The Dublin based alt-folk singer/songwriter takes us through each track on her Choice Music Prize nominated new album Salt.
I find it immensely difficult to do katie kim‘s music any kind of justice with mere words. Such is the power and intensity of her compositions that any description ultimately seems too shallow, too unworthy, too cloying. I sit, headphones on, and listen intently to her beautiful songs in a vain attempt to drive the words out, but instead become enraptured with the intimate catharsis of her eclectic sound that seems to sit elegantly between the naked honesty of Fiona Apple and the delicately atmospheric ambiance of Liz Harris’ Grouper.
I will say that a personal favourite is the deceptively simple piano ballad ‘Body Break’. There are no industrial tinged sonic experiments here, no imposing melodies, and katie kim’s vocals are pushed to the front. My Dad has said for years that the worth of song is in how it sounds when it is completely stripped of theatricality and tinsel. Without any fuss, ‘Body Break’ immediately seizes the listener’s ear with it’s bare candour and is clear evidence that Ireland has once again produced a truly formidable song writer. For my money, Salt is streets ahead of the competition in a particularly strong year for the Choice Music Prize. But, who cares about that when we have years of music to look forward to from katie kim?
Grab the album on limited edition vinyl from Bandcamp.
Investigating and interpreting my songs is a particularly awkward task at the best of times, as I don’t consciously prepare a subject when writing. Words come and place themselves together until eventually I’m happy with the end result. Although then, in retrospect looking over these words some time later, the narrative tends to makes more sense to me. It’s somewhat psychoanalytic, so keeping that in mind, ‘Ghosts’ does strike quite hard with me.
It’s about closeness and loyalty. And how that closeness and loyalty wanes and dissolves over time. It’s also about having to give up on someone you trust and dealing with the guilt of that. I suppose everyone understands what it’s like to have people sway in and out of their lives and it’s about making sense of why we act the way we act.
2. Day is Coming
‘Day is Coming’ for me looking back at the time it was written, is very obviously about realising that adoration and idolisation of somebody has treacherous consequences. There’s only so much up before it must come down.
I can sense a running theme of dread as I write these synopsis! This tells a very short story about not being able to see ahead. And a desire to want to.
4. Body Break
‘Body Break’ is essentially centred around guilt and separated feelings. Wanting to be a better person for somebody else and ultimately failing.
5. I Make Sparks
This is mostly about losing identity. Becoming a ghosts of yourself within a relationship. Trying to get back up again, sinking a little lower but always aware there’s a scintilla of hope there.
6. Life or Living
I’m still trying to work out why I go to water/oceans/lakes/rivers in my writing so much. It’s a been a recurring theme of mine since I started writing and and it features heavily on Cover & Flood and here in Salt. But ‘Living’ came about mainly after a fairly vivid dream involving crucifixes, oceans and Dan Akroyd.
7. Beautiful Human
‘Beautiful Human’ was one of the first songs I wrote for Twelve. It never made it on, but I thought it deserved to make it onto something, so John (Murphy who produced Salt with me) spent some time playing with sparseness and different arrangements of the original and we ended up translating it into something more than I ever could have achieved alone. It’s a distant glacial ode to the past.
I wrote ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Thieves’ fairly close together, but I look at ‘Thieves’ like the precursor to ‘Ghosts’. A small glimpse of some sort of darkness approaching but still completely immersed in something you can’t foresee coming crashing down.
9. Wide Hand
‘Wide Hand’ is probably the most aware song I’ve written. Which is a reminiscent story about memories, confusion and the realisation that something has deteriorated whilst turning a blind eye.
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