Muddy Magnolias Takes Southern Rock to New Avenues
Interview with: Kallie North and Jessy Wilson
Written by: Matthew McGuire
🌊 BMI is taking things beachside. pic.twitter.com/8fgLETEaRL
— Hangout Music Fest (@Hangoutfest) March 23, 2016
Muddy Magnolias, a Nashville-based band with roots across the South, spoke with me in the early afternoon of Monday, April 4.
Kallie North and Jessy Wilson, founders of the group, shared insight on their development as a band, and personally as musicians. It was a soulful conversation filled with laughter and dialogue covering their time in the studio and performing live shows.
It was interesting to find out their methods to production within the music industry. I had assumed that being a Nashville band, the artists would record in that area, but Jessy and Kallie helped show that the magic that takes place in the recording studio has a wide range of factors, and also provided ways on how they have harnessed their creative energy in different locations.
This year the soulful, southern rock group will be performing on the BMI Stage at Hangout Fest. It provides an intimate setting for guests to scope out the next big thing in music. Muddy Magnolias will have the opportunity to showcase their new material for the guests at all their live events this summer.
Scan over the interview, and catch them live on the road.
Kallie North – Muddy Magnolias
CV: Am I talking with some of the other band, or is this two members of the group?
KN: Only two members. Its a duo. This is Jessy and Kallie.
CV: Okay, so you have backup members when you play live, or how does it work?
KN: Yeah, we have a bass player named Calvin, a drummer named Ross, keyboard player named Ian, and a lead guitarist named Hank. And Jessy and I sing. I also play the acoustic guitar.
Jessy Wilson – Muddy Magnolias
CV: How long have you been performing music together?
JW: We have been performing for almost two years together, Kallie and I. Last year we hired our band. We have been playing for a year with the full band, before that we did our shows mostly acoustic with a cajón and a guitar, but as we found our sound, and as we got to experiment, we realized we wanted to go in a more logical direction, as to have that energy, so we hired a band.
CV: This is Jessy correct, (we are doing a phone interview) I’ve listened to some of your music, and think I have your voices down.
JW: (laughs) Yeah, my voice is deeper, Kallie’s voice is a little…
KN: I talk with a big accent, so you know it’s me. (laughs)
Kallie North and Jessy Wilson
CV: The band is currently having a busy year with creating new material in the studio, and touring across the country. Which part about making music is more satisfying for you, is it performing live music on stage, or producing in studio?
JW: Dang, that is a loaded question.
KN: Well for me, it is totally different. They can’t be compared. When you are performing for a live audience you have the ability to capture the moment that can be so spiritual or so energetic or fearless or sometimes you can just tap into a moment on stage that you know, just makes you feel high. And I think you can do the same thing in the studio. You can always leave room for magic to happen. So, I think I can say performing live and being in the studio, there is definitely magic that can happen in both places, but for me it is just two totally different kinds of magic.
JW: I think that writing songs, because you walk into a room and there was nothing, then you leave the room and there is something. Then you record it, and whatever, or maybe you don’t record it, and take it straight to stage. It is still connected going from that process. Sometimes I’m on stage, and I’ll remember the day of that we wrote the song while I’m singing it. Like she said, when you are having that spiritual moment, my mind will kind of flash back to the birth of that song. I would say, for me, performing is definitely my favorite part of the artistry of being in entertainer.
CV: With being stationed in Nashville your group has a lot of choices to recording studios. Which one did you pick and why?
KN: Well, the first song that we ever wrote as a duo was a song called ‘Down By the Riverside’ and we wrote it in Atlanta, Georgia with a writer and producer named Rick Beato, and that song has been a cornerstone for us. Making this record, it was the jumping off point for where are we going next with our sound. It was a really successful experience being with Rick and writing with him. So worked around the world with that for about a year, and we just wanted to go back where it felt the most comfortable the very first time that we wrote together. Rick was into producing our record. And he said, just come down to my home studio.
CV: How would you describe the guitar playing of Gary Clark Jr.?
JW: You know, it’s funny, this question reminds me of one night we covered Gary’s song ‘Church’. We love that album, and ‘Church’ is our favorite song off of that album. So we got with two guys from our band, and did an acoustic version. He heard it while we were on tour, and asked us to come sing in the encore with him. He also decided that he wanted us to capture it on recording, so one night we hung out with him in Birmingham, Alabama. We hung out at the hotel at a local bar.
We had this conversation, and I said, “a lot of people they focus on your guitar playing, but you really are a great singer too man.”
So, to answer your question, I think Gary is a massive guitar player, but I also think his voice is just as incredible. I love it.
CV: This May, the band will be performing their debut set at the Hangout Music Festival? What part about this festival interests you the most?
JW: The Diversity.
KN: On a personal note, I have family that lives in all of the Gulf Shores area. I’m just excited to go down there and get to be with family members, staying at my aunt’s house, we get to have a down home family atmosphere, just hangout on the pontoon boots for a couple days before we perform.
JW: I heard it was the best festival too. And I’m learning how to swim, it is close to the water, so I’ll be able to swim for the first time out there.
CV: Will you be performing new material at Hangout Fest?
KN: Yeah, we just finished up our record in Atlanta, so we’re introducing a lot of new stuff actually.
JW: I think it is going to be a really fun experience. We are going to do a few covers too. We just get up there and have fun, and just let it all hangout. It is going to be good.
CV: Which backstage area do you feel the most comfortable in before a live show?
JW: Huh? (laughs)
CV: Do you find comfort in the backstage area before a show, or is it stressful?
KN: Wait, I don’t get it, what part of backstage.
JW: He means the whiskey. (laughs) Where ever the bourbon is, thats where the most comfort is.
CV: What is the worst part about being a musician that people overlook?
JW: Well, I always tell my family when I have children, I know they are going to be musical. I mean it would be a miracle if they were not musical, but I’m not going to push them to be in the entertainment industry.
I’ll encourage them to grow their talents, but I am not going to push them toward a career in the music industry, unless that is something they find and want in themselves. I think being a musician, and deciding to do it as a career probably the hardest thing to do. A doctor goes to school, and they have to go to school, and study really hard, but they are going to get their PhD or whatever. They’re going to get to graduate from school, and they will get to practice medicine, but there is no guarantee that just because you give your life and your time to music that you are going to make it, and you are going to be successful, and be able to support yourself, or a family, or anyone for that matter. You can die a broke, undiscovered musician. That is a really harsh reality. So, that is it for me.
(laughs) I’m going to go apply for another job.
CV: For someone that has never listened to your music before, how do describe your sound?
JW: It’s southern soul, rock n’ roll blues.
CV: What can we be looking for with Muddy Magnolias in the near future?
JW: We will be playing at Lollapalooza, and we have a record coming out at the end of August. We are so excited.