He drove to Nashville on Jan. 1, 2004 in an old black Nissan truck that contained one bag and his guitar. He immersed himself in the songwriting community, observing songwriters rounds for two years and honing his craft before gaining the confidence to join in. After four years of performing locally, he caught the attention of Creative Artist Agencys Marc Dennis, who called Universal Music Group Nashvilles Joe Fisher. Not only did Joes encounter lead to his record deal with MCA Nashville, but it also brought about his introduction to songwriter Brett James, who produced Kips debut album.
"Brett gave me the freedom to find who I was as an artist, the freedom for writing a different kind of thing, a different kind of melody and lyric," he says. "He gave me room to grow."
He also found important relationships with songwriters Dan Couch, Scott Steppakoff, Westin Davis and Kiefer Thompson, two of whom didnt have publishing deals when he began writing with them. "There was definitely a special thing when we got in the room together," Kip says. "I got offers to write with a lot of the bigger guns in town, but I enjoyed what I was doing with them. They were open to my ideas of being different."
And different his debut project is, as evidenced by the albums first single, "Mary Was the Marrying Kind," the story of the one who got away. The dreamy and spell-binding song is the true story of one of Kips friends, who returned to his hometown after about six years and saw the once tall, lanky girl who had since come into her own and become a model.
"Its the story of what every man in this world goes through at some point," he says. "Its the story of the one that got away that you should have paid attention to. Every town, every city, everybody knows one. Every girl believes they are Mary."
The anthemic "Drive Me Crazy" is the story of two troubled teens who find a safe harbor in each other, if only for a few fleeting moments. "They are the getaway car for each other from everyday life," he says. "When theyre together, what they live in is in the rear-view mirror and its just one big infatuation love story that lasts for a very short time.
With its irresistible bass line and drums, "Up All Night" is about continuing to live life to its fullest. "Up All Night is the story of not wanting to give into your age and how life is supposed to be lived once you reach a certain age," he says.
When Kip plays shows, hes often asked for advice by aspiring songwriters. "Everybodys experience is different, but I do believe it has to be the only thing," he says. "I dont think it can be a gray line. Either you want it and theres nothing else or its not going to happen."
For instance, Kip was offered a sales position with an enticing salary, but it required working six days a week, leaving no time for creating music. "You come to the crossroads: do you really want this? Are you willing to sacrifice everything, including relationships? I cant tell you how many relationships have been doomed from the get-go because of this.
"It only took me a few minutes to decline it. Its such a risk and its an alone feeling you feel like youre on an island by yourself but its worth every single minute. Had I taken that job, I wouldnt be sitting here today."