The music of Katie Gately thrives in contradiction. The world of sound design and field recordings are known for a weighty seriousness, yet her sound cackles with a hilarious and absurdist humour. Experimental is synonymous with difficulty, but again Gately deviates from typical connotations, making her wildly experimental music as fun and instantaneous as it is challenging. Perhaps she has best described the coalition of seemingly incompatible elements herself when saying she wishes to make her songs "49% obnoxious and 51% fun"
Her new album "Color" will be available on Tri Angle Records October 14
Here's an old interview with Katie Gately:
Were you inspired to pursue vocal experimentation by contemporary artists like Holly Herndon or was it something you've been interested in to a while?
KG: I Was awestruck by Bjork's Medulla becuase it was so dynamic and based all on the human voice. I've kept that with me for the past decade on repeat. Inspiration for my own recording was also bolstered by the software Vst Melodyne, which can transform the human voice in supreme ways, less robotic than autotune.
Do you ever wish that you'd be able to perform your music or is composition ultimately the most important aspect?
KG: Composition is is my primary interest. If time and resources were not an issue, performance would certainly be a bigger priority!
On Pipes you restricted yourself by only allowing your voice in the composition. Did you find the process of limiting yourself helpful?
Yes profoundly helpful. I often will give myself 20 minutes and 10 samples and see what I can do in that window of time. The more options I have, the less I tend to care about what I'm making. It's almost as if the cramped space of limitation triggers more tension and emotion becaue I am trapped and have to build a way out with pre-determined tools.
Despite the more experimental elements in your music it is very melodically driven. Do you consider yourself a songwriter?
I consider myself more of a producer and vocalist than songwriter. Perhaps because I associate the word 'songwriting' more with traditional instrumentation and the folk tradition, but I am in love with melody and I'm always exploring it.
For a 15 minute song I thought Pivot was remarkably catchy. Do you think employing these melodic elements helps people to adjust to the stranger elements of your music?
Yes, for sure. I try to make things with my own strengths and weaknesses in mind. I find I have both a high pain tolerance yet also short attention span. So I like abrasiveness but not in long extended spurts, and I love catchy music but primarily if there is some darker element present.
Both Pipes and Pivot extend well beyond the 10 minute mark. What are the benefits as an artist of working on longer pieces?
I'm not sure ther are any benefits! It's difficult to succeed aesthetically and takes tons of time. Royalty wise its actually considers stupid. However it feels tremendous to try for. Long tacks can easily fall apart at any moment - I love that vulnerability. You get a more intimate peak into a person's mind.
How early in your life were you exposed to electronic music?
I had only really heard top 40 and classical until I was 18, but I read an interview with Thom Yorke around the time he was going on and on about Autechre and Aphex Twin, so I started listening to anything I could get my hands on.