Kelly Hoppenjans Announces Brandy Zdan-Produced Debut LP
Nashville singer-songwriter Kelly Hoppenjans has announced her debut LP, OK, I Feel Better Now, set to release October 18, 2019. Produced by Brandy Zdan, the 10-song set combines the spirit of riot grrrl tinged with folky introspection while asserting a need to break the cycle of society's gendered expectations. Today, Hoppenjans shared a music video for the album's lead single "Growing My Hair," which can be viewed HERE. Of the track, she offers, "The inspiration for this song is partly face value--I really do grow my hair and cut it all off every couple of years. But I've noticed differences in how the world relates to me when my hair is different lengths and colors and the expectations society has for the way a woman's hair/body/makeup/etc should look."
She goes on to add, "After playing an early version of 'Growing My Hair' at a show, a friend of mine who is a cancer survivor told me how much she related to the song because losing her hair during chemo felt a bit like losing herself. She started to really take pride in finding the right wig or hat to make her feel confident and herself again. It may sound silly to some, but how your hair looks can start to become a part of your identity, and I would imagine losing it can be unsteadying. But you can take control with a new haircut, or a wig, because at the end of the day, it's just hair!"
Watch the video here:
After picking up guitar at a young age, Hoppenjans began writing songs around the age of 12, and around that same time the budding musician picked up a copy of a popular music magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists issue. She was disappointed to find only two women, Joan Jett and Joni Mitchell, listed among 98 men. Hoppenjans thought this meant women couldn't be rockstars, and was disheartened by a seeming lack of electric guitar role models that looked like her. Now, Hoppenjans creates empowering rock aimed at breaking toxic cycles, cultivating and embracing her own identity, and inspiring those around her to claim their own space in the world.
Nestled beside empowering narratives, lies an emphasis on mental health. Pop music tends to glorify obsessive romantic relationships, while dismissing women who express how damaging this type of partnership can be. Album standout "If I Had You" takes the "crazy ex-girlfriend" archetype to the extreme. Atop deceptively buoyant instrumentation, Hoppenjans bullishly blurs the line between love and obsession, painting a particularly dark relationship during the song's chorus: "I'd do anything to keep you, if I had you," Hoppenjans sings.
"Calling a woman 'crazy' is an easy way to dismiss the way she is feeling by saying she's being overly emotional or irrational," Hoppenjans says. "The album, as a whole, deals with the experience of being a woman in the world and accessing our power as women. I feel there is so much power in taking control of the narrative around the so-called "crazy ex-girlfriend," and saying, 'You think that's crazy? Oh no, this is crazy."
The hyperbole utilized in "If I Had You" is met with painstaking honesty on ballad "Band-Aid Girl." NPR Music's All Song Considered got an early listen to the song last year calling it a "gorgeous tune" and praising, "'Band-Aid Girl'...is an exhausted, exquisitely solitary dirge about settling into a romance that doesn't quite work with a partner who isn't quite emotionally available. The torch in Hoppenjans' heart is reduced to a mere wisp, and she conveys its final embers with her lovely, plaintive alto."
Despite being her debut full-length album, music has long been the crux of Hoppenjans' existence, and OK, I Feel Better Now encapsulates a lifetime of physical and emotional healing, breaking vicious cycles, and the power of femininity.
Kelly Hoppenjans On Tour:
July 25 - The Locks at Sona - Philadelphia, PA*
July 26 - Tupelo Hall - Derry, NH*
July 27 - Jonathan's - Ogonquit, ME*
July 29 - Piano's - New York, NY
Aug 8 - Sofar Sounds - Atlanta, GA
Aug 9 - Retrofit - Hartsville, SC
Aug 10 - Art Bar - Columbia, SC
Aug 12 - Tin Roof - Charleston, SC
Aug 14 - The Cave - Chapel Hill, NC
Aug 16 - Hell's Kitchen - Wilmington, NC
Aug 17 - Sofar Sounds - Greensboro, NC
Aug 18 - The Evening Muse - Charlotte, NC
*appearing with Crystal Bowersox