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Q+A with LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition Finalist Kelly Hoppenjans

May 4th, 2022
Nashville singer-songwriter Kelly Hoppenjans creates empowering rock, combining the spirit of riot grrrl tinged with folky introspection. The follow-up to her energetic 2019 full-length debut, OK, I Feel Better Now, her new EP Can’t Get the Dark Out dives deep into relationships, fate, and breaking free of toxic patterns. The EP is inspired in part by Hoppenjans’ journey of finding love during the pandemic: navigating online dating, confinement, and impending life changes to sustain that love.

NewSong Music: What was your introduction to music?

Kelly: I asked for a guitar for Christmas when I was about 10 years old, because I thought girls who played guitar were cool and I wanted to be just like Jewel — I’m a ’90s kid through and through! 

What is the first song you wrote that you were proud of, and why?

I wrote some pretty cringey songs when I was a kid, but I was still proud of them at the time! As an adult, the first song I was really truly proud of was called “Bird in a Tree,” and it’s on the first EP I ever released. I wrote it to remind myself why I make music, and that’s because it makes me happy, not because I want the accolades or the glory. I used to sing it at bar gigs when I was background noise, to make myself feel better about the fact that nobody was listening. And I still really love that song, years later! 

What are some of your creative goals for this year?
I’ve been working on writing poetry as a new creative outlet for the past few years, and I’m hoping to publish a collection of poems this year! Other than that, just writing songs and trying to stay balanced 🙂