Kathryn Calder Reveals How Studio Independence Shaped Her New Album
Published Apr 17, 2015It's fitting that Kathryn Calder's third solo record is self-titled. After all, this is the album where the New Pornographers' vocalist/keyboardist reinvented her songwriting and her recording process. She's kind of a home studio badass now and it's empowering as hell.
"I didn't used to be able to do that," Calder laughs during a new Exclaim! interview, sitting in the house she shares with her husband and co-producer, Colin Stewart, outside Victoria. The basement is home to the main studio space, but Calder also has her own small setup two floors up, which is where she wrote the bulk of her new record, out now on File Under: Music.
"It was a lot of encouragement from Colin, actually, credit where credit is due. He's really busy and I was relying on him for almost everything for the past two records. Not the songwriting, but every time I wanted to record something, it was like, 'Okay, when do you have time?'"
Calder was resistant to learning Pro Tools. It seemed overly complicated and intimidating at first, but now she's hooked.
"I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to writing a song on the guitar and then arranging it," Calder says. "It was way too cool of a process to be able to ever go back. Unless I feel like writing a song for the guitar. But having to write on the guitar or having to write on the piano and having those two instruments as the only options — it's nice if you have them as an option, but not if it's the only way you're going to be able to write a song."
The new process gave her an autonomy that was hugely freeing, personally, financially, and creatively. The downside, of course, was endless time to second-guess one's self.
"You can lose your mind when you have so much time and you can constantly tweak," Calder says.
So how did she avoid that fate?
"I didn't really," she laughs. "There was so much procrastinating. There's this John Cleese talk on YouTube about how there's this feeling of uncomfortableness when something isn't finished and how you have to just deal with that and sit with it until you're happy with it. There was a lot of that, like, 'Oh man, I don't know how to fix this song and it's frustrating.' But once you figure it out, you're like, 'Oh! Done!' and it feels great. It was an interesting, maddening, and really rewarding process."
04/18 Vancouver, BC – Media Club #
04/26 Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theatre
04/27 Portland, OR – Alberta Rose Theatre
04/29 San Francisco, CA – Hotel Utah
04/30 San Diego, CA – Casbah *
05/01 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy *
05/05 Bellingham, WA – The Green Frog
# with Louise Burns
* with East India Youth