Knotts | Is it art yet?
"It’s a delicate balance between asking “Is this good enough? Should I try it again?” and asking “have I done this too many times and sucked the life out of it?” Adalia summed up my thoughts perfectly. I find I question any art I put out to the point of wondering if I have taken some of the rawness out of it. As I listen to Is it art yet? I am amazed by how pure, natural and beautiful it is. I was shocked to read that the record went through so many alterations and that, like me, she struggled with knowing when it was ready for the world. It just proves that you truly never know what it takes to get the finished product of something and that even the most seemingly effortless things do come with a great deal of work. I could listen to Adalia's voice forever. It is so completely mesmerizing and dazzling. I love the lyrics in Beautiful Kind that say, "I'm sorry I denied our love for so long I guess I was afraid of a love that was fire afraid I would get burned I'm not quite sure what you were afraid of it doesn't matter anymore I forgive you I love you and there is nothing that can change my mind." This song, and so many songs on the record, embody such an authentic tenderness that I feel lucky to experience it.
Thank you Knotts,
Adalia Powell-Boehne - guitar/vocals
Antoine Franklin - keys
Jordan Wilson - guitar
Jonathan Mango - drums
The beginning of art
I started Knotts in the summer of 2015. I was mostly playing solo with occasional full band shows. I met Antoine January 16th of this year. He was in a band with Jordan and Mango and I loved what they were doing with other artists around the city. I asked Antoine and his business partner Wendell to come in, together they make up the music production duo Musical Elevation. I wanted their help in putting the finishing touches on “Is It Art Yet?” They were super helpful. Antoine mentioned that his band would be interested in playing with me, we’ve all been playing together since then.
I live in Cincinnati, OH. The music scene is diverse and vibrant, on any given night you can catch an amazing live show, often for free. My faves right now are A Delicate Motor, Carriers, Freedom Nicole Moore, Turtledoves, Zoo, Tribe and Earth Jones. I could go on for a long time. I think our high energy feel good music draws people to our shows and people feel like they can sway and dance and join the party. I like to where a lot of sequins and shoulder pads, I think that adds to the mood. I like to write about experiences but I always emphasize the glory of living in my writing, arrangements and live performance.
Is it art yet?
Is it Art Yet? was released 05/26/18. The creative process in the beginning looked like choosing which songs would make the cut, some that had been written many years ago, and then rewriting them and showing them to friends and asking their opinion. Then I had a stint where I would wake up at 4:30 and record demos really quietly so I wouldn’t wake up my husband and kids haha. When we got in the studio to record them for real, we had to turn up the demos really loud because I had played them so quietly. I recorded the record with Chad Wahlbrink in a variety of locations but mainly at Sabbath Studios in Cincinnati. He’s phenomenal. We called a bunch of musicians to help out and we started from scratch with just the drums recording to the demos, then added guitars, bass, vibraphone, handclaps and just kept adding. The song Awake was funny because halfway through recording the vocals I looked at Chad and was like “it’s too wordy.” We ended up changing the entire way the chorus went, which changed the entire feel of the song. It started out more of a bold mantra type vibe and turned into a groovy pop vibe, with a more understated subtle and sassy tone. I like the way it came out.
I really wanted to push myself creatively with this record. I was critical of myself in every step of the process, sometimes too much. When Chad gave me the first round of mixes I decided to re-record all the vocals. I wanted to do the instrumentation justice. We had so many people breathing life on to the tracks with the different parts they contributed I wanted the vocals to be on the same level. That’s how I come up with the title of the album IS IT ART YET? Because that process can be so confusing. It’s a delicate balance between asking “Is this good enough? Should I try it again?” and asking “have I done this too many times and sucked the life out of it?” The feel of the album goes through upbeat lighthearted nostalgic moments with songs like Until You and These Days to meditative vignettes with Yelya and Nitni and ET to more intense stirring ones with Your Mind and Beautiful Kind. I think the overall feel is telling of how I listen to music, sometimes I’ll be feeling nostalgic and listen to old soul songs by Diana Ross then flip to the National, then Bedouin and then to Chance the Rapper in the same hour, I kind of think that’s how the record feels like you’ve spanned a number of genres within a few songs you’ve gone from pop/r&b to indie rock to neo-soul. Growing up black and white in my house we listened to the Fugees, Isley brothers, Jay-Z, Outcast, and at the same time I had found an experimental college radio stations that turned me on to Sufjan Stevens, Tegan and Sara, Mates of State and Bright Eyes. A lot of the songs on the album we’re written in the timespan of my early 20’s to now late 20’s, so in some way it feels like a coming of age story. My favorite song on the record is Believe Me. In the demo when we were recording it all the musicians that helped me looked at me sideways. Like,” I don’t understand this song” because it changes so many times and doesn’t really settle in until the end. But it really came together when it was finished. It’s one of the most interesting songs to listen to, I wanted to get a War on Drugs vibe going with the drums and a nostalgic classic rock ending. Believe Me is the one I wrote most recently and it is an encouraging one to play, at the end of the song I just go over the things I can do; walk, sing, dance, laugh. I like being able to remind myself of that over and over when I play it.
Camera obscura, Lianne las halvas, Adele, the national, Sufjan Stevens, and Lauryn Hill