“Be Careful About Comparing Yourself to Others” 5 Music Industry Tips with Guitar Prodigy Gavin Kennedy

Photo Credit: Josefa Torres Photography
“Obviously, there is a difference between friendly competition as motivation and feeling down on yourself because you aren’t where someone else is. If that thing you’re after is something that would take you one step closer to being the person you’re meant to be, then invest the time and make it happen, but if you feel like it’s untrue to who you are, then pursuing it would only be a diversion to finding your individuality.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gavin Kennedy, a rising progressive metal artist. Gavin is a third generation music-industry-family musician, releasing his debut album, Sunchaser, on February 9th. Earlier this week, I was able to sit down with Gavin in Nashville and hear about his experiences as an artist, the production of Sunchaser and growing up in the music industry.

What is your backstory?

From my childhood years all the way up until now, I’ve lived with one foot in Nashville and the other in Los Angeles; although Tennessee is where I live, I think of California as a second home due to the close relationship I have with my amazing family and spending time with them on the west coast. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to live within two very different worlds and witness a very broad spectrum of life since I was a kid! Both of my parents are very experienced in the music industry, and I’ve been super fortunate to have grown up in an environment where that sort of thing is abundant an easily accessible. Just before I started high school, I began to really commit myself to music, and that’s when I began writing what would end up being “An Ecology” for my first album Sunchaser.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you thus far in your music career?

To be honest, the entire process of how Suchaser came to be still kind of blows me away when I think about it. It all started by reaching out online to a producer who was, and still is, a hero of mine, Adam “Nolly” Getgood. My intention was simply to pick his brain and try to learn something from him that I could apply to my own work, and little did I know things things would progress far beyond what I could imagine then. From that moment on, it sort of became a game of answering the question “what if?” and following every subsequent opportunity that seemed to present itself without coercion. I ended up traveling to his home in Bath, England during his session with the band Teller, and there we agreed to co-produce my first album together. We were fortunate enough to have Mike Malyan (Disperse, ex-Monuments), another hero of mine, be a part of the project as well, and watching both Nolly and Mike pour their passion into the project solidified my feelings. They were two of the best things that could have ever happened to Sunchaser. All of this to say, when I look back on the project it seems like there was some master plan to follow, but in fact it snowballed into what it is today by opening doors for the sake of seeing what’s on the other side.

What are some of the most exciting projects you’re currently working on?

Sunchaser has been one of my only creative focuses in music for a few years now, and I think having it be the almost exclusive outlet for my creativity is what allowed it to be the truest reflection of where I am as an artist at this point in time. However, I can’t wait to get started on some fun ideas I have once Sunchaser is released.

Who are the most famous people you’ve interacted with? What was that like?

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Garth Brooks on a couple of different occasions, and although I’m not the biggest fan of country music, he left an impression on me that I’ll never forget. Garth has a way of making you feel like the only person in the world when you talk to him and can form a real connection with anyone in just a few seconds; the first time we met, we talked for around 15 minutes about guitars and some of the players that I look up to, and the second time we met (almost a year and a half later), he remembered not only the bands that I loved and players I admired, but also the specific kind of guitar that I played. Garth is so mindful of investing yourself in people, and I think it’s one of the best mindsets any artist can have and something I hope I can be as good with someday.

Who inspires you?

I love watching a master of any craft, whether it be a filmmaker (Stanley Kubrick is a favorite of mine), writer (Mark Twain is another), chef (Jiro Ono), or painter (Salvador Dali). The constant that I see among all of the people is fearlessness and a celebration of individuality, and I believe that can be an inspiration for every facet of life.

Who do you aspire to be like?

There are tons of people I aspire to be like in so many different ways, from my family, to my colleagues and so many more. When I was first learning guitar, guys like John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, and Paul Gilbert were that for me. My desire to do what they can do was such a great motivator in striving to be my best and finding my individuality.

How have you used your success to bring goodness into the world?

Well hopefully somebody, somewhere will take something away from my music; whether it be an emotional connection with a song or just a hype-up tune at the gym, it’s all good by me!

What are 5 things you wish someone had told you when you first started, and why?

1) Be Careful About Comparing Yourself to Others - Obviously, there is a difference between friendly competition as motivation and feeling down on yourself because you aren’t where someone else is. If that thing you’re after is something that would take you one step closer to being the person you’re meant to be, then invest the time and make it happen, but if you feel like it’s untrue to who you are, then pursuing it would only be a diversion to finding your individuality.

2) Sometimes It’s a Waiting Game - Speaking for myself, I hate the feeling of stagnation. A big thing that I’ve had to learn to do is recognize when the best outcome will arrive after a passing of time, and developing the patience to wait will make your life a lot easier.

3) Listen to Yourself - What we want and what we need can be very different things, so remember take a few steps back and be honest with yourself about what the right thing to do is, it will always work out better for you in the long run.

4) Learn to Let Go - From the moment you begin creating, whatever your medium is, you are crafting a reflection of yourself. When it comes times to share it with the world, it can be a very vulnerable feeling, but know that letting go of your creation and sharing yourself/your work with the world is one of the most self fulfilling things you can do.

5) Embrace the Pursuit - It can actually be easy for a passion to take the disguise of tedious work after a long time of effort, so remember to reconnect with your passion and embrace the fact that the joy in art is not the creation, but the creating.

Who would you want to share a meal with? Why?

I’d love to have a meal with Devin Townsend. To me, he is one of the most creative and unique minds in music and such an inspiration to finding individuality. I’d love to get a glimpse into his creative process and ideas, and he’d be a super fun guy to just hang out with!

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