Vonnie Kyle: My songs are my highest level of honesty
Photo by Carla Hagland
Don't mistake Minneapolis musician Vonnie Kyle as just another folksy artist; this petite singer is full of spunk and spitfire. Set to release her debut album, Run Run, Kyle is looking to take the lead after playing a supporting role in her old band, Skittish. On Run Run, Vonnie's lyrics are either incredibly touching or incredibly cynical -- depending on how you look at it.
Before her album release at Cause on Saturday, Kyle introduces Gimme Noise to her style and what she learned from her old band before creating her own music.
Vonnie Kyle (vocals, guitar), Colin McCowan (drums), Cole Mickelson (guitar), Aaron Thielen (bass)
Gimme Noise: Upon first listen, I feel an Ani DiFranco vibe to your music. How did this come about, and why do you feel you lean toward that kind of delivery when performing? Was this a conscious decision when writing?Vonnie Kyle: I wouldn't say I consciously thought to myself, "I want to perform my songs like Ani DiFranco does," although I think that we are both very lyric-oriented artists, and when you have a message you want to put out there, you want to put it out there in a way that makes the listener believe it. One of the things I strongly appreciate about Ani is that she always delivers her message so perfectly. She connects with her audience on a very direct level. It has always been hugely important to me that I can make the crowd relate, or certainly at least understand the emotions and feeling that went into the song. My songs are my highest level of honesty, and how much would that suck if people heard them and didn't care in any way?
Vonnie Kyle: I actually wasn't the main songwriter in Skittish. Nearly all of those songs were written by my former bandmate. His writing style definitely influenced me; however, since I split from that band I have taken on a much more raw, and less studio-focused approach. While my current band and I take a lot of pride in the work we put into this EP and couldn't be happier with it, our main focus has always been on putting on a strong, energetic, and tight live performance. I have also drifted a little more into the rock genre than the folk-rock tunes I played in my former band.
Gimme Noise: Minneapolis has so many indie-rock artists; how do you feel you stand out?
Vonnie Kyle: I have a tendency to take most of the audience by surprise, because I'm a 5'4" skinny chick who likes to wear cute little dresses and a lot of makeup, so I think people are expecting me to get onstage and start singing cute pop or folk songs. Then I get up there and wail on my guitar and belt out all these rock songs and people are like, "Uh, wow, I wasn't expecting that at all." I don't sugar-coat anything about myself in my songs either -- in fact I am sort of making fun of myself on the track "Leslie," which was the result of a few consecutive relationships gone horribly wrong. Feisty lyrics and a strong voice, along with a really solid band, always grab people's attention.
Gimme Noise: Is the song "Better Things to Do" based on personal experience, or did you write it to be a universal song?
I suppose you could say it's based on a personal experience, because I wrote it as I was getting out of a relationship a while back. I felt like the guy was being a total dick about things, but it's meant to be universal too. That's the thing about breakup songs -- there are always going to be people who can relate to them, whether it's about dumping a guy with a crazy ego, going through a heartbreak that you don't feel like you can ever recover from, or even (maybe especially) just the sort of breakup that makes you crawl into a bottle of whatever poison for a few weeks. "Better Things to Do" is more about being on the unscathed side of non-reciprocated love and having to say, "Sorry, dude, but this just is not happening anymore." It's a bit on the harsh side, but more than anything it's very, very honest and direct, which is how I aim to be in all my songs.
"Wait for You" will always be a favorite of mine. I wrote it several years before any of the other songs on Run Run. It's a ballad, but also probably the most energetic because such an insane amount of emotion went into writing it. It's usually the show closer, and people go pretty nuts over that one -- also, Cole's guitar solo always makes me giddy just to listen to it.
Gimme Noise: What can we expect to see at the album release show?
Vonnie Kyle: Oh god, it's going to be such a fun night. I have two great bands opening -- Geodesique and Black Blondie, they are both fantastic -- and we will be playing some new stuff that most people haven't heard yet. We haven't played at Cause as a full band yet; we played there once before, but as a three-piece, and with all the people we're expecting to come I'm sure the energy in the room is going to be through the roof. We started recording this EP in October 2012, so it's been a good while in the making, and we wouldn't have been able to do it without people's help on Kickstarter. In a way, this show is also a big thank-you party for them.
I'll also be selling both CD and vinyl copies of the EP, and T-shirts designed by a couple of my close artist friends. My mom is running the merch table; everyone should say "hi" to her and tell her how pretty she looks.
Vonnie Kyle will release Run Run at Cause on Saturday, August 10, with Geodesique and Black Blondie.
21+, $5, 9 pm
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