On The Details, Mo Kenney is as honest as she’s ever been. The Nova Scotian’s third record, vividly documents the ebb and flow of mental illness, relationships and addiction. Just as rapidly as The Details finds Kenney declining, it picks her back up and dusts her off, enveloping both songwriter and listener in hope. Behind Kenney’s candid lyrics lies power, humour and sharp wit. “I think that being super blunt is kind of funny,” she says about her lyrical style. The Details’ opening track “Cat’s Not a Cake” serves as a perfect kickoff to the emotional journey – both devastatingly frank and undeniably clever. “When we breakup, we’ll have to split him in half,” Kenney croons, as if the failing couple could share their pet like he was dessert. It’s brash, relatable and over in less than 40 seconds. Straight to the point in true Kenney fashion.
Co-producing the intimate record alongside longtime friend and collaborator Joel Plaskett came naturally. “I was really proud of the work that I had done on this record, all of the songs that I brought to him and he really helped bring them to life in the best way possible,” Kenney says fondly. “That’s what he always does, I find. I love working with him and he’s a good friend of mine now which is really crazy because I was a huge fan of his when I was a teenager. To have him as a mentor when it comes to music has been extremely, extremely helpful.”
As Kenney and I chat over the phone one Thursday evening, we easily find common ground in our respective battles with mental illness and our conversation regarding the struggle of battling against yourself develops with ease.
You started writing The Details when you were going through a really hard time. Can you tell me about what your life was like at the time that you began writing The Details?
I’ve struggled with depression my whole life and I had a really bad few years when I was a teenager and went to therapy and got it under control. I stopped going to therapy when I was, like, 17 or 18 and just started getting really depressed again. In 2015, I noticed that it was getting kind of shitty and hard to deal with and it was affecting my life. I had a hard time. I was sort of just trying to grin and bear it but I decided to go back to therapy in the summer of 2015 and it totally helped me a bunch. I wish I had gone earlier.
I struggle with depression and anxiety myself and am looking to get into therapy. Is it something that you would recommend?
Oh man, I recommend it. It’s so great. It gives you so much more insight into what’s going on with you and getting to talk to somebody and getting it explained is really helpful. It makes it seem a lot less daunting. You feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when you go talk to somebody. That’s my experience, anyway.
I think it’s important to have someone that you can talk to who’s an outside party.
Exactly. Someone who isn’t biased. Sometimes you don’t want to be as honest about what’s going on in your life with your friends and family. It’s easier to talk to a stranger really openly and honest about my life because they don’t really care – I’m not going to hang out with them or anything. It’s nice.
Did the writing of this album start naturally while you were struggling or was it after you started going back to therapy and were feeling a bit clearer in your head?[READ MORE]