Dark heart

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When a journalist described one of Kendall Elise’s songs as a “murder ballad” she was secretly stoked.

He was referring to Heart Full of Dirt which was released in December last year.

“It was actually quite cool. I felt like it was a compliment.”

Elise, who is playing The Sherwood tomorrow, understands why it was tagged as such.

Much of her music features moody melodies and lyrics.

“I have a lot of dark themes in my music and the music can be quite emotional.”

She was one of three finalists in this year’s APRA Best Country Music Song at the Country Music Awards.

The nomination came as a surprise, she says, given it was her first EP and she doesn’t necessarily put herself in this genre.

“The best umbrella term I have come up with is Americana. There are a whole lot of other influences in there like country, folk and rock, blues and RnB.”

Elise has been performing since the age of 15 and has played in a couple of bands over the years.

She has been doing the hard yards in Auckland’s music circuit for a few years.
Her creative process begins with writing.

“It starts with poems and separately I will write a guitar melody.

Then what I will just do is find a melody and remember a piece of poetry I wrote and think ‘oh, that fits’.

“Sometimes it can be a bit of a mish-mash — it isn’t a straightforward creative process, but it seems to work.”

She’ll be joined on stage by partner Chris Kemp on drums and says the duo has good energy when performing together.

The stop-off is part of her first national tour, ‘I Didn’t Stand a Chance’ — the title track of her debut EP.

When picking venues it was a conscious decision to get out of the main centres.

“I really love playing outside of Auckland and playing smaller towns. You seem to have a different crowd of people, people who are more appreciative — they want to come see the music.”

Catch Kendall Elise’s ‘I Didn’t Stand a Chance’ tour, The Sherwood, tomorrow, 8.30pm. R18. Tickets $10 plus booking fee

louise.scott@scene.co.nz