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Kelly Zullo

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Kelly Zullo performing Live From Studio A at WCBE November 17, 2021

Columbus musician Kelly Zullo chats with Music Journeys about her songwriting process and the major departure from that process for many of the songs on last fall's The Magic of Thinking release. Zullo also takes part in the handful of song questions we call the Fast Five. Thanks for listening.

Kelly Zullo released the Magic of Thinking in August of 2021, and it reflected a change in the 45-year-old's process of writing.

"I would write most of my songs haphazardly," Zullo recalled. "That's not a knock on me. It's just the process I created, and it was spontaneous and fun. I would write it, have a skeleton of the song and then when I played it, it would be a little different. But when I would go into the studio, I had an inconsistent result. So I decided I won't be a spontaneous writer. I'll have notes and put them through a process where I sit down and record everything. I've written all these words but also allow myself to diverge from them."

Rock Lobster plays...

Zullo's connection to music began with a love of The B-52s. Then at around the age of 12, a friend wanted her to play bass.

"I was okay," Zullo said of those early guitar days. "From guitar, I wanted to start singing. I could sing within a year or two. But I was also dealing with high school. Music was an escape from the world of the real world. I didn't reach my own voice until college, so it's been a development."

Nashville plays...

"I think going to Nashville when I was 18 was really good for me," Zullo reflected. "I got frustrated. I felt like I was not achieving that level, but you have to work on it. So I was able to start working and moved back in with my parents. There's always distractions. It can be challenging in the world with having to survive and reach higher levels. I was able to put some time in and saw major improvement. Unfortunately something came along, and I'm just getting that controlled. It's like swimming a marathon."

Hurry Back Now! plays...

"Every day of your life is a microcosm and reflection of what's happening in your whole life," Zullo said. "Those days I would wake up at 8, practice till 2, write songs from 3-8. I was really focused, and my life reflected that. When things creep into your music space, things start to change. What you do from when you wake up to when you go to sleep will be reflected in what you're doing as a whole."

Emerson plays...

The Magic of Thinking release marked a major departure for Zullo, but she embraced the stressful challenge of addressing her flaws.

"I have a magic connection to make up anything on the spot," Zullo said. "That's a gift, but I had some huge weaknesses. So I worked on those. And it's hard for you to do that. We want to do what we're good at. I've been doing that though, and I was amazed at how these songs were improving."

One example of that comes in the song The Sound of the City.

"The sun is hanging out in the city trying to get over the fact that the moon was holding it up," Zullo said of the song. "It added some personality to the sun, that it has better things to do."

The Sound of the City plays...

Among the biggest things Zullo realized she had to let go of - the way she felt on a particular day.

"I would sit down and not feel creative but would record and listen back and realize it was just as good when I thought it was awesome," Zullo said. "My opinion of my abilities is not that important. I think sometimes we let where we are that day determine if we're going to create. Once you start to lessen the influence of how you think over yourself - that you need this magical source to access something. That's not true. It's there even when you feel like crap and woke up an hour ago."

Letter To Myself...

Although Zullo can still get stuck in eternal studio mode, she lets her inner voice determine the best lyrics but she's also willing to go through the discomfort if the writing requires an adjustment. Her van provides the ability to travel and live life and find time to record with microphones and a laptop nearby/onboard. If The Magic of Thinking as she told me is just a bridge to the next one - how lucky are we when that next one comes around?

She's actually released a few new songs since our chat in November 2021, and you can find those here.

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