Kayce Laine: “Don’t chase an old dream”

With the pandemic getting in the way of most live shows, an invaluable part of musicians’ mental health, it’s more important now than ever to get creative with how you can get that performance therapy so you can stay sane! Performing is something that we’ve probably all taken for granted at some point in our […]

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With the pandemic getting in the way of most live shows, an invaluable part of musicians’ mental health, it’s more important now than ever to get creative with how you can get that performance therapy so you can stay sane! Performing is something that we’ve probably all taken for granted at some point in our lives and the therapeutic effects of connecting with others can never be underestimated. Whether it be through social media or hosting small gatherings in your own apartment or backyard, make it a point to play for others, even if it’s only 2 people in a living room!

As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kayce Laine, a musician, songwriter, publicist and energy healer. Kayce runs the Nashville office for acclaimed PR firm, Triple 7 Public Relations, and is co-founder of Gold Sky Music, a music production company she created with her partner, Grammy-nominated engineer and producer Tim Brennan. She is also a certified energy healer practicing vibrational healing specifically catered to musicians to support their mental health. She recently partnered with Los Angeles-based JG Kemper to form the duo Winter Plans and their first album Ghosts will be released on December 9, 2020. Kayce is also due to release a self-titled full-length indie pop album that she wrote and produced with Brennan in early 2021.

Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

I started singing with my dad (professional guitarist and musician Lewis McGehee) at the age of six and discovered my love for playing piano around the same time. As I entered my teen years, I took a step back from my classical roots and began using the piano as a way to accompany my voice, which allowed me to start performing on my own as soon as I was old enough to drive. I would pack my little two-door sports car with a mixing board, two speaker cabinets, stands, a full-sized keyboard and guitar and head off to play gigs at local bars, restaurants and private parties around my hometown throughout high school and college. My dad and I also took every possible opportunity to perform together, which continues to be one of my most cherished life experiences.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

While performing music was something that I got an early start on, I didn’t actually start writing music until my last semester of college when it was necessary for me to pass a songwriting class. Because of my notoriety in my hometown, compounded by my father’s success, I was scared that I wouldn’t be a good songwriter, so I put it off for as long as I possibly could. However, once I started writing, my entire world opened up and I fell in love with the creative expression that it provided. I started learning how to produce my own music and discovered my sound and voice through that process. A few months after graduating, I auditioned to play synth and sing for an electronic pop band based in Brooklyn, NY. After performing and writing music with that band for a few years, I really dug into my solo music and wrote, produced and released my first EP, Lucid, in 2014. I was working on a full-length record in 2015 when I found myself in Nashville and connected with my now partner in love and life, Tim Brennan, with whom I’ve been writing and recording ever since!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of my sisters, Kara McGehee, and her friend, JG Kemper, formed the band Summer Plans. In 2015, they asked me to play piano on their first record. After the recording process ended, JG asked if I would join them in Nashville to finalize the mixes. I wrote down a positive visualization in my journal: “I will meet someone in Nashville who will want to make music with me and who will help my career.” My first day there, we walked into the studio and I met our handsome mixing engineer, Tim Brennan. He and I immediately connected and by the end of the trip, we’d decided to make a record together. I came back to Nashville a few months later to record 4 songs and we fell madly in love during the process. I went back to NYC, packed up my things, and drove my life to Nashville where we’ve continued to grow our love and music together!

Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?

When I first arrived, my plan was to spend my days playing music and teaching piano lessons as I did in NYC. After a month in Nashville, JG’s wife Carrie called to see if I might work for her PR firm for a couple of weeks. It was a welcomed offer and by the end of the two weeks, I had come to appreciate the structure and learning experience, and, again, found myself journaling about ways to make myself an asset within the company to land a permanent position. Literally as I was journaling, my phone rang and it was Carrie asking if I would be interested in a newly available position with Triple 7 PR! Of course, I took it and I have found a great balance in working my way up at the company, where I now run the Nashville office, and through the work, I have had the honor of meeting and working with some incredible people, from personal heroines Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow to global inspirations like Jillian Michaels and Scott Hamilton.

Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.

I really love this city — so much so that I recently bought a house here and made it official! I think the size of the city and the people who populate it are two of the best things about Nashville. It’s big enough that there are constantly things to do — especially if you enjoy live music — and yet small enough that nothing is far away. There is so much talent here, and people are genuinely kind and willing to help which creates an amazing feeling of community and connection. Earlier in 2020, we experienced a devastating tornado that ripped up my neighborhood of East Nashville. In the aftermath and cleanup efforts, the outpouring of generosity was so humbling as people from near and far donated time, money and supplies to help us rebuild the world around us. I felt so proud to be able to call myself a Nashvillian!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As a female writer and producer in Brooklyn’s music scene, I felt the need to prove myself capable of being a one-woman show and I wanted everyone at my shows to know that everything they were hearing was me. My live show setup involved a few synths, electric guitar, a drum pad and a triggering pad to play Ableton Live from my computer. My first months of performances, I made it VERY difficult to lock in the timing for my backing tracks — which made it VERY easy to mess up. If I didn’t hit the exact button needed at the exact right moment in time, the entire song would stop abruptly! After a few near catastrophes like this, I decided I needed to make things easier on myself and rearranged my songs and my sets to give myself a little more freedom — and a little less anxiety. While I still struggle to really laugh at some of the results of this mistake, I did learn to ease up on the pressure I put on myself to over-complicate something that could be a lot better for all if simplified!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many, from every member of my family to a few key friends who have supported me through all my ups and downs along the way, but I’d be remiss not to give Carrie Simons Kemper some extra love here. When Carrie met me, I was a wild child musician living in Brooklyn who hadn’t had a “real” job her whole life. As soon as I moved to Nashville, where Carrie had lived for many years and had lots of roots, she immediately started reaching out to friends and connecting me to people who might be able to help me. She took a HUGE chance on me when she hired me to be a part of her PR team and I never could have foreseen the ways in which the job has changed my life. Not only has she supported me through the learning process of becoming a publicist, but she has continued to support my music career — always supporting my work in the studio on various projects and trips home to play music with my dad. I can’t imagine any other boss or job allowing me the freedoms to follow my passion the ways she has, and for that I am forever grateful!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

During the winter of 2019, JG Kemper began writing music about isolation. Little did he know, the COVID-19 pandemic was coming a few months later and the rest of the world would understand isolation in a way never experienced before in our lifetime. During the spring of 2020, he shared his songs with me, and we collaborated on a 6-song album, launching Winter Plans. Our debut album, Ghosts,will be released on December 9. I am also really looking forward to finally putting out my first full-length record in early 2021 written and produced with Tim. It’s been a labor of love and has taken a lot longer than originally expected, but hopefully worth the wait!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Acknowledge that the only timeline that exists is the one you create. Especially as a female in the music scene, I understand the stress that we can feel to align with a specific timeline and to have all of our dreams as rockstars come to fruition before we near the end of our child-bearing window. This is a lesson I’m constantly trying to remind myself of regularly, but I know it’s true. Everyone’s life is on a different path so go easy on yourself!

There is enough room for everyone here! I used to catch myself feeling jealous of other women who were more famous or who had songs that I’d think, “Man, I wish I had written that one,” thinking that the fact that they achieved this success meant there was one less “spot” for me in that space. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Especially now with so many different ways for people to share and consume music, there is SO much room for all of us to share our art and reach the people who are meant to experience it.

Enjoy the process! There have been many times while performing that I’ve looked at each song on my set list as another one to “get through.” This mentality kept me from being present and enjoying the incredible opportunity that I was experiencing in real time to connect and share with others. I painted the words “BREATHE” on my keyboard in glitter nail polish at one point to act as a reminder to take a breath between each song and appreciate the beauty of what my life was in that moment.

Get honest. I remember running into a friend on the subway when I was trying to meet a deadline and stressed about how/if I would be able to write enough songs in time. I expressed some of this to her and she just said simply, “just be honest and you’ll be fine.” It sounds so obvious, but it’s stuck with me for years as a reminder to look within and write about how we are really feeling in that moment. Don’t try to write someone else’s song. The honesty will always come through your art and that is how you will be able to make the biggest impact with your work.

Don’t chase an old dream. This is probably the newest lesson I’ve had to learn myself. If I had told myself ten years ago that I’d be living in Nashville, working as a publicist by day, living and making music with my soul mate and doing energy work on the side, I’m honestly not sure if I would have been excited or disappointed! While I’m truly happy and in love with where my life is right now, I know I would probably wonder, “Wait, why aren’t you rich and famous though?!” We always have big dreams growing up and those dreams CAN and almost always DO change as we evolve. Hanging onto an old dream can be dangerous to your happiness and mental/emotional well-being so it’s important to check in every few years and search within yourself to be sure you are chasing the right one!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

With the pandemic getting in the way of most live shows, an invaluable part of musicians’ mental health, it’s more important now than ever to get creative with how you can get that performance therapy so you can stay sane! Performing is something that we’ve probably all taken for granted at some point in our lives and the therapeutic effects of connecting with others can never be underestimated. Whether it be through social media or hosting small gatherings in your own apartment or backyard, make it a point to play for others, even if it’s only 2 people in a living room!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As someone who is personally and professionally fascinated by all facets of wellness from learning from the esteemed experts I represent at Triple 7 PR as well as through my own work with vibrational healing, it is my hope that more people will combine western medicine practices with tools like breathwork, sound healing and movement to heal on physical, emotional and mental levels. With stress being the root cause of so many chronic diseases, we need to make mental/emotional health a key step in becoming healthier people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Life is one big transition.” — My aunt told me this during one of our many late-night chats and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s so easy to get caught up in looking forward to different milestones and accomplishments in the future and we rarely seem to allow ourselves to sit back, acknowledge and appreciate them once they arrive because we are already focused on the next big thing. We think “Okay, I’ll really be living once I graduate from college…once I find a partner…once I get a job…once I buy a house…once I have kids…” Once we realize that life truly is just one big transition and there never is a moment where you feel like things are “complete,” we can start finding peace and appreciation for where we are along the journey.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Not sure I could call myself a true Nashvillian without saying The Queen, Dolly Parton — I feel like we could have an easy, hilarious and insightful conversation with such ease! She and I actually have a few mutual friends so who knows, maybe it will happen one day!

How can our readers follow you online?

I am most active on my Instagram page @kaycelaine and you can also get some sneak peeks and behind the scenes content for my new record with JG Kemper @winterplans.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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