Music, // October 13, 2014
Kirsten Ludwig – MUSICIAN
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Kirsten Ludwig and I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At this moment in time, I am existing at the tender age of 21. I am a singer-songwriter with a unquenchable thirst for new ideas, melodies, and places – real and imagined. I am known to play a sad song or two on piano, but I am mostly driven by the sweet tones of my electric guitar. If I am not locked tightly in my own world – writing my time away – you can find me lullabying modest audiences in intimate venues.
2. Why music?
Music is the only thing that has stuck by me and my fickle nature. I have always found it hard to stick with a single path – my mind is changing with the weather – but music is the one thing I come back to at the end of the day. I can’t explain why or how this obsessive need to create has made it’s way into my life, but the justification of the mystery is that it feels good and it feels right. Music, in general, is a cosmic force that mends on such a deep level and initially I was drawn to it because of that very notion. But as I progress as a writer and a performer, I have realized that I may have a chance to allow others to feel freedom through my own musical expression of emotions. All I do is write with my bones, with my heart, with my soul, and if that triggers someone to say ‘hey, finally someone feels the same way as me, I’m not alone’, I guess that is ‘why music?’.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in music?
It was always something that was just around me – I can’t remember a day without singing. I’m told that, as an infant, I would sing as loud as I could when the hymns started in church. At about age 3, I would sing Lion King nonstop. I remember my friend Mariah had an electric piano and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It had about 12 different settings and it seemed like it had the answers to all my questions. I have always suffered from intense stage fright so the only natural response was to start writing. For me, it is about focusing all of your strength and energy on the love you feel for music and realizing that it is greater than the weight of fear. Sometimes I still question how I got to this point of seriousness with my own art, but when you are working at something everyday for the sake of your own heart, you eventually have spent more energy and time doing it than not doing it and therefore, cannot separate yourself from that part of your life.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
I love anything that makes me feel good. I can’t explain what that is. Since music is such an intuitive experience, it’s more about exploring something when it feels right than putting restrictions on it by saying ‘this is only what I listen to’.
5. How do you work and approach a new piece that you are working on?
I initially begin with an idea that comes as a spark of inspiration – it can be anything from something someone said to me, a place I visited, a gesture someone made, or the colour of the mid-afternoon sky. I used to write all of my lyrics first and then try to fit them with music – but I’ve discovered that it makes more sense (to me) to either write the music and the words together, or have a musical idea before I start on the written work. It’s all about the time and the place, really. Every artist is familiar with the songs that are written in those 15 minute trance-like states where you’ve been completely blinded to the conscious thought process of the song. Whereas other songs can be a royal pain in your side and all you can do is give it time, nurture it, and understand that everything will come together when the time is right. I used to only believe in writing songs in one sitting, but now I think it is beautiful to revisit ideas as you gain new experiences.
6. What are your favorite musician(s), singer(s)?
I’ve never had a favourite musician because I like everything, for the most part. I find warmth and inspiration in very small things, so even if it is a great vocal trill for half a second in a random song – my soul is happy. I find myself being gravitated towards emotional music that was written with intention behind it. I am truly fascinated by Laura Marling’s songwriting, I love Bon Iver, and this artist from Boston named Adrianne Lenker is phenomenal.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
Every response to my work is something I value. I’ve had people tell me to never stop doing what I do and that has always hit me hard. It’s like you are being accepted for your vision and it is beautiful to be recognized for what you are creating as a whole.
8. What do you like about your work?
That’s a funny question because as an artist, you create something and you like it for a bit and then dislike it for even longer. The only aspect that I seek value in and try to maintain is being emotionally honest with others and with myself. I am constantly in a selfish search to find new ideas, such as different ways to approach writing and unique melodies that keep me interested – or else the self-loathing kicks in prematurely. I strive to create work that, like I’ve said, feels good and as long as it feels good while I’m doing it, the rest will write itself.
9. What advice would you give to other musicians?
I would say to always make music that means something to you – never drink from the fountain of public approval. The reason we are all walking along this path is because our initial instinct was to explore the unknown through musical means and when we stop doing that, it will result in our demise. I also think it is important to never assume you are better than anyone else – we need to support others in what they do and find inspiration through their passions, even it is not exactly our thing, because everyone sees the same thing differently and we can learn from that.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I hope to be doing what I am doing now, but with a little less of this ‘early-20s-diorientation’ hazing up my windows. I will always be creating music so it is not a question of whether or not I will be actively putting my energy into artistic endeavours, but more of a question of longevity in the financial aspect. Essentially, I would like to make a living from doing what I love because, for me personally, nothing else makes sense – if I’m going to be dedicating my energy to something, it should be that of a passion, there is no other way. I think as long as your soul and your heart are full of wonder and ardor because of your art, the struggles of other things will not tie you down – you will carry on and fight for what you want.
My sophomore release ‘Drifting’ is now available for download on bandcamp. It was written in the time span of a year while I was away traveling the world. I recorded it in Victoria, BC in March (2014) with musician and producer Sam Weber.