Katie Crutchfield, the do-it-yourself punk rock girl
DIY punk Katie Crutchfield writes personal songs that are twisted in all sorts of subtle ways
For people who haven’t been following along, can you give a quick kind of summary of your bands and projects that have led to Waxahatchee? How did you first get started making music?
I started when I was in high school. My sister Allison and I started a band called The Ackleys. I also made solo music then called King Everything. After that, we started another band together called PS Eliot and followed that with another one called Bad Banana. PS Eliot continued until a couple of years ago and around then I started doing Waxahatchee.
It seemed to me that PS Eliot was really part of an underground community in a pretty big way, in that you seemed to tour a lot and found friends all over. Do you think that’s the case? Was the DIY community element important to you? Is it still?
Yes, I became involved in the local DIY community in Birmingham, Alabama, where I’m from, around the time of The Ackleys. That’s how I met a lot of people who helped PS Eliot set up shows when we started touring. The DIY community is still a big part of my daily life.
Did you find it difficult to strip your songs back to the bare minimum for American Weekend? You really exposed the vocals and the stories, more so than anything I’d heard from you before at least. Was it tough or worrying to be so open?
Not really. I’d always made initial demos of songs I’d written that were similar to the stripped-down American Weekend-style songs. The lyrics for those songs were a little bit of an experiment at first. I’d always written songs that were personal, and they started evolving into super-personal for the PS Eliot record Sadie. I’d say American Weekend took it a little further.
The last six or 12 months seems to have been quite a crazy busy period for you, going from the cassette releases to Wichita in such a short time and then this tour with Tegan & Sara. How has that been for you?
I’ve just taken it as it comes. Most of the craziness happened after my new record was released in America so it’s been a little easier to deal with since I don’t have a record to write currently. Like I said earlier, I still feel connected to the punk community back home and I’m trying to navigate all these new opportunities as best I can.
I read a recent interview of yours in Rookie magazine where you said you didn’t think you’d like Grimes because she was “contemporary and hip.” Why do you think you felt that way?
I think that because of where I’ve come from in music (DIY/punk) it’s really hard for me to get behind a lot of contemporary music that isn’t a part of that. Maybe it seems like people are motivated by different things outside of it? Like money or fame or something.
I had a pretty exhilarating experience coming up that way and learning how to tour and be in a band and I just feel like people who didn’t have a similar one with a nice combination of struggle and joy and great company maybe is hard to relate to. That seems narrow-minded now that I’ve said it but I think it holds true to an extent. Obviously I like non-punk bands that are new and active but I’m more apprehensive about them.
You worked with Allison on a Grimes cover for Rookie too, which was your first collaboration in a while. Has your working relationship changed over the years?
Well, we don’t collaborate much anymore. It’s funny, when we were living in separate cities we made music together and now that we live in the same house and are probably closer than we’ve been in a while, we don’t. It was fun having a project together but we’re busy doing our own thing. Maybe some day. People always want to lump us together and so there is probably a combative element to it. We try and work against the possibility of a gimmick.