A Chat with Khemet McConville (03.08.2020)

Khemet McConville grew up in Pasadena and realised at an early age that he could combine his love of science with musical expression. Later on, he studied music while working on his debut album Quantum Shift. His latest single from the album, ‘Woman of God’, is an exploration of his soulful and emotive vocals while paying a tribute to love. We sat down with Khemet McConville (KM) to talk about the new track, his music, future plans and much more!

OSR: You have been involved in music since childhood, was there a moment that made you realise this is what you wanted to do in the future?

KM: This is a funny question because I believe generally the answer is no, but I do have a moment. (laughs) November 3rd 2008. It was a Monday morning before school maybe 7 am. I was listening to ‘Thriller’ on my iPod, standing out in front of my house and there was a thick fog just like in the music video and I thought: “I want to give people this feeling for the rest of my life.”

OSR: What is your favourite instrument and which would you still like to learn?

KM: Right now my favourite instrument is definitely bass. I want to say it’s guitar, but the guitar’s not as much fun right now because I’m not as good at it yet; plus I don’t think you can really command an ensemble on guitar the way you can on bass. Guitar players like to think they can though.

I’d love to learn Cello.

OSR: Is there a backstory to ‘Woman of God’?

KM: Not really, I was by this local bookstore and there was a piano in the courtyard. It was raining a little bit, drizzling if you will, and I just kind of sat down at this random piano and hashed out the chords. Then about two years later I laid them down on a synth patch in Logic. I cried while playing them, my girlfriend at the time had recently broken up with me. (laughs) The song’s not about her though. Okay, so there is a back story.

OSR: What is one thing you would like people to take away from your music?

KM: My passion and honesty in what I am creating. Also, that they find some inspiration, something that stirs emotion that is hopefully lasting.

OSR: What are your fondest musical memories?

KM: When I was about ten I was on a field trip and I was listening to my Uncle Bennie Maupin’s Jazz album on my CD player on the bus and I made my first “guitar face” listening to this one lick he played during his sax solo. I kept rewinding it and playing it over and over and over. To this day, I still listen to songs like that.

Either that or seeing Tame Impala with my Mom and my sister at the Los Angeles Forum pre-COVID, literally the night before LA shutdown for the pandemic. There was lots of head bobbing and there’s really nothing like getting to enjoy great music and see your mother smile simultaneously. It was mainly seeing my mother smile like that, that made the night so special.

OSR: What was the creative process for ‘Woman of God’? Did you start with lyrics or a melody?

KM: I had the melody first, years before I had the lyrics. As a practice, my musical process is that I self-produce everything DIY. On recordings, I play all instruments and synthesisers and sing all vocal parts. Live I perform with my band.

Khemet McConville

OSR: Do you sing in the shower? If so, what songs?

KM: Not really, I feel like musicians don’t really sing in the shower. Only mere mortals do that. However, I brought this up to a friend who is also a vocalist and sax player and she disagreed. (laughs) I listen to “shower music” though.

I usually take “action movie showers.” You know the vibe when the main character just stands there in the rain staring down looking intent and pensive? That’s me thinking about my day in the shower and listening to music that fits that mood, usually soundtracks or jazz.

OSR: After the pandemic, are you planning any gigs or a tour?

KM: I would hope so. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. It is going to be a bigger challenge for independent artists that don’t have big labels with a lot of money behind them to jumpstart things. I’d love some gigs where I perform tracks from my album Quantum Shift and new music I am working on.

OSR: What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your musical career?

KM: Getting my ‘Live at EastWest Studios’ performance videos out for my tracks ‘Nothing Is Easy’ and ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, they are now on YouTube. It was my first and the process felt insurmountable at the time, preparation, scheduling, art direction, music direction, rehearsals, sound checks, coordinating people and equipment. I felt like Lebron James on the 2018 Cavaliers or Jordan in 86’ against the Celtics, take your pick. It was a lot of pressure. Shout out to William Rouse the director. He took care of business, and the band as well: Ryan Calaunan on drums, Ryan Jarvis on lead guitar and background vocals, Heath Farmer on guitar, Brandon Ahumada on keyboards and synth and Byron James on background vocals.

OSR: What is your favourite and least favourite aspect of being a musician?

KM: I’m not sure if I have a favourite part. I pretty much enjoy everything about it. My least favourite part is the dealing with the thought out there that whether certain music is good or not is subjective based on any one individual’s taste or opinion. I believe this to an extent, but at some point, it seems pretty ridiculous to think just because you as an individual personally aren’t into a song, voice or type of music that it is not good. If you don’t prefer it, that’s fine, but if you’re telling me Pink Floyd, Kanye West, Kendrick, or EWF (Earth, Wind and Fire) isn’t good music, which I am sure some people said, you’re trippin’.

OSR: What can we expect from you in the future?

KM: Multiple championships! (laughs) No, just kidding. I am working on a couple of musical collaborations that I will be really excited to get out there. I am just going to keep putting music out there. It’s what I feel like I am meant to do.

Thanks to Khemet McConville for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify.

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