Thursday, February 11, 2010

Katie Herzig (The Interview)

If it isn't clear by now (and it must be), singer-songwriters rule my life. Female ones, especially, like the wonderful Katie Herzig. Really, I can't get enough.

And when I saw Herzig open for Brandi Carlile in Denver last month, I pretty much fell in love with every word that escaped her mouth. I'm probably being dramatic, which is normal for me, but hey, Ms. Herzig had me focused during her whole set. With songs like "Hologram," "Wish You Well," and "I Want to Belong To You," it's hard not to be a little in love with her voice and words.

So, we're a little giddy to have Katie as our guest here at Speakers in Code. Here are her thoughts on touring with Brandi Carlile, songwriting, Nashville, road trips, and future plans.

You recently finished a short tour with Brandi Carlile. What was that like? What did you learn from Brandi? Were there any shows that stood out?

It was all I hoped it'd be. I've been a fan of her music and voice for a while, so it's been such a treat to get to know her and learn that she is every bit as awesome as you'd hope she'd be. That whole crew -- she and the twins and their band/crew are so kind and tons of fun to tour with.

What did I learn from Brandi? We had some good talks about how they've gotten to where they are now, and it's inspiring. You really do reap what you sow, and they are the perfect example of that. The songs those guys write and Brandi's voice and their presence in the shows -- the energy and the way the connect with the audience -- is unparalleled. So, that mixed with their kindness, work ethic, and the obvious joy they have from what they do -- it goes such a long way.

Shows that have stood out to me have been the Tuscon show we did in October, NYC at The Beacon Theater, Seattle, Portland, Des Moines...The Brown Theater in Louisville... the thing is, we get to play these beautiful theaters filled with music lovers who are listening intently to what you do, which is hard to come by as an opener. We felt spoiled most nights.

"Wish You Well" from your last album, Apple Tree, kills me every time I hear it. What does that song mean to you, and what inspired you to write it?

Thanks, that's awesome to hear. That song has meant a lot to me since I wrote it. It's proven to be one of the more powerful/lasting songs I've written. I'm thankful for that. It's one of those songs that has inspired people to share with me how that song relates to their lives and that to me is a gift; I'm always amazed that people feel comfortable sharing some of those things with me, a stranger...but not really, because I guess I've already put myself out there with those lyrics.

I wrote "Wish You Well" in the middle of a combination of things. I had a few friends at the time who'd lost parents and were mourning that, and I also at the time had someone in my life who was sick, so it was really a process of learning what it might be like to say goodbye if I had to. Some lines in the song are deeply personal and specific to me and some are more general and imaginative.

You live in Nashville. What's it like being a musician in Nashville these days?

Well, I miss the bike lanes, the mountains, and the family and friends I have in Colorado, but I moved to Nashville to be apart of a community of artists who inspire me and who I get to collaborate with. It's a very collaborative town, and the indie music scene (the non-country scene) is thriving and supportive. Though I have to say I've felt a bit less connected the last year or so as I've been on the road, mostly. Luckily, it's a forgiving town, and you can pretty easily jump back into things when you're home. The most recent reflection of the scene here is the Ten Out of Tenn Tour that I've been a part of. Check it out and you'll get a taste of the kind of talent around here. Also, creating music in Nashville seems easier to me because there is this wealth of musicians and studios and venues and industry that you always have access to.

If you were going on a long road trip with friends, name some of your must have travel songs.

My life is a long road trip! We listen to lots of music in our tour van. I can tell you that the latest favorite songs/artists that have been on repeat are: Vampire Weekend -- the new record, Contra, has two songs we repeat -- "Horchata" and "Taxi Cab." Then there is the song "Cosmic Love" by Florence + The Machine, it makes you feel like anything is possible! And we're always coming back to some of our ole standbys such as Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, Annie Lennox, Lucinda Williams, Enya, Andrew Bird, Shawn Colvin, and tons more...though I have to say recently I've been rocking Julie Andrews' Biography of her early years book on tape -- she reads it herself, and it's just delightful!

Finally, what is next for you? Any plans to record another album soon?

Yeah, I literally just returned to Nashville for a season where I will be home for larger chunks of time to write and record a new record. I'm prepping for it now, and any day here I will probably be jumping into it.

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