Inside Out: Kylee Phillips Gets Vulnerable and Introspective on New “Long Time Coming” EP
Kylee Phillips deliberately steps outside herself and looks inward on Long Time Coming.
The indie-pop singer-songwriter and keyboardist examines past vulnerabilities and realizations through a wiser lens on her new EP.
“It’s very autobiographical. Honestly, writing them was less about sharing them with other people and more about admitting things to myself,” said Phillips, who lives in Ypsilanti.
“In the writing process, I struggle sometimes to be vulnerable or to process my own feelings in real life. I joke that sometimes you could ask me how I feel about a situation and I would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and then I would write a song and go, ‘I guess that’s how I feel about it.’”
On Long Time Coming, Phillips shares a spectrum of emotions—ranging from disappointment to anticipation to relief—across five introspective tracks. The EP’s cathartic lyrics and atmospheric pop instrumentation allow listeners to instantly grasp and connect with Phillips’ perspective.
“A lot of these songs were things that I was describing, especially ‘Long Time Coming,’ and are like the closets in your house where you put stuff and you’re like, ‘I’m not going to think about it; I’m going to pretend that all that crap has been in there,’” Phillips said. “Then at a certain point, you say, ‘I’m gonna have to look in that closet.’”
At first glance, Long Time Coming reveals a need for closure and acceptance on the confessional opener, “Where You Found Me.”
Surrounded by wistful synth and electric guitar, Phillips sings, “I’ve been needed but not wanted / Watched but never seen / I’ve been listened to but never really heard / If you don’t want all the pieces / Could you give them all away? / Could we call this one more painful lesson learned.”
“In some ways, it’s about acknowledging someone else’s role in a situation, but it’s also about admitting your own role in that situation. I always struggle with when people are like, ‘You did nothing wrong; you made the right decision,’” she said.
“I never respond well to that because I feel like I played a role in this and I want to be honest about that. It was acknowledging that ‘Yeah, this was a tough situation for me, but also I had a hand in it’ and how do I admit both of those things so that I can move forward.”
Phillips also brings “Where You Found Me” to life visually through a compelling video. Directed by Mathew Pimental and produced by Jona Kalaj of ext.night, it features Phillips sitting alone in an empty room filled with chairs and in a darkened hallway with a light shining on her.
“We wanted it to have this somewhat lonely vibe to it, but we also wanted it to be visually arresting. It’s this sprawling space and there are so many cool spots,” said Phillips about filming and recording the video at 2 West Ypsi, a new space for creatives with practice rooms, performance areas, and more.
“When we got in, [Mathew and Jona] were both super excited about the space, and they said, ‘Gosh, we could do so many different things.’ When we landed on [using it], all of those chairs were already set up.”
Anxious synth and electric guitar reflect that sentiment as she sings, “And I want so bad to be the place you fall / I want so much to be anything at all / Can I be home to you?”
“A lot of it is about looking to the wrong people because you’re feeling so lonely. The line that I’m most proud of that I feel encapsulates it is in the second verse and says something about ‘I want so much to be anything at all / Can I be home to you?’” she said.
“It’s that idea of looking to people or things that are not necessarily the right person or thing for you, but you feel so unmoored that you’re just grasping at straws.”
Outside of that search, Phillips finds relief and peace on the tender title track, which features melancholic piano. She sings, “I don’t know why it is what it is / And I don’t know we can keep going like this / Why do I try to pull truth from your lips / When every time I end up feeling like this? / It’s been a long time coming and a long time gone.”
“Chronologically, it’s the first one I wrote [for the EP], and it was this catalyst musically and also in real life. And so, everything else kind of flowed out of that and came out after that,” Phillips said.
“It’s about facing the things that you have been trying to put out of your mind for a long time. As much as experiencing the discomfort of facing it is hard, it also does come with this sigh of relief of ‘At least now I’m acknowledging it; it’s not this thing that I’m pretending isn’t there.’”
As part of that eye-opening creative process, Phillips spent a year and a half writing the five tracks for Long Time Coming and refined them on stage before entering the studio last fall.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful for the outlet of songwriting than I was during that period of time. I remember saying to my best friend there were so many times where I felt like I couldn’t articulate these things,” said Phillips, who’s inspired by James Taylor, Trisha Yearwood, and Susan Ashton.
“But now having come out of that season and landing where I am, I’m super grateful for them and the process of recording them was a joyful experience.”
For the recording, Phillips worked with drummer Billy Harrington to track drums at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording and ventured to Lakeland, Florida, with singer-songwriter/guitarist Chris DuPont to finalize the EP at The Vanguard Room. They collaborated with producer Evan Eliason to add synth and a lush overall sound to the tracks.
“It was like a blitz; we just worked 12-hour days,” Phillips said. “And I kept describing it as summer camp because that's all we did. We’d hang out with Evan all day, we became like buds, and then we had to say, ‘I’ll guess I’ll see you next time,’ and it felt so strange to come back home after that.”
Phillips also credits Harrington and DuPont (guitar, bass, background vocals) with taking Long Time Coming to the next level sonically.
“The massive sound of ‘Home to You’ and ‘Float’ has such a nice groove to it—Billy just does that so well,” she said.
“Then there was all this guitar work, and I was like, ‘I want a solo here, and I want this here.’ Chris was like, ‘I’m not a guitar solo guy,’ and I was like, ‘You are now.’ Everyone I played ‘Float’ for … the first thing they would say to me was like, ‘Oh my god, that guitar solo.’”
Looking ahead, DuPont will share those guitar solos alongside Phillips during her October 28 EP release show at Willis Sound in Willis, Michigan. They’ll also be joined by Johannes Stauffer on synth, Joel Hill on drums, and Nate Veldhoff on bass and backing vocals.
“We are doing the whole EP; I’m doing a couple older songs that I tried to poll people and be like, ‘What older stuff do you want to hear?’ There are a few that I’m pulling out of the vault and then some stuff that’s going to be on the next EP,” Phillips said.
“And Chris and I are going to be working on a duo EP as well, and at least one tune from that is gonna be in the show. I’m also throwing a couple of covers in, which is always very fun for me.”
After the show, Phillips will focus on her duo EP with DuPont and her next solo EP—both set for release in 2024.
“The goal is to have the duo one out in the spring and the solo one probably in the fall,” she said. “The duo one will be a little more stripped down and more like what we do live. And then the solo one will be more in the pop vein that my solo stuff is.”
Lori Stratton is a library technician, writer for Pulp, and writer and editor of strattonsetlist.com.