Singer/songwriter KaiL Baxley‘s experiences are as diverse as the day is long–the Los Angeles-based South Carolina native and son of a couple of outlaws, who learned to dance from James Brown, has been an amateur boxer, a gunshot survivor, a football star, and a traveling troubadour. Those narratives naturally inform his art, producing songs that cut deep and entice the listener to pay close attention.
On March 6, 2020 he will release his third and most accomplished album Beneath the Bones, via AntiFragile Music. The self-produced album recorded at the late Elliott Smith’s New Monkey Studio, HAS Studios in Charleston, SC and United Studios in Los Angeles, CA is both prophetic and profound.
(Photo Credit: Monica Lightstone)
When I’d finished the song I thought to myself, This must be one of those gifts-from-the-ethos moments Keith Richards is always talking about in interviews. I’d never sat down and written an entire song beginning, middle, end in 20 mins. It was a gift. A sort of backhanded gift that came off the lightning bolt realization that I’d never really been in love in my entire life. Sure I’d loved and been loved. But never at the same time. It had never been what this lightning bolt had revealed.
I started the morning with a cup of coffee and the idea that I should get to “the writing today.” I was living in Los Angeles, the city of the lonely and the lost, as the title plainly states. It’s also the city of relentless car horns, trash trucks, street cleaning, the neighbor next door with the 24/7 jump castle birthday parties and the guy who hangs around the mailboxes that always ask for 35 cents, specifically… 35 cents.
So I was in a mood. I had this thought that if it all went up in smoke that I would literally celebrate. Morbid I know. In my defense, the fantasy mostly involved the LA parking enforcement. To make my little episode wors,e I received a message from my manager that I needed to do some event post on Facebook. Not Facebook, I thought, anywhere but there, but alas I had no choice. I took a deep breath, swigged down my coffee and logged in. To my surprise, the very first thing that popped up was a photograph of my friend’s parents. I had lived with them for a short time when I was in middle school. It was one of my first experiences living in a “normal household.” They where just incredible people through and through.
The photo was taken in some small European town. I believe they were celebrating an anniversary. It was the look that got me, though. They really do just love each other more and more as the years go by I thought. And then the lightning bolt struck. A myriad of thoughts cascaded over me. Wow, the golden epiphany, undeniable recognition and finally inspiration. I was overwhelmed by the sudden realization that in lieu of all the chaos that happens all around us, it doesn’t matter in the slightest as long as you have that kind of love.
I sat down with a guitar and a notebook and this song just spilled out like a perfect Guinness. As did everything surrounding it. When I decided to put it on the album they told me we needed to put together a video for it. In my mind, it was such a high concept story that I was worried I’d never have the resources to pull it off. I’d just moved out to the desert and by chance befriended a fellow named Christopher Thorn from a little band called Blind Melon.
Now under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t just meet someone and then say, “Hey, lemme borrow your car?” But that pretty much sums it up. He told me to come out and take a look at an old classic Fairlane that might be right for the video. When I arrived at his place and gave him the rundown of the whole concept, he was kind enough to offer us his property to shoot the video. There was an old two-tone yellow Dodge pickup sitting in the carport. I said, “You know, that would actually be perfect for this.” He kinda laughed and said, “That’s Bruce’s truck, man.” Turns out, it was the truck Bruce Springsteen had just done his album cover shoot in and general cruising around the property in a couple months before. I asked if he thought he’d mind if we used it, and with the OK from the two bosses we were off. My good friend Ryan Sheehy directed it and my friends at Wildfire pictures helped us put it all together. It was a labor of love and unity and really gave the whole thing a happy ending for me.
I still haven’t found true love in this life. And by no means is that a solemn woe-is-me — don’t get ahead of yourself. I can still pour a perfect Guinness. The take away here is that I have a better understanding of it. And for once, a brand new feeling towards it altogether… Hope.
(Photo Credit: Jenna Peffley)