Kathy Kemp Ridl: Creator and Creative Muse
AAJ: In part, you’re talking about marketing the CDs. How do you get a sense of what will attract buyers to the CD when they see the cover?
KR: If the cover really represents the music, I believe it will attract an appreciative audience. In the world of independent releases, one doesn't have to work as hard to generalize (or “dumb down”) the cover to appeal to the masses. It’s more individual than that. Each CD is different and requires a unique approach to its design. Everything in my much varied background helps me with that design process. Performing, retail sales, advertising, picture framing,cooking in a restaurant... it somehow all ties in. I end up using different skills for each CD project I do.
Some musicians know exactly what they want, but just don't know how to do it. Some people don” t have any ideas about it, so I get to develop the whole thing. Most folks are somewhere in the middle, and just need someone to pull all the ends together for them. That’s what great about it. I appreciate the variety. With each, there are new problems to solve, new answers to find, and always new music to help deliver to its listeners. Although I do believe a good cover design can attract new listeners for years to come, it still is paramount that each project remains about the music.
AAJ: What are you yourself doing these days musically?
KR: Music is still an every day activity. I still play bass in a number of musical settings, and viola in my brother's community orchestra. Family holidays are still filled with song, and there is always always music coming from behind our own doors.
AAJ:You’re all too modest. You’ve also performed on Jim’s CD “A Door in a Field.” Fill us in on some of the details about that and your other musical accomplishments. And since your family are all singers, how come you aren’t a vocalist?
KR: A Door in a Field...what a great project! Jim's string trio arrangements are so beautiful, and it was a wonderful experience to record with Diane Monroe and Jeffrey Solow. And I really loved getting to play accordion on “Caragana” I love that tune. Jim had decided he wanted accordion to double the melody on Caragana after we found a small accordion in a closet on the Ridl's farm in North Dakota. The sound was perfect for that piece, and went with the general feel of the CD, which is dedicated to his parents and the experience of growing up on the farm. Jim’s grandfather played accordion, and we all have fond memories of his playing Czech folk songs for us. In fact, when we first found the accordion, we tried playing some of those same Czech songs “accordion 4-hands:” Jim played the melodies on the keyboard side, I worked the buttons for the chords, and we both pushed and pulled to keep the bellows pumping. Jim's family sang and laughed along with us! An hilarious Polka night at the Ridls!
Why aren’t I a vocalist, coming from a family of singers? Hmm...probably because I come from a family of singers;-) Seriously, I love singing, and have such an appreciation for great singers, but I guess I found my own “voice” in the instrumental and art worlds. I do love singing, though, especially harmony..you know, that great natural harmonic stuff that erupts from a group spontaneously, like in gospel and folk music.
AAJ: What are your personal ambitions? And how do you and Jim envision your future together?
KR: I hope to expand the cover art business, and get into web design, again working mostly with musicians and arts-oriented groups---alot of people need simple web sites to support their CD releases and performances. As to what the future holds for Jim and me, it's all a big adventure together. There are enough creative projects between the two of us to keep both the front and back burners hot. I think we'll just keep on doing what we believe in, and enjoy doing it together, and life will continue to be fresh and rewarding.
AAJ: What concluding advice might you have for anyone who wants to develop his or her creative potential?
KR: Allow yourself to be hungry for whatever your passion is. Study your art, immerse yourself in it. Read alot. Enjoy the process of learning. And most importantly, be active. If your desire is to paint, then paint. If you want to play, play. If you are a writer, pick up the pen and start writing. It won't come out until you have established an active dialog with your chosen art. Nobody begins a project with all the answers only by being active do the right questions come out.
Creativity is non-competitive. No two people are creative in the same way, so don't waste time comparing your own creative output to that of others. I find a great freedom in this attitude...
Respect those who have gone before you, respect those who stand beside you, and encourage those who are learning. We are all in this together.
Visit Kathy Ridl on the web at www.kathyridl.com .