Moving Forward

Austin-based musician Kevin Dehan goes by Cactus Lee. His music can sound like Townes Van Zandt or Gene Clark, and his folk sound is heart-felt with verve, because he uses his voice and a guitar. In a past interview Lee said about his playing -- “I’m trying to write better, I’m trying to write clean – but also write true. It’s really hard to do that, and it’s really scary to do that ... but then also to have to get up and sing them.”
On tour soon at such well known venues such as Antone’s Nightclub, Kevin took some time to do an interview.

Jupiter Index: Can you remember when you decided to write and sing music? And did you have other musical influences from that period?
Cactus Lee: I started seriously writing songs around 15. Jimi Hendrix’s songwriting mostly influenced me. His guitar playing was great, but I also was interested in how he wrote lyrics.

Interview Cactus Lee
Talk about your recent release, Caravan and how it came about. And what was the recording process like for you?
Caravan is the next progression in what I’ve been working on. I worked on the songs for almost one and a half years or more, the songs were rewritten multiple ways and rearranged with different lyrics. I just kept changing it until I had to record, I could have spent more time on it. The recording was easy because I knew the songs so well after changing them around so much; playing them was easy, so recording was pretty fun.

How have you improved your songwriting over time? Can you say what makes your writing different for you now?
I’ve tried a lot of different approaches to songwriting, making something quick and keeping it or working something to death. I think I have found the way it works best for me, but it’s also fun to try other people's methods, that’s how I’ve learned more and grown. Not much is different now; I just keep doing it because I like it.

Where do you feel the drive comes from to keep storytelling with music?
Maybe the drive is just some hope that you can make a perfect diamond accidentally sometimes. I don’t think I’ve written a perfect song yet, but that would feel great. Also, fun is to make a bunch of songs, and some of them are shiny enough!

You are currently touring now. Talk about how you get ready for a show.
I usually take a minute or two to myself right before the show, but I like to hang out with whoever the locals are or the people who work there. It’s good to get a read on the folks around to know what type of mood they’re in that night.

If you were alone on a desert island which five CDs, would you most want with you and why?
I would grab whatever was nearby; if I had to think too much about it, then I wouldn’t listen to anything. Also, I might not listen to anything anyway.

by G.M. Burns