Katy Kirby dropped her debut album Cool Dry Place in February of 2021 shocking us with her sweet, melancholy masterpiece. If Frankie Cosmos and Julia Jacklin had a baby, it would be this album. Kirby and her band went on tour with the indie legend Waxahatchee this past month which was sadly and unexpectedly cut short due to Covid-19 cases. We got the chance to chat with Katy about her 5 weeks of touring, tender moments, pre-show rituals, and how to recharge between performing and traveling.
Ladygunn: What’s been surprising and difficult and rewarding on the tour?
Katy Kirby: So, everything has been surprising. I really have never toured not with friends of mine. Not exactly house show venue vibes but only slightly more official than that. So, it has felt like a really big learning curve. It’s also been really long, we’re going into week 5 of this tour out of 7 weeks. So, we have learned a lot! We don’t have a tour manager with us so we’re kind of getting to do everything ourselves and learning how to do it which is awesome. And my bandmates are the nicest people in the world and I’ve known all of them for years. And some of them are good at spreadsheets and things so we are surviving! And sometimes thriving.
Ladygunn: I’m curious as an introvert, have you developed any strategies for how you physically and emotionally recharge between playing shows and traveling so often?
Katy Kirby: Woah, amazing question! Kind of? It is hard. The best way I can put it is: I have learned to honor my impulses to literally just hide. So, I will wander off much more frequently to go walk around or not look at my phone for 30 minutes if I have to, although that can get frustrating for other people so I try to not. Or I’ll hide in the van in between sets sometimes and just not talk to people if I don’t feel like I can because the margin of error for social exhaustion is so much thinner than it is in normal life.
Ladygunn: I also love to hide. How much time do you feel like, on the day-to-day, you spend inside of the van traveling?
Katy Kirby: Across the entire tour it’s been anywhere from like a couple of hours to 12 hours in a day. Which is really not a good time. So, on average probably like 6 hours a day, something like that, it usually averages at like 4 or 5. But I like traveling! I can sleep in cars well, I like writing in them, I’m sure I was the type of baby that you could drive around in a car if I wasn’t inclined to sleep because I feel fairly at peace in them.
Ladygunn: You said you like to write in the van…Have you been writing anything in particular?
Katy Kirby: I have been trying to write songs while I’m in the van. It’s kind of hard because I can’t whip out a guitar and sing a melody over it so I’m just accumulating pages and pages of half lyrics that may not turn into anything. I’m just collecting manic pages of vaguely lyrical notes, I guess. And they’re piling up awfully fast so I do need to do something with them at some point.
Ladygunn: Yeah, I would love to hear about what performing in so many places has been like for you and if you have a favorite moment on stage or a favorite night performing?
Katy Kirby: Yeah! Most of these crowds have been the sweetest and quietest crowds of people we’ve ever played to. Waxahatchee fans are very sweet people on average it seems like. So, it’s been really lovely. Last night we played a show with a new drummer and we were kind of nervous because there was such a shift in the lineup and I think we had more fun than we were expecting to because we were so nervous. Also, in Nashville, we played at Third Man Records. We all went to college in Nashville and kind of live there now so it was a hometown show and some friends of ours got to open and there were more people singing along than usual. That was a really special moment. And I saw, frikin, It Might Get Loud when I was 15 and thought Jack White was the coolest mother fucker alive, so playing an, I believe, almost sold-out show there felt special and cool and like a family reunion of sorts. It was really nice.
Ladygunn: I’m so glad that was a beautiful experience for you. That’s amazing. I was wondering if you could tell me about pre-show rituals that you have? If you’ve developed any on tour or if you have traditions you like to do before you go onstage?
Katy Kirby: That’s a great question! Sometimes I’ll whip out this app called Be Okay, it’s designed for people who are having panic attacks. It’s literally just this one big button and it’ll coach you through deep breathing. Occasionally we’ll all gather in a circle, sort of like we’re about to be like, “Lord God please bless our endeavors” and whatever before we go onstage but instead we’re just breathing really slowly. That’s been really nice. We do that. Or a lot of the times we forget to do that and we’re just frantically writing a setlist right before we get on. Sometimes I will kiss each of my bandmates on the forehead. And then sometimes I will repeat to myself if I am particularly nervous, and over again “I’m gonna die someday, I’m gonna die someday, I’m gonna die someday, this doesn’t matter.” So, any of those three things. Some of those are pretty sweet, I realize, and then one of them sounds really dark but I mean it well.
Ladygunn: Yeah, just trying to put things in perspective for yourself.
Katy Kirby: Yeah exactly!
Katy Kirby will be touring again in early 2022 with Fenne Lily, Illuminati hotties, and Sun June.
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Photos / Hunt Pennington
Story / Taylor Chick