Kenneth Pattengale works outside, or at least on the fringes, of what the music industry might traditionally call its own. Over the last eight years, Pattengale has taken inspiration from the career paths of artists like Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and personal hero Joe Henry by exploring what it means to wear the differing hats of film composer, record producer and performing songwriter. The music called into question is hard to classify. It runs the gamut from swamp music to rhythm & blues, lullaby to country & western, folk song to piano ballad and beyond. The songs take direction from the stories they tell, not necessarily held together by a clear musical style but by the authenticity with which the stories are told. Along with the artists that Pattengale looks towards for career inspiration, he hopes to follow Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, Chris Smither and Loudon Wainwright in their ability to conjure a unique American voice by transforming emotional experience into narrative. Beginning with Downtown LA in 2001, Pattengale has independently released five full-length albums of original material. He has just finished recording a new collection of material entitled Storied Places, the first to see a departure from Pattengale’s own label Four Six Productions. The record is to be released on January 27, 2009 by Milan Records. Pattengale spent 12 weeks at the beginning of 2007 writing and recording what would become the score for the German animated film Die Drei Rauber, which was produced by Tom Tykwer’s production company X-Filme. Shortly after, he started to perform his own material for live audiences in Los Angeles. “I hadn’t played live for almost four years. I was always scared of not having enough control over the performance environment, or lacking the textures only available in the studio. In many ways, working on the film-being collaborative in nature-forced a re-evaluation. It made me yearn to make a connection with people beyond what the recordings alone have to offer.” He continues to perform live sets of original material often in his native Los Angeles. In addition to countless short films, two features and five albums, Pattengale has produced records for a varied group of artists, from hardcore sensation From First to Last for major label Interscope to rootsy Americana newcomers Matt Taylor and his Laurels for Pattengale’s own indie imprint. It’s the balance between the three arenas Pattengale works within that drives his career. He explains, “Upon seeking advice from a hero of mine, I was urged to simply do the work that lay in front of me. I’ve found a tremendous personal and emotional success in following that advice-putting myself in situations that reward a hard work ethic and a healthy imagination but, above all, a commitment to honesty in your work.” Pattengale is, as he puts it, a “ripe but withered twenty-six years old,” holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern California and “fights [himself] for elbow room among stacks of books, scraps, instruments & computers” in Los Angeles, California.
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