Foto-© Lina Friedrich

Heute erscheint endlich das neue Album Tigers Blood der US-amerikanischen Songwriterin Katie Crutchfield, alias Waxahatchee. Darauf entpuppt sich Crutchfield als ein Kraftpaket – eine Ethnologin des Selbst, die sich immer wieder mit ihren Gewinnen und Verlus-ten auseinandersetzt. Auf Tigers Blood lässt Crutchfield auch neue Kollaborateure in ihre Welt einfließen: MJ Lenderman, Spencer Tweedy und Phil Cook sind auf dem Album zu hören, ebenso wie ihr vertrauter Kollaborateur und Produzent Brad Cook.

Crutchfield sagt, dass sie die meisten Songs auf Tigers Blood während einer “Heißhungerattacke” während ihrer Tournee im Jahr 2022 geschrieben hat. Und als es an der Zeit war, Aufnahmen zu machen, kehrte Crutchfield zu ihrem vertrauten Produzenten Brad Cook und der Sonic Ranch in der Grenzstadt Tornillo, Texas, zurück, einem Kollaborateur und Ort, der auch dazu beigetragen hatte, ihren Sound auf dem 2020 erschienenen Saint Cloud an einen bahnbrechenden Wendepunkt zu bringen. Wir sprachen mit ihr via Zoom für eine neue Folge unseres Podcasts The Space Between the Notes – die neue Episode gibt es hier zu hören oder unten zu lesen!

Lovely to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I’m a huge fan.
Oh. Thank you. Lovely to meet you too.

I’ve been following your music for more than a decade now, and I’ve always been fascinated to hear where you’re you’re going to go next, both thematically and stylistically. I’m in love with your new record, Tiger’s Blood, and I’m very excited to talk about it. Can you start by setting the scene a little bit? When Saint Cloud came out, the prevailing narrative was that you got sober in 2018, and you settled into this more attuned Americana style and a lot of the trauma and darkness of your songwriting, while still present, was kind of contained in this world of beauty and contemplation. So what was the initial impulse for Tiger’s Blood? How is it a discreet moment in your development as an artist?
I think that Saint Cloud was obviously like a transitional record in a lot of ways. My life had just shifted dramatically, and I was trying to figure out how things were going to work. And I wrote that record in the midst of that transition. I think you can kind of feel that in the record, like all the changes that were happening in my life were good. So I think that’s why the record feels warm and positive and hopeful is because the transition was good. But I was very much spinning my wheels internally. Tiger’s Blood is after I’ve landed a bit, in this sort of new phase of my life, whether it be if you want to look at it from an age standpoint, now I’m settled into my mid 30s, I’m settled into sobriety, I’m settled into my personal life and my career and things are sort of just more settled. So I’m really just surveying the scene a little bit. I think that my records before Saint Cloud, those were just like the classic I’m in my 20s and things are chaotic and debaucherous and there’s all these micro dramas and romantic entanglements and things like that. Now there’s less obvious drama in my life to use as songwriting fodder. I do think that I’m looking in places maybe that are a little less expected, but I feel like the album lyrically is a little more settled.

If we talk about the lead single Right Back To It, this song made me cry on a plane recently. It’s so beautiful. A love song like that, it’s really rare. It’s about the ebb and flow of relationships, the desire to feel connected to loved ones in moments of disconnection and loneliness, and the sort of reassurance that that’s what love is a lot of the time. It’s this coming together and then parting and then coming together and parting. And finding newness in the familiar. There’s a Bob Dylan lyric from It’s All Right, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding): “That he not busy being born is busy dying.” And you almost even use that lyric in 3 Sisters, but you say “if you’re not living, then you’re dying”. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. How for much of your young life, like you were saying, you’re kind of accumulating these experiences, making mistakes, living intensely, and then at some point the bulk of that feels like it’s over, and you kind of need to slow down and sort through a lot of that stuff. And that’s what this record, and particularly this song ‘Right Back To It’ brings up in me. I wonder if that kind of resonates with you at all, and I wanted to ask you what is your relationship to newness now?
Yeah, I think that does resonate. I mean, that’s exactly what the song is about, you said it better than I could. It’s about a long relationship and and you’re trying to find newness in the familiar. I think that that’s great, and, you know, feeling surprised a lot of the time that you still can find so much newness in the familiar and how exciting and beautiful that is. So there’s a Lucinda Williams song called Side of the Road. That’s one of her really famous songs, and it’s sort of similar. It’s about wanting to find independence within a long, loving relationship. That that’s what love looks like to her. She sort of says in the song, if I stray away too far, I’ll come back. That’s sort of the the message in the song. There’s something so romantic about that. It’s a type of love song that I really relate to and love. My relationship to newness, I mean. I think that that your relationship to newness is that’s life. The phase of life that I’m in now is so new to me. I just feel like with every year I’m changing and I’m growing sort of wiser and calmer and, like, more able to just observe the world rather than be all the way in the thick of the chaos, and writing songs from that perspective.

YouTube video

Well, you’ve definitely settled into this Americana style that works really well for your songwriting. Brad Cook is back to help you create that warm aesthetic, and there are a few new faces that bring a few more rockin’ sections that we’ll talk about in a minute. But I wanted to ask, do you think that that the lo fi, grunge, bedroom indie rock style is behind you? Personally, I would happily take another ten Americana Waxahatchee albums, but I just wonder whether you feel that that aesthetic is is behind you now.
That aesthetic really was two fold. Like on one hand, that aesthetic truly came out of having no resources or knowledge of how to make recordings that sounded good, or how to produce myself. So it was born just out of pure ignorance. And while I do love music in that style and was very passionate about making songs that sounded like that at the time, it would be really surprising to me if I went back in that direction. If you had told me ten years ago that I was going to be looked at as like a country singer, I would have told you you were crazy. So you really never know. And that’s something I’ve really learned. Is never say never or just don’t ever make sort of blanket statements about what creative path you’re going to take because you really never know. So I could very well go back in that direction.

When Right Back To It came out, I got the impression that this was an MJ Lenderman feature single. But the truth is that MJ Lenderman is the lead guitarist in Waxahatchee now! He features on every song! I already mentioned Brad Cook and Phil Cook’s on here, too. Spencer Tweedy plays drums. Can you talk a little bit about assembling this group of collaborators for the record? How did it come about? I mean, were you deliberate about almost completely changing the band from Saint Cloud, aside from Brad and the production and engineering, what was your thinking behind that?
I found that keeping the collaborators fresh and tailoring it to the songs has been helpful. It’s been helpful in helping me, like, reinvent myself without reinventing myself, if that makes sense. Like just getting a different group of musicians into the room helps the record feel different. Even if, you know, I don’t really totally change my sound. Saint Cloud was kind of all about the band Bonny Doon, and we’re really close friends. I loved their sound and their first few records, and I really loved the idea of taking something about their aesthetic and applying it to my songs. And as soon as I did that, the sound of Saint Cloud just like emerged. I had the idea way in the beginning of demoing for this record before we had any ideas about what we were going to do. I had thrown the idea out to bring in MJ Lenderman because he was a new artist to me, but I was like obsessed with his record Boat Songs. And I just was listening to all the time. I saw him at South by Southwest and I was just obsessed. So I threw it out to Brad. And Brad had worked with Jake because he, he was playing in Indigo De Souza’s band at the time, and Brad had made that record, so he knew Jake already. So Brad invited him to the first demo session, and that was a surprise to me because I was like, we don’t even know what we’re doing yet. Like, why did you invite him so early? And so the first session was just me, Jake and Brad. I don’t even think we had an engineer there. Maybe we did. And we just jammed. Jake played drums, and he played guitar a little bit. And then at the end of the session, we had tracked a version of Right Back To It that sounds really similar to the finished version, and when we tracked it, I think Brad and I kind of looked sideways at each other like, I think this is kind of something that we should be paying attention to. I think we should chase after how this is making us feel. And then right before Jake left to go back to Asheville, we were in Durham, North Carolina, I was like, you should sing a harmony on this song. And he had sung a little bit on the other songs, but we’re like, let’s sing harmony on Right Back To It. And I coached him through. I was like, sing the harmony just like this. And he was really polite. And he was like, yeah, like this, okay. Got it. And then he went to sing it and he’s singing something completely different, like, not even kind of what I told him to sing, but it was so good. It was so much better. It’s what’s on the record. And when I heard him sing the harmony, it was like everything clicked for me and Brad. And then when he left, we were like, we got it. We’re going to go back to Sonic Ranch in Texas. We’re going to put this band together. And I was like, I want Phil, I want Spencer, you, Jake, and myself. And then that’s the band. It just made everything click for us. Which is kind of why I wanted to feature him on the song. He’s featured on the whole record, but I knew that would be a big song for the record, and I knew it would be the first single. And I was like, I’m going to give Jake, like a little extra boost on this one because, really without him, the record wouldn’t be the same.

The harmonies are really beautiful. Another one that’s one of my favorite songs is Bored because you absolutely send it on the song and it has this great energy. But what’s so special about it for me is your vocal performance, which, one of the great strengths of Waxahatchee is how arresting your voice is. But you’ve got a few different modes that you’ve mastered now, and Bored has this switch moment between the verses and the chorus that makes them complement each other so well. You go from this kind of playful beckoning, performative speak song style in the verse to this wholehearted, no holds barred wail in the chorus. And I wanted to ask how you write a song like that. What is your process like in general?
Well, I’ll answer a few different parts of that. It’s funny that you notice the starkness between those two parts, because that’s the only song that I did not finish tracking at Sonic Ranch, and I had to go to Brad’s and retrack my voice because I had to put some sauce on it. That’s what he kept saying. Because going from the speak singing to the wail, it was really hard for me to not energy match those two parts. I either did the the verses too energetic or I did the chorus too casual. That song, when I wrote it, it felt like this weird lucky time in place thing where the verse melody I had for like a long time, it was deep into my Dropbox or my voice memos. So it just had been sitting dormant, and it was one of the last songs I wrote for the record, and every time I write like a song late in the process, it always ends up being one of the singles. I just pulled it out one day when probably 80% of the record was finished, and then that chorus just came out all of a sudden. I don’t have a, vision for exactly I want the record to be like. But I’ll make these little notes about different songs that I know. And I had written something about Sheryl Crow. I was like, I would love to write like a really big, poppy chorus. And so I think that was on my mind. And I was like, this melody for the verse has so much attitude. And then it just kind of fell out of the sky.

YouTube video


Yeah, it does have that Sheryl Crow energy. You were, opening for her for a little while, right? When you write lyrics, do you always have the melody first?
I collect melodies over the course of a year or two. I may sit down at a piano or guitar and write a vocal melody or I might be out at dinner and a melody will hit me and I’ll have to go record it really quick. That happens all the time. So I just collect them, and then when it feels like I’m ready, when I’m working on a project or something, or it feels like it’s about time to to start working on a new record, I’ll pull them out and and sit with them. I’ll usually write all the lyrics and sometimes I’ll write half of a song in June and I won’t finish it until like, November. And sometimes I’ll write a song on a Tuesday and I’ll finish on a Wednesday. Just kind of depends on where I’m at, but I always have a lot of melodies going, and the lyrics kind of come second and all at once, and that’s what I sort of consider to be the hard part. I don’t really write poetry, but I do write down ideas. If I think of something that I think would be interesting in a song, maybe I’ll pass a river on a highway or I’ll see a green hat or I’ll see something and it’ll it’ll trigger something in my mind, and I’ll just make a note of it.

You’ve announced a fairly long U.S. tour starting in April. Touring for many artists has changed in a negative way over the past decade. How do you feel about touring now compared to when you started off? And is it going to be a possibility for you to tour this record in Europe and the UK?
Yes I will. It’s just not announced yet, but it’s being planned. So keep an eye out for that. Touring for me in the last decade. I mean, it’s really changed for the better. Only just because my audience has grown. I toured for a very long time when I was very young, lost money over and over again and just kind of did it for love of the game. So I’m very grateful that I’m now in a position where I can tour more comfortably. But I think that we as artists in 2024 make more of our living off of touring than we could from our streaming or anything like that. So I think that we live in a touring economy. That’s what we’re expected to do or what we have to do. And I know that it’s really grueling for a lot of people.

Apart from playing music. What is the most fun thing?

What’s your sleep schedule like?
Well, in Europe it’s it’s pretty crazy, but normally I pride myself on being a very good sleeper. I always get eight hours, sometimes more. I can usually fall asleep no matter what. Ever since I quit drinking, I sleep really, really well. And it’s something that’s very important to me. I just enjoy it so much.

Do you have a sleep hygiene checklist, or do you just, like, hit the pillow?
Yes. Of course. I have a noise machine. I’ve got a silk mask that I can wear. I can pull that out if I need to. The temperature needs to be. I don’t know what it would be Celsius, but in Fahrenheit it would be like 68, 67 degrees. If there’s a weighted blanket, that’s great. You know. Yeah, I really, really enjoy sleeping.

Lovely to speak to you. I love the record.
You too! Thanks a lot.

Waxahatchee Tour:
12.07.24 Köln, Gebäude 9
13.07.24 Hamburg, Mojo Club
15.07.24 Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg
17.07.24 Schorndorf, Club Manufaktur

YouTube video