Last week at the Royal American, a maroon 1987 Ford Econoline club wagon pulled into the parking lot — and we knew Kyle Lacy had arrived. Just like his choice in cars, his journey with music was unconventional, but definitely one that stands out. It has taken him from his hometown, Atlanta, Ga., to Oklahoma to New York and now to Charleston, a city that he says is perfect to come home to. But strangely enough, there was a point in time when Lacy wanted to be something other than a talented musician.
"There were times when I thought that I would rather be a gardener," Lacy says. "I like working on things." While his interest in plants still survives, his love for music quickly took precedence early on. "I started playing drums at the age of six, and I still play drums," Lacy says. "Then I picked up guitar and piano in high school, the singing started out as a necessity." Lacy never thought he would be a singer until he had to be, but once he started he fell in love with it.
Since figuring out his passion, he experimented with every type of music that he found appealing — rockabilly, blues, soul, gospel — and with that came experiences that Lacy could have never predicted. He went to Oklahoma City University for musical theater, describing it as "a soul searching moment." From there, he moved to New York City. "I came to New York when I was 22, but everybody comes to New York to make something of themselves and to do something," Lacy says. "But the other part of that is just being, and that's what I found in Charleston."
"Just being" is a huge part of Lacy's musical journey, but he also values the freedom to do it all himself. On his debut album, The Road to Tomorrow, which was released on Feb. 14, each song reflects his motto of "just being" while getting to know himself. "Me through the filter of my past made this album," Lacy says.
The songs on The Road to Tomorrow are all about reflection and expressing real life events and emotions. While some tracks, like "Believe in Tomorrow," are optimistic and inspiring, others are melancholy and heart wrenching, like "Miss You in the Morning" and "Nothing but Sadness." Regardless of the song content Lacy uses the rhythms and tempo of each track to spin everything in a positive light. There will always be a road to tomorrow, but it's up to the listener to find their indivual path. For Lacy, his way has been one he paved by himself and for himself.
Lacy has taken on a DIY approach to his career, sometimes resorting to measures he didn't expect. "My college band and I played at Medicine Park in Oklahoma, and then went swimming in the swimming hole because we didn't have any showers," Lacy says. "When you sign up to be a musician you are led to believe that there is always going to be a shower involved."
Lacy's independence as a musician has put him in unexpected danger, as well as inspiring some songs. "Last year, I was driving to a gig in New York and I crashed my car into the back of an SUV and broke my foot in half, and I couldn't walk for three months," Lacy says. "I'm a control freak so I had to learn to let go, but at the same time this was all happening, my music came." Lacy isn't someone who tries to multitask; he believes that you can't hold on to elements in your life that aren't working while still making music that matters. So letting go became his biggest obstacle, but the most rewarding realization.
"You have to have a zen mentality and believe that things are always moving towards and through you," Lacy says. When making music, he searches for things in the world around him for inspiration, no matter how random they are. In fact, the first song on the album came from an Instagram caption that he saw. He was scrolling through his feed when he saw that someone posted their new headshots and captioned the photos, "Hello, Monday." Just like that, a song was born. "It's the smallest things and having a watchful eye, and a lot of the songs will write themselves," Lacy says.
With the release of The Road to Tomorrow, Lacy has a new journey to look forward to. "People [in Charleston] don't care about making an impression, all they care about is the music," Lacy says. "Don't get me wrong, the yuppies are making their way in, but there is still a connection to the old mentality of making music for music's sake." For him, it's still the perfect place to come home to, and the perfect place to share his newest creation.