‘The Longest Year’ is out today, 14th February. Keep an eye out for her upcoming debut EP.
“The Great Barrier Reef was recently pronounced dead, its last holy words were not “make America great again”. That’s quite an opening salvo. That’s the first line of the new breathtaking new single from Los Angeles via the Colorado Rocky Mountains art pop singer/songwriter Kathleen. It is the first single to be released from her eclectic and infectious self titled debut EP. Calling to mind the idiosyncratic and darkly witty work of Fiona Apple at her most impressive, the track is one that swirls and chimes with creativity and effortless grandeur.
We are honoured and proud to premiere the track here on Overblown along with a chat we had with Kathleen about her plans for 2019.
Overblown: I absolutely love your new song ‘The Longest Year’. For me, I hear a Fiona Apple influence. Are you a fan?
Kathleen: Thanks so much! Big fan, yes. I probably definitely could sing you every word off “The Ilder Wheel…”
Overblown: What inspired the song both musically and thematically? I love the lyrics. The opening line is excellent: “The Great Barrier Reef was recently pronounced dead, its last holy words were not ‘Make America Great Again’”.
Kathleen: I’d come up with a little chord progression on my keyboard and was trying to find the right melody to go over it. I got sidetracked and went on instagram or facebook and I think I saw two articles back to back. One on the MAGA campaign in its early stages, then, right below it, an article on how the great barrier reef had been pronounced dead. It was a very poetic arrangement, written by an algorithm. A lot of my songs actually come from stuff popping up on my phone and spurring a bunch of thoughts.
The rest of the song took me over a year to write. I wasn’t trying to write a song about how bad trump was (and everything chaotic in the world) – that wasn’t the point. I was trying to articulate the feeling of it all, but the feeling itself took so long to come into focus.
Months later, I went to lunch with a friend, when I’d asked how things had been going he just looked down, shook his head and sighed, “it’s just been such a long year.” It really captured everything for me.
Overblown: The track will feature on your upcoming debut EP. What is it called and what were your aims for the EP?
Kathleen: As of now, the EP will be self-titled, but who knows, I might find a phrase or word that really wraps it up and change it to that later. It was really just a big exploration of my sound and style as a songwriter and artist. Since I started writing at around 10 or 11, I’d been writing exclusively on my keyboard and exclusively by myself. But in moving to LA and being put in sessions, I came to learn the explosiveness of co-writing with the right people and the realm of possibilities to explore within different production ideas and instrumentation. It was all so exciting and I think all these songs came out of that excitement and newness. Paired, of course, with all the events and confusion of young adulthood, moving to a new city, being flat broke, new love, missing home, etc.
Overblown: I find it interesting that you go by the name ‘Kathleen’. My grandmother’s name. In Ireland, where I’m from, it’s a very old fashioned name. Is it your real forename?
Kathleen: Yes! I think my mom was definitely going for that when she and my dad named me, haha. My full name is Kathleen Brady Ross, I’m also Irish! Scotch-Irish, actually. I went by “Kate Brady” for a few years, but I felt it was too limiting stylistically. I like how versatile a classic name can be. I don’t feel married to any genre or style inside of it so I think I can really grow with the name. Plus, I don’t go by it, so it feels like a bit of a persona, which is another welcomed layer of creative freedom.
Overblown: The meaning of the name ‘Kathleen’ has been a topic of debate for a long time. Alternatively, it has been stated to mean ‘pure’ or ‘summit’. Do any of these meanings resonate with you?
Kathleen: That’s so interesting! I’ve heard it means pure, but never summit. I definitely think I like summit better, haha.
Overblown: You’re originally from the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Does this influence your music in any way?
Kathleen: I find it hard to create when I’m away from the mountains for too long. I like how quiet they are, you can fill the space with whatever you want. There’s a song on the EP called ‘Asking the Aspens’ and it pretty directly answers that question, I’d say.
Overblown: What is a ‘good day’ in your opinion? What would be a ‘good day’ for you?
Kathleen: What a wonderful question! A good day would be a free day to do whatever I wanted! Today was a good day, I had a bunch of stuff to take care of, but instead, on my way back from Hollywood, I kept driving up Coldwater Canyon. I’d never been passed Roscoe Blvd and had always been curious. I didn’t want to map anything, but I do get lost easily, so I pulled up my compass ap and drove northeast into the mountains. It was such a clear day after all the rain and I could see them for miles, bright green. No one ever talks about how beautiful LA is after it rains – it’s one of the trippiest places ever. All the plants light up and the graffiti blends right into it, as if they grew together. For a few weeks, the city looks like a modern, trash-filled, but totally wonderful Oz.
Anyways, I wound up in Kagel Canyon and drove past a cemetery until it turned into Lopez Canyon. There was a little bar and grill tucked into a hillside. There was a curb by the cemetery that read “Land of Nod.” I saw some open space trails but didn’t stop. Decided to save all of them for another good day.