Almost every friend I made post-high school was in line at a pop-punk show. Fast forward a decade and many of them are posting shots from Luke Bryan shows. While it seems an anomaly, it’s far from. Many pop-punk kids today are realizing they’ve got a bit of a country base. From Kacey Musgraves to Kelli Faith.
Not too long ago Kelli Faith was in a pop-punk band but as you’ll soon see, she later found her footing in a whole new genre that feels more like home. From switching gears to all the ways love has inspired her latest record, 21, we covered most of the bases and then some.
Kendra: A lot has gone down with you the past couple of years. You’ve gone from being in a band in one genre to branching out on your own in another. When Before It’s Too Late came to an end, did you know right away that you were going to continue with music or did you have any other ideas in mind for your future at the time?
Kelli Faith: To be honest, I didn’t think I was ever going to write music, or perform again when Before It’s Too Late came to an end. I didn’t see myself singing in another band and even though I had thought of starting a solo project, I genuinely didn’t think people would want to follow me or be my fan.
When I was in the band, I always felt like people thought I was JUST the singer and didn’t do anything else, or was capable of anything else. Truth is before I was in Before It’s Too Late I was a singer-songwriter and all I did was write songs on my acoustic guitar. That was who I was. Once I was in Before It’s Too Late, a lot of that motivation to be who I was kind of felt like it was taken away from me, almost like I was trapped. I felt like I couldn’t be my most authentic and vulnerable self in the band because I felt like I couldn’t write about all the things I wanted to write about. I think a lot of those feelings stemmed from where I was in my personal life when I was in the band and even though I LOVED pop-punk, it just wasn’t the genre for me.
Kendra: We’re all well aware of Kacey Musgraves love of the pop-punk scene and have seen the likes of Cassadee Pope and Dia Frampton go on to slay after competing on The Voice in the country realm. Why do you think there is such a correlation between pop-punk and country?
Kelli Faith: I just have to say…I LOVE this question. Cassadee Pope is the reason why I am a musician and I have followed her journey since her Hey Monday days. Anyways, I think there is such a correlation between pop-punk and country now because at least originally coming from the genre itself, I always felt like pop-punk has that same storytelling aspect in its lyricism, as country.
The cracks between genres are slowly but surely blending more than it ever has. A few weeks ago I saw that Dan & Shay were at a State Champs show! When I saw that picture, was when I realized how even having your own different inspirations, morph into the musician you become. For example, Cassadee Pope was a fan of band Blink 182 AND Shania Twain growing up. She played the part in both worlds but realized what she was meant to do later in her career.
Kendra: Last December you dropped your debut solo single and just recently we’ve gotten to hear “More.” Where in your writing over the past year or so did these two singles come from? Were they the first songs you penned, or did they come later on?
Kelli Faith: Last December I released my debut solo single titled, “Him,” and that song was the very first full-length song I wrote for what I had no idea would become an entire album, 21. Technically, there was a little interlude I wrote right before, “Him,” which is also on my album called, “Someone New.” That song is kind of like the turning point of the entire album and it is really short and fun. I wrote it a few days before I went on my very first date with my current boyfriend, who is the inspiration for me becoming a solo artist and writing music again.
The next month I wrote “Him” after coming home one morning from his house, I was about to hop in the shower when I heard the chorus in my head for the first time. I still have a recording of the shower water running and me singing that and a part of the bridge. It was a crazy moment. After I showered, I ran and got my guitar and wrote the song in an hour and that was when I realized THIS was what I was meant to do.
However, “More,” came much later than all of my other songs. It was actually one of the last songs I wrote for the album. I think it was two weeks before I was supposed to go into the studio and start recording the album. I knew I wanted a song on the album to capture the whole, “I love you more,” concept because one time at the beginning of my relationship after I texted my boyfriend, “I love you,” he answered with, “More.” That kind of became our thing after that moment and I knew I just had to work that concept into a song.
One morning I was practicing for a show and then I wound up goofing off a little and I put my phone on “record” and it practically flew out of me. A lot like the writing process behind, “Him,” “More” was just SO natural and I fell in love with it and it is probably my favorite song of my new album. It wasn’t originally even supposed to be the next single, but when I was in the studio everyone convinced me if I was going to put out another single, it should be that song. Now not only is it my second single, but also the final song on my album.
Kendra: You’ve noted how 21 represents one of your toughest years to date. Have you always been inspired to create out of hardships?
Kelli Faith: Absolutely. Even back when I was in Before It’s Too Late and before the band, that was all I ever wrote about. However, now as a solo artist, I have discovered I love writing songs with unique concepts that don’t always make their way out into the world.
Right now, the only songs I have released are the in-love and much-happier tracks off the album, but there is a whole lot of darkness and vulnerability throughout the rest of the album. I feel like right now people probably think 21 is all about falling in love and being in love because of the two singles I released, but it is SO much more than that. It is about falling in love and being in love too, but it’s also about enduring heartbreak at first and a nasty aftermath because of that heartbreak. Not to mention, what the transition is like going from a toxic relationship to a healthy one and how much of a struggle that can be at times. There are also songs about the importance of friendship and one about the loss of a loved one.
Kendra: Looking back, was there anything you jotted down in your lyrical notes that didn’t make it to 21 but perhaps can be flushed out by 22, 23 or perhaps 24?
Kelli Faith: For sure! There were a few songs that didn’t make it on the album too. I changed three of them very last minute into the process, I almost didn’t think they would come together in time. My future releases will be flashes into my life at specific ages and some concepts didn’t quite make it. I started writing this song called “Repercussions” which was about dealing with the repercussions of an ex, while being in a new relationship and how hard it can be to prove you aren’t that ex.
I still really love that concept, so I think something similar may be featured on a future album. There was also another song I wrote called, “In My Mind,” that also didn’t make it on the album. That song was about the ongoing insecurities you have from past relationships or just insecurities you have in general. You know these things aren’t true about yourself, but they are the things that just go on in your mind. I would love to roll with those two conceptually for whatever comes after 21.
Kendra: With 21 coming September 20, are you planning on hitting some stages?
Kelli Faith: Definitely! Hopefully, a lot more stages than before now that I will have music out and everything. As of right now, I will be performing my 21 Release Show will be at The Clubhouse, in Toms River, New Jersey on Friday, September 21st. It is also my first ever headlining show and I will be playing the whole album live, front to back. Later in the year, I also hope to maybe go on a little weekend tour on the east coast to promote the new album.