It’s been almost a year since I first met Pennsylvanian songwriter Vikesh Kapoor, who was touring the UK for the first time opening for The Handsome Family. What struck me most (and no doubt others) at the time, was that this was someone special who is able to fuse folk, Americana, blues and soul, creating something so personal that resonates as much in the faded post-industrial towns the length of the country, as they do in the once great pioneering towns of North America. Now back in UK (this time headlining his own tour), I caught up with Vikesh for chat ahead of his Cardiff show.
Who is Vikesh Kapoor?
I’m a songwriter and singer from Pennsylvania determined to write songs that will join the grand canon of folk music. Songs that say something more than bowler hats, vests or suspenders ever could. My heroes are the greats and I want to join them.
When did you know or decide that you would become a musician?
A few moments: learning piano and playing Yankee Doodle for my class in grade school; playing punk rock music and lighting cymbals on fire in high school; singing hymns in a Baptist church in rural Mississippi while at University.
Who did you listen to growing up, and has this been an influence?
I listened to The Cure, punk rock music (everything from great to terrible), then later found Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Pete Seeger then even later found Odetta, John Jacob Niles, Nina Simone and so on. These artists have all influenced me.
How did your album “The Ballad Of Willy Robbins” come about?
It came from a newspaper story about a construction worker that I stumbled upon during a lunch break while I was working as a mason’s apprentice. I read this article at the height of the recession in the United States and wrote the first song and album title track, “The Ballad Of Willy Robbins” when I was 23 years old. It was the second song I ever wrote. This eventually led to a desire to write an entire collection of songs springboarding from that newspaper story.
What’s your favourite track off the album?
I don’t listen to my album, but I’m most pleased with how “I Dreamt Blues” turned out. The take heard on the album is only the third time I sang it through . I added the harmonica and mellotron myself after ward.
What’s life like out on the road? Always glamorous 😉
How has the UK been treating you so far?
So far the UK has been a dream. Touring with The Handsome Family back in May last year was an amazing start.