The Will of Kickball Katy
An Interview with Hardly Art recording artist Katy Goodman of La Sera and Vivian Girls about the upcoming debut, self-titled album La Sera.
Where 80s nostalgia is all the rage in music, Katy Goodman, maybe more widely known as Kickball Katy, has a penchant to go a little further back. A member of the celebrated indie pop trio Vivian Girls, Katy’s newest project La Sera, is a natural extension of the throwback characteristic infused in the Vivian Girls sound, as well as her backing vocal style in the band. With La Sera, she has produced a far more gentle sound, even ethereal at times.
With 50s inspiration in hand, Katy began recording in February of 2010. She sent her songs to Brady Hall, a filmaker and music producer that had directed a couple of Vivian Girls videos. He was immediately on board and re-recorded the material himself, prompting Katy to fly to Seattle where they recorded the vocals and mixed the songs. They also filmed two La Sera music videos at Brady’s home studio.
The result is the Hardly Art released, self-titled album La Sera. And although it has a sweet, summery sound to it, there is something hypnotizing about the meticulously layered vocals and reverb saturated guitars. It’s not just her interpretation of the 50’s sound. With an added celestial element, she has created a sound that is more of a time warp in the sense that you can somehow picture yourself on the highway of a more undeveloped and seemingly simple time. We spoke to Katy about La Sera’s sound, muse and what’s next.
There is something so earnest and endearing about this album and it starts with the vocals. While kind of dreamy, they have this classic, almost Phil Spector-produced quality to them. Can you talk about the sound and how you went about the recording process?
The vocals were definitely one of the main focuses during the recording process. In some of the songs, like “Beating Heart,” I used layered vocals as the main instrument, which was fun! In Vivian Girls, one of my main jobs is providing high, angelic backing vocals, so it was a natural progression for me to use that same style of singing in La Sera.
If that is the case, what is so alluring to you about the music of that time?
I like how the lyrics tend to be just vague enough to apply to everyone, yet they remain poetic and beautiful.
These songs, while remaining infectious and possessing a fun sounding air, take on the weightiest of themes; love and death. Is that just your style or were you in a particular place writing this album?
I was definitely in a weird place when I was writing this album. I spent two weeks writing it last winter, and I would wake up at 6 p.m. every day, start writing around 10 p.m., and then finish a song and go to bed by 7 a.m.
I think living in those extreme, dark hours definitely influenced the lyrical mood.
What is your biggest muse in writing music?
I would say the Julie Ruin song “The Punk Singer.” That song was one of my favorites when I was 20, which is when I started writing music. I loved how the song only has 4 repeating chords, but the melody is so great that it didn’t matter that the music was simple. It gave me the confidence to start writing songs even though I didn’t know how to play guitar.
What’s next for La Sera?
I’m about to leave for a 3 week European tour, then another 3 week US tour. After that, Vivian Girls is going to start touring again, so I’m not sure when I’ll tour as La Sera again. However, the next La Sera album is about half written, so I’m sure I’ll start recording again soon.
How important was it to have a project that explored a completely different sound than the Vivian Girls?
I wouldn’t say it was important, I would say it was fun and interesting. I like making all sorts of music.
What were a few of your favorite albums in 2010?
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Beach House and Male Bonding.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I have this crazy dream of singing the hook on a rap song, so probably that. I want to sing the hook on a Drake song, make it happen! I’d also like to record my second album with Chris Coady.
Fill in the blank: In 2011, ___________ is going to blow your mind.
You can pre-order the forthcoming album set to release on February 15th on Hardly Art’s website.