By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On Sep. 25, 2020, singer/songwriter/producer Kevin Bessey will release a new album ‘Popera,’ which showcases his ability to churn out classic opera melodies within a new electro-pop context.
Bessey has already unveiled the single “Fallen” as a hint of what fans can expect.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Bessey about the upcoming album and more.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Kevin Bessey – Financially, I haven’t been too affected. I’ve actually gotten more production gigs since the pandemic started. A lot of musicians are taking this time to record new music. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve broken down several times. I’m a social individual and this pandemic has torn that away from me. Luckily, I have a really great family and support system that has helped me stay afloat.
Music Bugle – What was the process like for putting together your album ‘Popera’?
Kevin Bessey – I started with a long list of a bunch of classic operas. As I watched those operas on YouTube, I paid attention to melodies that stood out to me. When I found a melody that stood out to me, I would pause the video and write a song that featured or made a variation of said melody. Often, I would try to relate what the characters in the opera were going through to my own life to write the lyrics and preserve the emotionality. Once I got about 40 songs ready, I started a process of elimination, keeping songs that lent themselves to the production style that I was going for.
Music Bugle – What made you want to release the track “Fallen”?
Kevin Bessey – Well, personally, I think it’s one of the best tracks on the album. Also, I love the idea of someone coming to terms with the fact that they’ve reached their end. That acceptance is so bitter and yet cathartic.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder to stand out as a musician these days?
Kevin Bessey – Social media is an interesting beast. It introduces new gatekeepers for having music reach the masses. I would say it makes it harder in a way because musicians are now expected to be their own PR agent. Some labels won’t look at a musician until their social media following reaches a certain point. I wonder if bands like Nirvana, The Killers or Brand New would have reached a cult following in the age of social media. Would labels have even picked them up? On the other hand, it makes it easier for someone who isn’t signed to create buzz. If you’re good at social media and self-promotion, you can stand out on your own.
Music Bugle – Which song off ‘Popera’ was the hardest to write or compose?
Kevin Bessey – None of the songs for this album were hard to write. I have never been in such a state of continuous artistic flow as when I was writing the songs for this album. Every single song came easily. I was often writing four songs a day during this period of time. However, “To My Sanity,” the last song on the album, was difficult to produce. I attempted to produce the song several times and was constantly dissatisfied with the results. Then, one day, it just clicked for some reason. I sat down and knew exactly how to arrange and produce the song. It just made sense. Honestly, the experience was magical.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Kevin Bessey – They might be surprised by how logical I am. I worked in economics and I sincerely enjoy math and working with numbers. I feel like that’s not something the people traditionally associate with musicians.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Kevin Bessey – That would have to be producing ‘Popera.’ It’s also a real grind to self-release and self-promote.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Kevin Bessey – I would tell myself to go to every social gathering and every concert possible. Also, I would tell myself to invest in Zoom.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Kevin Bessey – I’ve been listening to an eclectic mix of artists. In the past week, I’ve listened to the The Killers, From Autumn to Ashes, Dance Gavin Dance, the “Moana” soundtrack and a bunch of outlaw country music for a group I’m producing. The country artists include Chris Stapleton, Casey Musgraves and Tany Tucker.
Music Bugle – With whom from the opera scene would you like to collaborate?
Kevin Bessey – Anna Netrebko. I think she is one of the greatest singers of all time and she brings such a unique flavor to every opera that she’s a part of. Once I discovered her, I tried to listen to her version of every opera on my list. She’s phenomenal and I’m a huge fan.