INTERVIEW: Kari Arnett on “When the Dust Settles” and Learning Instruments


Photo by Tyler Anderson

Kari Arnett is a singer songwriter orignially from Madison, Wisconsin, who now calls Minneapolis home. Her latest album When the Dust Settles has earned her comparisons to artists like Gillian Welch. By phone she discussed her musical beginnings, having her song featured on Rolling Stone, and her latest album.

AH: You taught yourself how to play piano. What kind of methods did you use to teach yourself?

KA: I started at about age 6, and I just kind of figured it out by ear. My dad is a musician, so I have a musical ear I guess.I would just sit and play for hours. After not having a piano, I started teaching myself guitar.

AH: Did you pursue music because your dad is a musician?

KA: I think a little bit. I always loved music. I’ve been singing since I was a baby. It was something I was always drawn. I think it helped that my parents had really great taste in music.

AH: What’s an album you wore out as a kid?

KA: That’s a good question. I enjoyed Jewel’s Pieces of You. I wore that one out pretty good. I was really into poetry. I read poetry growing up. She released that record, and on the inside cover were a bunch of poems. I guess I just connected with her on that level. Words always were such an outlet for me.

AH: What was your reaction when “This American Life” appeared on the Rolling Stone website?

KA: That was pretty awesome. I was kind of shocked because I’m an independent artist, and I don’t see too many independent artists featured on Rolling Stone. That was a really exciting experience. I shared that with my mom, and I got excited. Then I had to go to work that night. (laughs)

AH: How is the new album different than Midwestern Skyline?

KA: Artistically everything on When the Dust Settles has more of my voice on it. It was a very collaborative effort when it was being produced. Me and my producer Danny O’Brien sat and talked about each song in depth and how we both saw the direction the music was going in. On Midwestern Skyline I didn’t have much creative musical input as far as the production. Everything on When the Dust Settles is a true representation of where I was at.

AH: Is it difficult to record when you don’t have a lot of creative input?

KA: Yes. I’m so grateful for the record, but having someone understand where each song was coming from and getting that creative piece out was freeing for me as an artist. My favorite part of all of this is creating music. The most fun for me was getting into the studio and getting with a bunch of musicians that intuitively got it. That was magical for me.

AH: How long did it take you to record it?

KA: We went into the studio in March, 2018. I think we had everything wrapped up by April. It was pretty fast. Me, my bassist, and my drummer went in there together at the first part of it. My other bandmates came in later. It was a pretty easy process.

AH: What was your feeling when the album was completely done?

KA: Part of being an artist is that you’re always going back and you want to change things or take things out. When it was done, it felt really great because we created a real piece of music. It’s something that I’m proud of. It was a relief. I was excited to move forward and get it out to the universe at that point.

AH: What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

KA: That’s another great question. I feel like I will always do music. Probably something to do with business. I took business classes. I ran a couple businesses in my 20s. I’d probably be doing something like that. Maybe a live music venue to support artists. That would be cool.

AH: What kind of businesses did you run?

KA: I ran a cafe and a juice shop.

You can order When the Dust Settles from Arnett’s website.

Leave a Reply!