By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Los Angeles-based indie-pop act Buckley’s Angel recently dropped the new EP ‘Pinnacle Room’ via Paper Street Cuts, which features the pandemic-centric single “Exit Culture.”
The moniker of multi-instrumentalist Michael Kelly (Ash Williams, Matt Caskitt & The Breaks), Buckley’s Angel has since transformed from just a solo act in late 2015 all the way through to the full-scale band that currently backs him up.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with him about ‘Pinnacle Room’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you get to decide on the name “Buckley’s Angel”?
Michael Kelly – Buckley’s Angel is actually a reference to one of my all-time favorite TV shows, “King Of The Hill.” In the show, one of the characters – Luanne – loses her boyfriend in a freak explosion. His angel returns to her at night and only leaves once she has accepted his death. Even as a kid, this episode was oddly compelling and endearing. Apparently, I liked it so much, I decided to name the whole project after it.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Michael Kelly – For me, the most exciting aspect of this style of music is the departure from traditional structure. While writing for other projects, I’ve always felt obligated to stick to the usual verse/chorus/bridge structure. When writing ‘Pinnacle Room,’ I really made it a point to explore the boundaries of traditional songwriting and essentially throw the formula out the window. It’s been really cool to see the results.
Music Bugle – What was it like getting to work on your new video?
Michael Kelly – It was really fun to get to direct/edit my teaser video. I am very much a newcomer, but convinced my fiance to light a bunch of candles with me in our bathroom and film me in a bird mask while our Amazon strobe light danced in the background. It’s been really fun to dip my toes into video content as a whole and am looking forward to exploring further.
Music Bugle – What was your overall goal for ‘Pinnacle Room’?
Michael Kelly – At the end of the day, I wanted to make a piece of art that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. Of course, I want my friends and family to enjoy the record, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could make something that really stands out and will hold up for the coming years.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Los Angeles to someone who has never been there before?
Michael Kelly – Los Angeles is terrible. Everything is so crowded and you can’t find a minute’s peace without a helicopter flying over your head. Everyone is a mean driver. It’s also been such a blast living here. Every month I stay here, the harder it is to move anywhere else.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Michael Kelly – Thankfully, I haven’t felt any direct consequences. I was able to keep my job and was fortunate enough to not lose anyone close to me. My fiance and I were able to hang out in our apartment complex and actually develop some close relationships with those living around us. Tons of people close to me lost their jobs and haven’t really been able to get back on their feet. Unemployment benefits get arbitrarily shut off and it goes to show how tennous all of our situations really are. Like many, I think this was a real eye-opener to how barren our public safety-net is.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Michael Kelly – My number one escape is the bathtub. Nothing beats a nice tubby after a stressful day.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Michael Kelly – I think that social media is a net positive for musicians. I think there is still a stigma out there about things like TikTok and Twitter that are holding a lot of bands back in terms of engagement and drawing in new fans. I am, by no means, a social media expert, but I make a real effort to get my music out any way I can.
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Michael Kelly – I once got a plaque for a “C Average GPA” in college. It was a mistake and not intended for me, but I still felt very proud and have kept it with me ever since.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Michael Kelly – Squid, Dehd and Illuminati Hotties are all in heavy rotation right now. Also, my friend/producer Ricky Schmidt put out the amazing ‘Palm Trees’ last year and I have not stopped listening.