The Art of Shooting: The Sweet Screams of Melodramatic Fortune

artofshootingfloorThe ability to create music, which is not only a memorable audible experience, but which also creates something visual in the mind, is nothing short of genius. In the early months of this year, I was directed towards a new recording called “Traveling Show” by the New York based band The Art Of Shooting, which consists of guitarist/vocalist Kelly Irene Corson, drummer Jim Archer, and bassist Julie Rozansky. My sampling of this album of music prompted me to write a recent review here at JustPressPlay. At first listen the recordings are exhilarating, thought provoking and almost shocking. Corson and her fearless spirit should instantly smite listeners who hold any love for music that chooses to ignore the boundaries of emotion, genre, or style. In a time so predictable, where most commercial music is delivered with predictable themes and attitudes, Corson embarks on a new journey with the well‐used tools of a craftsman. Without losing scope or focus of her influences, Corson and The Art of Shooting firmly step on the ground and establish their place in the world of independent music.

As their story began, Kelly, Amy and Barrett Kovner took life’s first musical steps by learning to play their instruments at a Halloween party that launch them both into a swell of creativity, inside windowless basements, and eventually giving birth to a band that breeds a form of aggressive tenderness without terms and conditions to spoil the truth sweating through its skin. The idea of engaging with someone who can produce such gravity and energy may prove to be a daunting investment of time and patience. The unpredictable nature of each thought exchanged with such a person may be difficult or even impossible. As I prepared for my conversation with Kelly, I considered all the variables and wondered how challenging it would be to understand and communicate with an artist who can expose their wounds and spill the blood of their vulnerability so easily. During our time, I found a brilliance that shined over the books simple cover. Corson’s depth, intelligence and artistry were evident within minutes and her charming honesty made it clear that you can never judge a book by its cover.

As her warm tone and calming voice came over the speakerphone, the stage steadily set as our conversation began. First, when hearing the band’s name, numerous thoughts may ring through ones mind as it looks for a logical meaning behind such a dark phrase.

“For a couple of years I was the personal assistant for Hoagy Bix Carmichael…the son of the famous songwriter. Corson began, "We were writing a book about his passion, which was fishing a river in Quebec. I spent a whole entire summer in the American Kennel Club Library looking through 120 year old journals, paging through them, and they are so… to today’s standards, they’re so offensive…to any kind of minority…women, African American, so disgusting. The most offensive one at the time…was called The Art of Shooting. When it came time to name the band we took our top ten band choices and anonymously passed them around to people we thought were cool and picked the one with the most votes.”

A name that fits perfectly not because Corson and her crew are offensive, but because it is a unique name for a band with a unique sound and character. The development of the Traveling Show recording was not a thrown together project. Recorded in two locations, the band had time to produce a piece of work they could be proud of on release day.

“I was very wrapped up in the Brooklyn scene at the time and because of that I decided I didn’t want to record in Brooklyn,” Kelly explains, “We used to be a much noisier band…very, very noisy. We played a lot of noise festivals…and I was looking for a studio…and I found the one (Machines with Magnets) in Pawtucket (Rhode Island). We lost the one person in the band with the car the day before we were supposed to start, so we took buses up there for as long as we could stand it. Then, after a time, and scheduling we eventually brought it home to (Head Gear Studios) Brooklyn. It was a gorgeous studio and a really cool recording experience …then I went back to Paul (Mahajan) who did our last CD five years ago. We recorded the last four tracks here and then went through several producers to find one who could reproduce the sound I was after. The recording process took me three years.” She adds, “We worked with so many people, there was so much creative input from so many wonderful musicians, and then it just grew and grew and grew.”

artofshooting2They followed the old school creative process that comes through clearly on the record. It definitely sounds like a record that someone took the time to plan, record and intelligently produce. Knowing who you are and how to express yourself through music and art is a genuine gift. This is a gift that drips from every word that leaves her lips. She is unique without giving the impression that she is trying too hard to be different or stand apart from the crowd. Asking an artist with this much substance about her influences or what made her pursue music could unravel an interesting ball of twine, but Corson is truly different, observant and intelligent. When I asked about what feeds her creatively, she paused and then shared.

“SelfDiscovery… When I was in a noisier band I took all the lyrics out because I didn’t want people to know anything about me. I felt vulnerable that way…then I said forget it I just want to tell the story. I discovered other artists that were doing the same thing and they really touched me. Then I said, it’s ok to do this? It’s ok to bare it, tell the story? I was like wait; I’ve got the story. I think it’s time to tell them and hope that I can help someone else. Some of them (lyrics) are kind of cryptic but that is the best that I can do to honor the story and the happenings of the pathways of my life…I ramble. I tend to over share.”

Corson confirmed that she has the genuine traits of every creative person. They will share even if they don’t want to share. They will share through their music, their words and their art, no matter what it may be.

As the tracks click away on this recording and the sharing spins it’s yarn around the listeners heart, we are hit with songs like “Orange,” a powerful attack of sound and voice, that according to it’s content and Kelly’s explanation, is just a dark amplification of a feeling or insecurity we all face:

“When that song was written I was working with just one other person. It was our attempt to be a two-piece and he was very aggressive. He said just follow me; just follow my drumhead hits. I said, OK and we went for it and there was a lot of contempt. We were in a very tense situation…between the two of us who were writing this and coming up with the structure of the song. Very tense. We would walk out of the studio and just separate. Walk to our cars. We were very angry with each other. It was an extremely angry songwriting process that happened to turn into a song that was palatable, I felt. If you listen to the words, which came later, they are not angry.” As Corson continues to explain, “Orange” is a full out assault sonically, but lyrically it is quite the opposite: “The song, for the most part is about how if I find someone very, very attractive…I can’t speak to them. I get paralyzed. I guess it’s about how I idolize a person and put them on a pedestal…and how much that freaks me. I’m so cocky most of the time. I’m not a shy person but sometimes if I get around people that I’m attracted to or idolize musically, I’m paralyzed. Because the song came about in such a violent way, I had to have someone come in and actually sing it because all I could do was scream it.” She laughs and concludes jokingly in a meek voice, “Can you interpret this for me please and I will just scream over you.”

You could make many assumptions concerning what bands could have molded the creativity of an artist like Corson. With what music can a person lock him or herself away and build an important foundation of influence. Truthfully the musically likes and dislikes of an artist with this much depth are not often seen with so much clarity. Often it is something completely different or based on another set of emotions. She spoke about, the band Forget Cassettes, their vocalist Beth Cameron and her discovery of their music:

“I listened to them and I connected with them entirely. They were a band we ended up playing a bill with and then I got into them. I was really, really inspired by them. It was very orchestral music and very explosive. You listen to her voice and you say, oh, she is in so much pain!"

Some other artists entered her list and seemed to also have a place in her heart: "
I also listen to Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush. People kept comparing me to Siouxsie (Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and I was like, who? what? how? Then I then I began listening to her and said this girl is a genius. The first record I picked up by her was “Scream” and I was really impressed by that. I can’t say that I was one of those kids that were into the real extreme, obscure rock that was misunderstood. I mean that wasn’t my life. Directly I cannot place her as an influence but she was within the catalog of artists I listened to.”
Finally, even though this practice is one I feel has contributed to the repeated decline of modern music, I asked her to put a label theirs. Corson responded with a comical and confused tone: “Um, Melodramatic?” which was the perfect answer result in my sick little experiment. “We go through this all the time here,” she notes. “What’s your band sound like? You know, every band wants to have that problem. Then sometimes in front of our people I’ll say I don’t know, what does the band sound like. Then you hear, Oh, hmmm, oh, yeah, umm uh.” She says comically. “Then finally someone threw the tag out: melodramatic indie rock. I was like Yes! Lets go with that. It’s in Punk, it’s in Goth. You know. It’s Rock. Melodic Melodramatic Indie Rock” Laughing she says, “I can’t deny that it is melodramatic.”

With a light tone and a humble spirit, Kelly explains that within the music the story is still there to be told no matter what genre or what label people choose to attach. In a world where the musical landscape becomes predictable, artists who continue to push the envelope and not settle for a category will be those who set the mark of accomplishment for all those millions of musicians who will come in the future. When a band and it’s vocalist take the stage and open themselves emotionally for all the world to hear, judge and attempt to understand, the course of music has already begun to change. The bravest of heroes always take the biggest chances and change the rules for everyone else.

The Art of Shooting does stand beyond labels and stereotypes. Kelly Irene Corson is one artist that through her bravery, intelligence and wit will capture and intrigue the minds of many who dare to listen. Traveling Show is a full‐length experience that, with careful listening, could help someone who chooses to identify with its emotional honesty. Corson and her band mates should step back and remember the impact of their first listen of their hero artist and how it changed their lives. Before they can realize, their statements of music will be felt, cherished and appreciated. Soon, the outrageous label of “Melodic, Melodramatic, Indie Rock” will be replaced with just plain “Genius”.

Bryon Turcotte


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