On a cold, misty, November 8th evening in London, England, Kacey Johansing, the former Bay Area musician, now living in LA, played two sold-out shows opening for Haley at St. Pancras Old Church. The centuries-old parish church was famously used during The Beatles’ 1968 Mad Day Out photo shoot. In recent years, the venue (which still operates as a church holding regular services) has hosted the likes of Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor, Freya Ridings, and Sam Smith. The Bay Bridged’s Robert Alleyne caught up with her following the second of her two performances.
The Bay Bridged: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us; how’s the tour going?
Kacey Johansing: Tour’s been great. We have our own car, so we’ve been able to take our own little scenic routes, which has been beautiful. We’ve been to see the Lake District, and went through the Peak District…just trying to see the more quaint parts of town. We don’t have to rush, so we get to immerse ourselves a bit more in the culture.
It’s like a pilgrimage, musically, for us. It’s like ‘That’s where the Beatles began, this is where Radiohead’s from, this is where Black Sabbath is from’…driv
TBB: What were some of your favorite shows on the tour so far?
KJ: Tonight, or oddly yesterday, when we played at Rough Trade [West] for two people. [We played] our electric guitars without amps and it was just sort of endearing, and we got into it. These guys who showed up were so sweet and understanding and funny. Sometimes those shows are the best; they’re endearing.
TBB: Since moving to LA, how have you felt about making music there; have you settled in to in?
KJ: I’m settling in to it…I am glad that I ended up there in these years, because it feels like a really potent time to be there. There’s so many people moving from everywhere, from the Bay Area, from New York, from Austin, [from] Portland, so there’s just all these incredible musicians there.
It’s just inspiring to be around people that maybe I’ve looked up to, and now I feel like…the barrier was [removed]. The Bay Area is where I met my soul connection, my soul people, musically. LA’s like a different, more professional [connection].
TBB: It’s really interesting, the idea you shared about being around people you look up to in LA. Do you feel pressure making music down there then?
KJ: I did at first, and it felt really intimidating, but now it feels more inspiring because you’ll be at a show and you’re playing and suddenly someone that you’re a huge fan of their music just happens to be there because they’re just a friend of a friend. It demystifies all of that, and just suddenly you’re able to connect with someone you deeply admire in a really casual way. I think it’s good to just not put everyone up on those pedestals all the time.
You never know in LA because right now it’s so open. Everyone’s so open to collaboration, everyone goes out to one another’s shows, everyone’s excited about what everyone else is making. It’s not just what the cool kids are doing.
TBB: Do you ever see yourself up on the pedestal?
TBB: Why not?
KJ: I see myself…in LA. There are a lot of people who go there with a dream and maybe have the look down, or the Instagram thing down. I feel like I’m really just being myself and singing from my heart, and that people respond to it…that’s been cool, to go to a place and just be like, “I’m just being myself!”.
TBB: Earlier you mentioned the Bay Area was where you found your musical spirit. Now you’ve been in LA for longer, what, apart from that spirithood, do you miss about the Bay Area?
KJ: The beauty. Just absolutely the beauty. And I miss the community that I did have there, though that community has all been transferred to LA, so it’s just not the same up there as it was. There are still pockets, there’s so many people I love there, but I’d say the landscape was much more my climate than LA is. I’m more of a Nordic person than a desert person.
Kacey Johansing’s latest album, The Hiding, is out now.