SRSQ is the project of Kennedy Ashlyn and she’s known for her dazzling voice and fierce presence. She has now released the second album, Ever Crashing, which is as the summation of a nearly three-year journey of soul searching, songwriting, and self-discovery. We caught up with Kennedy about her brilliant new album, her struggles while writing the new songs and how her music turn out be so inspiring and encouraging.
Thanks Kennedy for your time. How have you been?
I have been OK! Been a bit stir-crazy, definitely ready to get back on the road!
Ever Crashing is your second album as SRSQ and it was described as the summation of a nearly three-year journey of soul searching, songwriting, and self-discovery. Can you elaborate on that?
I started hearing the songs in my head in 2019, as things in my life would occur, or as I tried to process complex emotions and patterns. The demoing process started in bits and pieces in 2019/early 2020, but became a full-time obsession when the pandemic started and I had the privilege of being stuck at home. I’m very grateful for that time, I feel like in many ways I played “catch up,” both emotionally/maturity wise, and in terms of getting my shit together, like I finally took the time to seek more information about my psychology, was able to get medicated, and had ample time to reflect on not only my life at the time, but things that have happened over the past 10 years, and I do that reflection through songwriting.
Your new album is so inspiring and also cathartic. It’s basically based of you processing being diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar, and coming to terms with the struggles you’ve been through. How much did that impact your life and your music?
The diagnoses themselves impact my life way less than actually having bipolar and ADHD, but finally being able to name these things, instead of being constantly weighed down by this feeling that “something” was wrong with me, does a lot to impact my life as well. I no longer feel like I’m fighting an invisible monster, or punching at smoke, and there’s a great sense of relief that comes with that. I can have a little more empathy and understanding towards myself and my behaviors, past and present. And I can make sure I have the specific set of “tools” I need in order to navigate my life. As I said above, I process my life and emotions through songwriting, so anything major will come out through that medium.
Why naming this album as Ever Crashing?
“Ever Crashing” refers to being caught in the white part of a wave, when you get tossed and turnt and you lose your kinesthetic sense, but being in that state perpetually.
What was the most challenging aspect about working on this new album?
Honestly, the hardest part is the patience required at every step. As soon as I think of a song, and especially when I start working on it, I want to hear the final product, but that can take a year or more. Then once the album is finished, it was about a year before it was released… I felt like I was in purgatory kind of, like the next part of my life couldn’t really begin until it was out.
What do you feel it differs the most between this album and your debut?
I think obviously the instrumentation is very different, and the production. Unreality ended up being very spacious, grand in a different way. This album is packed to the brim from start to finish. I had fun experimenting with the arrangement, and even tried to make it as sparse as possible, but ultimately felt like the songs necessitated every instrument, every note, every second. It’s very unapologetic, whereas I think Unreality was a little more cautious.
The song “Abyss” is such a powerful and deep song. Tell us more about this song and about its video.
Abyss was written at a time of total darkness, I was in a very deep depression. I process my feelings through the songs I write, and that’s what came out of that time. The original concept for the video was for it to be one long shot of super slow motion of me falling into the water and rising back up at the end. We hit a lot of logistical hurdles as we started brainstorming how to make that happen on a shoe-string budget… as well as the physics of a body in water not quite moving how I wanted. So we adjusted the concept, and I’m glad we did. We shot it using a home-made periscope, rather than renting underwater gear.
The ending track “Someday I Will Bask in the Sun” feels in a way cheerful and encouraging. Do you feel that this record is hopeful in a way?
I would have never thought to describe the record as hopeful, but I see why people get that from the music. In my mind, the album is actually very dark, and I think that’s apparent once you dive into the lyrics. In my life, despite things getting very low and being quite tumultuous, I do have a flame of perseverance, of wanting to be better and feel better, even at my worst moments. So, in a way I think that is kind of an active hope, which comes through in the music. I also just think there is striking beauty to be found, even in harshness, even on dark days.
Visual wise, what was the concept behind the striking cover artwork of the album?
I definitely wanted to have the imagery of the whites of the water. The original concept shot was a little different than what we went with, and while we were trying to get that shot, Nedda took a candid of me walking into the water, which is what I ended up loving the most.
Are you an ocean lover?
I am, I’m also just drawn to the imagery because the ocean is so vast and powerful and unpredictable; it can overwhelm you, pull you under, and spit you back out. There’s also a cyclical element to the tides and the waves themselves. All of those elements parallel my relationship with emotions.
How do you feel that your music has evolved since you start working as SRSQ?
I think I’ve honed in on “my sound” a lot more, and will continue to do so as time goes on.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I have a few tours coming up, a bunch of exciting stuff planned for the Patreon community… otherwise hoping to rest and have some fun, maybe work on some new material.
What records and artists are you into lately?
I’ve been getting into Love Spirals Downwards. I like what Vincent Christ has released. And I listen to Riki’s latest album a lot, because I miss being on tour with her.