Kenny Butterill Talks to Ireland’s Country Music Plus Magazine
By PeeBea Mac – Country Music Plus Magazine
October 15, 2000
Kenny Butterill, a talented Canadian songwriter/producer, is finding that he is increasingly sought after in the world of country music.
Hailing from Ajax, a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario, he now resides in Scotts Valley, California, where his successful other business involved in High Technology and Computer Software, supported his ‘noodling in songwriting.’
“I sort of had a match lit under me,” he told PeeBea Mac recently. “I am basically a songwriter, but when IUMA (Internet Underground Music Archive), decided to run some ratings, the music did very well in their inaugural charts. IUMA hosts about 5,000 artists and bands, not only that, they were recently bought by ‘E-Music’, a company that is a major player in E-Commerce. “Anyway, those charts provided me with the catalyst I needed. I thought that maybe I should get a collection of some of my songwriting demos, put them on a CD, and see what happens. Then we ran a radio promo project in Europe, and we did surprisingly well there. We got great airplay over most of Europe, and were very successful.” “When I look back at my heroes, I think “Hey, maybe that’ll be me someday.” I love John Prine, J.J Cale, I like Chris Smither, Gordon Lightfoot. I grew up with Neil Young’s songbooks, and there are some relatively newer artists, relative to Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young, that is, that I really like, Kevin Welch and Kieren Kane, who are on the record label, Dead Reckoning, and have done very well with their music.”
PeeBea asked him if he had considered touring. “We are tiptoeing in that direction. I didn’t know how the music would be received, and the CD I put together was recorded with some studio musicians. So right now I am practicing with some musicians out here and we are getting our chocks out to play some gigs around California and then we’ll see about spreading our wings past the borders of California. I might do some gigs in Canada, where we have had a radio promotion going on since late August. While in the United States, I will do the major centres like New York, Nashville, Texas, Chicago, L.A. In Canada, I’ve been told there would be a good reception in British Columbia and Toronto. As you know, one of the tracks on the album is called “Balsam Lake.” Well, that song was written about a family cottage we have in Canada, just north of Toronto, so in that area, it’s about a sixty mile corridor, I think we’d have some fun playing there too. But I would have to consider my business interests, which, as you know, has been the source of my funding for some of my music.
My business has been doing very well and has actually been quite a dichotomous life, for at the same time there seemed to be a good reception for my music, the business which had been moving at a certain rate, for some reason, tripled over the same time frame. It’s a very, very busy time, but fortunately my partner has been able to pick up some of the load. The business takes up quite a bit of my time, and it is one of the reasons why I haven’t actually ‘hit the pavement running’, right after the success of the CD. I do believe it was purely coincidental that both my business and music took a sudden upsurge.”
PeeBea then asked Kenny if the political lyrics of ‘Our Liberty‘ and ‘Back To Canada‘ reflected his own convictions. “I guess we all keep our ear to the ground, to see what’s going on. It’s interesting, being a transplanted Canadian living in the U.S, I need to write my thoughts and feelings about Canada, now that I’m on the outside, looking in. So I wrote about home in ‘Back to Canada‘. Also, being Canadian and living in America, I have no rights to participate in the politics of this country. I don’t have a vote, so I sort of am on the outside looking in, here as well. Hence the song ‘Our Liberty‘. I intend to remain Canadian, I don’t have any plans to become an American citizen, I like being part of the commonwealth. I may return to Canada, I may go to Europe. Who knows how things will evolve – but I would like to keep those options, and I believe I can do that more easily if I remain a Canadian citizen, than if I was a U.S citizen.”
Kenny then began to talk about his favourite musical styles. “I like country, folk, and certainly the early influences of Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young, have coloured my musical thinking. It’s not straight ahead country, and in fact, that is one of the problems I have had with radio, in the brains of what format Butterill actually fits into. It is more modern country. I like blues, not loud blues, but the more laid back style. I also enjoy Americana, and that is usually one of the stations that I will have on as background music. There are only about 150 stations that play Americana, but they are very loyal. Also, these stations are not dominated by the large record companies, so they can play what the listeners request.”
Finally, PeeBea asked him if any singer, other than himself had recorded his music. “There are local bands who have recorded it,” replied Kenny, ‘but so far, none of the big stars. But that is certainly something that would be flattering, to say the least. Chris Isaak is the first name that springs to mind. I would like to see him record my songs, I think there could be a fit there. I am hoping for a trip to Nashville later in the year to do some co-writing with some of the songwriters there. It would be wonderful.”
In the meantime, Kenny will continue to write his songs and look after his business. Readers can get more information on Kenny by visiting his website at: http//kennybutterill.com
Reprinted with permission from an interview with PeeBea Mac in Ireland’s Country Music Plus – October 2000 issue