Poetic Memory: Kelsea Little (List)

MP3: Kelsea Little – “Now is All We Have”
MP3: Kelsea Little – “Debacle”
Full album stream: Kelsea Little – Personal Myth

Kelsea Little was still in high school when a video of her folk trio busking in Balboa Park made Pitchfork’s Top 50 Music Videos of 2007.

So when The Wrong Trousers went on hiatus, Little had more than enough confidence to strike out on her own. The talented harpist just released her debut LP, Personal Myth, and it’s full of songs that are at times precocious, thought-provoking, and dark.

A multi-instrumentalist, Little plays harp, piano, guitar, ukulele, and sings, and her talent is self-evident. Songs like “Now Is All We Have” (MP3 above) show that she can tell a love story that’s both celebratory and mournful. Other tracks, like “Sequence Yourself,” show that she has a raw side too.

Little recently took her faithful sidekick Neil (her harp) on the road for a “Pacific Coast Highway Tour,” and she’ll play a homecoming show at The Loft this Sunday, April 29. In anticipation of the show, she sent us a list of her influences. Check it out:

Poetic Memory: Kelsea Little

1. Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender: This album, beyond anything I’d heard by the time I was fifteen, changed the way I thought about the harp. Suddenly it struck me: this was the reason I hadn’t connected with my instrument the way everyone else in my music school had: because I hadn’t conceptualized it outside the lines yet. Now that’s all I do. Thank you Joanna, forever, sincerely.

2. Memories: I know everyone covets certain memories, but I obsess over them until they turn into a song, or a lyric, or a story, or a painting, etc. It’s the only way I can process the world and my life. I am a Cancer, and we are supposed to be ruled by the moon and the tide and nostalgia, always yearning for past times. I experience the world by constantly trying to instantly see every moment as a sepia-soaked memory, as it happens. I narrate my everyday. I write normal life into a story. I believe this is so I do not get bored and go crazy, but it also makes for wonderful song fodder.

3. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: I love all those crazy beat poets, but Allen and Jack have special places in my heart. I consider myself a sort of vagabond — my roots never grow down too far. Like many people naturally of this temperament, On the Road changed my life in the sense that it calmed my worries that I was just nuts for wanting to jump into a boxcar and get out in AnyTown, USA. And “Howl,” good god, even thinking about those words. They strum my inner activist with the thrum of change and progressiveness and generation and those big, big words and concepts that seem such weighty and important things. I’ll never forget the first time I read it. I mean, “I’m with you in Rockland where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse/I’m with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void.” Holy shit.

4. Live music: Between the ages of 15 and 20, every spare cent I had was spent on CDs and concert tickets, partially because I was in love with a music-junkie, but mostly because it thrilled me to incredible heights. I just recently spent a day trying to remember every show I’d been to and I realized how much my life has been saturated in art and performance, and how thankful I am for that. From the Aquabats, who I’ve seen at least seven times and who showed me how much more a live performance could be than just a concert, to Jon Brion at the old Largo in L.A. on Fairfax, where he melted faces for 4 hours using countless instruments and a loop pedal, to Dave Brubeck at Humphrey’s, twice, and who showed me that you can be 95 years old and still fucking rock the stage. Live performance constantly keeps my brain working on my personal definition of art and artistic experience, both for the creator and the viewer/listener.

5. Freud/Jung: Ever since I entered into that teenage realization/stage of experiencing the world in terms of “Self” and “Id” and “collective unconscious,” I seem to be on a relentless quest to really get to know this brain of mine. When one initially feels that split of brain and body, intellect and instinct, there exists a sort of uncertain gap between the two. That theme is very real for me, and appears constantly in my music and my writing. I believe in writing what I know, and I know that I know very little. I like that there are always mysteries to be had. It keeps life all hazy and exciting, constantly on the incline. Like a good book. Like Kerouac. One fast move and I’m gone.

Kelsea Little’s Pacific Coast Highway Tour
4/25 – Linnaea’s, San Luis Obispo
4/26 – The Javalounge, Sacramento
4/27 – The Smell, Los Angeles
4/28 – Ridgecrest
4/29 – The Loft @ UCSD, San Diego



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