We had the good fortune of connecting with Astra Kelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Astra, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I think a lot of artists struggle with embracing the entrepreneurial spirit. Either your all in or you’re doing your art on the side while working for someone else to pay the bills. I’ve always thought of my musical craft as a business and knew I had to find a way to be able to be able to thrive financially. Once I took that leap of faith in myself and made the commitment to build a career rather than nurture a hobby, it all became that much more rewarding and fulfilling.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a self-employed singer, songwriter, and guitar player. I’m a vocal/songwriting coach. I host transformative songwriting workshops, and before the pandemic, I was performing well over 200 shows a year. I have a experienced music as a direct link to a higher power. It is healing. It is a refuge. It is a catalyst for processing the tough stuff of life and all the beauty and grit that goes along with it. It celebrates love and life and can move us from our core. I carry the energy of that experience into all of my musical endeavors. The challenge of building a career as an independent artist has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve had to learn to diversify, be flexible, and utilize ALL creative skills to make a living collectively. It’s required incredible trust in myself, the universe and in the community I am a part of. I think the level of challenge and commitment needed to dedicate myself to the craft is the thing that will carry me through losing it all in the pandemic and being ready and prepared to re-start when the time comes.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh gosh!! This is like mind candy thinking about actually being able to do all these things!! We’d definitely have to eat at Trust in Hillcrest! We’d take a walk through Balboa Park and have apps and wine at Prado. We’d hang out on the beach in Coronado by Hotel Del and have amazing (albeit overpriced) Bloody Mary’s when we needed a break from the sun. If it during whale season, we’d jump on a boat and head to sea for a few hours while the dolphins dance with the boat and we search for whale spouts. We’d have to find some great fish tacos and visit at least a few breweries for beer tasting….Helix in La Mesa is one of my faves. And live music of course from one of my many talented musical comrades!!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout Outs to the women that inspire me most! My good friend Cathryn Beeks and Listen Local SD. She tirelessly (and with so much love!) supports the SD music community and after meeting her on the streets of Boulder in 1999, was the motivation and reason behind my move to SD in 2006. She opened doors and welcomed me with love and open arms into this community. www.listenlocalsd.com D Boyle from DCompress. I have been receiving massages from D since 2008 and have been proud and inspired to see her grow her business from a one women show into a thriving downtown spa with many employees and expanded services. Throughout multiple shut downs during this pandemic, she has pivoted and made due with what she had to work with. I know she will fight through this and emerge stronger than before. https://dcompressdowntown.com Cally Rieman of Kal Rieman, Inc./New York. One of my longtime friends and creative comrades. We used to stay up until the wee hours completing bizarre projects for her fashion design program at the Art Institute in Chicago. I’ve admired her spirit and dedication in launching her own line of clothing and building her brand. Whenever I need a pep talk on life or love or being a self-employed creative, she’s the one I turn to. https://kalrieman.com Sandi King of The King Taylor Project and Backseat Booking. She has a huge voice, an enormous heart, and everything she does is with great intention and authenticity. She is a great friend, a powerful artist, and an incredible support for the music community. https://www.kingtaylorproject.com/ https://www.facebook.com/backseatbooking/ Businesses: Rock and Roll San Diego – I love teaching and helping others find their unique voice. I’ve been a vocal and songwriting coach at RRSD since 2014. https://www.rockandrollsandiego.com/ Jail Guitar Doors – I was honored to be given the opportunity to facilitate songwriting workshops in Donovan State Prison through this non-profit org who are in over 100 prisons across the country. Through this program, I was able to hone in on a process I could share in any situation with musicians and non-musicians alike for healing growth and well-being. https://www.jailguitardoors.org/
Photo seated looking up: Cathryn Beeks Photo with guitar shotgun: Sarah Galyon Live Photos: John Hancock Head shot, flowered dress: John Hancock