Katie Crutchfield has been playing music under a variety of different monikers for most of her life but struck it the biggest as Waxahatchee. Her most recent album, last year’s “Ivy Tripp,” led to her signing with arguably the biggest indie label around, Merge Records, and exposed her to a much wider audience. To wit, her last time in Lancaster was a house show in a small kitchen near Franklin & Marshall College and some four years later, she’ll be playing a packed Chameleon Club on June 22. We talked to Katie about her new Superchunk bosses, covering Jessica Simpson and what her favorite tracks from “The Life of Pablo” are.
Kevin Stairiker: Is there a huge difference between playing house shows and the bigger venues you’ve been playing recently?
Katie Crutchfield: It felt manageable [to book those house shows] at the time, and it’s been very gradual. I’ve played house shows and booked my own tours in bands before Waxahatchee, so I did that for years and years and years. I see bands now that start, and then two weeks later they have a booking agent and then a month later they’re doing this or that. Everything happens slowly for me, it feels like [laughs]. I like doing both, I mean, being in a DIY band is a lot of work. It’s all a lot of work, but booking your own tour is a lot of work. So I feel really grateful that I have someone that can do it for me now.
KS: Are you glad to be at that point now where you don’t have to stress or do you miss it?
KC: Towards the end of my band P.S. Eliot and booking my own tours for Waxahatchee, there were a lot of really good people out there that I trusted that had booked some life-changing shows for me in the past. Obviously, there will always be that off town or the off area where you never have that luck, and that’s true still. I’m glad now because I have a whole laundry list of responsibilities as the band grows. It’s a lot more work for me now, so I can’t imagine booking the tour on top of that. Both have their merits, so I’m glad that I got to experience that.
KS: Do you see yourself ever going back to playing house shows?
KC: Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, I go to punk shows all the time to see my friends play, so I still kind of get to have both of those experiences. Those are the shows that I enjoy going to.
KS: Since you jumped from a smaller indie label to a much bigger one, are there any sizable differences between Don Giovanni and Merge?
KC: It’s not that big of a change. I love Don Giovanni, which is a much newer label than Merge. Merge has a way of doing things that works great for them, and they’re really artist-friendly, as is Don Giovanni. There’s just little things that are different. I knew that I wanted to make a change, but I wasn’t quite sure that I would find anything that was organized with people that I could trust and understood where I came from. That DIY punk ethos is ingrained in me and I feel like if I just worked with any major indie label, there was a chance that they would operate more like a major label and I wouldn’t be comfortable there. I was pretty nervous about that for a while, because I wanted something different but I didn’t know if that different existed, you know? Obviously, Merge is that label.
KS: Plus you have the bonus of the label heads being Mac and Laura from Superchunk, which is as artist-friendly as I can imagine.
KC: It truly is. It’s the label that I needed to be on [laughs]. They’re just really amazing people and I’m really fortunate to be there.
KS: My personal favorite track on “Ivy Tripp” is “La Loose.” Do you see yourself embracing electronic sounds like that more in the future?
KC: I would say probably not at the moment. I never say never because there was a lot of synths on “Ivy Tripp.” Lately, I’ve been gravitating towards acoustic, folky-country sad stuff, so if anything, I might scale things back for the next record. But that’s just how I’m feeling in this moment and I’m not quite in a position yet where I’ve totally decided what the record is going to be. As soon as I finish a record, I’m already thinking about where the next one might go. Maybe three records down the line, it’ll be all synth, I don’t know [laughs].
KS: I would love to know how your cover of Jessica Simpson’s “With You” for the “Girls” soundtrack came about.
KC: Oh my god, this is a fun story. Lena Dunham and I had been loosely in touch with each other, like, “Oh I love your show! Oh, I love your record!” that kind of stuff. She sent me an email that was like “I had a dream last night that you covered ‘With You’ by Jessica Simpson, and I woke up in the middle of the night, and woke up my boyfriend and I told him, and I wrote it down and I woke up this morning and I’m sending you this e-mail. I think it has to happen.” When I got the e-mail, I was really bummed because I actually hated that song when it was popular. I was at a certain age where I couldn’t see the camp or appreciate the cheesiness, just young enough that it was so grating. So I’m like, “How can I possibly make this song listenable?” because it’s so unlistenable. I worked with the same people that recorded my record, and we kind of landed on Mazzy Star and it worked. I actually love the finished product and it’s a fun song to sing. I got to stretch my legs with my singing, too, which was nice.
KS: Last question, and it’s important: I’ve seen online that you’re a big Kanye West fan. What do you think of “The Life of Pablo?”
KC: I really love it. I actually kind of postponed listening to it, which is the same thing I did with Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” I couldn’t quite get a read on how other people were reacting to it, and the whole rollout kind of put me off in a way that made me not care about it. Then after all of that passed and it came on Spotify so I didn’t have to get Tidal, I listened to it and immediately was obsessed with it. I still listen to it at least once a day, and it’s one of my favorite records he’s ever made.
as an artist, kanye west’s creative ambition is constantly inspiring me
— waxahatchee (@k_crutchfield) August 18, 2015
KS: To make a suggestion, for the next Waxahatchee album, I’m thinking Madison Square Garden, theaters across the world. It could work.
KC: Yeah, it’ll be really sad to see Madison Square Garden filled with 300 people and that’s it [laughs]. But hey, I’ll put it on the list of good ideas.
Waxahatchee will be performing at the Chameleon Club at 6.p.m, Wednesday, June 22