A Review and Chat with KWILLEO

ALBANY — Released on June 22nd, this contributor finally had the chance to give KWILLEO’s debut single, “Trust,” a devoted listen.

Editor’s note for clarity: KWILLEO uses she/them pronouns.


“Trust” has effectively blown me away. A folk song steeped heavily in its narrative; KWILLEO has truly crafted an amazing piece. With its excellent production quality, crisp vocals, and a wonderful arrangement, I was able to fully immerse myself in the story.

The song begins with very simple but well executed guitar instrumentation with soft bass notes played underneath. While the electric guitars floating above and below their vocal is a great touch, I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed KWILLEO’s voice. The range of the melody and intervallic changes throughout display such confidence and left me with chills at several points.

Photo: Kiki Vassilakis

Never one to go into my perceived meaning of a song – art has the ability to be uniquely relatable – I must remark on how humbled I was by their honesty of emotion. I felt while listening to this piece that I was along for their ride of growth and discovery. Any artist that can make you seem like you’re a fly on the wall in their life, while managing to portray events that happened to them into bite-sized events that you can either imagine happening to you, or remember happening to you as well, is greatly skilled in their craft.

With lush instrumentation, a steady development throughout the tune, and lyrics that made this listener’s heart swell, I cannot recommend it enough. Give it a listen; you never know when a certain lyric is going to be just what you needed to hear. I can’t wait to hear more from KWILLEO. You can see them live in action at their next show, which will take place at Bennington Museum on Friday, July 2, at 5 p.m.

You can listen to “Trust” by following the link at the bottom of the article. Stay tuned for this artist’s debut record, Earthside, of which this single will appear.

For now, continue on to read my interview with KWILLEO.


Lucas Garrett: KWILLEO, thanks for sitting down with me today to talk about your new release. Tell me a little bit about it.

Kwilleo: “Trust” was a song I wrote in November of 2015, right after I got into a car crash in Austin, Texas. I really thought that within the year it would be recorded and out – and I’ll say it’s kind of taken me on its own journey. It demanded that it be the single for this album, Earthside, and it also demanded that I stayed with it for the past five or six years. It really helped shape the rest of the songs that are on the record.

LG: How did the song come to be? Did you write the music and then words?

KWILLEO: Songs for me come through as a feeling. After this car accident… it was a very silly car accident, it happened at like 30 mph. But, for some reason, my back driver side tire was pushed flat, completely under my undercarriage. So, I was put out. I was like, “Ok, I’ll be here in Texas for x amount of time. I don’t know how long.” So, I was just in this hotel waiting. Like, “What’s going on? Why did this happen?” Because of the opening that happened there – because I had nothing else to do but say, “Ok, I’m fine I lived through that and I’m here. The worst thing that could happen on tour happened, but, alright.” I was sitting on the hotel bed and I just remember the chord progression coming in really quickly. A lot of the songs that are on this record I’ve learned to pace down a little bit. The chord progression was really fast when I first wrote the tune. When I think about it now, it’s a really beautiful sensation. I was just asking myself, “What’s that written there inside of you?” (Lyrics in the song). Even if I didn’t know that I was saying it to me; the songs have always been my soul speaking to me, and then also a message that other people need to hear, too. It was the release of the car crash and then suddenly not being on the sort of routine, rushing mind, working mind of being on tour. It was written in less than 12 minutes, easily.

LG: “Trust” is a single, right? When can we expect the album?

KWILLEO: We are finishing recording July, and maybe a little bit of August. It’s all sort of based on mixing and mastering. My hunch is September. I’ve been saying this summer in a wishful way, but, if that’s true then there will be another single. I don’t want to keep y’all waiting that long.

LG: I can’t wait. Is there anything else that you want to talk about?

KWILLEO: I mean, I just want to say, for the record, I guess, that you’re going to be ok. To anybody reading this and to anyone that listens to this song or my music: you’re going to be ok, but you gotta keep going. You can’t stop. You can’t stop. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’ve stopped, but really, you’re still going. Believe that’s happening. It’ll be more than ok if you let that happen.

LG: Thank you so much for not only sitting down with me tonight, but for sharing your music!

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