Kim Richey finds her place called home is London
Leaving Nashville and moving to London was a decision that Kim Richey found very easy to take.
“I was coming back and forth for the past five or six years and then it just seemed like I was spending more and more time here and missing it here when I wasn’t here and just kind of it seemed more like home to me than Nashville did,” she says.
“I’m doing the same thing I did there. I’m writing songs and touring.” Being in London also allows Richey easier access to Europe – among other things, she teaches a songwriting class in Denmark.
Richey, 53, is also a big fan of UK audiences.
“The first time I ever played over here, people were familiar with my records and who played on the records and who wrote the songs. That was really great because that stuff really matters, it matters to me a lot, I think it matters to the other artists as well, especially the songwriting thing – people don’t take it for granted that because someone’s singing a song they wrote it.”
Richey’s last album, Chinese Boxes, was released in 2007, but she recorded a new in Nashville more than a year ago. Titled Wreck Your Wheels, it is finally scheduled for release in May. She will be following it up with dates across the country over the summer.
Richey has written and co-written for many stars of Nashville and the pop world, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood and James Morrison, as well as writing for herself – Wreck Your Wheels will be her sixth album. Now she’s also putting all that experience to use in her songwriting classes.
“I think of it more as kind of helping people with their songs, helping them express what they want to say, what they’re trying to do with their songs, because the more I’ve done it, I’m not so sure about the teaching of it,” she says.
“People do it for different reasons. Someone who wanted to make a living as a pop songwriter would have a different agenda and would need to write differently from someone who, say, just wants to kind of do it for fun and express things that they can’t express otherwise. And also it’s so subjective. Somebody else might not like that song at all. It’s a hard thing to critique. So when I’m doing a lecture I try to figure out what that person is trying to accomplish.”
She also feels that you can’t teach someone to write songs if they don’t have a spark already.
“You can’t teach someone to be Guy Clark. They have to have that creativity, the way they use words. When I’m writing a song, I’ll have a little bit of music first, and then just a line or a phrase will pop into my head, and I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t sit down and try to write a lyric or anything like that, so it’s hard to pin something like that down.”
Interviewed during the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Richey says the city has been good to her in the past.
“It’s one of my favourite places to play,” she says. “The first time I played here by myself, it was years ago but there was a big snow. I think they shut down the city, but I was already here. I was up there and it was just all guys. I thought: I’m just gonna get killed.
“I remember I played ‘A Place Called Home’, and when I was finished there were some guys crying in the front row, and that made me cry. It was the sweetest show ever. I’ve always had a great time when I’ve played here.”
Kim Richey is at the Cluny in Newcastle on April 10, and across the UK from May 24. Details in the Gig Guide.