By Harriet Kaplan
Kendall Lake is a hard working and ambitious rock singer/songwriter determined to make her mark in the music industry. Lake’s independence, spirit, and feistiness seems destined to define her as a person and as well as her very personal artistry that fuels her creative fire. In the midst of working on her first EP and releasing songs regularly on SoundCloud that have garnered a lot of attention and visibility, Lake spoke to BoC in person to promote her upcoming show at The Globe in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, February 10th. Lake discussed her career in the entertainment industry including appearances in music videos, touring multiple countries and her musical influences pertaining to her sound and songwriting style.
When did you first develop an interest in music?
Kendall: I was trying make money at an early age so I did all the pretty girl jobs like waitressing and bottle service. I was appearing in music videos and doing everything I could, but all while maintaining a modicum of respect for myself. Then, after awhile, my friends knew I could sing and one of them made me go to the studio and record a song she wrote. Then a couple years after that, I went into the studio and wrote and recorded my first song. Eventually I went on tour in Morocco and was fronting a band at the Sofitels. I did that for five months and then a bunch of shows in London followed that. I came back to the states and started doing shows in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles.
From recording one song, you went on tour? What happened in between?
Kendall: I uploaded the song to a website: one song and one picture. The next day someone messaged me and said: are you available to go to Morocco? I was asked to be one of the singers in a band as the entertainment for the hotel. I went to different cities and performed three sets of 45 minutes.
What did that experience do for you as an artist?
Kendall: I felt it was what I really needed to give me confidence as an artist. My mom and dad are in the entertainment business. My dad is a writer. My mom is a makeup artist and photographer. She was the creative director for Wu-Tang Clan. She did Tisha Campbell’s hair for Martin.
Did your parents encourage or discourage you to get into the business?
Kendall: My parents definitely encouraged me. I’m mixed with Ethiopian and German and everywhere we used to go, people would say: she is so cute. I got signed to L.A. models when I was four or five and did every music video from Michael Bolton to Fleetwood Mac to Smashing Pumpkins.
Was this in between the gig with hotels and traveling?
Kendall: No, that was when I was a kid, I did all the videos. Then when I got older, I did a few music videos with Deb and Sam Adams and other industry people. I wasn’t an extra and I got paid good money. Plus, I didn’t have to shake my ass.
Tell me about writing songs? What is that like for you?
Kendall: It was just a few years ago that I started really writing songs and at first, I didn’t really think I was good at it so it was kind of an accident. I was working with this producer and he kind of encouraged me to write and together we put a structure to it to record my first song called “Suicide.” Every time I get into the studio, I feel at home and am really fortunate people like what I write.
Is Suicide a cautionary tell?
Kendall: No. It was me trying to be cheeky and dark. The full song title is “Love is Like Suicide.” It’s like I’m saying I love you so much I’m killing myself. When you’re writing songs, you have to come up with a cool way to say the things everyone feels.
Can you tell me about your musical influences?
Kendall: I listen to literally everything. My mother would play everything from Madonna and Janet Jackson to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to Bjork, Grace Jones, and Lenny Kravitz. I really got into Linkin Park, Tool, Deftones, Chevelle and Metallica. I feel you should kind of hear everyone I have listened to in my songs.
Are you writing new songs or an album? What are you promoting?
I’m doing a new show with 10 new songs. I have so many songs and the EP is done, but I’m so picky about what I put out there. There’s the whole marketing side which I fucking hate in this business haha. I can’t just drop shit. I have to be somewhat strategic and have to figure out how to get the best results. Right now, I’m putting out a bunch of singles that are doing really well on Soundcloud, which has been a really big help for me. I have a new song coming out next week called “Rolling Stone.” I’m constantly in the studio. I’m there two to three days a week writing new music and letting the music guide me where I’m supposed to go. I want to see where the show goes and if I get any attention from it. The music is coming, and if I get bored one day, I might just I upload it!
Are you working with any producers in the studio or are you self produced?
Kendall: I wish. I can’t work a computer to save my life. I have one producer I’ve worked with constantly. He’s done every single song I’ve ever done. We produced for Scrubs and worked mainly with an artist named Raven Felix. She’s signed to Wiz Khalifa and Taylor Dayne. My producer has done everything from hip hop to EDM to R&B to rock, which is where we’ve gone in our journey together.
How did the upcoming show at The Globe come about and appearing with the other artists?
Kendall: I don’t know Mickey Shiloh personally. My friend Cosmopolitan in the group that will perform after me: My Crazy Girlfriend. They are signed to Columbia, have three songs in the Billboard Top 20, and one went to Number One in the dance charts. They are just hustling. It’s two girls and two dudes doing pop/rock with a little funky shit and they knew Mikey so it all kind of came together. It’s going to be a dope show.
Do you have a band playing with you?
Kendall: Yeah a full band. I’ve had my band for three years. They are like my little baby brothers.
What are you looking for when you play at the club? You said you’re going to get picked up?
Are you looking for a label is that what you mean?
Kendall: Some artists don’t care about money but let’s be real, I care about money and want to make money with my art. At the same time, I don’t want to compromise my art and be tied down to somebody else’s vision. The best case situation for me is touring and being onstage. I want to get some endorsements from my upcoming show, and hope to get a booking agent or manager to gain more exposure, because right now I do everything myself.
What do you think makes you distinctive? Where are so many artists out there. What makes you unique?
Well, the cliché answer is that I’m a black girl that does rock haha but there are so many people that do this kind of music. I think it’s about who I am as a person. I can be the sweetest person or the biggest bitch. I have accepted both parts of that and that comes out in my music which makes it really interesting and unique.
Can you tell me about your songs and what inspires you to write the lyrics?
It depends on my mood. I have a natural, dark self-deprecating, sad, but funny thing that is part of who I am. Everything sounds better when it’s about a relationship, like a significant other. So I’ll aim it toward that sometimes. In my latest song, “Lay You Down,” I say, “don’t say you don’t want me, I’ve come so far, I’ve walked these miles, don’t say you don’t need me, I won’t believe you, tell me now,” and what I’m really talking about is the music industry. I’ve been working so hard for so long to make something of myself and when you get told no so many times and you see these people blowing up and you think what the fuck bro? Like, what is going on? That is where I’m coming from. My fucked up life, basically.
Kendall Lake will be performing at the Globe Theater located at 740 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014 on Wednesday, February 10. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com.
Twitter: @ kendallake