Ho "conosciuto" Kelly in una asettica chiamata Google Meet in un pomeriggio pugliese insolitamente freddo. Ormai mi ci sto abituando a queste formule di intervista, indubbiamente comode ma che peccano irrimediabilmente di empatia e di calore. Tuttavia, ho avuto l'impressione dopo i primi secondi di conversazione di conoscere Kelly da sempre: per la passione e la sincerità con cui mi ha raccontato della sua vita, di quanto importante sia stata per lei la musica, di quanto ami i suoi amici e ascoltare i loro sogni, delle sue paranoie adolescenziali, della sua partenza da Boston verso la città degli angeli.
Il ritratto che ne ho ricavato a fine intervista è stato di una persona dal talento tanto straordinario quanto inusuale di saper trasmettere empatia. Sia nella musica sia in una conversazione attraverso una manciata di pixel. Kelly, in arte Rigby, 21 anni, sa cosa vuol dire comunicare con l'energia di una canzone. Nello scorso dicembre ha rilasciato il suo secondo EP, "Dirty Girls", e oggi ve la presentiamo per la prima volta sulle pagine di una webzine italiana. Il suo bedroom pop sentimentale siamo sicuri conquisterà voi come ha già fatto con noi.
Let's start with the obvious: I always wondered if Rigby was a reference to The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby?
No, no, actually my sister got a cat in high school and named him Rigby after a character on a cartoon that she liked and so I just snagged it.
You just released your EP “Dirty Girls”: what do you see of different between this and your first one “Wayne Dutch”?
Well, the biggest difference for me was pretty much the music I was listening to when I made the first one: I just moved to LA from East Coast and I was listening to a lot of Liz Phair, slow acoustic music and it was all I wanted to make: an entirely acoustic project. I wanted to play guitar riffs and things like that but with this EP I kind of had like a completely different outlook and my taste in music has changed a little bit. I wanted to make something that was closer to my single “Headache” that I released two years ago. I also only used acoustic instruments in “Wayne Dutch” while I didn't use any in “Dirty girls”.
How long have you been doing music?
I've been making music for probably like a little over a decade. I started releasing it as a freshman in college around 2018 actually for a school project. It was like an independent study thing and they were like “if you can finish it will give you a good grade on it” and so I did and then I I just kept doing it: that’s when Rigby was born.
Why did you kept making music of all the arts in the world?
I was actually a theater major in college and I still am an actor. That was all I wanted to go to school for but when I started making music it became like the only thing I wanted to do: I would come back to my dorm after classes and I just wanted to play instead of doing much else. I don't know if I've always wanted to be an actor but I always wanted to play music - I still really love both, but music stuff a lot more than theater. Experiencing music has always been consistent with me because I just love it so much. It has always been there: my dad it's really musical, he's the one who taught me how to play the guitar. They were so excited that when I was a freshman they were always talking with their friends about the music that I was releasing. Now they don't really know what any of this means – they see like big numbers and don't even know what any of that means – but they're still like very excited and proud about it. At first they were kind of “what are you doing?” 'cause I ended up dropping out college but I think seeing me stick with it, keep improving, made them so supportive about it.
You mentioned before you moved from the East Coast, were you born there? How come you moved?
I was born in Boston then I went to California Institute of the Arts in LA but only for one year. I ended up staying, I still live in LA.
Why “Dirty girls” as the title?
Thanks for asking, I haven't got to talk about that yet. There's a documentary called dirty girls that's about 2 girls that are obsessed with Kurt Cobain and there’s this rumor around school that they don't shower. The whole documentary is about these girls who are dirty, obsessed with Kurt Cobain and always talking about Nirvana. The first Liz Phair song I ever heard was in that documentary. So I was trying to think of names for this EP ‘cause all of the songs really are about and for my friends, trying so hard to find something that represented my friends and the way I feel with and about them and that movie just came in: it means everything to me and it means a ton to my friends, we watched it together. Since this EP is really for them I thought it was perfect.
Tell me about “My friends are dreaming”: quite an interesting song but I'm Italian after all so I couldn’t quite understand completely what's been said, can you tell me what's it about?
My best friend Andrew is often driving and he always sends me voice recordings about the dreams he had the night before 'cause he doesn't have time to type it. Then I started talking with my other best friend about one of the really scary dream she had the night before and I also had this guitar track I didn't know what to do with it, I really liked it but I didn't have any lyrics. I wanted something else over this particular track and I just ended up asking people to start sending me audio of their dreams 'cause I've always been into audio compilations, there's a bunch of projects that I have with voice recordings edited. So I was looking through my phone at whatever voice recordings I had saved and it was all these dreams from Andrew and then I had one from Olivia so I just started asking and eventually I just I added them together in a way that to me sounded like you could follow each one and I cut them together in separate ways to make it interesting to listen so that you could follow each dream. I tried to keep all the funny interesting parts and by the end of it there are some actual stories in it.
Beside friends you often sing of troubled love stories: do you think it's easier to love nowadays in terms of balance between the more distractions and the new opportunities you have?
Yes and no. I always feel like I'm someone who likes and gets close to everyone so quickly.
I guess it is easier now just 'cause I can constantly “test” my relationships. I never get to see my friends that often, especially now, but even before when I was working a lot I didn't get to see them that often. I think my answer is yes, it's easier, and I think the more opportunities that I can get, the more I feel myself and the more love I can give.
Do you sing about love to celebrate it? Was it more helpful or not in your life?
I use to say my great love songs are always gonna be sad. I was in happy relationships when I was writing some of the really sad ones that I came out with, 'cause I feel like even when you're happy with somebody some of the pain that you had before is still there. It's so cathartic to talk about really painful things and it's so rewarding for me to be able to articulate the pain that I feel in a good way, in a way that actually works and it’s understandable to other people. In terms of this, it is helpful, but love itself is sort of never ending cycle. Every time I go through different relationships in my life, more music comes out of it so it's always helpful, but still I haven't yet really found the perfect balance between having a great relationship and having really great sad music.
“Everybody smiles at my like they know what love is When I was fourteen, I found out I don't want to be a part of it” what happened when you were fourteen?
I think at 14 I started feeling pretty self-aware. I think like 14 is the age where you kind of start to figure out where you sit among other people rather than just existing as a kid. I was going into my freshman year of high school probably and that’s the point when self-awareness is pain all the time. Going into high school sucked so bad. High school sucked, middle school sucked, I was really an awkward kid and I dressed weird. I was doing theater and I was kind of a ridiculous kid. That's just when I became aware of the effect that all those things actually had on me and how I was gonna go forward with it, that's when I started writing music for fun and enjoying it not like a kid in elementary school trying to write poetry for school. It was something that I genuinely wanted to do. I started figuring myself out at 14. I started being aware of what love looked like to me at the time: I wasn’t old enough to understand it but all I really could understand is that I didn't like it.
Are you happy about your fanbase?
Of course! I get Instagram messages like almost every day saying things like “your music helped me so much get through this thing” and people feel they can message me on Instagram with these very personal anecdotes about what my music helped them through or what it helps them figure out and I don't know if I'm even qualified for that stuff! I don't know how to respond to most of them, you know, I'm always like "oh my God". It means so much that people hear what I say about myself and they're like “she'll get this”, “I can tell her that, she'll get it” and that blows my mind.
Does this scare you?
A little bit. The only pressure that came with that really is that I want to keep writing in a way that makes people feel that way, I want to keep articulating my feelings in a way that's digestible to other people so that they can feel seen and heard from what I say about myself. I get a little nervous because I don't want to let people down and start making shallow music, it would just be disappointing.
Did you find it difficult to write during this pandemic? Did you write anything at all?
I think I was writing more than I've ever written before, I don't know why. One of my really close friends, Andrew, is in a band called “Ohio motel” and he writes all the time. I had nothing else to fill the day so I was just trying so hard but a lot of it was pretty bad, I didn't release any of the 40/50 songs I wrote from like you know the first half of the past year. I wrote all of Dirty Girls starting in august, everything before then was garbage. In fact, eventually I wrote Milo and I was “I should release a project because this is actually something I'm really excited about” and then I think I wrote Fuck after that and I was sending them to my friend Andrew and others to see if they liked them. I was writing so much I purged out all of the stuff that wasn't so great and ended up with a lot of stuff that I was really excited about.
What’s the musical artist nowadays you admire the most?
That's a great question I think I really look up to Liz Phair a lot, she put out an album of like every demo she made since 1995. She means the world to me, her album is like one of my favourites of all times. Also I love the Slowdive, The Cranberries – honestly maybe my favorite one 'cause lot of the music they make inspired a lot of the music that I made for dirty girls.
What was the highest moment in your life, the moment you felt more alive?
That's a great question, wow. Maybe when I did my first music video: I just have never had like so many people backing me on something that I wrote, with a video that I wrote and I had like a whole team of people that were so excited to be there with me making it: I don't know if I've ever felt that way before, that kind of support. I really love my friends, that's what the EP is about and it's hard for me sometimes to express how much I care about them so that's why I made the EP and when I get to experience people supporting me so blatantly, it’s kind of mind blowing. I never really know what to do with that feeling but I think that feeling is feeling alive. That was one of the best days of my life. There even was a moment where the director of the video shed a tear as he was so happy about the way the sun was coming in with this certain shot.
There's been an explosion in independent music in Italy in the last five years: more and more singer and producer start up projects every day since it’s very easy now with all the tools we have. This didn't always result in higher quality music overall, did you notice this happening in the USA?
That's an interesting way to look at it, I haven't really thought of it like that. When I realized I could just start making music on my own, without talking to anyone about it and then releasing it professionally without having to go through labels and management it was about 2018. All of that process is kind of a pain in the ass when you're young because you want to be noticed by people and get people to listen to you without any of that. Up until recently I had no one: it was only me, I produced everything on my own, I produced the whole EP on my own. I think it's kind of a blessing and also a curse that it's so easy to be able to come out when you want in a professional way. You decide when it's done and you're not really working for the man. Spotify and Apple music, they're not going to take it down cause they think it’s not good. You can really just put out whatever you want. That's sort of a blessing and a curse. I did it so I encourage everyone else to do but I guess inevitably the more music people can put out without talking to anyone else beforehand, the more bad music is going to come. My very music when I first started was not great. In the end you can always tell when there’s very little interest in the actual art while listening to something, everyone can tell it.