to this sweet lady through Eric about a year ago. The first weekend Eric and I started dating actually, he was running sound for her band. It's been a pleasure getting to know Kari a bit more this year and seeing several of her shows! She's one talented gal and I absolutely love her music and style. And of course, I thought you guys might too! I asked Kari a few questions (which you can read below) but be sure to check her out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram as well! All of her music is also available on iTunes!
1. Give us a little history! How old were you when you started singing?
I have been singing since I was old enough to talk, truly. My mom always tells me that as soon as I could talk, I started singing, humming melodies I would hear and making up my own little tunes. When I was about 5 years old, I started putting on concerts for my friends and family. I would make tickets out of construction paper and put together a show. My family, bless their hearts, would sit and listen to the whole concert. I sang in front of my first "big" crowd when I was about 7 (Bonnie Raitt's "Something To Talk About"). I started writing my own original songs when I was 7 years old and never stopped.
2. When did you decide to start Kari Lynch band?
I started the Kari Lynch Band three years ago. Before the band formed, I had been playing regularly with my friend and acoustic guitar player, Matthew Kok. The two of us played shows for two years before we met the other guys and decided it was time to be a full band. We sort of all met by chance. Our fiddle player, Jeffrey Niemeier, was passing by an acoustic show Matt and I were playing and liked the music so he stopped in. At that time, he was playing in a cover band with our now drummer and lead guitarist, Sam Briggs and Ryder Jones. We all met and everything clicked. I think you just know when it feels right. From the very first rehearsal we all knew that we had something special playing together.
3. Tell us a bit about the band and working with the guys. Do you write all your songs with them?
These guys are my best friends and my family. We all have so much love and respect for one another. I remember when we played my song "Me and a Bottle of Wine" for the first time. After the song finished, we all looked at one another and were like, "Yup, this is gonna be good." I am a true believer in things happening for a reason and God putting people in your life for a reason. I don't write all of my songs with the band, but I write many of them with Ryder Jones, our lead guitar player. Some songs I write on my own and some of them I write with different writers in Nashville. It just depends. Ryder and I have developed a wonderful writing relationship. The first song we wrote together was a song called "Gettin' Gone". That song is special because it's the song where this band really started finding it's sound. After the song is written, we bring the basic outline (music and lyrics) to the band and the band, as a whole, arranges the music. I love that everyone gets to put their flavor on it. That is what gives us our unique sound.
4. Tell us a little bit about your three EP releases.
The first EP I released was way back in 2008. It was an acoustic EP called "One Happy Love Song..." Even though I feel like my voice sounds so different, I'm proud of this one because it was my first iTunes release. It went to number 6 on the iTunes "New & Noteworthy" list and stayed there for 6 weeks...which I totally did not expect. The second EP I released was recorded with the guys in 2011. Just a self-titled 5 song EP. This one did really well for us and it was awesome to have our first experience as a band in the studio. Our most current release from 2013 is a 3 song, self-titled (Kari Lynch Band) EP. It's currently available on iTunes. It has done wonderful for us so far, which is awesome. We already can't wait to get back in the studio to record our next project.
5. What's your favorite thing about being a musician?
There are so many cool things about being a musician. I know I have an amazing job and I never forget that. I am deeply crazy in love with making music. I write and play music because I have to; there's nothing else. I often can't believe that I get to do it as my full time job. I am eternally grateful to the folks that support us and listen to our music. It never fails to blow my mind that I can truly connect with people through music. When someone comes up to me and tells me that a song I wrote helped them get through a situation, or even just made them smile...that's the greatest feeling in the world. And I LOVE performing. I am most at home on stage. There is nothing better than looking into a crowd of people and seeing them sing your song back to you. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Music is and will always be my first love.
6. How would you describe your style and how you like to dress on stage?
I would describe my style as vintage, hippie and country/rock. I wear dresses most of the time. My mom and my close friends would tell you that I have an old soul. I've always loved old things, houses, music, and definitely clothes. Most of my outfits include mixing vintage and modern. I'm really into sweetheart cuts, full skirts, cardigans, jean jackets, maxi dresses, cool headbands and old hats. If I'm wearing jeans, they're generally skinny jeans with a vintage tee and flats or boots. I like wearing band t-shirts with skirts as well, feminine with a little edge. On stage, I almost always wear dresses and boots. It's the most comfortable outfit to perform in. You will rarely see me in any sort of heel on stage. I have to be able to rock out. I think no matter what I am wearing I always like to have a little bit of edge to my outfit, whether it's with the clothing itself, accessories or makeup.
7. Who influences your style? Any favorite country style icons?
Patsy Cline is definitely a style icon of mine. She did the red lip so perfectly and always looked stunning. She never over-did it with the glitz and glam and I love that. Audrey Hepburn is a big one for me as well. I think both of these women radiated classy and made it sexy. I'm mainly inspired by women of the past, but a current style icon of mine is Ellie Goulding. She always looks amazing. I think she's got the rocker chick thing nailed down and I find myself taking that rocker look and mixing it with my dresses/boots and vintage often.
8. Any favorite shows you've played?
A couple shows that stand out to me are The Clare County Fair when we got to open for The Band Perry. I will always remember that show because it was my hometown county fair that I dreamed of playing my whole life. I saw many of my favorite country artists play that stage growing up and it was an incredible feeling to be on that stage playing for such a huge crowd. Playing at my Alma mater (Grand Valley State University) opening for Justin Moore is a show I will never forget. Such a cool crowd! We got to play The B93 Birthday Bash last summer to a crowd of 50,000 folks which was insane! Most recently we headed to Peoria, IL to open for The Band Perry at Bradley University. That crowd was amazing and it was a thrill to play.
9. What is your schedule like on a weekly basis?
It's nuts and wonderful all at the same time. I crave change, so I love that my schedule is forever changing. On average, I play 4 to 5 shows a week, including full band shows, acoustic shows, and radio shows/events. I manage our band and do all of our booking and PR, so I am generally up by 9am, even though I don't get to bed until 3 or 4am. I've come to terms with the fact that I will never really sleep and that coffee will be a good friend of mine...it's all good. It's definitely a 24 hour job; I'm always working on something music related and even nights where we are not playing, I'm usually writing or working late. My life completely revolves around music, songwriting, shows and my band. We rehearse as a band 1 to 2 times a week depending on what we need to work on and what shows we are getting ready for. I travel a lot most weeks for meetings and shows and make frequent trips to Nashville. I am forever busy working on something. I'm lucky to have friends and family who understand and are good at checking in on me and making sure I don't burn myself out.
10. Any tips for musician gals out there?
You have to love it more than anything and it has to be the only thing. If you truly want to make it in this industry you have to be willing, ready and wanting to make it your life. For me, I don't have a choice. It's all or nothing, life or death, have to live and breathe music. As corny as it sounds, music chose me a long time ago before I even knew it. I still have a long way to go, but it's easy to do this when you are in love with it. At the end of those long, overwhelming and sometimes disappointing days, it's being in love with making music and believing that you are making an impact that's important. Always keep learning and striving to be better than you were the day before. Practice your craft often and always treat people with respect and appreciation, especially the people that support you and those that came before you. It's a constant roller coaster of highs and lows. There are so many ups and downs and heartbreaks. Believe in yourself and never quit. You have to be willing to weather the storms, dust off your boots and keep on chasing it.
*Kari's hair and makeup done by Sara Moser (Hair) and Lisa Mead (Make-up) at Cheeky Strut in Grand Rapids.