Mitchell Kersley is an alt-country artist from the UK, who’s unique sound challenges the boundaries of country music. “Born and raised in the British countryside, he was exposed to a variety of genres of music. However, as he got older, his musical taste began to gravitate predominantly to one genre in particular: country. As soon as he was big enough to hold a guitar, he began learning and writing songs. In his teens, he dedicated his time to the study of music at both College and University. It was hereafter that he really honed in on his brand of Country sound.” (Kersley). Later on, he found inspiration in mainstream country artists such as Brad Paisley, George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Garth Brooks. In 2020 Kersley released several singles including “Howlin at the Moon”, as well as his debut 3-track EP, “Dusk”.
Recently I spoke with Kersley about his latest EP, his music journey and his goals moving forward in the new year.
Kyla Pearson: You recently released your debut 3-track EP, “Dusk”. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What was the inspiration behind the songs? Are they based on a true story?
Mitchell Kersley: So it took me a long time to find my “sound”. I wrote a lot of music but struggled to write within one genre and make songs that related to one another. It really made me question how I would go forward with my music. I always loved Country music but never thought that I could actually write it because I didn’t have the Southern drawl that you get with a lot of country songs. Then after regularly listening to UK Country Radio and a visit to Nashville, I soon realized that Country was all I wanted to do and that it was possible. Hearing bands like Ward Thomas and Wandering Hearts made me realize that just because I was from the UK doesn’t mean I can’t do Country Music. The concept of “Dusk” came from the idea of the sun setting upon my old way of thinking and that after dusk comes the dawn of a new day. (I know that’s super cheesy!)
The first two songs are inspired by my own experiences, however the final track: “The Ballad of Joseph Murphy” was just a story that I wanted to tell. One thing I’ve always loved about Country was its storytelling aspect and I wanted to present that with this song.
KP: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting/recording process that went into making the EP?
Kersley: I more or less write and record everything in my bedroom. I usually sit and write songs with my guitar or use recordings that I have taken on my phone. For example melody ideas that I have come up with whilst out, I record them to save them for a later date to put them into a song.
I’ve collected a few different microphones over the years and taught myself how to use different DAW’s along with recording techniques to create the music. Then I’ll send off the final track to a producer to be mixed/mastered.
KP: Seventeen, in particular, is stripped down with a slower tempo that’s reminiscent of a song you’d hear at a local cafe. What inspired this decision? Do you feel you needed to include an acoustic song on the EP?
Kersley: Yeah I wanted to add something that would shift the dynamics from the other songs. Acoustic guitar and vocals have always been my routes so it only seemed right to have that kind of track in there. It is the kind of track that is more about the words and the song’s meaning as opposed to loads of musical elements going on.
KP: Your musical sound leans more towards alt-country. What made you want to pursue this stylistic direction?
I’ve always loved country and have always been fascinated by Cowboys, Outlaws and the colonization of Western America. I wanted my sound to represent that. I like to try and take my listeners to a smoke-filled, old-time saloon where outlaws and guns kings reigned. It’s that kind of imagery that inspired my sound.
KP: You’re also a part of the UK country music scene. Can you tell us a bit more about what that’s like, in contrast to Nashville or the Calgary country music scene? How has growing up in the British countryside affected the stories you tell with your music?
Kersley: It’s honestly amazing. Everyone is so lovely and welcoming. The scene is still relatively small but it’s growing every day and I am immensely proud to be a part of it. I had kind of a traditional upbringing. I was brought up by a single mother but in a small countryside community. Because of this my best friends now are the same ones I had when I was 5. I feel very lucky to have grown up where I did.
KP: You’ve also pursued higher, formal education in music at both college and university. How would you say, have your studies helped you grow as an artist? Do you feel you’ve had opportunities you wouldn’t have had should you have chosen not to pursue music in school?
Kersley: I learnt a lot in music education. Music theory was probably the most prominent thing that has really contributed to my songwriting. I loved my time learning music at both college and University and made some incredible friends there.
KP: In 2019, you took a trip to the heart of American country music: Nashville, TN. This trip also inspired your EP. What was your experience in the city like? Did you have a chance to perform/write new songs or was it mainly a tourism trip?
Kersley: It was mainly a tourism trip for the CMA Festival. But I fell in love with the city. It’s my favourite place on earth. Everyone was so friendly. It was just a really happy place filled with music and laughter. Honestly, I’d live there if I could.
KP: Moving forward in 2021, what is one goal you hope to achieve with your music by the end of the year? Do you plan on releasing new music?
I plan on releasing a few new songs this year. I really just want to grow and reach more listeners/fans. I’d like to also do a collaboration this year with another country artist. If it wasn’t for COVID I would be aiming to get to Nashville and perform there too.
Listen to “Dusk” now:
To learn more about Mitchell Kersley and his music, be sure to check out his socials:
Kersley, Mitchell. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jan. 15 2021.
Unknown. “Featured: UK country artist Mitchell Kersley”. Photo courtesy of Mitchell Kersley. Accessed Jan. 15 2021.
Unknown. “Official Cover Art for Mitchell Kersley’s EP, “Dusk”.” Photo courtesy of Mitchell Kersley. Accessed Jan. 15 2021.