Zoe Reynolds and her band, Kississippi spin heartfelt tales of everyday adventures.
"Hope we hit traffic on the way home," Zoe Reynolds sings on 'Red Light'. This single lingering refrain, a simple expression of the all-encompassing feeling of longing to spend more time with someone, is exactly the kind of emotion that Kississippi manage to evoke throughout debut album 'Sunset Blush'.
It's a record to fall in love with, a soundtrack to fall in love to, and one that's rapidly seen the group become endeared to listeners on a scale bigger and broader than anything the outfit have seen before.
"I've just been excited to get it out there," Zoe happily enthuses. "It's honestly feeling like kind of a relief because of the amount of time that has gone into it," she laughs. "It feels good for it to be out there and to be able to share it with people."
Detailing the album just two and a half weeks before its digital self-release, excitement within (and around) the band has never been greater. That's a mood that's showing no signs of fading, not even at the early hour of 8am, talking as the band near the end of an overnight drive from Salt Lake City, Utah to Portland, Oregon ("if I'm being a little bland right now, that's probably why," Zoe laughs), while on tour with Dashboard Confessional.
"When I was in middle school they were my shiiit!" Zoe sings giddily of her headlining tour mates. "When we got hit up about the tour it was a huge surprise. I didn't know what to expect going into it."
Having earned their stripes on smaller DIY tours, playing in venues such as the ones they are now was as daunting as it was thrilling, but Kississippi have taken to the bigger stages (to coin a common phrase) like a duck to water.
"We haven't felt less than anyone else, which is such a good feeling on a tour where you're opening for a ginormous band," Zoe keenly expresses. "It's been nice. Chris Carrabba's the nicest dude I've ever met. It's been cool," she gushes. "Plus," she adds, "they shred."
With a physical release of 'Sunset Blush' soon to follow via Alcopop! Records, and tour dates stretching out long into the summer, the time for Kississippi has never felt so ripe – and the world has never been so ready to receive them.
It's taken the group – led by Zoe Reynolds – a long time to build up to where they are now. It's been two and a half years, in fact, since Kississippi released their 'We Have No Future, We're All Doomed' EP.
As Zoe reflects on time spent "back and forth between writing and touring," it's quickly evident just how much energy everyone involved with the project puts into what they're creating.
"We went through some line-up changes," she details, "and there were a lot of musical changes when it came to that too. For about six months after the EP came out I was working with the same person on writing more music, but then we parted ways, so I ended up not using any of that."
Starting afresh as she embarked on her first US tour, working on 'Sunset Blush' was an opportunity for Zoe to reevaluate exactly what she wanted to Kississippi to do and to be.
As such, 'Sunset Blush' presents the band as they've always intended to be heard. "I knew that I wanted to be making something a lot more pop-y and a lot more fun than the EP," Zoe describes. "I wanted to be having more fun playing the songs, and I wanted people to be having fun while they were listening to them," she explains, before laughing, "even if they are a little bit emotional."
Setting out with the goal "to make a pop record," 'Sunset Blush' is a little bit of everything that makes Kississippi who they are.
"Truly, I think it was just me tying in all the things that I like about my music," Zoe considers. "I wanted to be writing super fun, dancey, pop-y songs, but I also wanted to be writing indie songs."
Drawing all of that together, the resulting album is one that, through all its highs and lows, through electric energy and stripped back introspection and everything in between, resounds with a strength that's distinctly Kississippi.
Named after the boxed wine Zoe and her friends would drink in their hometown of Philadelphia, the album is as intoxicating as it is comforting, offering contagious refrains that practically call you to the dance floor alongside introspection that breathes with familiarity.
"I was getting out of a major rough patch," Zoe reflects on what inspired her songwriting for the record. "Most of [the album] is just about me healing from that stuff, and regaining faith in myself and trust in myself."
"It honestly almost took a year, with all the touring I was doing," she recalls. "We were taking big chunks of time off and then going back and working hard on stuff."
Disjointed though the process that created the record may have been, the band wouldn't have made 'Sunset Blush' what it is any other way.
"We would always have new ideas when we came back into the studio," Zoe enthuses. "It was ever changing. I'm glad that we took that much time with it," she pauses, laughing, "even though it was a little longer than normal."
"The whole reason I made it was to share it with people and to share my feelings with people," she distils. And that, in a nutshell, is what makes 'Sunset Blush' so great. Writing from their heart to yours, Kississippi just want to make where – and even who – you feel a little bit brighter, even if only for half an hour.
"I would kind of hope that it would make people feel a little more powerful, but also accept their vulnerabilities," Zoe conveys. "A lot of people are getting out of it exactly what I wanted," she gleams, "which was the goal for the record. It seems like it's making a lot of people pretty happy, and that's making me pretty happy."
And really, what more could you ask for?
Taken from the June issue of Dork - order your copy below. Kississippi's debut album 'Sunset Blush' is out now.