Kylie Rothfield's Music City Soul

Epiphone welcomes rising star Kylie Rothfield to the "House of Stathopoulo" family.  The California native has been creating quite a lot of buzz in Nashville as a singer, songwriter, and bandleader. And what's most refreshing is she's getting that attention by leading her own band in some of the city's coolest clubs.

Before coming to Nashville, Rothfield tried Boston where she won the prestigious Berklee Songwriter's Night Award and the Jack Maher Scholarship. “Kylie completely captured me," said Paula Cole after a master class with Rothfield. "I’ve never heard a voice like hers; and her songs broke my heart in the best way.”  
But at age 19, Rothfield decided that if she wanted to make records, she belonged in Nashville. She arrived in 2012--way ahead of the current rush to invade Music City--and started playing the clubs and developing her sound.  Her instincts have paid off and in the next year, everyone will have a chance to discover what Nashville music fans have already figured it out—Kylie is the real deal.  
 
Epiphone.com caught up with Kylie during a brief moment of calm while she's rehearsing her killer band for going in the studio to cut her debut full length album this fall. 
 
Welcome to Epiphone, Kylie.  Where did you grow up?
I'm from the San Francisco Bay area. I moved to Nashville about three years ago. I went out to school in Boston and after a couple of years I moved here.
 
Did you perform in California?
I did a little bit. I played in coffee shops or wherever I could find a space. I was still under 21 so sometimes I would sneak into bars and play. I got kicked out of a few of those when I was 17 but it was worth it to get that experience.
 
What guitar players were you listening to when you started out?
I always really loved guitar players that were melodic. Anybody can learn to play with chops and play all over the place but I liked Lindsey Buckingham and Joe Walsh, players whose guitar melodies are as memorable as vocal melodies. And Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt were two of my heroes because they were the only two female artists out there who were as well known for their guitar playing as their voice.
 
When you came to Nashville, had you already decided to form a band?
That was definately in the back of my mind. But I really wanted to meet people and get them engaged with what I was doing.  So I used to go out four nights a week and listen to music, try to meet people. I started playing writer's nights. When I felt I was more into the scene and had songs that I was compelled to share with people, then I started trying to find players.  It took me about 4 years.
 
Kylie Rothfield's Music City SoulDid you enjoy the writer’s nights? They are often geared toward writers rather than performing artists.
I always felt like I stuck out in some way. Everybody told me what I should be doing--that I should go play the writer's rounds, the open mics. To me, everyone I saw there was doing the same thing. I would go up and play my song and I would get these looks (laughs). I struggled with it because I didn't sound like what other people were doing. I worried that I was wrong.
 
What were those audiences like—who were they expecting?
I think it was the combination of tourists who wanted to hear country singer-songwriters and maybe a couple of A&R guys. And you do get frustrated—you look out and people have their arms crossed (laughs).  Sometimes you have to play out of town to feel good about what you’re doing again. There’s a way to find your audience but for me it just wasn’t those writer’s rounds.
 
It seemed like everyone else there were playing their songs hoping another artist would cut them. Meanwhile, I'm trying to perform my songs and make people feel something and give them a view into my world and what I'm trying to do. After awhile, I realized that wasn't the right format for me. And that's when I started to breakaway and think: 'Ok, if there's not a scene for this, I'm going to try to create it. I'm gonna find a band and even if this town is country-based, maybe people are ready to hear something different.
 
It's tough to define yourself. I think that my writing falls into the pop category. I like to think that everything I do has some soul behind it.  There's a blues influence and a jazz influence.
 
The pop and rock music scene in Nashville is terrific now.
I love it. The Basement and the Mercy Lounge are a couple of the places we’ve been frequenting. It’s kind of opened up a new world for me. You see all these amazing bands at these underground venues. Those are my favorite shows.  
 
You’re getting ready to cut your first full-length album. What kind of record are you planning?
I’ve been writing for almost a year now and I was kind of going through a phase where I was writing what I was hearing in town and writing with people who had cuts. Then I started to think about what I wanted to sound like and I had this moment when I discovered what that sound was. It’s not easy for me to put into words, but I feel like the new songs I’ve been doing with the band have the sound that I’ve always wanted to have.  I guess the difficult part is just capturing that in the studio.  It might take a lot of time, but I’m really excited to make something that feels natural to me.

What kind of Epiphone are you playing on stage?
I play an Epiphone 339. I’m in love with it. I saw it in a music store. I usually take a long time to settle on a guitar but I played it for 5 minutes and said “that’s it.” I had two other guitars at the time—I won’t mention the brands, I don’t want to throw them under the bus—but I traded them in and I’ve been in love with the ‘339’ ever since.  It was love at first sight.