Friday, 3 May 2019

Interview: Katie MF

If you're a regular reader of CPRW, you have probably heard the name Katie MF by now. We first discovered them last year after finding their EP Learning How To Lie on Bandcamp and they quickly became our Band Of The Week. We then got the opportunity to see the band live and were completely blown away. On Thursday the 9th of May Katie MF are throwing a release party for their new EP Everything Trouble Meant at the Black Heart which is released the next day. We decided it would be great to have a chat with Katie before the release, to find out about her start in music, her influences and some more about Everything Trouble Meant.

 Hi Katie, Colin CPRW here. Ready whenever you are.

Katie MF: Hey mate – all good from my side, let’s do it!

Colin: Okay, question number one – For those unaware, please tell us about yourself.

Katie MF: Starting with the hard one I see… Haha. So I’m a folk/punk musician who used to play solo acoustic in the corners of pubs, then formed a band just over a year ago with my best mate, Ben, and an amazing drummer, Tobias, who I met at a gig in Bristol. It’s much more fun now.

I also have a day job but that’s best ignored…

Colin: I think we all have day jobs we like to ignore, haha.

Katie MF: Absolutely. 😂

Colin: How long have you been playing music?

Katie MF: Since forever. My dad’s a keyboard player and I muscled my way into his covers band at the age of 11, after I’d been playing guitar for all of 6 months, and never looked back! I’ve been writing since I was about 14 and performing my own stuff for, errm, just over 10 years now (it has improved, thankfully).

Colin: Oh, wow! What covers did you play?

Katie MF: Oh all the work party classics – Proud Mary, Gimme Some Lovin’, La Bamba, that kind of stuff. I still have a real soft spot for it, haha.

Colin: Ever tempted to work any cover into your current set list?

Katie MF: It’s funny you should ask… I’ve just finished rehearsal where we went through a fairly shambolic version of The Wanderer by Dion. American Girl and Dancing in the Dark came out at our first EP launch last year too.

Colin: What/who influenced your songwriting when you first started?

Katie MF: In the early days I was big into Stereophonics (always wished I could sing like Kelly Jones), but in the last few years I’d have to say Frank Turner, with a smidge of Bruce Springsteen and a wee bit of Brandi Carlile. Lyrics-wise I’m very much a confessional and autobiographical writer, I don’t often write things that aren’t true for me.

Ooh and Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst. Ugh so good.

Colin: So, with those influences how did you end up in a ska band with King Punch’s drummer?

Katie MF: Ha! Excellent question. It was very much his thing – he’s an amazing writer and multi-instrumentalist. We went to uni together and met at a jam night run by the rock society – he messaged me a couple of days later to ask if I’d be interested and Gandhi’s Flip Flop was born! I was honestly the worst musician there by a long way, but we had fun and I learned a lot.

Colin: Incredible band name. I feel like I should pre-face that for anyone that might not have read your top ten influences feature last year that you mentioned this band then.

Katie MF: Yes indeed. 😊

Colin: Professional interviewer over here. Haha.

Katie MF: Haha – more so than the interviewee! I’m unloading the dishwasher as we speak… 🤘🏻

Colin: Just don’t pop out for an apple turnover like the last person I interviewed!

Katie MF: I mean that does sound good… Don’t give me ideas.

Colin: We first discovered you after we found your previous EP Learning How To Lie on Bandcamp (It’s superb, check it out!). You’re now gearing up to release a new EP titled Everything Trouble Meant on May 9th. Tell us about that.

Katie MF: Ah thanks for the kind words! Yes indeed – the difficult second EP, ha. So I went through a bit of an emotionally traumatic break-up at the end of 2017 and the only thing I knew how to do was write about it, so that’s the inspiration behind 4 of the 5 songs on the EP. I wasn’t sure whether to go down that route as it’s become almost ‘concept’ (my leather jacket features heavily), but I took a few songs to Nick Harris, my producer, and we decided to tell the story. It’s not as frantically energetic as LHTL but, to me, it feels like a development, both in terms of the arrangement and production. I’m very proud of it. (Luckily!)

There’s also a cello on the final song which is incredibly punk, no?! Haha.

That makes it sound super melancholic – it’s not. Well, most of it isn’t…

Colin: You were kind enough to give us a sneaky listen of the EP and we have really enjoyed listening to it.

Katie MF: Well that’s great to hear, thank you.

 Was there a reason you chose Praying For Rain as a lead single?

Katie MF: A couple – 1) they say we should all do more things that scare us, and the thought of people hearing those lyrics absolutely terrifies me because they’re things I’d never say in ‘real’ life. And 2), I just love the way it’s come together and the influence that Tobias and Ben have brought to it – to me, the way it’s constructed makes you want to listen to it at least twice in a row. But of course, people will decide for themselves. 😊

Colin: We’ve had it on repeat, so we agree.

Katie MF:
 You guys are the best.

Colin: Would you say that the whole experience of writing and recording this EP has been a cathartic experience?

Katie MF: Oh, massively. Highly recommend it to anyone looking to get over something… Haha. It was fairly tough at times – I definitely cried in the studio more than once (sorry Nick!) but maybe that was more to do with my total inability to sing harmonies…

Colin: Is there a hope that listeners will be able to relate to the songs and it might help them?

Katie MF: I’d be absolutely chuffed to bits if anyone heard something I’d written and found it affected them in that kind of positive way, yeah. That would just be amazing.

The world needs more hope, even in minuscule portions!

Colin: I couldn’t agree more.

What do you have planned for the release of Everything Trouble Meant?

Katie MF: A big party with everyone I love, and hopefully a few others! Said party will take the form of a gig (of course), at The Black Heart in Camden on the 9th May (tickets available now…), ahead of ETM’s release at midnight. I’m stoked that two of my favourite bands on the London circuit will be supporting us – my brothers in The New Heat and an awesome indie/punk outfit called Charles And The Big Boys.

Everyone through the door will get a CD, that they can either listen to or use as a Frisbee.

Colin: We’re looking forward to it.

How would you describe your live performances for someone who hasn’t seen you?

Katie MF: Well in the words of Pkew Pkew Pkew… ‘tight, but like, loose’. Haha. High energy, contagious and, occasionally, funny (depending on the level of my between song chat). We love what we do and I hope that comes across in the amount of sweat and, sometimes, blood. No tears though, yet. We’re entertaining.

Colin: Emma also adds ‘captivating’.

Katie MF: Ah thank you, Emma! That’s made me grin like a right fool, haha.

Colin: Do you mostly gig around London or have you had the chance to play further afield?

Katie MF: We’re pretty London-centric at the moment but I’ve played solo shows in Bristol, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Brighton and Downham (Norfolk). My aim for this year is to get a little tour together as I’d love to start expanding out of our bubble – so if anyone reading this might be able to help out, please let me know! Especially anywhere en route to Edinburgh in August…

Colin: Because you blur the lines between punk and folk, do you find you’re on more varied line ups? Or does it make it harder to get gigs?

Katie MF: Ooh interesting question. I think probably the former – I’m not sure we’ve ever been turned down because we’re not wholly one thing, but of course I don’t know what we haven’t been offered! I think sometimes people at a punk show would expect a bit more traditional punk stuff from us, but I’m hopeful that we win most of them over fairly early in the set. Then of course I get to kick back and enjoy a whole bunch cracking bands (How good are Eat Defeat? My word.) so it’s win, win really!

Colin: I know that you definitely impressed a good amount of people at the Pkew Pkew Pkew/Eat Defeat gig.

Katie MF: Oh awesome. That was such a great show.

Colin: What are your thoughts on the London punk scene in general?

Katie MF: I love it. There’s so much talent it’s unreal, and the people in and around the bands and venues (that I’ve met) are so lovely and genuine. You can’t be at e.g. NXI on a sold out Be Sharp night and not catch the good feeling. I just wish more people were aware of it so every night sold out!

Colin: I think by this point we all know about the CPRW love affair with Be Sharp so, of course, we agree.

Katie MF: Oh shit, do you guys know each other?! Haha.

Colin: We chat every now and then, for business reasons.

If those chaps said “Katie, we want to put you on your dream line up – money isn’t an issue” who would you choose?

Katie MF: Well, there’s a fairly tasty line up on the 11th May… Haha. OK I’m gonna go rogue here and pick the three best acts I’ve seen live, genre be damned: Frank Turner, Less Than Jake and Chewing On Tinfoil.

Spanish Love Songs only aren’t on there because I haven’t seen them live yet…

Colin: I’d go to that gig.

Katie MF: It’d be pretty spectacular.

Colin: Who are your favourite up and coming bands?

Katie MF: Ooh. The New Heat, definitely, I love Nik’s songwriting. Crushed Veneer are ace and I loved Our Lives In Cinema at the Pkewx3 show.

OK, also Resuscitators.

I know that’s 4. Oh you didn’t specify three, haha.

Colin: You can have as many as you like.

Katie MF: OK then, Eat Defeat as well.

Colin: We love all those bands.

Okay, I only have one question left and it’s a big one. It’s the first one I thought of when I was preparing this interview (I’m sort of a pro) – What does ‘MF’ stand for? Is it any of these – makes fudge, moves fast, mixes fruit, magnetic friend, might fly, mocked Frank?

Katie MF: Hahahahahaha. Makes Fudge!! That’s my favourite thus far.

For all intents and purposes, it stands for motherfucker.

I might name my band the Magnetic Friends though.

Colin: You can have that for free. It was a productive afternoon at work coming up with those.

Katie MF: Pleased to have facilitated that!

Colin: Have you got anything else you’d like to add before we say goodbye?

Katie MF: Mmm I don’t think so thanks, apart from thank you for the chat and have a great rest of Sunday!

Colin: Thank you! See you at the Black Heart on May 9th.

You can pick up tickets for the release show here. Katie MF are also playing the New Cross Inn on May 27th supporting Western Settings and Bong Mountain, get tickets for that show here.

Like Katie MF on Facebook here.

Follow Katie MF on Bandcmap here.

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