Interview with Reckling

Photo by Derek Perlman

Weronika jumped on Zoom with Kelsey Reckling! In this interview, they discussed birdwatching and appreciation for the natural world, coping with negative people, and upcoming plans now that the pandemic is winding down.





What’s your go-to gas station order?

I feel like it’s probably normally candy, like Skittles in the Purple Bag or just like classic M&Ms. Either the sour ones or the purple bag. Those are superior. They’re the best ones.

“Spiders” talks about being stuck in a web of lies and being caught in the negatives of the past. The video also sort of shows you being held captive by a masked figure. Can you tell us more about this spider metaphor?

Yeah. So, the song is just sort of about people who come into your life and try to destroy your peace. Before I moved to LA, I had just gotten out of this really bad relationship with someone who was violent and abusive, and I kind of accidentally moved here. Like, I wasn’t really planning on moving here permanently at the time, but I was just kind of here, hanging out with friends, and I just wanted to reset and get away from that.

I ended up just kind of staying longer and longer, and eventually found myself in this new relationship with someone who helped me feel grounded and protected, and safe. But there were some girls around who, I guess, didn’t like that, or just didn’t like me in the picture. I got kind of bullied and talked shit about by these girls.

And I was just like, I don’t even like fucking know. I don’t know, I tried to be friendly. I didn’t want trouble, I just wanted to go about my life. I kind of just put my head down and didn’t really defend myself. So, the songs just kind of about like, those people who just try so hard to slip into the cracks of your life and try to bother you or whatever. But instead of being bothered by them, you’re really just kind of fascinated by their behavior. And I kind of just equate it to insects, because I feel like the presence of insects is like, it’s not that significant. Unless you let it bother you. Unless you let it affect your peace. That’s kind of the metaphor there.

What does your songwriting process look like, and how does it help you work through your emotions?

I feel like it kind of happens very naturally, but also randomly. I feel like I go through periods of time where I don’t try to write a song or I don’t really have like that intention in mind. Like sometimes I’ll just pick up the guitar and just be messing around, and I’ll like a chord progression I play and I’ll just record it on my phone voice memos, and then I’ll kind of maybe start like singing something with it. And then I just kind of stop and revisit it later. Like, my phone just has so many voice memos. So when I feel like I need to just get a song out of me. It just kind of happens very naturally. I don’t really know how else to describe it besides, like, I’ll just pick up a guitar and it just kind of comes out.

And lyrically, I definitely am one of those people that has 1000 notes in my phone where anywhere, anytime something just pops into my head, I’ll just write it down. Not with the intention of it becoming a song lyric. But I usually will end up like taking a lot of my lyrics from the notes in my phone, and you can choose which feel right together. Or if I only have one line, I’ll kind of just like, start there. And then like, I’ll sit kind of where I’m sitting right now. And I’ll just kind of freestyle write on a bunch of sticky notes. And then I’m like, “Okay, this line goes here and this one goes here.” I’m just kind of stringing the song together or sometimes I’ll go back to my notes and find other things that I’ve written that either kind of go with the same theme or feeling. Then it just kind of comes together. It’s hard because sometimes you feel the pressure of like, “I need to write a new song.” But you can’t force it to happen.

Photo by Alice Baxley (Check out our interview with Alice Baxley here!)

Your debut LP dropped a couple of years ago in 2018, how do you think you’ve grown as a songwriter and performer since then?

I’ve been writing music since I was like, 13, but I’ve always kind of kept it pretty private. Playing music is kind of just something I’ve always considered a part of me, I just didn’t actually have the courage to perform my own songs before when I was younger, like, I got sober in 2016. That kind of just flipped everything for me. I finally felt like I was able to come out of my shell a little bit and allow myself to let go and be vulnerable. And just share the songs and not be so weird and freaked out by it. I think some of the songs on the 2018 release I wrote before I got sober, but just being able to do something with the songs. Finally, it was like a growing process in of itself, and since then, I think it’s kind of just taken on a whole new life. I still wasn’t really comfortable performing then, and I was working all the time.

So, I kind of was just in this other mindset where I was just working, and I just released the songs and wasn’t planning on performing them at the time. And eventually I quit that job and decided to go back to school and I just was like, “Okay, I feel like it’s also time, I feel like I can just play the songs and just do it.” One thing just kind of led to another, and I felt so free finally, like doing it. We didn’t start playing till the end of 2019. It was weird, it was a weird experience. I had hyped it up so much in my head for so long. And I was just so fearful about doing it.

But then as soon as I did it…I get really nervous like speaking like in classes in front of people and stuff. And it was like, “I’m gonna be a fucking wreck during this experience.” And then I played our first show, and I was like, “Oh, I was like, wow, okay, chill out like it’s really not bad.” That in of itself was like also another huge growing process for me. And then I kind of just started playing all the time and I just started having so much fun with it, and I don’t know, I just feel like everything has changed. I definitely feel like if I hadn’t gotten sober, I would have just still been restricted in this weird thing. So that definitely was a changing moment for me. And then finally just kind of biting the bullet and performing live.

I think it’s amazing you’re also studying biology and the natural world in addition to music. I read that you got more into this field after getting sober some 5 years ago (congratulations!), so how has learning about nature’s wonders been fulfilling to you?

Yeah. I mean, I think I’ve always like loved being outside. When I was a really young kid, I was always outside, like, in tune to nature. But then like, as I got older, you know, when I got like, into alcohol and drugs and stuff, I just kind of lost touch with that. And so, when I got sober almost five and a half years ago now… I kind of just, it was just so weird. It just felt like all of a sudden, I like walked outside for the first time. And I was like, “Wow, look at all this stuff. Like, it’s so amazing.” It sounds so like cheesy when I say it out loud. I’m like, all the wind and the birds. It’s amazing that this stuff was always around me, like was here before we were here as humans, and it’ll be here after we are gone. Hopefully. I don’t know, I just kind of connected with that. And it just brought me this sense of peace. And I think for me, at least, when I first got sober, you kind of all of a sudden get hit with all of these feelings and emotions. You’re just like, “Oh, I was suppressing so much.” And now, I can just feel everything. I was just looking for peace, really. And I think I found that.

What are some of the coolest birds you’ve seen? What’s your birdwatching journey been like?

When I first started bird watching, a lot of it was backyard kind of birding, like, “Oh, what birds are visiting the backyard?”. Then you kind of get used to your regular visitors, but then I’m always surprised when I when I get a new bird in the backyard. So during quarantine, like being home all the time. I was like, I thought I had seen all the birds that were ever gonna visit the yard, but there’s still new ones coming and fighting. And I just honestly I love traveling anywhere because then you kind of get a whole different group of birds. I just love to see any new bird. It’s just exciting. And the old birds are exciting to know too.

Actually, something recently that was exciting for me was like… I’ve only seen great horned owls in the wild. I haven’t seen any other type of owl, and I’ve only seen them like a few times. But the other night or evening, it was sunset I was in the backyard with some friends and then this bird flies by and I’m like kind of looking at it. And I’m like, “Oh my God!”. And I just started like screaming, like “Owl! It’s an owl!”. And everyone’s like, “Ok, calm down, it’s just an owl.” It was epic, it just flew by. And there was like an all pink and red sunset. I’m like, this is fabulous. Magical.

Photo by Ada Rajkovic

In the spirit of your quarantine jam, “24 Hours”, if you knew you had only 24 hours left to live, how would you spend your last day?

I feel like just like eating all my favorite foods, but also being surrounded by all my favorite people. And I’d probably try to see some birds. And listen to my favorite songs. I don’t know, that’s kind of a hard question to answer. I have like this long list of all these places that I really want to see and really want to go but like, I think I would just like hang out at home. I feel like keeping it chill is the way to go.

In March, you posted about being in the studio. What can you share about what you worked on?

We recorded an EP, and I keep pushing it back with the pandemic and stuff, like I don’t really know. There’s no set plan for it yet. Hopefully, by the end of the year, it will be out. I don’t know, I’m really stoked on it. It sounds really good. Like just big and loud and kind of reflects more on what we sound like live. It’s gonna be four songs. I think we’re gonna do like a couple videos, and I’m really excited for it.

Originally, it was going to be five songs. And then now it’s four songs. We re-recorded an old song, and there’s a cover song that we play live that’s going to be on it. And then there’s two new songs. And one of those songs we were playing live before the pandemic. And then the other song we’ve never played before.

The idea changed a little bit from the beginning. We were going to release it last year, but then we just kind of pushed back recording it. Like, we just pushed that back, and we didn’t actually record it till like, later on during the pandemic. I’m really stoked on it, so I’m excited to get it out there.

Now that the pandemic is winding down, do you have any plans to perform?

We have some, they’re all just local LA area shows. I’m kind of one foot in one foot out. Like, I’m like, “Okay, is it happening? Are we doing it?” Like, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe things kind of just shut down again. And we weren’t able to do anything, but it seems like things around here are going in the right direction, which is exciting and good. But I’m just always, I don’t know, I’m always calling in like, “I don’t know.” I’m excited. Now we got to switch gears and get back into that. I feel like we were on a roll like right before the pandemic, just playing all the time. And I feel like we just got to get back in it.

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