Kate Earl Talks "Stronger"
Tue, 20 Nov 2012 07:24:08
On Stronger, Kate Earl manages to summon the spirits of Laurel Canyon's heyday, while remaining on the cutting edge of modern indie. Her voice echoes with raw power as she relays a myriad of stories based on real life and love. It's Earl's best effort yet and a landmark in and of itself. You've got to take this trip with her…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kate Earl talks Stronger, storytelling, movies, and more.
Did you approach Stronger with one vision or vibe in mind?
Yes, as a whole, there's a very defined vision that I chose to take on. The idea was really brainstormed in the writing sessions with Brett Dennen. I shared something with him. As I make my records, I'm really in a certain place and time for each one. This is an avenue of my voice and history that I felt really needed to be expressed. I came from this little town Chugiak, Alaska, and my older brothers were huge fans of artists like Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, and Fleetwood Mac. Even though I was a child of the '80s, all of that '70s music was still in heavy rotation. As a developing mind, it had a part in dictating what feels right and natural to me as a singer, a writer, and an artist. Brett is so prolific in terms of his song structure and storyteller that I had a wonderful opportunity to execute simple ideas in a deep way that was true to that sound without being too much of a throwback. I feel like we were able to tread the line of not being too much of a tribute while leaving a lot of room for the influence of that time.
It's an homage to the '70s. You take how that music made you feel and translate it through your own lens.
It's where I'm at now with the stories I'm telling in my own personal life and in my own voice. I'm definitely inspired by tracks like "Rihannon" and Tom Petty's "American Girl". There's that American feeling. It also gives credit to the current harvest of musicians I've come up with who are from the whole Laurel Canyon and Beachwood Canyon scene in L.A. There's an arsenal of musicians who have been around. We've all known each other for years and come together on a project we believe in. I was happy to be in that brotherhood with the caliber of artists, writers, and musicians that showed up for this album.
What's the story behind "I Get Around"?
For me, that sound is inspired by The Rolling Stones. I don't know if that's what you take away from it, but there's definitely a blues feeling to it. I'm claiming my status as a troubadour. Even though I'm still I'm a mother, I'm no less of a musician and a citizen of the world. Thankfully, my son is super rad. He's so down to travel and be with his mom however and wherever. We just roll together. It's a double entendre. I love songs that have multiple layers and meanings. You can take the song to mean I lead the lifestyle of a liberated woman. That is true. I'm a free spirit, and I do march to the beat of my own drum in life and in love. On the other hand, I'm the foundation for the world that belongs to my son. I make sure we're ready for whatever's coming our way. During the time he's with his father, I'm able to go have an adventure of my own. I'm very open to being spontaneous with my life even though I have the responsibilities I do. Life doesn't have to end when you become a parent, and there's a way to balance it all without compromising the impact necessary for life, love, art, and family.
Is it important for the songs to paint pictures?
Yeah, I think songs come from the tradition of storytelling. There is an element of bravado that has come into more recent years of popular radio. I hope that I can bring some of the soul that really was on radio and in popular music through the '60s and '70s with these artists who were leading a lifestyle introduced self-reflection and change. I hope I've communicated some of that.
What else fosters that storytelling?
I'm a huge fan of reading. I have a rule in my home where we try not to watch TV at night unless it's a dedicated movie night where we're actually going to sit together and watch something or I'm by myself and I want to bust out The Seven Year Itch or a Jim Jarmusch film. I absolutely love Walk the Line. I try not to watch or observe media passively. I try to be a student at all times. I heard Fiona Apple say that she sees her songs as speeches.
Some people view lyrics as a way to get the song finished. They're a means to an end. If you were not to have any music and were just singing a capella, I hope between the melody and story you'd be just as impacted as if you had the full production of the finished track. I've always written that way. I'm glad you noticed because it makes me feel like I've done my job.
If your album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I'd say Beautiful Girls meets Norma Rae meets Woman of Heart and Mind.
Do you have a dog right now?
I wish I had a dog! I've had a few in my life, and I don't have one at this time because I have my hands full with my two-year-old. My favorite dog, if I could pick any kind, is a boxer. I've had two. They're little comedians.
What's next for you?
The last two years, I've been writing like a fiend. I don't want to give too much away, but I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised on the next project. I love the idea of having not necessarily concept records but chapters. Artists that I really love like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and Michael Jackson were never defined by one particular sound. They were defined as artists who would take one these roles and have their voice which was consistent between any sound they want to make. If Ray Charles wanted to sing a country song, it was no less Ray Charles than anything. It always felt true to him. I hope my fans can recognize that with everything I put out.
Have you heard Stronger?