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Kendall Payne

With her sophomore release, vocalist Kendall Payne has indeed Grown, straying from the pop stylings of her debut and becoming known as much more than just her sibling's sister. Sitting in the Renaissance Hotel cafe during GMA Week 2005, we spent time discussing the project with Kendall...
This interview took place on: 4/11/05.

  • Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): This is kind of a broad question, but what have you been up to since Jordan's Sister?
    Kendall Payne: The million dollar question. I have been doing a lot since Jordan's Sister. I've parted ways with the label, I've parted ways with the management company. I have not found a new label, but I've made a new record. And with my new manager have kind of re-emerged onto the scene with a whole new philosophy. You know, you start off fresh out of the gate and you're like, "I'm gonna take over the world and everyone needs to know everything that I have to say." *laughter* And then you realize, "Wow everyone doesn't wanna know everything I have to say." And you kind of fall. I wanna say I took a swan dive into a pool with no water in it. And you realize right when you leave the diving board that you're going into nothing. So you pull yourself up from that, or God pulls you up from that. And it's a beautiful process really. It's painful, but it is beautiful. Like a trip to the ER. Yeah, exactly. The emotional ER.

  • JFH: How is the writing process for Grown different than Jordan's Sister?
    Kendall: I think, in that sense with Jordan's Sister, it was all novelty. I didn't know how to go wrong, in a sense, you know? And when I parted ways with Capitol I realized, "Wow, this is what rejection feels like." This is what kind of the dark thing of going, "Oh no, these aren't happy feelings. Everyone isn't just waiting to hear my record." And so the writing process became more about searching my soul and, "Why do I do it?" "What do I have to say?" "What is worth listening to?" "What do I wanna be known to say?" So it was different in a lot of ways than Jordan's Sister?

  • JFH: What inspired the song "Scratch?"
    Kendall: Yeah, I was dating this guy who I'm not dating anymore for various reasons. But I was out on the road and I was talking to him on the phone and we just got in a fight and it wasn't going good and he was gonna go hang out with some other girls or something and I had this terrible time with the artist I was opening for... She wouldn't let me have a sound check. Everything was kind of falling apart and I hung up the phone and I talked to my A&R guy at Capitol who was a great man and he said, "You know, Kendall when I was a young man..." You know, I told him my whole story. And I started crying. "My boyfriend and this artist and I hate this!" So he said, "When I was a young man I wanted to travel a lot and I went to India and someone said to me once before I went, 'Do yourself a favor and leave behind all the ideas of the western world. Go there and embrace it for what it is and don't ask it to be more. You know, leave your expectations behind.' That's what you need to do. You need to just accept that this is the reality of what this is and just experience it." And so I hung up the phone with him and I started to write the song and that's kind of where it came from.

  • JFH: How do you know Jason Wade (of Lifehouse) and how did you first meet?
    Kendall: Jason and I met because he came down, I think from Washington, when he was about fifteen years old and his mom went to Peperdine and so he and I were part of the same youth group there in Malibu and we were both worship leaders in the youth group.

  • JFH: Wow, that's really cool. So you keep in touch still and work together?
    Kendall: Yeah we're really good friends. His wife, named Braden, is one of my best friends, but we call her B for short and my first record there's a song called "Supermodels" and it said, "Me and B" and that's her.

  • JFH: That's really cool. How is writing and publishing in comparison to creating music, writing music, playing music and getting a record contract? What are your experiences in doing them both?
    Kendall: I don't know because my second book is coming out in the summer so I don't really know what's gonna happen. I haven't really had a lot of author stuff going on yet, but hopefully that will continue to increase, but with the first book that came out on Zondervan, it's a lot easier to do that. You write and that's the end basically.

  • JFH: Do they come to you?
    Kendall: In my case they have. Yeah but for the most part, you write something and then you pitch it for them and say "this is my book" or you submit your manuscript and they say we either like it or we don't. With music, it's a lot harder just right now, I think. You make a record and then you have to tour it and you have to meet with everybody and you have to sell everyone on it.

  • JFH: Is co-authoring a book similiar to co-writing a song? Does it help make the process any less stressful having somebody there that you can co-write with?
    Kendall: Yeah, I think so. I think it's just a personal taste kind of thing. When you write with someone you get a whole different animal. You two having children is gonna be different than you and someone else having children. You won't do that. *laughing* But that's the same thing when you create something that is art. It has different color eyes and different color hair with the different people that you co-create with.

  • JFH: What was your initial reaction when you first found out that Zachary Levy would be helping financially with the development of Grown?
    Kendall: I was very honored and very grateful. He is a good good guy and I was pretty shocked actually. It's still, "Thank you thank you thank you" so often. When someone gives that great of a gift that you can continue making your art you're pretty much eternally grateful.

  • JFH: Did any of the time you spent working in your community between projects give you any material with life experiences that inspire your current songs and lyrics?
    Kendall: Definitely. I think that's what the whole record and everything after that, that I've creatively been a part of, has been. Everything for me is inspiration. There's a great poet who said, "If your daily life is being poor, as far as void of inspiration, don't blame it, blame yourself. Tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth inspiration." So anything that has happened or any experience I've had is the fuel for the fire. That is how I go about my daily life. The color of the sky right now. The dreary kind of gray, well that's different from blue. It can cause me to write something about that or I can.

  • JFH: So what are you doing next? Now you've got the Grown record out what do you hope to do with it?
    Kendall: The next million dollar question. Touring is a large part of that. Hit the road. I don't think it's the final record that defines Kendall Payne. I don't think it's the record that is like, "everybody needs to buy this record because it's actually a great record." I'll admit that. I think it is a step in that process. Not the final step, but a step. So I tour it, I work it and then hopefully by the time it's time to make the next record, I'm at an even further place.

  • JFH: Are you constantly writing?
    Kendall: Yeah, I'm constantly being creative. Maybe not writing a song, but constantly jotting things down on papers.

  • JFH: What inspires your musical style?
    Kendall: Hmm. You know I don't think there is a simple answer to that question because I think whatever mood I'm in inspires it or maybe the lyrics that I wanna write or the content of the song. But people that I love listening to are great songwriters who tell stories. I'm not a real pop music listener. I like Sarah McLachlan, I love Billy Joel, Bob Dylan...

  • JFH: When you wrote "Twenty Three" were you actually 23?
    Kendall: I started writing "Twenty Three" on the night of my 23rd birthday. And yesterday, I turned 25. I really really like it. (John: Congratulations! Happy Birthday!) Thank you. It took me a year to write it. It was wild. Some songs come in about ten minutes. It was fascinating. I should have known that you're gonna write a song about turning a year in your life that it should take a year to write. So I slowly hacked away at it.

  • JFH: Do you find any comparison with "24" from Switchfoot?
    Kendall: Well I've heard that he writes a song every year when he turns a year older so I thought it was a good idea.

  • JFH: One of the songs talks about how people are musical and it parallels people with notes and melodies. Was that a vision you had? How did it come about?
    Kendall: Yeah, "Ups And Downs" was a wierd composed symphony of notes and life is music through the ears. Yeah, I defintely thought that it feels a lot of the time that it's how it's kind of laid out. That each note is important. And a lot of the time, we feel like I'm just a B-minor and that's not that important. But in a song, if you don't have that B-minor, it's not the same song. So I thought kind of unfolding that way it was a beautiful way to think that each life as being important and that it's all a part of the strand of music that makes a melody, and man I love melodies. I'm grateful for each of us.

  • JFH: When did you realize God was calling you to do music?
    Kendall: You always know. I think that I always knew that I loved being on stage. I always knew that I loved to sing and so when I was about six or seven, I don't remember, my dad was a salesman and he worked with this company and would bring guys home who were training on the job and I had rehearsed Les Miserables and I stood on the back porch and just paced back and forth and sang and I made them... like they got home and I put two seats out and I made them go sit there and my dad's like, "Oh man." I am sure he loved it. But for this guy who I had never met before in my life... I had rehearsed probably fifteen minutes. Like a real play. So I've known as long as I can remember that I loved to do it and that I was good at it. So that and then at thirteen years old realizing that there was a God and that I wanted to love Him and give Him my life. So they married together without my efforts.

  • JFH: What's the story behind the hidden track?
    Kendall: That was some friends of ours that had just had a baby and I guess I just wanted to give them a present and so I was 8. 8 or 9. Yeah, I used to do that all the time. I'd make tapes... I used to take other people's songs and make up my own words to them because I didn't know how to play an instrument. My parents thought that was so funny because they just found it before the record came out. These people that we gave it to, when my parents were over at their house, and they said, "You gotta hear this." They brought it home and I was just, "Oh my gosh." I do what I do on that tape. Like, I'll tell someone the lyric and I'm on the edge of waiting for you to tell me the next part means. I listened to it and I have not changed a bit!


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