We constantly feature new & notable indie artists that drive innovation in all aspects of songwriting, production & performance. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: Known To Collapse
Known To Collapse is the musical brainchild of Bay Area musician and audio engineer Kevin Lehner. Originally from Alabama, Lehner has taken his music in many different directions and locations over the years. The sweltering rhythms of Birmingham and the industrial bustle of Washington D.C. served as the backdrop for Lehner’s musical upbringing. Accordingly, Known to Collapse songs come to life on long drives with only the scenery to keep you company. Since starting the band in 2013, he has added Kabir Kumar (bass, vocals) and Michael Mays (drums) to the line-up.
Comments from the Curating-Editor
Known To Collapse creates encapsulating soundscapes in their indie-rock aesthetic, which does quite the opposite of what their name suggests: winding, stimulating guitar lines combine with a psych-folk daze to build groove-centric atmospherics with an incredibly inviting quality. Their latest album, aptly named Transport Paradise provides a fascinating and textured voyage into an timeless, analog sound. Reminiscent of the likes of Grizzly Bear, The War On Drugs & Real Estate, the group thoughtfully structures their tracks with provoking & flowing instrumentals that feel grounded, yet also veer on exploratory. With smooth and comforting vocals delivering introspective lyrics, the album takes listeners on a scenic meditation into their own mind. There seems to be a slight 90s alternative quality in their writing & production, but updated for a more open tone. Every track off the 10-song record is amazing with subtle quaint ornamentation interspersed throughout, but we recommend “Circulated Undercover Ground,” for a more experimental introduction to Known To Collapse’s sound–still retaining the band’s charm in an unexpected slow-motion vertigo.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless. Frank Zappa – Hot Rats. Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One.
What are your fondest musical memories?
As an artist, it would be during the year 2012 when I put out my EP Collectives and toured the Western part of the United States. It was the first time I learned how to tour and work on the road which really shaped me into the person I am today. One example would be during the time I played up in Portland, Oregon at The Mount Tabor Theatre (now Alhambra Theatre). After playing a great show to an almost sold out crowd, I was put in contact with one of the other bands members who wanted to book me for another night in Portland. This kind of experience helped me with a variety of things, like stage presence, selling merchandise and my people skills with promoters, booking agents and other local bands.
As a listener, it would be during my college years when I started listening to the bands that are most influential today, such as Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine – the more progressive, indie rock elements that make up my music. One time in college, circa 2007, I remember walking outside of campus during the middle of winter in Boston to a snow filled city that was completely quiet and empty in the middle of the night listening to My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Dinosaur, Jr. and all the other shoegaze bands I was into at the time. It just seemed to fit perfectly and is an image/sound memory of my mind that I’ll never forget.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
A variety of genres ranging from rock to folk to lo-fi with a very 90’s kind of style and sound. Alternative / Independent / Rock.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
When I make music it’s usually due to two driving forces, which are either pain/struggle or inspiration from change of events. Once something has occurred and I’ve experienced something very groundbreaking, I write out a melody or tune, usually on the guitar or piano, and then lyrics usually follow later. It’s rare that I ever write a tune from lyrics or without these sorts of outside influences from nothing that I’ve experienced. Sometimes I do sit down and just grind out a song over and over until I have something. As far as how I produce music, it’s a combination of being self taught on learning those skills myself plus theory of audio engineering school. Some things like writing and mixing are, in my opinion, really up to the artist to determine the outcome or style. As far as themes or topics go, it’s usually about love and or loss, traveling, mystery, or mystique and reminiscence. I definitely think they will change over time, as time affects who I am as a person and the experiences I will deal with help to drive my songwriting.
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
Living in the Bay Area exposes me to a wide variety of cultures, races, businesses, foods and styles of music which, I would say, has a direct relationship to my eclectic style. The Bay Area is known for it’s diversity which pretty much sums it all up.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
It’s scenic – a good example would be long drives with only the scenery to keep you company. Very rhythmic, driving kind of tunes. For my last EP I put out, so many fans told me they listened to it in the car while they drove. I still believe that my music has that kind of feeling to it and our most recent album Transport Paradise was the name given because it’s a journey that takes you through this wondrous place of time and space and the songs are very descriptive and detailed…it’s just seemed to fit with everything about Known to Collapse. Known to Collapse uses this sense of sonic definition to craft songs that put you in the driver’s seat.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
You have to invest so much time and money into it before you can start to see a return usually. These days the music industry is very independent artist based. Things are much less reliable on the record labels but are also more focused on the technology sector of it. Apple Music, Spotify – these things are bitter/sweet for artists as they help to expose their music, but at the same time make it harder for them to gain profit from their own work. As a music fan, it’s probably more beneficial than a musician because you pay so little and can get every bit of music there is in the world. For artists, it’s not the same. The corporations are profiting off of your hard work and the media/music streaming services are giving attention but that’s usually it.
Streaming services usually just give exposure and for the independent artist and almost never give profit. They are essential, but you have to accept that they’re there for only publicity reasons and not ways to survive. It’s a hard thing to accept, but something that an artist can work on as they move along their career path.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
To work with other, more well known artists whose works we are family with. Either by going on tour with them, or writing an album with them. Examples of people would include the band Crying, Stephen Malkmus or even Kevin Drew.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
One of our friends and new member of the band, Sam Anderson (who goes by the name “Sam Bailey and the Somethings”) is the next big thing in Bay Area pop.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
A new single due out later this year titled “Song For Anthony.”