If you were to ask her, Kelley Swindall would say that music sort of came to her by accident.
The Georgia native originally moved to New York City to go to acting school. Though she had been in chorus in school, she never really considered herself a musical person.
She started to date a musician while she was here and after they broke up, Swindall felt compelled to dip her toes into the music space.
“I was really upset about breakup and really angry. For some reason, I woke up one day after that and thought, I’m going to write a song about him. I’m going to do music and make him see what he missed out on,” Swindall recalled with a laugh.
Armed with her brother’s guitar, Swindall wrote a song with the chords that she picked up from school and began to play. As she started to play more open mics and write more songs, she started to fall more in love with the craft and forgot about that ex.
“I was kind of obsessed with this, I could work out my feelings and express more than I could in acting. With this, I can make my own stuff and play,” said Swindall. “People were super encouraging. I loved the open mic scene and started doing it, and my ex came back into my life and I was not interested in it anymore. but since then, I kept at it.”
Over the years, Swindall has traveled to several places throughout the country as her career blossomed. In September 2020, Swindall released her first official album “You Can Call Me Darlin’ If You Want,” which features Swindall’s brand of story-telling songs.
“I really consider my first real album, it was made in an actual studio with musicians,” said Swindall. “It has 12 songs that were narrowed down from songs that I wrote a couple of years after I got started. It’s about navigating love and New York City in your 20s, that’s what I’d say it is, from a southern, sassy, point of view.”
The album has received positive reviews in the United States, and to Swindall’s surprise, the album got a lot of attention in the United Kingdom. In the fall of 2021, Swindall toured the U.K. to promote “You Can Call Me Darlin’ If You Want.”
“I have a friend who is a booker over there, we teamed up and made that happen in September and October,” said Swindall. “It feels awesome, I felt great about going over there, it felt right. So much of country folk music has roots there from traditional ballads in the British Isles and Ireland. Country music there got recycled into American folk music. There’s an appreciation for this over there because they recognize it. The more I can get over there, the better.”
As of right now, Swindall is tentatively planning a tour overseas again for February and March, which could potentially be put on hold due to COVID-19, as well as potentially setting up some NYC shows for the future. However, she’s excited to carve out a spot for herself in the U.K. music scene regardless of when it physically takes place.
“It has got the coolest vibe, I want to play there as much as I can,” said Swindall.