The Curse of K.K. Hammond is an innovative slide guitarist, singer and songwriter who is interpreting Blues music from her own unique perspective. With a love for all things dark, she takes influence from Blues icons such as Skip James, Robert Johnson, Son House, Charlie Patton and Leadbelly, and combines it with her personal musical style and lyrics, thus creatively transforming the Blues genre into her own unique sound, known as “Horror Blues.”
Hammond explains her sound: “It must never be forgotten than Blues music traditionally arose out of some very hard times for African American people and has touched upon some dark subject matters historically. Of course, the early folklore surrounding musicians such as Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson selling their souls to the devil certainly paved the way for the combination of blues and horror themes too. My lyrics tend to be pretty dark and unsettling at times, and I felt this was the perfect springboard to launch myself into making horror themed music videos to best deliver them.”
- Hi KK! Great to speak with you today. How are things in your secluded part of the world?
Hey! Well, it’s still a little chilly this time of year which has never been my jam but things are looking up as spring creeps in! I hope the weather is fairer there!
- You are fast becoming known as “The Queen of Horror Blues.” How did you come up with the idea to blend the two, horror and blues music, together?
I don’t know who dubbed me as such but I’m extremely honored and flattered by it! Honestly speaking I think two things I particularly loved just naturally melded together and became my aesthetic without any particular forethought. The Blues, particularly the older Delta style, is frequently referred to as “The Devil’s Music” which make it partner particularly well with dark and spooky vibes. I took advantage of my love of horror movies when conceptualising my music videos and I think, via that combination, my aesthetic created itself.
- Tell us about your childhood. What was it like growing up in the UK?
Too cold, just too damn cold haha! I don’t think there is anything that exciting to tell! As a kid I was always very much drawn to art, music and film and enjoyed my own company foreshadowing my future life as a bit of a hermit! I was a bit of a street kid and growing up in London there was always plenty to do and keep myself entertained with. When I got a little older I frequently met up with other musicians my age. We partied plenty, went to gigs and formed bands, I loved metal as a kid but gradually started turning my attention to blues and folk.
- Tell us about your time travelling in the US. How did that influence your music?
I hit the US a few times spending upto 4 months there at a time and travelling around the states. I was especially interested in the quiet backwaters over the cities. (I only lasted two day in NYC, it was far too loud and hectic for me!) It was a very interesting time that allowed me to get in touch with the roots of the Americana music which I am so passionate about, as well as giving me some great ideas for my song writing.
- It’s been said that you live a “Hermit-like” existence. What is meant by that? Is this something you’ve chosen for yourself, or is it just a matter of circumstance?
It is something I have chosen for myself. I love living in the middle of nowhere with nobody around so I can enjoy nature, the quiet and placate my introverted nature. I do occasionally enjoy the company of friends, especially fellow musicians but keep my circle very small.
- Let’s get to the music. Tell us about “Death Roll Blues,” the album. It’s fantastic!
Thank you so much! Death Roll Blues is a concept album which touches upon the subject of Death from a variety of angles. Some of the songs are morose and sad whilst a few are a little more on the humorous side. It took me about two years to complete as I took my time, only wanting to put the best of myself on the album. It opens with the natural sounds of the swamp to set the atmosphere and finishes with this too as a departing mood. It’s pretty acoustically focussed and very organic and “human” with all the percussion being hand claps, foot stomps and some other interesting sounds such as the shaking of a rattlesnake tail or the sound of a rusty old zinc bucket being kicked! My music harnesses the vibe of old Delta blues with a little bit more of a swampy, contemporary feel. I also experienced my first rodeo with vinyl with this album, my pressing being a beautiful, transparent, mottled swampy green with stunning swampy artwork by the very talented Sabrina Cintron of The Star Dazed Trail. I wanted to deliver a beautiful product to my fans which they could truly treasure so ensured it was as sonically pleasing as possible as well as aesthetically pleasing. It was recorded by myself in my home studio and mixed and mastered in London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, which was a fantastic and very educational experience for me. I wasn’t sure how a small blues musician such as myself would be received but they took the best of care of me and were the sweetest, most down to earth folks you could imagine.
- Tell us about how Metallica shared your cover of their song, “Nothing Else Matters” on their TikTok. Were you surprised at the posting, and the reaction of fans?
This was a huge and very pleasant surprise! After going somewhat viral I suppose they must have caught sight of it! What more could any musician wish for other than recognition from their childhood heroes? Fans have been amazing and so positive about it and it also drew in so many kind and positive comments from non-followers on TikTok who hadn’t previously heard of me. I’ve since noticed several more of my childhood heroes from huge bands following me on social media and liking my posts and it just doesn’t feel real! It’s been profoundly humbling and immeasurably encouraging. I honestly don’t think the K.K. from my childhood would ever believe such a thing could eventually happen to her whilst staring at their posters on her wall!
- What’s your opinion of the music industry these days? Is it still about good music, or is there something else?
I think the music industry has changed tremendously and in ways I could never have imagined as a teenager in bands trying to be noticed. While the big labels are still ultimately running the show in terms of mainstream music, online music sites and social media has revolutionised the industry allowing for small independent artists to have a platform of their very own to draw in a potentially huge following. Obviously being in a fringe genre it is hard for me to comment on the industry as a whole but I think people are still very much enjoying good music and that element remains to be at the core of the industry.
I think, from an artist’s point of view, these days -while the music has to be good- your online presence counts for so much. In essence, musicians have to turn their hand to being online influencers. Again, as a bit of a hermit this is a bit trying for me at times. I’m not someone who enjoys sitting in front of a camera chatting away so I have to find other ways to keep fans entertained. I love recording little guitar playing videos or giving tips on how to approach slide guitar. Though creating for social media can be tons of fun it is also quite a challenge to think of new ideas every day and sometimes thoroughly exhausting. If I had my way I would just sit in my studio writing new tunes and recording them but content creation distracts me from doing that to my heart’s content which is a shame I think.
- We wish you all the best of success with the album release. Any final words for the readers?
Thank you so kindly to yourself and the readers and yes…. If anyone knows why two socks go into the laundry and only one seems to come back out I need to know. I believe whoever holds the answer to this holds the answer to the entire universe! Haha!