Kylesa - June 2013

Kylesa Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: May 17, 2013
Posting Date: June 10, 2013
Artist Hometown: Savannah, GA
Links:, Facebook,
Recorded by: Michael Briggs @ Civil

To Forget
Said and Done
Hollow Severer
ONE: What inspired your new album, Ultraviolet?
Phillip Cope: The basic theme of that album was loss, and the inspiration behind that was that Laura and I have been through some rough times over the last few years, and we kind of wrote the album over a period of two years, off and on. So, most of the songs on there are based on some sort of reality that we went through, but at the same time, we tried to write in a way that hopefully is relatable to others. It’s not just ‘woe is us’ or something like that. Hopefully, it’s not just a dark, depressing album.
Laura Pleasants: No, I mean, I don’t think that it is. It covers different motifs and themes of loss, but that’s just lyrically. I mean, musically, it think it confronts both light and darkness. It uses both. But, musically, we didn’t…there wasn’t some huge game plan, you know? We just started writing. Generally when we write, it’s just like it’s natural to have your surroundings and your personal life to seep into what you’re doing.
DJ: So the evolution of your sound came naturally?
Phillip: It came naturally. We weren’t sitting around thinking of how to do something like that. It’s just what we wrote. It’s what came out.
Laura: And I think we wanted to. I mean, we’ve written so many records, you know? I think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and try some new ideas.
Phillip: Try something new.
Laura: We’re influenced by all kinds of music. Rather than just repeat ourselves, we wanted to push it a little more.
DJ: That song ‘Low Tide’ even seems to have kind of a pop hook to it.
Phillip: Yeah. We’re not a pop band, but I think it’s okay to throw something catchy in there once in a while. We want to have some songs out there that do get stuck in your head, and that’s one of my favorite songs.
DJ: In what ways do you personally see Ultraviolet as different from earlier records?
Laura: I think it’s far more psychedelic and expansive in sound and atmosphere.
Phillip: It’s definitely the most layered record we’ve ever done. There’s a lot of a layers to it. There were a lot on Spiral Shadow, but I think we did on this one even more.
Laura: Yeah, it’s pretty dense.
TWO: Texas heavy music fans tend to see themselves as a unique breed. As musicians who have traveled the world playing heavy music, what differences do you see in fans in different regions? Does anything stand out?
Laura: Sure. Culturally, geographically, everyone’s a bit different, which makes it more interesting. Not everyone is super cookie-cutter, within the United States and abroad, depending on the region. Whether it’s fashion styles or just demeanor…
DJ: Is there anywhere you go where you’re like, ‘Those guys are crazy!’?
Phillip: [Laughs] Sure!
Laura: [Laughs] There’s some places, yeah!…I don’t know if I should be calling those people out…but there’s definitely some places where we’re like, ‘Damn, they drink!’ or ‘Damn, they’re crazy!’ or where they really get into it, you know? Certain pockets of the world.
DJ: Do you think that the attitude is different in other countries than it is in the United States?
Laura: Yes.
DJ: In what way?
Phillip: There seems to be, overall, more enthusiasm for heavier music.
Laura: Yeah, maybe more appreciative and just more enthusiastic in general.
DJ: Why do you think that is?
Laura: Americans are apathetic.
Phillip: Yeah.
DJ: But the US kind of created heavy music, or at the very least, the ‘rock and roll’ attitude. Why wouldn’t it be more popular here?
Phillip: I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that. That’s not something that the two of us could just answer. [Laughs] One thing about the US though, it seems like music is a little more disposable here. It seems like people just fly off and move to the next thing. It seems like maybe in Europe, and this is my take on it, but it seems like when people like a band, they kind of stick with that band for a while, and that’s nice to see. That’s happened with us for sure over there.
Laura: Yeah, there definitely is a fleeting nature to music-listening here. Kind of everywhere, but maybe more so in the States.
THREE: Laura, you have been featured on a number of female-only lists such as Guitar World’s ’10 Female Guitarists You Should Know About’ and Metalholic’s ’15 Hottest Female Guitar Shredders 2012′. Do you see this separate treatment for female musicians as primarily positive, or do you see it as unnecessary, or even as creating a barrier that separates female and male musicians into different categories?
Laura: That could be a little bit of both. There’s two sides to that coin. I think it can be both good and bad. I think it’s great that I see more women involved in music now than I ever have, and that’s fantastic, and a lot of women have been getting recognition, and that’s good too, but at the same time, like…I mean, from my perspective, even though it is a female perspective, I still just look at music as music and playing in a band with other people as just…playing in a band with other people, you know? I don’t think of it as a gender role thing. That said, I think having women in heavy bands is a positive image for younger girls out there who may have been shy or scared to play or pick up a guitar, or just felt discouraged or something, because…I mean, I remember when I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of women…There were some, but not many that I can really recall looking up to other than the really big ones like Blondie or Joan Jett or something. And then the 90’s alternative rock scene, there were lots of women there, which was cool to me as a young person.
DJ: In reading show reviews, write-ups, and the like for Kylesa, it seems that reviewers, and particularly male reviewers, put a lot of emphasis on the fact that you are a woman playing heavy music. Do you think that your sex affects the way that people interact with your music?
Laura: I think that is an individual perception. We try not to put that projection out there, but it’s obvious that there’s a woman in the band. That’s just obvious. But we’re not putting it out there.
Phillip: I see that. From my standpoint, I see that she’s pulled out a lot. These people don’t know who’s writing what, who’s doing what in the band, but a lot of times they just pull her out and attach whatever they think is cool about our record to her—
Laura: [Laughs]
Phillip: Well! I think honestly, they mean well, these people mean well, but at the same time, it’s kind of weird to just always assume, because we don’t say who is doing what in the band, writing-wise. That’s something that definitely happens. But, like everything that Laura said, I think it is important for younger women to have that role model, and she’s good in that respect, I think. So, on my end, it’s fine with me. I just let it go, because I see the bigger picture.
– Interview and transcription by Dale Jones.