Kate Epps Interview: “Some people are future-orientated – I yearn for the past”

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Kate Epps is rare breed; resting on the border between unnerving and uplifting, pop and not – her music is strange as it is as ghostly as it is alive. One undeniable trait is her talent. With an EP out later this year and a string of London dates for the summer (more TBC) we thought we’d catch up with this baby-pink nostalgia freak to find out a bit more. The results are pretty interesting.

O: How did you get started making music?

KE: I always wanted to make music for as long as I remember but until about last year I had convinced myself that i didn’t have any musical talent to speak of and never seriously tried… then when i was at school I studied music and took a music production course and learned the basics of how to record music. I started recording music at home using what I had learned and uploading cover songs onto Soundcloud. I did that for about three years while i was doing other things… then while I was studying film – I was working to become a screenwriter – I realised how much I missed recording music and using music to communicate what I was trying to say. I find it easier than dialogue and trying to craft coherent plotlines. I decided to start writing my own songs, and that’s the crucial part – I decided, so I started.

O: Your influences are so obviously retro, what is it about music’s past that takes your fancy?

KE: I’ve always been fundamentally a nostalgic person, I think some people in their mindsets are future-orientated, and that definitely seems to be the “on trend” way of thinking at the moment – which is cool. But I’ve always had a yearning to return to the past within my own life and eventually that transformed in a fascination with the world before i knew it. it’s not even just music, post-war society, in general, fascinates me. Learning about the political influences on popular culture and consumer culture and how the society we know today was shaped by politics and pop culture in equal measure… it’s fascinating.

O: Who are your biggest influences, musically and visually?

KE: Musically I have a lot of love for film soundtracks. it combines the two passions of my life really so I’ve always been drawn to it as a discipline. As a songwriter, I love folk and country music and it’s strong emphasis on storytelling – one of my favourites of that stripe is Bobbie Gentry, I never shut up about her. Other than that though, I love pop music and learn a lot from it, I love the 60s yé-yé girls, ambitious 70s prog rock, the new york punks like Blondie and The Ramones, the 90s american alt-rock from pearl jam to Marilyn Manson via Nine Inch Nails and No Doubt… I’ll admit, I don’t know much about hip hop and rap but i love learning the history and influence of it and tracing its roots and transformations, especially on the practice of sampling. A lot of the time i am drawn to women who make music, because I recognise my experiences and passion in theirs: Gwen Stefani, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, The Carpenters, The Pierces, Nicole Dollanganger, Marina and the Diamonds, Hole, Hope Sandoval, and Amy Winehouse.

O: You recently tweeted about losing followers because of your feminist tweets, do you still feel like there are barriers in music because you’re a woman?

KE: I was tweeting about noticing objectification. On my twitter feed I saw some promo pictures of a band of four fully clothes guys holding large pictures of naked female body parts over their own bodies. To be honest I wasn’t offended by it, it wasnt the nudity element that bugged me. I thought it was quite a cool concept. But at the end of the day, it’s just another little reminder that stacks up with all the others that to photographers, to advertisers, to marketers, to the beauty industry, even to ourselves, we as women are a series of body parts (usually which need to be ‘fixed’ or improved). On a daily basis there’s a culture of the female body being frequently picked apart and ‘butchered’ and sexualised, literally, without my control or consent. so it wasn’t like that image itself was an issue, but it’s the wider context that bugged me. In terms of my career though, I don’t really look out too much for it and haven’t encountered it yet. I think
when you start looking for it and you spot it, it brings you down, makes you paranoid, and you lose your focus – but you only have to read the news/music publications to know that there is a problem.

O: How do you think your sound has changed since your first started making music?

KE: It’s changed in confidence mostly. Soft Pink is like a shy bird whereas the music I make now is a little more self-assured. it’s getting easier for me to actually listen to other music and pinpoint what’s working for me and then try and translate that onto my own work which is a skill I’ve been trying to hone for years. I’m also developing my own style which other people acknowledge, recognise and appreciate, which is quite cool. I’m also now actually able to listen to my own music and say that I like it and am proud of it which has taken me a surprisingly long time.

O: You’re doing a music Come Dine With Me. Four other dead/alive musicians have been invited to your house for dinner and canapes, who have you invited?

KE: Bobbie Gentry, Elvis (obviously he has to bring Prisiclla), Father John Misty and his Psychedelics, and Nancy Sinatra.

O: What have you got planned for the future?

KE: I’m going to keep developing my sound… find a way to make the most beautiful music I can and share it with whoever will listen.

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