7 questions with Grandma Kelsey of the Psycho Adorable tour

Grandma Kelsey

Courtesy / Facebook

Grandma Kelsey is Boise, Idaho-based singer/songwriter Kelsey Swope, an artist whose voice seems to effortlessly glide out of body, indicating the lonely grandeur of nature, tugging you out of your work clothes and into a long walk with headphones.

Her first outing is a massive tour of Canada and the U.S., which was partly funded by Kickstarter campaign. It’s also a collaborative tour with fellow Boise solo artist Bronwyn Leslie, who goes by the name of Lionsweb. The collaboration, called Psycho Adorable, is so new it hasn’t yet appeared on any recordings.

The duo makes an Arkansas stop at the Fayetteville Underground on Saturday, Oct. 12, with local support by Dana Louise of Air Loom.

I asked Kelsey some random and some regular questions and here’s what she had to say…

1. You may be sick of this question, but how did you get the name Grandma Kelsey?
Aside from being a slow walking prude, I like antiques, and I cant see without my glasses. I like taking care of folks, too. It was a nickname my friends gave me!

2. Give us a brief history – When did you realize you wanted to write music and how did everything come to fruition?
I spent a lot of time alone when I was a kid and teenager – mostly writing. Listening to music and writing. Thinking and reading and writing. I’d listen to the alt rock radio station and write poetry. My dad bought me a guitar for my 11th birthday or so, and I listened to “Ring of Fire” on repeat and taught myself chords. I just kept doing it. Now, ten years later it’s pretty much all I’m doing.

3. What non-musical influences affect your songs? How does a song happen for you?
The whole thing happens like an infinite disposable camera… Beauty followed by light and mirrors and sensitivity. My brain is a frame that’s imprinted with an upside down reflection of reality. Then washed out by chemical processes and darkness and biology. Physics and gravity. And then there’s some kind of huge lightbulb that beams me onto a different wall every night and exposes me. All my songs feel like this right now. I hope that makes sense.

4. What was the last book or film that has inspired you to write?
The Incantation of Frida K. by Kate Braverman. It’s a fictional pseudo-autobiography. Okay, well, it’s a fictional book based on Frida Kahlo’s journals. Frida Kahlo is my favorite painter, and basically this book is written from her perspective on her death bed as she’s recanting her life in between Morphine dreams (she was really f***ed up and sick for a lot of her life, alone and stationary in a bed).

5. Tell us about the Psycho Adorable collaboration? How has the collaborative process changed your work?
Psycho Adorable is a working experiment and collaboration between Bronwyn Leslie (Lionsweb) and I. We met in February at the eastern Oregon film festival, where we both were playing music. We hit it off and magnetized. About three months later I started braining about a big tour for the fall. I remembered that Bronwyn wanted to tour, so I asked her to come. Initially we were just going to tour together, but long story short, we moved into the back of a bingo hall together and decided to try a collaboration. We didn’t necessarily want to be a “new band”- we just wanted to smash our songs together and see what happened. We have done a lot of weird stuff to get where we are now. Working with another strong, independent woman has strengthened me in so many ways. mostly, Bronwyn encourages me to be free and creative. She brings so much life and surprise.

6. You’re on a very long tour – how’s it been so far?
This tour has been a ride, that’s for sure. Ten weeks in entirety. We’ve been playing a lot of DIY art spaces and house shows, which has been amazing. I’m so proud of young folks across this country. There are some really, really smart and creative people doing great things for their communities. I am grateful.

On the daily grind of things:
1. We unknowingly stayed at an orgasmic meditation cult once.
2. We got towed in NYC.
3. We crashed on a secret birthday island off the coast of Maine.
4. We swam underneath a huge waterfall in Virginia.
5. We stayed up all night playing chess with some wonderful poets in Nebraska.
6. We slept on a beach with a bunch of rednecks.
7. We met some of Montreal’s finest environmental activists. The ones who’ve been organizing all those amazing protests going on up there.

7. Have you been to Arkansas before? What can we expect at the show?
I have never been to Arkansas before! I don’t have any expectations. I’m just excited to be singing for you all.