Kevin Rumley channels trauma into healing with debut EP ‘VI’

"My music making it into the VA Hospitals Ketamine Therapy playlist for PTSD is one of my greatest honors”
30 May 2024

Starting with a harrowing real-life event, Kevin Rumley shouldn’t be alive. On April 7, 2004, while serving in the Marines on the Syrian border, he was hit by an improvised explosive device that tore through his body and killed his closest comrades. Using music as a tool for healing, Kevin honors this momentous date and his subsequent recovery journey with the release of his debut EP VI on April 7, 20 years later.

As a drummer in various North Carolina bands, this psychedelic, indie-rock release marks a pivotal moment in Kevin Rumley’s solo musical journey.

​Produced by Adam McDaniel ​, With each of the six tracks on VI, Kevin Rumley invites listeners on a cathartic exploration of triumph over tragedy, weaving together elements of indie-rock, folk, and orchestral choirs to create a sound uniquely his own. From the airy rock opener Turn The Lights to the spacious concluding song For Clifford, Kevin’s EP takes you on an emotionally charged journey through his sonic worlds.

Kevin doesn’t just produce songs; he creates musical snapshots of feelings. These feelings manifest in the lush sonic landscapes of his work, and this EP is the first glimpse into Kevin’s internal music universe. After being gifted a mellotron by Drop Of Sun’s studio owner, Adam McDaniel, Kevin’s sound was transported to a new realm. Boldly fusing classic, acoustic instrumentation with sweeping synths and engrossing textures, Kevin’s life story is woven into the tapestry of VI. Speaking on the EP, Kevin says:

“My life, at the time, was in a state of great motion and change. But ‘VI’ was my reflective space, my attempt at making sense of life and love and loss. I partnered with many local musicians, my absolute heroes, to have these melodic ‘feelings’ released. I don’t call them songs so much as ‘feelings or emotional landscapes.’ I had around 200 recordings; these are just the six that I chose to release for their cohesive energy.”

Releasing his debut EP, VI, is a monumental achievement for Kevin. He shares, “It is my proudest achievement. I’m proud to be in recovery and to have received my Doctorate in Social Work… to have survived being blown up, homelessness, and loss. But my greatest joy is releasing music. Wild! I just can’t believe it, and I’m so proud to have the opportunity.”

Based in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, Kevin Rumley has been making music his whole life. He started recording songs with his brother and lifelong collaborator in middle school. Their psychedelic rock outfit, Her Marigold, has been producing their signature cathartic, expansive sound since then. As a drummer, Kevin works with artists all over North Carolina, including Band of Horses’ own Tyler Ramsey, Bandazian, Wildebeest, and Electric Owls. Influenced by indie rock artists like Panda Bear, Phosphorescent, and his brother Matt Rumley, Kevin’s uniquely psychedelic sound is a testament to his years of collaboration, experimentation, and performing.

Kevin unites his musical exploration with his work as a veteran counselor and mentor. Utilizing his lived experience, he helps those struggling with rehabilitation, bringing his connection with musical healing into his work. Citing music as the foundation of his community, Kevin’s artistry has helped him connect with others throughout his recovery journey.

Kevin reveals: “Music is everything. Seldom has music not been the connecting fabric between myself and veterans. Music can instantly calm the nervous system and allow for ventral vagal grounding. Music allows humans who are traumatized to access their neofrontal cortex. Music therapy is an evidence-based modality. My music making it into the VA Hospitals Ketamine Therapy playlist for PTSD is one of my greatest honors.”

The main collaborators for this project are: Joshua Carpenter – bass, David McCinnes – pedal steel / guitar, Julie Odell – backing vocals and Ivy Eld – backing vocals. This impressive debut EP VI is a testament to Kevin Rumley’s resilience, healing, and the transformative power of music.