Katie Crutchfield has been steadily making music for the past decade or so, whether with her twin sister Allison (Swearin’) in the pop punk PS Eliot or on her own as Waxahatchee. It’s the latter project that has made Crutchfield an indie-household name, with 2013’s Cerulean Salt topping best-of lists and blaring in bedrooms across the globe.
After a temporary move from Philadelphia to Long Island, Waxahatchee recorded their third album, and first on Merge records, Ivy Tripp in Crutchfield’s house over the span of a month. Totally immersing themselves in the music paid off – Ivy Tripp is a fitting follow up and smart indie rock record. Sounding fuller than their previous releases but still deeply intimate, the album manages to quietly get under the skin while getting stuck in your head.
After glowing reviews, a well-received stint at SWSX and a jam-packed touring touring schedule, Waxahatchee will be in the country next month for the first time.
Listen: Waxahatchee – La Loose
Music Feeds: So you’re in the middle of your European tour – whereabouts are you at the moment?
Katie Crutchfield: I’m in Germany.
MF: Oh cool. How’s the tour been so far?
KC: It’s been really good. We’ve only been out for just over a week, and we have about two and a half, three weeks left. The shows have all been really great and really fun.
MF: What’s the live lineup of Waxahatchee at the moment?
KC: It’s Keith Spencer on guitar and he did a lot of stuff on the record, and he’s one of my main collaborators, my sister Allison on guitar, keyboards and back up vocals, Katherine Simonetti who’s been my longtime bass player, and we’ve got a new drummer – her name’s Ashley Arnwine – she actually drums in the band who’s opening for us. They’re called Pinkwash, they’re from Philly. She’s doing double duty on drums.
MF: That must be quite a workout.
KC: That’s what I said – ‘You’re gonna be so ripped when we get back to America’.
MF: What’s been your highlight of the European tour so far? I know it’s only the beginning.
KC: I don’t know, we’ve had a lot of really good shows. When we first got to Europe we had an off-day in Berlin, and Berlin is one of my favourite places to visit so that was really nice. We played a festival in Nice, south of France, which was really cool, that was a few weeks ago. And a lot of bands I really like played, like Twerps and Sun Kil Moon, it was just really nice. But we really haven’t started – we have an off day in Amsterdam which I’m really looking forward to.
MF: Do you have many off-days or is it a packed schedule?
KC: Um, I’d call it a packed schedule. We have only a couple more off-days on the whole tour. We’re playing something like ten or twelve shows without a break, but it’ll be fine. Nothing we haven’t done before.
Listen: Waxahatchee – Swan Dive
MF: It feels like you’ve been touring non-stop this year. Do you feel excited to be playing shows? Do you enjoy the touring process?
KC: Yeah, I do. I mean, I spent a lot of time not touring, like almost a year off the road which is not something I’m used to. I had a short European tour earlier this year, but the first big tour that we did this year was in April and May that was five weeks in the US, and then we had a week off before starting this tour. So I’ve been on tour for like, seven weeks. I’m pretty tired, and touring for that long does something to your brain, but for the most part I feel pretty good.
MF: Your new album is great, and it’s been getting a lot of praise too, which is well deserved. It feels a lot quieter than your last album, Cerulean Salt, and more focused and confident. Can you tell me a little about the process of making it?
KC: After touring Cerulean Salt, I took a bunch of time off and moved to Long Island for the year. Just took some space, really from my life in Philly. I just wanted to get away from everything and be able to reflect and work without interruptions.
So I moved out there with Keith Spencer, and we worked on a lot of music. We worked study for his project, and we worked on stuff for Waxahatchee and we made the record at the house we were renting, with Kyle Gilbride. It was really great.
It sort of took me a long time to finish the lyrics – I really tried to take my time, as I had nothing but time. We recorded over the course of a month – I guess it was July when it was recorded – and we did all the drums in an elementary school gymnasium, which was pretty cool. Everyday we’d pick a song to work on, and put down the essential tracks and then we’d just try things and toss around ideas.
And everyday when we finished, we’d just all sit in the basement and listen to everything we’d done so far, and then toss around new ideas – ‘Take the keyboard off this song, or put it back on this song, ‘Put a back-up vocal on this song’.
Things like that, just toss ideas. And then the next day we’d try them all out. It was really fun – just building songs upwards with these two other people.
MF: It sounds like such an intense experience – if that’s your whole day, your whole month, consumed by this music. Do you think you’d recreate that process again? Or did it just get too intense at times?
KC: I think that’s what recording is for everybody. It’s a really intense experience – you’re fully immersed in the process. I think it’s really enjoyable – that’s always how it ends up going.
Listen: Waxahatchee – Air
MF: Do you think the environment of Long Island, compared to the busyness of Philly, really played a part of the album? Effecting the songs you wrote, or how you recorded it?
KC: I think that it definitely effected how the songs were written because I was super isolated. The thing about Long Island is that it isn’t in the middle of nowhere, and Philly isn’t the biggest city – like it wasn’t too much hustle and bustle. It was more that I wanted to get away from my life, as it was.
Not that it was bad, but I didn’t think I could be productive in that environment. In Philly right now there’s a crazy music scene and all my friends are there and there’s just shows every night and there’s just so much going on, that I felt like I was really tired fro touring so much and I just wanted to work. And I had a record to write, so I just wanted to go and work on it somewhere where I was away from everything. But I’m back in Philly now, I pretty much came back as soon as the lease was up in that house we rented.
MF: Did you miss Philly at all?
KC: I missed it a lot. I was super ready to come home. It’s funny, people romanticise isolation, and in my opinion it’s really great for a little while, but by the time I moved back to Philly, I was so ready to come back. I was travelling to Philly to hang out all the time, because I was sick of being in Long Island.
MF: I read in a previous interview that on this record you drew inspiration from Tall Dwarves – I’m always surprise when American bands reference New Zealand or Australian bands, as it can feel so far away that its hard to tell if that music gets anywhere else. What are some other influences on the album that might be unexpected or more subtle?
KC: I was listening to [Chris Knox] so much when I wrote this album. I felt like I got kinda lost in certain ways, because the album ended up sounded so much bigger than I originally expected. So a lot of the demos are similar instrumentation to Tall Dwarves and Chris Knox – they were a huge inspiration.
MF: And that all fits in with Merge, too, as they’re all big fans of the Flying Nun sound and have re-released a few of those bands albums. it’s so cool that you’re on Merge, it seems like a really good fit.
KC: Thanks. That was something that I had really wanted for, like, a long time, I wanted to sign with Merge. And it was kind of a long process, because when they sign bands they take a long time to decide.
I’d been talking to them a little bit, and I had been waiting to hear and kinda holding out, because that’s what I wanted, I really wanted to work with them. That day I got the message from them, ‘hey, we’re game, we wanna do it!’, was just one of the best days. I was so happy.
MF: After this tour you’re coming to Australia, which is awesome, but after that do you have any plans? Or are you just going to take a nice long break after touring?
KC: Fortunately or unfortunately not. I’m going to be pretty much on and off tour, mostly in the US and Europe, for the rest of the year. And then early next year is probably when I’ll start to slow down and start working on a new record.
‘Ivy Tripp’ is out now, you can read our review of it here and check below for deets and ticket info for Waxahatchee’s upcoming Australian shows.
Watch: Waxahatchee – Under A Rock
Waxahatchee Australian Tour
Friday, 3rd July
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Tickets: Handsome Tours
Saturday, 4th July
The Toff, Melbourne
Tickets: Handsome Tours