Biography for YepRoc – 2004

By Ken Stringfellow, 2004

Ken Stringfellow: Too old to be making records? Not interesting? Reggae?!?? 
What’s wrong with this guy?

I ask myself these questions. In fact, what you read above was my brain in the process of asking them, you just happened to overhear.

There is no reason for me to make records. They cost thousands of dollars to make. They aren’t really relevant to any of the cultural movements that people generally refer to in the Great Discussions of cultural movements. They are small things, really. Just some things to pass the time. The truth is I feel compelled to make a shareable form of these musical and lyrical ideas as they come to me. I grapple with the concepts of these ideas as important messages that have been given to me to relay to the world (you often see mentally ill people tormented by this kind of thing—I can, with all sincerity, sympathize), or as cosmic background chatter come to life. I am not able to view this objectively, and there is probably no correct answer.

I am supposed to write the born-in-a-log-cabin story here.

I wasn’t. 
I was born in Hollywood.

People come to Hollywood to get famous. People born in Hollywood, evidently, move to Westchester County with their parents when they are babies and eventually write reggae songs about the nature of the soul at the time of the formation of the world.

I am not famous.

Some people have expressed interest in my work over the years with the Posies, Big Star, REM, Lagwagon, etc.

I have made two records as Ken Stringfellow: This Sounds Like Goodbye (Hidden Agenda, 1997) and Touched (Manifesto, 2001). They each scratched an itch I had at the time. I am now presenting Soft Commands on YepRoc. I recorded it in Seattle, Sweden, and, to a lesser degree, New York. There are complete fictions, references to current events, meditations on longing, and ambiguous slices of mood represented in the various songs. Ambiguity is said to be a component of all great art. Sentiment is generally considered an unwelcome guest at the gallery opening. OK, so, maybe that’s my gimmick: I am guilty of being sentimental (or at least sincere—these are considered synonymous traits these days), but its object is vague–ambiguous, dare I say.

I live in Paris sometimes, sometimes Seattle. I travel a lot. I think I have given up on simplifying my message, or even making it coherent. I don’t even receive mail at either of my addresses…I sometimes think I’m invisible, even when I’m in front of an audience.

I humbly present myself to you. That is all.