Kendra McKinley

Kendra McKinley

Bay-Area singer-songwriter who combines the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley melodies, the harmonic sensibility of 1960s chamber pop, and the seductive calm of bossa nova. Releases to date include Chestnut Street (2014). 

With a list of influences as diverse as "The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, St. Vincent, Joni Mitchell, Elis Regina" and a sound she describes as "some sort of fusion of 1960s Psychedelic Rock, Tin Pan Alley, and bossa nova ... with high hopes of growing funkier," it's been an interesting musical journey so far.

"Sound-wise," she reflects, "I'd say the biggest shift was transitioning from finger picking in alternate tunings to playing in standard tuning with a pick. Beyond that, my music is getting louder, faster, and more beat-driven. Band-wise: Actually playing with a band! But more specifically, learning how to occupy sonic space. Before, when I was just playing as a solo artist, I had to figure out how to make each song as potent as humanly possible with one voice and one instrument. Now the challenge is making each song as potent as possible with four voices and x number of instruments!"

She lists her contemporaries as "all the folks who commit to music making as a lifestyle, particularly the many wonderful musicians who make up The Balanced Breakfast crew (Community of musicians, engineers, and industry folks who meet weekly to discuss the local scene and support their cohorts. Every Thursday at The Crepe House in the Mission at 8am because it means you're serious)." It's clear that McKinley shares this seriousness about her craft, and is very thoughtful on the high and low points of her career to date. "Weakest moments?" she muses. "Maybe in the recording studio trying to articulate my sonic vision without actually knowing. Proudest? The day we incorporated choreography."  Given the ascent of her rising star to date, something tells us those proud moments will start to massively outweigh their counterparts very soon indeed.


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