We're big fans of Herzig here at Speakers in Code, and we were thrilled to chat with her over the phone for a few minutes in advance of her St. Louis show (get your tickets -- $10 advance/$12 day of show -- here). Enjoy the interview!
How's it going, Katie?
It's going all right! I'm in the middle of tour, currently in L.A.
Well, you will be here in Saint Louis at the end of the month.
Yeah, I think that's the last show of the tour.
Yeah, I caught you at the Old Rock House last time, and you played some of these new songs off The Waking Sleep. A lot of energy in these songs, are they fun to play live?
Yeah, we're finding they're really fun to play live. Going into it, it was kind of daunting, figuring out all the parts and all that. But once you figure out what the most important ones are, yeah, it feels like a different show.
The first time I heard the record, I thought it was a brave record.
Especially the opening song.
That's interesting. That's the first time I've heard that word to describe it. (From my) point of view, it was kind of a natural progression from where I was going, but it felt like a giant leap from where I've been. I tried a lot of new things in a lot of places, and it feels like once you go there, there's no going back.
Was there a different mindset for this album?
This one was recorded over the course of a year, writing and recording the songs. So, I think that it was kind of more cohesive because of that, but every record is hard to finish. It's a massive project. By the end, you've heard the songs a hundred times or more, and you're still hung on a tiny bit about them that bother you or whatever. But in the end, you just have to let it go. So, I always consider it to be a hard process, but it is one of my favorite things to do. It's so much fun to see these songs come to be.
Is there a moment when you're recording when you hear something new in a song, and you think to yourself, 'Yeah, that's exactly what I wanted!' Does that ever happen?
Yeah, you always kind of stumble upon things every now and then that you had no idea you were going to find. You kind of have to be prepared to let the songs lead you, and also, there's tons of stuff you try that doesn't work.
"Lost and Found" is really interesting. It's one of my favorites because there's so much going on in that song.
That one was interesting. I ended up writing it with my producer Cason Cooley, because I just had the piano hook in my head, and I put that down and recorded to it with some fake words, and building the verses. And then I just took it to play it for him, and he came up with the choruses with me and together we wrote the rest of the song. And that one has been one of the biggest -- like, I think when we were recording it, it wasn't...it was exciting and it was a challenge and it was good, but I don't think we realized it was a song so many people would be talking about. (laughs) Which is a great surprise! Yeah, I really enjoyed writing that song.
That one stood out. And actually, when I listen to this record, the first four songs flow together and they complement each other very well. And then it starts to get more serious, at least for me, anyway. But your songwriting has always been pretty serious, would you agree?
Yeah, it's funny, because even the songs that sound lighter and have a bit of playfulness to them often have lyrics that are maybe a little bit heavy, but I try to balance that stuff out. I would say every once in a while I write a song that is light and fun and nothing else. "Best Day of Your Life" was one of those. And those just have zero complication to them. A lot of the other ones have a bit more weight lyrically.
Listening to your last record and songs like "I Hurt Too" and "Wish You Well," that's when I really started listening to your songs -- that's when they made me feel something. And with this record, I still get that feeling with a song like "Closest I Get." It's a simple song, but there's a lot of meaning in that song.
That's kind of the beautiful challenge of writing a song like that. That is a really simple song. I mean, it's three verses. And it kind of just...there's nothing really tricky about it. And it's really intimate. But I feel there is a restraint to it, and the crux of the song, or the line of the song, "What if the closest I get to the moment is now," it's just a question. And when you ask those types of questions, there's a lot that surrounds it and what it can mean, and it makes you think.
That was a really fun song to write; I wrote it over the course of writing the album. I started at the very beginning and ended it at the end -- it was the last thing I tracked, I just couldn't quite figure out the words to the last verse in time. So, I just kept putting it off, it was just never quite the right way. And then finally, I figured out how to say it, and we ended up tracking it out live. It was really satisfying.
Katie Herzig with Butterfly Boucher | The Old Rock House | Saturday, November 19th | Doors 7PM; Show 8PM | $10-12