Interview with Peace of Blues Guitarist and Vocalist Kepha Arcemont

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Kepha! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it’s greatly appreciated.

CV: Put it simply, all musicians are a product of their listening environment, especially of the artists whose music resonates deep within.  Peace of Blues is a complex melding of just that kind of resonance. How do you feel your influences have taken part in creating and shaping your diverse writing style for the band’s music?
KA: Yes, it is a complex melting pot for sure. I feel that all the music I've listened to, (many different genres) plays a part of every original song I write. In my mind, there is really nothing new under the sun, so I'm taking my musical experiences of listening to so many great songs and musicians and try to write songs that compliment the influences I have had in my life. Since I am a guitar player, guitarists such as Hendrix, Kossoff, Page, Duane Allman, Frehley, Beck, Clapton, Gary Moore, etc., have defined much of my musical writing style, for what I am contributing to Peace of Blues style of music. 

CV: Kepha, with you being the primary songwriter, is there a division as to how you write for you and how you write for the band?  Or are they one in the same?
KA: I would say there is a division. I am capable of writing various types and styles of music, and I write primarily, Blues infused Rock songs for Peace of Blues. I have written other songs, for other projects, that express me individually as a songwriter. I really don't want to confine myself to only one style of music writing. There is too much, to express musically, to allow myself to be confined to one genre or one group of musicians. 

CV: Tell us a little about the band's logo...what is the symbolic reference within the imagery?
KA: I have lived in the Abilene, Texas area, since 1989, where Dyess Air Force base and the B-1 bomber are located. I wanted to honor what Abilene, Texas music represents to the community and to Texans who listen to our music. So I used the B-1 bomber as the peace sign within the circle, showing, "Peace through strength, not through violence!" I used the Texas flag (lone star) as a backdrop, which also has our national colors of red, white, and blue, which to me, represent freedom and showing my love of being an American citizen. The name, Peace of Blues is a statement to my era of musical influence, where in the 60's and 70's, there was a musical theme where most bands represented an idealism of Peace and Love. Blues music is the foundation of Rock and Roll, and was a major influence on me, thus, "Peace of Blues". It was my idea to give credit to my Blues influences, while playing blues infused rock music, and Peace," a concept that has been taught through rock musicians since the 60's.

CV: How would you define "Texas inspired"...does it mean something special to you to have such a specific musical background?
KA: Well I grew up in New Orleans, where Blues, Jazz, Funk, Dixieland, Zydeco, Rock and so many musical styles were before me! When I came to Texas in 1989, the musical scene was mostly SRV Texas Blues Rock! So moving here and becoming a transplant, I gravitated to the Texas guitar slingers, such as SRV, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, Chris Duarte, Ian Moore, Rocky Atlas, etc., who were influenced by Texas Blues guitarist such as T-Bone Walker, Lightning Hopkins, Albert Collins, etc. I found that the Texas Rock guitarist were playing blues rooted music, and the guitar, was the main focus of these groups music. So the music I have written in Peace of Blues is Texas, guitarist inspired, and since we are a power trio, the guitar is the main focus of the music, which I find in Texas based, Blues/Rock music.

CV: If you were to pick one artist who changed your view on music, the one who clearly made you see the path, who would it be and why?
KA: Wow, I can't really give you just one! I hope that's o.k.? Cuz, it was really two influences that made me see my path. Jimi Hendrix was my main influence on me wanting to play the Stratocaster guitar and gave me skills in writing more of a Blues Rock, Psychedelic music. His diversity also inspired my diversity in writing guitar oriented music!
Paul Kossoff of Free, was my main influence on playing a Les Paul guitar, in which I write a more defined style of Blues Rock songs, with attention to the tone of my guitar sound. To me they both had influences on my view of music, at different stages of my life. Hendrix was there when I was 15 and was responsible for me getting started, while Kossoff was there much later in life, about 5 years ago, and was responsible for me paying attention to the tone of my guitar sound, which I found in the Les Paul Humbucker style guitar, and the finesse to get something out of every note I play with that guitar.

CV: Song's like "Love Child," "I'm Free" and "Don't Settle for Second Best" seem to capture an electrifying period in time; an encapsulation of an era in music history that was raw and purely American Rock 'n Roll. Peace of Blues has brought that era to the modern conscious. Is this how you had envisioned your songwriting would come about in audio form or was it a planned mapping of composition?
KA: When I wrote those songs, I really didn't know how they would turn out until I went into the studio and started building the riffs and layering the tracks. I then realized I was digging deep into early musical influences and through these songs, gave a kind of dedication, to some of my musical influences. I have been told they have a Southern Rock, or a 60's psychedelic sound. I didn't do it on purpose, and was amazed upon completion, of how they have that Classic Rock sound. So in an unconscious way, I did map out the composition on what I wanted it to sound like, as I was adding to the tracks of the song, in the studio! I feel like I'm 40 years late on getting my music out to the public!

CV: Kepha, what inspires you to write as you do?
KA: It can be a number of things: what is going on around me in my family, friends and my life. Sometimes watching something on TV, like watching documentaries about other musicians inspires me. Sometimes ideas just come out of the blue! I can't explain exactly where it comes from, other than the universe is sending me ideas and I make sure to put them to a song!

CV: What elements of musical diversity does each your band mates bring to your writing style? How does their involvement help bring your vision to life?
KA: A lot of time when practicing, we will jam out. Both Greg and Rocky are seasoned musicians, so it helps get the creative juices flowing when playing with those types of musicians. When we have one of those jam sessions, where everything is clicking, I do come up with musical ideas, which I will throw out to the other two guys. If I like what we are doing, I record it on my phone and then go home and work on that idea. So far, I'm the only one writing songs in the band, so it's their musicianship and jamming style, that helps me come up with some of my songwriting ideas in the past year.
CV: Musicians of every genre and style struggle to have their music heard; to find a place for their voice.  How does Peace of Blues find a place for its musical voice? Do you find it a struggle to be heard?
KA: I'm not sure where to find the place for our music. So Yes, I have been definitely struggling to be heard, mostly because our live act, can be different than what you hear on our records. I think that can be a problem at this point. Plus most radio stations that are Classic Rock stations, don't accept our music as Classic Rock, and Rock stations say it isn't hard enough, so we aren't getting much radio play! Also, another struggle is that where I live in Texas, country music is king. I'm not in Austin, Dallas or Houston where you have better choice to play Rock venues and a bigger listening audience. With that in mind, my genre of music is geared towards a minority group of Rock listeners, here in Abilene, Texas. Also, I am playing a majority of original Blues/Rock music live, which is difficult when booking venues, since most venues want either cover songs, or an even mix. I have found that my music, appeals a lot to 40+ year old listeners. Unfortunately, most of those listeners aren't hanging in the bars and clubs these days. It's a struggle to get in Rock, or Blues festival venues, where those qualified listeners do attend, since most promoters who want the Rock/Blues music I am playing, are looking for well established bands, or want you to have a big social media following in order to get the gig. I think at this point, it is all an experiment and risk to do what I am doing, but I am attempting every way I can to get our music heard and get people to come and hear us live! I still have a lot of work to do and trying every way possible to get heard!

CV: With so many bands, such as Ghost, Scorpion Child and Greta Van Fleet, sporting a throwback, vintage sound, is modern Rock 'n Roll music coming full circle? Or have artists started to run out of original ideas and now subscribe to "if it's not broke, don't fix it" approach to creating music?
KA: It seems like the music circle is coming around, but in a good way. I think it will keep doing that in the future, the wheel will keep spinning. For example, I take the influences of what I listened to growing up and try to compliment it, when I write songs, and it shows in my music writing style.

I don't think artist have run out of original ideas, I know I haven't. Today, I hear music on the radio or internet, that reflects some great musicianship. There are still a lot of talented people coming on the Rock scene everyday. However, because more young people listen to other genres of music, and don't have the Rock music influence, the upcoming rock talent is on a smaller scale, but nonetheless they are keeping Rock music alive for those who listen to it! As long as there are people actually playing the guitar, bass, drums, and the listener appreciates and recognizes that talent, Rock music will stay alive!

CV: Some critics would argue that original bands that sound like classic bands are merely just another version of today's tribute band trend?  Would you agree or do you see it as a way artists are paying homage to those who came before and continue to inspire a new generation?
KA: I disagree with those critics based on my personal experience! For me, my music sounds classic because of my musical tastes and influences, I don't try to sound like Classic Rock music or any type of music. However, because I tend to listen to bands from the 60's-80's, more than other eras, it only makes sense my songwriting may have a classic sound to it, and some listeners, including myself, identify and try to put it in that genre. However, I've had people say some of my songs sounds like a band that I'm not familiar with, while I'm thinking it sounds like a group I'm familiar with! So I think that is what is happening to today's listeners, they are trying to put the music they hear, into a genre they are familiar with!

I'd say it is a homage, much like bands of the 60's who paid homage to the blues music of the 30's-50's, that they re-defined to fit their style! I think bands such as Greta Van Fleet are a perfect example of 60's and 70's style, musical influence, who many agree sound like Led Zeppelin, and it seems to me, they are creating original music, based on these influences. It doesn't matter their age, as much as the music that influenced them, when it comes to their creative process, which is being reflected in their songwriting. I think you'll find as they progress and grow, you'll see their music creativity naturally progress and grow, in its style and sound!

CV: Those same critics would also argue that tribute acts are destroying the original music markets, pushing bands out of the fold.  Would you agree with such a sentiment?
KA: Destroy is a strong word, but I do agree with the sentiment that tribute acts do a major disservice to the original artist, who is pursuing their vision of originality in music. Most people will pay to hear tribute bands play their favorite artist, rather than risk paying to hear an artist playing original music. Club owners know that and it makes it harder to get live gigs, after all, they want a packed house spending money at the bar! Most listeners have a tendency to connect with something familiar and this creates a mindset of not wanting to explore something new, especially when spending their hard earned money on a live act or purchasing original music! With that in mind, I welcome the challenge, because I have a vision and direction where I want my music to go, and it only makes me more determined to keep on rocking in that direction. I try my best, to perfect my music, to grab the attention of today's music aficionados, and if it's a live show, I want to give them a show they won't forget. I try to make sure if they pay to hear me play, that they get more than their money's worth!

CV: Since 2016, Peace of Blues has released four albums. How do you see the band has grown and evolved as a musical writing team? Is achieving your musical vision becoming easier as the band continues to progress?
KA: Since I am the sole songwriter, I find that as I write and record songs, I want to make sure each song sounds different. I don't think anyone wants to buy music that sounds the same as the last piece recorded. So my songwriting is evolving on its own. I don't know if achieving my vision is easier, I've found out in life, nothing is easy, everything requires hard work. However, I don't allow any distractions to my songwriting…I don't want to have any regrets. If it feels and sounds good, I write it and record it! Songwriting kind of comes natural to me, so I don't really find anything difficult in songwriting. The other members of the band aren't into songwriting, so my ability to write has helped in the cohesion of the band playing the songs! However, I very seldom have to tell them how to play their parts, so it gives them some creativity in the process, to add their bass and drum parts to the songs I write!

CV: When can fans expect a new album from Peace of Blues?
KA: I have enough original songs for an EP right now for Peace of Blues. So I am still working on some new material in order to have at least 13 songs recorded by the end of the year for a full album. Unfortunately, for me, music is a part time job and I have to keep my day job in order to pay bills and survive. If I could focus on music completely, I could put out several albums a year. For example, I have two separate albums recorded in the studio and they need completion, by adding some lead guitar tracks and vocals. However, they are side projects that won't be recorded under the Peace of Blues band. So even with my day job, in the past four years, I seem to have put out about two albums a year, under various other project names.

CV: What's next for the band?
KA: Right now, my main focus it to get help in booking and management. I am spread too thin with everything else I am doing concerning the band, and would like to get more live gigs, which I have found to be quite difficult without a booking agent. Also, would like to do a tour in the near future, so management would be a great plus in that area!

CV: Thank you again Kepha for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
KA: Thanks for listening to me, and would like to thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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