Kelley Stoltz talks new album ‘The Stylist’ in BV Q&A – listen to “Your Name Escapes Me”
San Francisco indie/DIY living legend Kelley Stoltz will release new album The Stylist on June 10 via Agitated Records. It's his 17th studio album (he's got more with pseudonyms and side projects) and his first since 2020, when he released both Ah!(etc) and Hard Feelings. As usual, he made it at his own Electric Duck studio in San Francisco.
The Stylist is a little different for Stoltz, who this time eschews his usual '60s pop / '80s new wave proclivities in favor of a more modern psychedelic pop sound. You can hear that in the very catchy first single "Your Name Escapes Me," which comes with a very cool animated lyric video by Meryl Press. "After seeing Meryl Press's artwork online, I was really taken with her rapid fire imagery and Peter Max hues," Kelly tells us. "I thought she would be perfect to make a more artistic video than me just sullenly lip syncing. 'Your Name Escapes Me' is my favorite song on my new album, and one of my best ever… and I wanted something beautiful to live with it."
You can watch the video below.
While we had Kelley's ear, we asked him a little more about the new album, how his pandemic was, life in San Francisco, his upcoming UK tour (dates below) and what's on tap. Read that below.
You are a pretty prolific musician with your own studio. How was your pandemic? Were you more creative or less so?
I was thriving at the beginning, as it felt like all the burdens of social life were lifted and I was free to live my regular hermetic, music making self-obsessed life without feeling any guilt over not taking part in a lot of activities. After awhile though, my tank was empty - and I found without any social life, seeing a gig, having dinner with friends etc I didn't have any creative spirit or new inspiration to write about. I've been in a pretty non-creative space this last year.
The Stylist is new sonic territory for you. Did anything inspire the palette of sounds on this one? How would you describe it?
Is it different? That's good if so. I consciously wanted to steer away from making another 60's / 80's album and depend less on my Bowie to Bunnymen DNA. I think there's a return to some of my earlier records in the piano based, Beatle-y sounds. Some of my albums have felt fully formed -- Double Exposure, Que Aura, Ah!-(etc) -- they were the result of a clear intention. With The Stylist, I feel it's an "inbetweener," a bridge out of one thing towards something I haven't fully grasped yet.
Tell us about the album cover and the Hair & Heavy Metal Mobile Salon where the photo was shot.
With the advent and popularity of the food truck culture, there started to be more retail type trucks in those outdoor food malls. My old friend, and my haircutter, Donnelle Malnik, kinda anticipated all that and several years ago bought a huge delivery truck that she retrofitted into a mobile hair salon. Her love of Hair Metal of course, was a good fit and there's posters of all the LA Coconut Teaszer era dudes all over the walls. I was stuck for a title and theme for the artwork, and one day walking by another salon near my house I saw "se solicita Estilista" -- "help wanted, Stylist." I thought the word estilista was beautiful and, anyway, that's what led to the cover idea. I'm sort of a stylist musically, I dabble in different styles. Especially on this new album.
San Francisco has changed a lot since you released The Past Was Faster in 1999. Lots of musicians have left for L.A. or other cities. What keeps you there?
I was fortunate enough to buy a house here right before it became impossible to do so. I had earned some money from TV commercials that all kind of hit at the same time. I have a studio in my garage, and work at a record store and a guitar shop a few days here and there. I kind of have THE dream musician life -- or at least the life I wanted for awhile. I get restless though. I need more space, new streets to explore and my gal and I talk about moving now and again, but where?!
You're touring the UK this summer -- when might we get you back on the East Coast?
It's tough. I didn't put in the time on the road early in my career, and so a lot of USA shows now aren't well attended. I'm just not that known, so I end up demoralized and losing money if I go out on tour here. I kind of have no plans to do it. I don't even have an agent here. At least heading to Europe there's a feeling of seeing something new, getting away. Better to be demoralized in Paris than Cleveland.
What else is in the hopper?
For the first time in awhile I'm releasing an album, and have nothing of my own already done for the next one… like nothing! I'm helping one of my heroes, "Big Boy" Pete Miller, who's 1965 song "Baby, I Got News For You" I covered, make a new album. He kinda took me on as a producer. Also, early on in the pandemic, I recorded a few songs transatlantically with Will Sergeant from the Bunnymen, but I don't know if they'll ever see the light of day!
2 we grew so far apart
3 you had to be there
4 my wildest dream
5 it's a cold world
6 is there anything that's better than this, babe?
7 your name escapes me
8 in the night
9 wrong number
10 my island
KELLEY STOLTZ - 2022 UK TOUR DATES
Monday 4th July • BBC 6 Music live session • Marc Riley show
Tuesday 5th July • Manchester • Retro
Wednesday 6th July • Winchester • The Railway Inn *
Thursday 7th July • Ramsgate • Ramsgate Music Hall *
Friday 8th July • London • The Lexington *
Saturday 9th July • Isle of Wight • Rhythmtree Festival *
Monday 11th July • Cardiff • The Moon *
Tuesday 12th July • Chester • St. Mary’s Creative Space
Wednesday 13th July • Leeds • Hyde Park Book Club
Thursday 14th July • Newcastle • The Cluny
Friday 15th July • Glasgow • The Flying Duck
Saturday 16th July • Liverpool • Jimmy’s
Monday 18th July • London • Rough Trade East
Tuesday 19th July • Ipswich • The Smokehouse
* support from Reuben’s Daughters