Bre Kennedy Talks Newest EP [INTERVIEW]

By: Zoe Blakeman – Photo by Tabitha Turner

Singer Bre Kennedy drew inspiration from vulnerability and personal development to create her latest album, Scream Over Everything. This brutally honest and introspective album serves as a reminder for Kennedy and her fans to overcome their hurt and strive for personal growth. Featured singles like “Navigating” and “Retrospect”, which make up half of the album’s first side, bare Kennedy’s fears and anxieties, encouraging listeners to reconnect with themselves.

Relocating to Nashville, Kennedy has found a way to reconnect with her inner child, facilitating her healing and personal growth. Her emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being have had a significant impact on her musical journey, shaping the direction of her creative expression.

Another new single dropped Friday, June 23, in preparation for Kennedy’s new album and upcoming headlining tour. Tour dates are unreleased but coming soon! Read below for more on Kennedy’s album, her writing process, and what makes her the musician she is.

ZB: Hello Bre! It’s wonderful to connect with you and discuss your upcoming single release which will soon become part of a full album. This EP showcases a distinct evolution in your music, highlighting various aspects of your current life rather than dwelling on the past. I’m intrigued to know what inspired this shift and led you to prioritize the present. Could you share the realization that sparked this change in direction?

BK: I was a songwriter for other artists before, so for the first half of my 20s, I didn’t start putting music out until “Words” came out. So, a lot of what I was writing about was what I had been through already. “Note to Self,” specifically, was me rehashing what I went through. I went through raising myself, kind of unpacking all of my traumas and happenings in my life.

It feels like Scream Over Everything was me kind of asking, “Where am I right now?” and trying to be as present as I can to find my voice in all the noise. “Navigating” and “Retrospect” are literally saying, I’m a fool to hold onto anything in the past, and right now, I don’t really know every day what’s going on or how to navigate it, but I’m doing my best. I’m even writing songs about my relationships, specifically songs on side B. “Hello” is about saying hello to where I’m at right now instead of holding onto the things that I have been writing about.

ZB: Navigating life can be hard in general, but especially when dealing with internal issues. How has mental health/mental health awareness played a role in your music, especially with this EP?

BK: I write a lot about where I’m at with my emotional, spiritual, and mental health just naturally as a way to process. Last year I was touring a lot and by myself a lot. I drove over 10,000 miles touring with multiple bands, so I had a lot of time to think and be alone and process what I was going through and what I had gone through. When I wasn’t on the road, I was in the studio, and I just started writing about a lot of my fears and unpacking where I was. I was going to therapy for the first time too.

A lot of what I was writing about was that I felt like I was going through a metamorphosis of kind of getting rid of old clothes and stepping into, literally, a new decade. Also mourning and grieving a lot of my 20s. It just felt like a storm inside of me, in a good way, a lot going on inside me that I didn’t really have the words to articulate yet.

You know when you’re not ready to go through a new chapter yet, but you know it’s coming, and you don’t really know how to say what you mean? Writing Scream Over Everything was pulling all of the things stirring inside of me. It was so important to give a name to the things that were going on inside of my mind.

ZB: Figuring out how to put feelings into words can be so tough, especially in the heat of the moment. How do you manage to find the right words? Would you say that writing music is your best emotional outlet?

BK: I think music is definitely one of the ways that I am able to almost unpack everything. Also, music is a way for my subconscious to speak up. It’s definitely a way to get my emotions out and to process them. Also walking. I love being outside and walking in nature and walking with my dog. Just getting away from music for a second and being with myself. I also believe we’re way more than what we do, and I’m learning that for the first time in my life. I have so many other outlets too, like being with my friends, traveling, hiking, things that really get me in touch with “little me.”

ZB: Although solitude and being in nature sound relaxing, getting anger out is important too, but in a healthy way. What exactly are you screaming over in Scream Over Everything, and how do you process these emotions?

BK: Social media. It was just like a bunch of noise after 2020. It just felt like everyone was trying to get back on Tik Tok and Instagram, and it felt like I was on my phone all the time. It’s hard to find our voices in all the noise. I wanted to take a break from my phone.

We all got addicted to our phones, which help us connect with people all over the world. But in order to find my voice on a daily basis, I have to step away from my phone, everybody else’s life, away from the comparison, and ask myself, “What do I want? What do I need to get rid of? What do I need to clear away from my life? What do I need to live my life in a really healthy and happy way?” Easier said than done.

ZB: Definitely is easier said than done. This album sounds like kind of an emotional rollercoaster, but in the best way possible as you find yourself and prioritize what you need. That being said, was your writing process different for this album than previous albums?

BK: Yes definitely. I usually write my songs in Nashville and I usually get to write them and play them out. I usually play them out a lot before I record them. But because I was on tour last year I would literally go to L.A., and work with my friend Davis Nash who is a producer, and just show up at the studio.

It was really therapeutic and really hard work to carve where I was at the moment rather than just play around and make music with my friends. I was sitting down and being very intentional with each song. It was just Davis and me on the record with no band. We did all of the instruments, singing, mixing, editing, etc.

ZB: That’s very impressive! It seems that you carved out a specific emotion for a few songs, that being fear. For the song “Navigating,” why did you choose fear to be the “person” navigating life with you rather than any other emotion?

BK: I think fear is the most misunderstood part of us, at least for me. This is something I realized in therapy last year. I always look at my fear as this negative anchor, as something that just stops me in place. Sometimes, it just takes over my body and then I get mad at my fear. It’s just this love-hate relationship. I realized that fear is a part of me that is just the 10-year-old version of me that something bad happened to.

I just stayed hidden because I was just scared and angry. Instead of looking at fear and thinking, “You’re the worst, screw you!” or just falling into it, looking into the 10-year-old version of myself and saying, “I know you’re scared, I get it, it’s terrifying. Nobody, not even our parents, gave us the tools to understand how to navigate this. Now, as an adult, being like “I got it. I promise you we made it this far. I know you don’t even wanna try but look at what happened all of those other times we did try.”

ZB: What do you want listeners to take away from Side A of Scream Over Everything?

BK: I want people to feel empowered with whatever season of life they’re in. Specifically, I want people to feel empowered to be able to change and evolve and to feel empowered with where they are in life. Whether that be screaming the songs in the car or crying over them in the car. Wherever they are in their journey, I want them to just feel empowered as a person.

ZB: If you could advise anyone going through a tough time, what would your advice be?

BK: Sit with yourself. Sit with it, don’t judge it or at least try not to. It’s going to pass. That cloud is there to teach you something and you will get through it. All you have is yourself. So treat yourself with kindness and grace. Always.

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Singer-songwriter Bre Kennedy creates music soaked in rich, timeless storytelling with innate pop sensibilities. Influenced by mesmerizing talents like Brandi Carlile, Fleetwood Mac, Feist and Bonnie Raitt, Kennedy’s delicate, raspy sound soars as she touches on profound themes around life’s messy moments.

Kennedy reveals, “I usually try to have a smile on when it comes to talking about the mess of being human.” Kennedy grew up in a musical household, taking in the greats like Tom Petty, Heart, Aretha Franklin, and Carole King. After a brief stint in LA, she hopped in her Nissan and headed to Nashville where she discovered her true musical identity. Kennedy admits, “It was a lot of searching for what I wanted to say as an artist, and somehow I found that in Nashville amongst a community of incredible songwriters who inspired me to make music I loved.”

In 2019, she self-released her Jealous of Birds EP, followed by 2020’s Twenty Something EP, with both title tracks landing on Spotify’s coveted New Music Friday playlist. She released her debut full-length album, Note To Self, in October 2021, which led her to sign with Nettwerk Music Group. It marked another appearance for Kennedy on Spotify’s New Music Friday and saw her grace the cover of the Today’s Singer-Songwriters playlist.

Over the past couple of years, Kennedy sold-out a headline show at Nashville’s historic Exit In and has supported such renowned artists as Sheryl Crow, Gary Clark Jr., Joy Oladukun and The Paper Kites. Media has also taken notice, with outlets like Billboard, Paste, American Songwriter and Atwood singing her praises. Kennedy is currently releasing new music from her upcoming next album & will be embarking on her first headlining tour Fall 2023. She has cemented herself as an artist to watch and one of the brightest voices out of the New Nashville music scene.