Interview: Bent Knee

Boston Band, Bent Knee, are stepping into a new realm of musical creativity that pours forward an atmospheric touch that leaves listeners swooning in an electric rush. On the verge of the release of their new album, ‘You Know What They Mean’, I caught up with Courtney to discuss growing into a better team player, the dream of taking a yoga training course in the future, the importance of cultivating your sense of self and more.

Congrats on the upcoming release of your new album, ‘You Know What They Mean’. Tell us about the message that you intended to portray throughout the new release.

Like most of our albums, I don’t think there’s a definitive message behind YKWTM as much as the hope that folks enjoy listening to it. When we were writing the songs we were focused on finding infectious grooves that make you want to move. In the studio we worked on capturing sounds and performances with a lot of attitude. It’s simultaneously our most accessible and more experimental album to date, and we’re all enthralled with how it turned out. 

Though a broad question, what have you learned about yourself and what skills have you developed through working in the music industry.

It’s important to cultivate your sense of self. I think it’s easy to get thrown around if you’re trying to read other people’s expressions or parse through different pieces of advice. It’s a volatile industry where just because something worked once for somebody is no assurance that it will be a good thing for you. It helps to be at peace with yourself and the decisions you make, rather than feeling pushed around. At a micro level, being on the road or at shows can be challenging or fun, depending on how much you can meet your own needs in a graceful way. I was always somebody who tried to take the temp of the situation before deciding on what I want. Over the years I think I’ve become better about understanding and articulating what I need, which has counterintuitively made me a better team player.

Showcasing the human in you, what is a challenging thought that you recently had and were able to overcome over time?

For a long time I felt like I was a bad person, and I had a wicked confirmation bias that ensnared me in some sad basement corner of my life. Some of my bandmates and friends started seeing therapists for various different reasons, and I decided to start working with one myself. With their help, personal work, and time, I’ve dug myself out of that sad pit. I feel good about myself, and I feel more vividly alive than ever have. On sunny days I find myself looking at the sky and getting emotional about the bright blue and the energy radiating in the atmosphere. 

What is your perception on the digital world that we live in and social media culture?

It’s a lot to take in! I love Instagram and I get a lot of inspiration and encouragement from it. Still, I don’t like how much of my time it tends to eat, and how quickly my phone becomes a Instagram machine rather than a telephone. When I come off tour, I often try to delete social media off my phone to get back into a rhythm of life. If I’m in line for something I actively try to stare at the wall or look around, and avoid tuning into social media.

No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.

Lately I’ve been really focused on yoga. One of my life goals is to take a teacher training course by the time I’m 35, but for now I’ve been trying to practice every day. I’m proud that I vary between hot sweaty yoga and restorative yoga, so I’m not just going to sweat or exercise so much as for my mind. In the last year I ran a half marathon and a 10k, which made me feel really great. I was never super athletic growing up, so I felt really empowered knowing I could run long distances like that. Cooking and baking are also big passions for me, and I’ve been really interested in photography, drawing, and watercolors, too. 

As you are exposed to tons of stimulus, how do you proactively take care of your mental and emotional health when you’re out on the road?

Being on the road is not a big chore for me (I’m lucky). Usually if I’m feeling rough, I just need to listen to myself and do whatever I’m aching to do. It’s always refreshing to walk somewhere alone, or even hop in a ride share to go do something I really want to. Sometimes taking a nap, reading a book with my nice headphones on, or drawing can really make me feel better. On most days I do yoga while we’re waiting for soundcheck, and that helps ground me a lot. I think the toughest aspect of tour is the waiting. Waiting for people to go eat, waiting for lines to be run, waiting for loadout, etc. etc. It’s good to find ways to make that time active and engaging, and avoid being  bummed out staring at my phone. 

You have toured with a wide variety of musicians over the past years and have played at some major festivals. Tell us some words of wisdom that you collected along the way.

I can’t think of anything anyone specifically said to me, but we’ve certainly toured with a lot of kind and thoughtful people. For some reason I thought that people got meaner or more entitled towards the top of the food chain, fighting for the limited space available of being a “big band”. What I’ve learned is that it seems there’s plenty of room for kind and hardworking people, and most folks try to help each other out whenever they can. 

Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?

So grateful that there are folks out there listening and enjoying our music. We hear you and we see you, and we’re very grateful for your support and your positivity! 

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