Kevin McHale - The Launch Of His Solo Music Career
Ten years ago, there was a controversial show that hit our television screens. Controversial not because it was explicit or too mature for network television but more so for the topics it discussed and literally danced too. With the amount of uproar that this show caused, you would have thought it was a Satanic endorsement for executing puppies- but in actuality it was just a program about singing high schoolers navigating their adolescence. The show was Glee.
At the time, Glee was in competition with Breaking Bad. To put it into perspective, Breaking Bad was a show about a man who makes his own methamphetamine and illegally traffics it- whilst on occasion killing those who get in his way. Yet somehow, charming and musical Glee still managed to become the most contentious show of the year.
It was ridiculous more often or not and admittedly overtime storylines became more imaginative than believable but despite all this, the show continues to live on - with its legacy (no matter how corny) inevitably being cemented in television history. The show was not for everyone but it certainly was about everyone. From gay teens coming to terms with their sexuality to overweight girls learning to love themselves, from bullying to family hardships and to even breaking gender norms to falling in young love. The show, albeit comical discussed almost everything that lies within a high school setting and for many- it was the push they needed to live their best selves.
In amongst the many topics addressed, one that resonated quietly in almost every episode was diversity. Races, sexual orientations and arguably for the first real time- disabled representation, a characteristic almost never seen on screen without comic relief. Overtime though the character of Artie became more than just the wheelchair bound character, he grew into a charming soul that surpassed his physique- a credit much due to the performance of Kevin McHale.
It has been ten years since and simply gazing into Instagram or listening into their shared podcast you can see much of the friendships have translated into real life. Everyone seems pretty busy with their own embarks but it is for some reason comforting to know that all the characters graduated into good lives. For Kevin, his embarks are far and plenty- from hosting television shows abroad to starting his latest venture of re-entering the music scene, only this time as solo artist. With his latest songs “Help Me Now and James Dean” hitting mainstream avenues, his fan base are reacting just as well as you would expect but when asked if he was nervous about his reception he sweetly replied “The timing felt right…It’d find the people it should find and I can’t control anything else. I do my part with making the music and portraying myself in an honest way, so whatever happens, happens!” and if that doesn’t speak to creative integrity then I would not know what would. Here is Kevin McHale and his forthcoming EP, “Boy” which is out on Friday June 21st.
Can you tell us about your music? What inspired the song choices and sounds you were aiming for?
Kevin: I think ultimately it’s just real me. I didn’t overthink it, every song is a but of a word vomit. I grew up on pop and R&B and that’s clearly reflected in the songs on the EP. I just wanted something that felt like me, talked about what I talk to my friends about, and hopefully that’s what the EP reflects.
What was the creative process like?
Kevin: It was usually just me and my friend Justin Thorne and sometimes my friend Wednesday in the studio. I’d usually come in with a pretty solid idea of what I wanted the song to be about, but it was all very open and fluid. We didn’t put any pressure on anything having it sound like a particular thing, we just followed whatever we were feeling and where the songs lead us. There’s a hug relief in working with 2 people that know me so well. They know when I’m not being as honest or working as hard as I should be, and to be able to be super blunt with one another like we are is super lucky.
Your new song “Help Me Now” just hit all our music streams- can you tell us about that song and why you chose it?
Kevin: It’s just an upbeat and not-too-serious take on your mind playing insane games with you when you should know better! I wanted to talk about that feeling and how it makes me feel like I’m not myself in those moments. When I played the songs for my friends, that was the one everyone seemed to gravitate to immediately, so I thought we should just follow that and put it out first.
In the past few years you have also become a podcaster alongside Jenna Ushkowitz- can you tell us how that came about?
Kevin: Our friend, Becca Tobin, who was also on Glee started a podcast called “LadyGang” a few years back and it has become so massive. So Becca and the other “LadyGang” girls asked us to have show on their network and we immediately said yes before even having considered what we’d do. We’ve been loving it, and just past one million downloads which is crazy to us, so we’re so happy people are enjoying it.
You and Jenna obviously met on the set of “Glee” and judging from both of your social medias you are really close friends- can you tell us about your post “Glee” life.
Kevin: I made lifelong friends on Glee. So a lot of us talk all the time. I definitely see Jenna the most since she’s moved back from NYC. I’ve gotten to do some really great projects that have all been so different, which is always important to me. I hosted a TV show in the UK for three seasons and mini series back here in the States and have really just been trying to get everything together for the music, which has been my main focus!
What was the biggest lesson you learnt while being on the show?
Kevin: Work ethic. We worked hard and it was super rewarding. We filmed, danced, recorded, toured, promoted etc and it was year round but I loved every second it. I think anything else I do now will seem easy.
Not long ago you participated in the rap battles with some of your former cast mates- what was that like?
Kevin: Oh, it was so much fun! Everyone was so down for roasting each other, It was also just nice to sort of work together again for an afternoon.
You have recently come out and stated that you thought it was zero surprise. What motivated you to take that step?
Kevin: It was not an intentional thing. I’ve never really had a “coming out” in my life, so it was just me talking like me and people figured it out, I guess? It definitely hasn’t been my intention to hide that, but I don’t think people were looking for that so they didn’t notice.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Kevin: I have absolutely no idea. I like that I’ve gotten to do so many different random and great things thus far. I just hope I’m still afford those opportunities in ten years.
Words / QUADE AU
This PIBE online exclusive has been produced by:
Talent / Kevin McHale
Photography / Storm Santos
Styling / Kim Johnson @Altered Agency
Grooming / Anna Bernabe @Exclusive Artists using Glossier and Oribe Hair Care
Styling Assistant / Serra Gerris