Interview: The Transgressions of Kellie Scott-Reed
Interview conducted by Nolcha Fox
Kellie Scott-Reed is a songwriter, writer, and Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Roi Faineant Press.
In spite of her cheerful disposition, she is fascinated with the dark side of humanity, and most of her written work has threads of stories she heard through family lore, and her own investigation into her shadowy side.
Kellie has been published in Synchronized Chaos and Roi Faineant Press. Her work is currently in the anthology The Place Where Everyone’s Name is Fear. She has also been a guest on the Arts Calling Podcast with Jaime Alejandro and her work has been read on the Modus Operandi podcast.
Her songs can be found on iTunes and Spotify, under the band name Fivehead.
NF: You say you are a reluctant yogi. What does that mean?
KSR: I started to practice yoga at age 40. I was a runner and had always taught exercise classes but was not so sure about yoga and all the philosophy that went along with it. I am a skeptic by nature. I had just recovered from cancer and a friend of mine said “you should come to yoga”. I was extraordinarily resistant. I ran 5 to 10 miles a day. I didn’t think yoga would “do anything” for me. I can’t fight my curious nature and desire to explore new things no matter how ridiculous I feel it may be, so I went. To put it mildly, it kicked my butt. All the holding, the sitting in my discomfort as opposed to running from it, the stillness, was all so difficult or me. I actually cried at the end of it. My friend asked me how I liked it. I turned to her and said “It was terrible! I’m hooked.” Two years later I went through an intensive training with a teacher who had learned under BKS Iyengar, Francois Raoult and became a teacher myself. I don’t believe in any philosophical or religious ideology, but I believe being comfortable in my uncertainty, and being uncomfortable in the physical self for long stretches of time, can prepare you for day to day life as a human on this planet. So that is why I am reluctant. I hate to say it, I hate to concede, but it works. It frankly, saved my life.
NF: I understand that songwriting is your first love. What inspired you to branch out into short stories, poetry, and book reviews?
KSR: I love music. It brings me incredible joy and moves me in a way that nothing else does. I am a dancer by training. However, I am not a musician. I don’t play any instruments. So it is a little hard to write music when there isn’t anyone there to set the melody, the chord progression, etc. I lose interest very quickly in my own voice. It’s why I enjoy the collaboration of song writing so much. I get to hear someone else perform it; my words out of someone else’s mouth.
I have always written poetry and short stories, but until recently I didn’t have any confidence in them. I wrote parodies of songs, “Weird Al” like. I’d write comedy sketches to roast relatives. Usually only writing when someone would request me to write. It was never a daily thing for me. I would write stories at work when we were slow, and pass them around to my co workers, horrible horror stories, and dark tunnels into the human condition. They really liked them and wanted more. However, reading stories by the writers I have met while editing for the Press inspired me to take chances. To be more out there with my writing. I am still unsure of my writing and a little shocked that people like it! I think in general, I write because I want to connect with people on every level possible.
I will say I have a good sense of what makes art sing. Whether that is music, writing, movies, art. Needless to say I am a gourmand, not a gourmet. That is why I started writing book and music reviews. I like to interpret, feel, and process the words and melodies. Like food! Like dance! I want the artist to know they have been heard, that I understand, that I have let them in and it has moved me… and sometimes in ways they may not have intended.
NF: How did you get involved with Roi Faineant Press?
KSR: I owe a lot to Tiffany Storrs the EIC! I hired both Tiffany and Marianne as I was the HR Manager at a small underwriting company. I left the company in September 2019 to teach yoga full time. During the pandemic they became short staffed. They called me back to ask if I’d help them by doing general customer service work part time. We were extremely slow at this time, and one of our coworkers mentioned that I should write a story to entertain them like I used to. Tiffany overheard this and hadn't been on staff when I used to write for everyone. She asked to read one. Once she read it, she must have seen some potential because she opened up about this little dream she had since she was 16 or 17 about starting her own press.
Of course, you can’t tell me anything without me being like “Oh hell yeah, let's do it!” I’m a force of nature when I get something in my head! Marianne was also working with us and Tiff yelled out “Hey Marianne, you going to do this with us?” She said “Sure, what is it?” We met at a park in July, Tiff gave a professional level powerpoint presentation, and we were up by September. Roi is the Athena that from the beautiful mind of Tiffany, I was the midwife, helping deliver the little gem and then Marianne, bless her, didn’t even know the plan and jumped right in. We are crazy in the best way. We have a deep love for writing, and each other. I love this
Press so much it hurts. I am absolutely shocked at the level of joy it has brought me.
NF: I was impressed with Bulletproof Glass Smeared with Grease. What inspired you to write it?
KSR: Bulletproof Glass... is one of those “I’m working a thankless job and I am bitter” inspirations. It was at work and I was recalling to my coworkers a Kentucky Fried Chicken in my neighborhood that installed bulletproof glass at the counters. It was a very depressing place to order delicious chicken. Then I wondered what toll it would take on the people working behind that glass. Would it corrupt them? Would they have a sense of superiority or victimhood? It was simply a question I had that I wanted to see to the end. I think that's my writing in a nutshell: questions that I want the answers to, so I make them up. It’s usually never a happy ending. I also tend to focus on those American as Apple Pie values of fast food restaurants, gas stations, religious trauma, and murder. I drive slow by the accidents, as it were.
NF: Tell me about how you met and married your songwriting partner, Rob.
KSR: Oh my goodness, that’s a long meandering tale, but I’ll brief it up! I used to go see Fivehead play in their early days, as I was friends with the bass player, Steve Pizzuto. I would dance like a lunatic in front of Rob. I always thought he was a great singer, but even better, he was absolutely hilarious. One of the best front men I’ve ever seen. I relentlessly flirted with him, to no avail. I was dating a fairly prominent musician at the time. However, something compelled me one evening. Fivehead opened for the national act, Lit, in 1999. It was December. It was a Monday. Content warning, drug use! I had taken a hit of ecstasy. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe the fact that some woman was chatting him up, but I knew it was time to strike! I walked up to him, pushed the other lady out of the way and said “Hey Rob, where do you work?” He said, “I work from home.” I said “Good, then you are available for lunch.”
Looking a little confused, he said, “Who’s going?” I said emphatically, “YOU and ME.” That was the beginning. He came over that night with the rest of the band for spaghettios and milk. He stayed till 4 a.m. and we sang “Sir Duke” while he lay on the couch and his horn players did the horn parts with their mouths, not horns. Hours later, I called said prominent musician and broke it off. Nothing happened between us that night, he said he wanted to “take it slow.” Our son was born in November 2000. Do the math. We have been together 23 years.
He’s still the funniest human, and I wish I had all day to tell you all the things I love about him, but I despise love stories.
NF: Give me the history of Fivehead, how you began writing for the band.
KSR: Fivehead began in 1997 with Dan Snyder, Steve Pizzuto, and Rob Reed, three men from a tiny farm town in Avon, NY. They have been friends since middle school. Rob shattered his ankle, just gotten a divorce, and was trapped in the house. He always played guitar and was in a few small bands, just playing. He decided he needed to do something else, what did he have to lose? He decided to sing lead for the first time. And I am not exaggerating that his voice can shake buildings. It’s awesome. Dan played drums, is a legendary songwriter, and has been in a myriad of bands locally. Steve, an incredibly talented guitar player, taught himself bass. They enlisted a Eastman School of Music student named Jason Thor to be their trombone player. They played their first gig opening for ska legends Bim Skala Bim. During the last 25 years, they added a sax player and keyboardist. Their horn section has changed many times, as they always bring in young guns from Eastman, as the solos are punishing! Every show is a runaway train barreling towards you, and you gladly step in front of it every time!
All of the band members write incredible songs and bring them into the band for a thumbs up or down, and they arrange them together. I began writing with Rob in February of 2000. Rob had a song he was working on called “Hell Toupee.” He had the chorus, but hadn’t got much further. He was playing away on the guitar and singing nonsense. I sidled up with a piece of typing paper and a pencil and began writing down what I thought he was saying. He wasn’t saying anything. But we wrote a very fun swing song. We still have the original copy. From that point on, for the songs he brings into the band, he writes the vocal melodies and I write the lyrics, either partially or fully. They are all very unselfish artists. They opened up their band to me and welcomed my contribution with open arms.
We also write songs that aren’t in the Fivehead style. We had some years where the band was in recess, due to three active kids and life in general, so we would write some really good alt country tunes. We had enough for a set or two. They are just sitting in a black portfolio waiting to be performed. My favorite is “It Suits You,” which hasn’t been released, but should!
NF: What projects are you working on now?
KSR: I discovered so much about myself with your questions, Nolcha! For one, it is that I am not a planner. I kind of act on opportunity and go whichever way the wind blows. I say YES to everything. Therefore, I have a very active and exciting life. However, I don’t have any expectations connected with what happens next. I am currently trying to juggle my yoga and personal training business with the Press and helping it grow. I would love to write more reviews, and I have been given a direct request by a wonderful writer Lorraine Murphy, to submit at least one peice a month. I love challenges, so I will make this happen. As for working on something, I have started a project called “This Is The Life,” about a couple who are now empty nesters and decide to embark on a life of crime. It’s based on a game my husband and I play that we call witness protection, where we make up the names we will assume if we ever rob a bank or snitch on a mob boss. For example Dick Stillhard, or Sue Venear. Get it? We shall see if I even get it off the ground. I am easily distracted. One thing I can promise, is that I will continue with my “A Word?” interviews, as it is my favorite thing in the world. I have written to David Duchovney’s publisher for an interview about his latest book. It’s a long shot, I know, but I do pretty impulsive things and they usually pay off. Let’s see what happens!
End of Interview
Nolcha Fox has written all her life, starting with poop and crayons on the walls. Her poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, Medusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her three chapbooks are available on Amazon.