Music found you through your Grandfather hence a longstanding line of musicians. What is the best advice your Grandfather has given you?
Always leave them wanting more (I had a problem with song length as a kid). Also: practice after every meal, you always have to eat so you always have to practice. That one was a fairly recent declaration, but it’s been his advice by example for years: practice your craft.
You cite your musical influences as Fiona Apple, early John Mayer, Hanson, Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and Fleetwood Mac. Have you witnessed any of these live shows? What did you take from them?
I’ve seen all but the Beatles (obviously) and Fleetwood Mac (hoping to make that happen this year). I mostly remember crowd interactions. Aretha taking a second to joke about her less than practical dress as she took a seat at the piano. It was the best part of amazing show by an amazing icon. Musically, though, the show that’s really stuck with me is Fiona Apple and Blake Mills “Anything We Want”. It was such a stunning display of reworking these famous, complicated productions into this minimalist live performance that felt even bigger and more resonant. The duo version of “I Know:” perfection.
‘Go’ is the title of your upcoming EP. You say it is a “Dark record in a peaceful place” and you’re the songwriter,instrumentalist and producer of the record. In short: Take us on this organic experience.
Well it ends in a peaceful place, but it mostly reflects a dark time for me. It starts with “Shake Down” which explores the “you and me against the world” trope but from a very cynical place: “you won’t shake me down, you humble hoper” (poetic license on that last word). That shifts immediately into “Go,” where the first line is “now I’m coming down.” So there’s definitely a lyrical through-line, the push and pull between the emotional and the rational. “Casting Waves” sweeps it all together in this lovely little place of acceptance.
For this EP I really let the songs lead the production, gave myself a lot do time to explore where they wanted to go. I find myself wearing so many hats on a production that I’m really working now on learning where the lines between all those roles are, how to find them and respect them.
After the songwriter process was over I had to step back and say “these are the songs, this is what they are. Now, as a producer, how do I best communicate them on a record?” I tried to forget as much of what I thought I knew about a “Katie Buchanan record.” So much so, that the first pass had suspiciously few guitars (that was fixed up a bit).
Would you share the story behind one of the tracks?
I’ve talked a lot about “Casting Waves” and “Go” which makes sense, they’re sort of the conceptual beginning and end of the EP. But I’m a huge fan of “At Least I.” I started with the lyric “Well, if I can’t be clever, at least I’ll be bold.” For better or for worse it’s a fairly accurate description of how I take on the world.
So I wrote this song, produced it out. I often track things with extra bars here and there that are then cut down. But because of that process—which usually forces me to really consider the length of every section (see aforementioned brevity issues)—I actually ended up with this rambling song that I very clearly wrote to have fun writing lyrics.
Still, I loved it, so I thought, “a rambling bonus track never hurt anybody.” And I kept playing it in rehearsal because, if nothing else, it’s a damn fun song to sing. At some point I got tired of stumbling over this one clunky line the chorus and made myself fix it. Suddenly it the song with all the rational answers to the questions I was asking on the EP. So I went back to the recording, stripped out every extra beat I could, and found this concise little ditty. And good thing I did, every record needs a waltz.
Katie Buchanan is hosting a Dinner Party.
What ride do you arrive in?
The subway. Or walk if it’s not far. I love a good walk.
Are you fashionably late or dedicatedly early?
What is your ensemble?
Black pants. Black shirt. Black leather jacket. Creature of habit.
Three albums are on constant rotation, which three?
Laura Marling’s “Once I Was an Eagle”
The Unthanks’ “Here’s the Tender Coming”
Fiona Apple “Extraordinary Machine”
Those all seem like interesting but optionally easy eating music.
What is on the menu?
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ teleported fresh from Kansas City. NYC just can’t get pulled pork quite right.
Four influential people (past or present) are invited, who is on the guest list?
Which celebrity is your date?
Conversation is legging, what activity do you introduce to pick up the party?
I Never. Betty White loses.
What could the world use more of?
Selfless kindness. Or at the very least some manners.
When you are not making music what are you up to?
I’ve decided to become a reader, it’s going pretty well. Since my musical process is pretty insular, forcing myself to shift perspectives is integral. Non-musical media usually works best for me.
I’m also a big fan of food, coffee, chocolate, whiskey…things that are so often taken for granted but can be absolutely astounding feats of craftsmanship. I always marvel at people who can do things really, really well.
Katie Buchanan has always wondered why…
Why random circumstance and sheer dumb luck play such a pivotal role in our lives?
What does true love mean to you?
Still trying to figure that one out. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with commutation and respect. And chocolate.
One thing I want people to remember about me:
Trying my damnedest to be a positive influence in my world. I was a difficult kid in some respects, and I’m not exactly an optimist, so I figure it’s time balance the scale wherever I can.
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