Breaking Through | 5 Questions with Kate Bollinger

We get to know one of 2020's breakout, bedroom pop songwriters Kate Bollinger.
Posted: 30 October 2020 Words: John Bell

FFO: Crumb, Sam Evian, Julia Jacklin, Still Woozy

Though it's hard to say when exactly this year it happened, the music of Charlottesville, VA's Kate Bollinger has become just the tonic for the times. Textured beautifully with the help of collaborator and producer John Trainum, Bollinger smoothly brings together elements of jazz, indie pop and R&B into a fuzzy, warm whole. 

Her latest EP A word becomes a sound is full of catchy hooks and astute personal observations that seem to understate themselves like a modest friend, instead welcoming the listener in to find them for themselves in process of laying back and taking it all in. 

Get to know Kate Bollinger a little better yourselves below.

How would you describe your music to someone you'd just met at a party?

Sometimes jazzy, sometimes indie, sometimes pop and sometimes folky. I think my songwriting is consistent, but my influences fall all over the map so I write within (and out of) a lot of genres. I would definitely feel shy and just say indie or jazzy indie though. I don’t even know what those words mean anymore really, indie feels like such a wide net now, but I would still probably place my music somewhere between that and pop.

If you could pick one song as a starting point to your music, which would you choose and why?

Of my songs, “I Don’t Wanna Lose” is still really important to me. It’s one of my earliest songs that I still love and play at shows. It feels like the first song that I wrote during this one period of time a few years ago when I was writing lots of songs in that same sound. 

There's a bunch of production styles and influences at play... how do you find the sweet spot where they complement each other the way they do?

It feels pretty natural to include all of those styles and sounds because they are what I look for in the music I listen to. Sometimes I’ll feel more inspired by someone like Joni Mitchell and I’ll write a softer, more introspective song. Other times I’ll write something more R&B. A lot of the time when I write with my producer, it ends up feeling like a blend of our combined influences. I think so much of what you consume informs what you create. 

How did the process of making A word becomes a sound differ from I Don't Wanna Lose?

The songs on I Don’t Wanna Lose were all recorded in a day out at White Star Sound in Louisa, Virginia. I hadn’t had my band for very long at that point, so playing together still felt sort of experimental to me. We tracked all of the songs live and there was minimal done in post. A word becomes a sound involved much more post production and piecing things together after the fact. I have a better understanding now of how I want my songs to sound recorded, so in a sense things were done with more intention this time around. 

Your post-release plans must be scuppered somewhat... how did you celebrate and are there any tentative plans for showcasing it in a live setting?

I was actually in the middle of the woods in Colorado the week that the EP was officially released. It’s not how I thought I would be celebrating, but it was nice to sleep outside for a few days while people were hearing the songs for the first time. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to showcase the EP in a live setting at this point, but I can’t wait to play the project from start to finish at some time in the future. 

Hear more from Kate Bollinger here

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