KAT HAMILTON WRITES ANTHEM FOR SELF-HEALING, ‘MEDICINE LINE’

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“I feel like emo and country have so much in common. They are both a few chords and a story.”  

Kat Hamilton is the after-punk, indie princess, honesty wearing, singer-songwriter who’s been in and out of most genres. Raised in the gorgeous hills of Marin County, Kat has been making music since she was young. Always creating, the west coast queer artiste is moved by nature, storytelling, and personal introspection.

Most recently, a trip to a recovery center for trauma and addiction composed an entire new album for Kat. Entitled ‘Recovery Songs,’ the project depicts Kat’s resilience in overcoming her trauma. Each of the nine tracks were written during or after the program, with the exception of two songs that, unbeknownst to Kat, had everything to do with who she would become. Listen to the first single, ‘Medicine Line’ below.

“Alcohol being in my life was a way to distract from self, and get out of self,” Kat shared with LadyGunn. “So the music moving forward is so much more about digging instead of avoiding.”

In a stunning sweep of genres, Kat creates an anthem for healing and connection with the most hidden parts of yourself. Using acoustic guitars and enough ambient space for all the feels, Kat takes us to a very specific moment in the recovery center. She effortlessly relays her story to us, reflecting an almost country narrative, and suddenly we’re transported. Entirely together in both past and present, it’s hard not to sing with Kat by the second chorus.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with this talented soul to chat about ‘Medicine Line and how we can all understand ourselves a little bit better. Catch Kat Hamilton at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood this Valentine’s Day, and keep an ear out for the rest of her ‘Recovery Songs.’

You said “I feel like emo and country have so much in common. They are both a few chords and a story.” I love this and I completely agree! 

I do! I have a really heavy emo background because I was in an emo band for a really long time, but I especially love classic country like Dolly Parton and alternative country like Neko Case.

You’ve had success with a few TV placements – do you write with pictures in mind? What do you see when you listen to your music? 

Oh gosh, ok cool. There’s definitely a movie in my head which is cool, haha. I’m very much a curator in my own artistry. I need specific things that brighten up the space, specific little details, and if I can’t find them I go a little crazy. Some songs lie in wait for months because I don’t have that one detail to bring it together. Medicine Line is a great example. In my mind, when I hear it I can see the movie of where I was at – the hawks diving over the really yellow grass hills and succulent because it was not a lush environment, it was a desert. I can see myself, the place I was staying in, the large window panes that looked onto the garden. The little desert bunny that ran around, the gecko that would scare me every morning.

So I want people to listen to Medicine Line and ideally see the movie of it all because I see the movie while I’m writing. And that’s always my approach, even in sessions with other people. They tell me their story, and I see this whole picture.

How did you get into music? 

You know, I think I’ve always been in it! I’ve been in a lot of different kinds of music projects. I grew up in Marin and was a singer songwriter there. I played gigs at fourteen or fifteen, you know, with my guitar at a coffee shop or whatever. I was in two bands in high school – nope, three bands – and then I went to Berklee College of Music and then there I got really into poetry slam. Competed at Nationals on the team, it was awesome. I sang in a few bands and then started my own that lasted five years. I moved home around the time that Medicine Line takes place in – the song is really written in a moment, it’s present rather than reflective. And then I started writing this record! Now I’m here.

So tell me about ‘Medicine Line’ and that moment.

I was in a recovery program, and walked into a yoga studio on the property and wrote this song. It’s in the moment, a present conversation with myself which I think is really strange. Normally as songwriters we write about the past. This is what happened to me. This is how it affected me. It’s never “I am here, I am doing this right now as I’m writing.” I feel like if you listen to it you get a really good sense of what it’s about…but I hope that even though it’s very much in my story, that it relates to more people. That’s my ideal!

In what ways do you think this ethos can reach other people? 

Well I think we’re all in recovery from something, which is what my whole record is about. ‘Medicine Line’ is really about the ways that we bond with other people to cope with the difficult parts of life and about ourselves, and not being alone in that. Like, you’re never going to be fixed, we’re always going to be on a journey; but at least we’re not alone. The overarching theme is we’re all broken, but at least we’re not the only one.

I can personally relate to it, and I think it does span across the human struggle. Are there things you do now that help you cope with life in general? What’s the daily life of Kat?

Sure! I mean there are a lot of things I do. A big thing is if I’m creating, I feel better. Period. I wrote these songs because they made me feel better about what’s going on. And I’ve talked to some people who have heard them and feel connected, and that’s awesome; but the first thing is that they made me heal a little.

I’m also constantly seeking community, it’s very much a daily thing. We all need to spend time by ourselves sometimes too, but I make sure there are ways that I participate in the community as many days a week as I can. By supporting friends and going to their shows; going to events that speak to my artistic or activism side; whatever I feel like is really needing nourishment. Finding people that support your heart and make you feel alive, and making sure that i make the space to take care of that friendship. I’m playing this event soon and I really like that it’s free because it makes me feel like we’re building community, and that that is the primary goal.

*Harvard & Stone – Valentine’s Day 2020 ~ 9pm ~ FREE!* 

A big one for me is not drinking. Maintaining an alcohol sobriety is really important for me.

Yeah, I support you! How has your music changed since you became sober? 

Sure! I mean I consider sobriety a very personal term, it’s different for everything. I have specific things that I consider to be different levels of sobriety, so it’s always changing for me too. What that means to me. But yes choosing a lifestyle where I do not drink alcohol helps me be a lot more self-aware so I think the music has become a lot more introspective – almost to a fault – but it’s a lot of really intense self-analysis and discovery. Alcohol being in my life was a way to distract from self, and get out of self, so the music moving forward is so much more about digging instead of avoiding. Getting deeper instead of not asking those questions to myself.

What was it like being in the recovery center? What did you learn?

Over the years my way of seeing everything, my own life has changed and I see different value in everything. I take a lot of what I’ve learned with me in the way that I talk to myself; about art and life, and the negative self talk that I perpetuate and where it’s coming from.

I totally feel that. It’s important to know which voice to listen to. What would you say to your younger self? 10 years ago? 

Aaawwwww, my poor baby!!! What a baby. One thing I would say, and I still struggle with every day, is that if you have to work to impress somebody then you can’t win. If you convince somebody to be in your life or an opportunity to have you – of someone doesn’t see you and where you’re at – you can’t win. Even if you convince them, you’re not really winning. I’d also say stay off the sauce, haha!

What are you looking forward to in 2020?

This release is definitely the biggest thing. My co writer, HausMusic, we’ve been writing together for about a year and I’m excited to take that project to a more polished place. I also have a podcast called Allee, Kat, and Steve – that’s with Allee Futterer, she’s in a band called The Astronots and she produced this record!

Well thank you so much! For sharing, for chatting, for the music. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yeah! Well I’m really excited. Come to the show at Harvard and Stone and then you know what – if you really like Medicine Line, please message me. I really enjoy getting messages from people. Rather than just a comment, if you love it, message me on Instagram or Facebook and tell me what you love about it!

CONNECT WITH KAT HAMILTON

INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // SPOTIFY

podcast / Allee, Kat, & Steve

photos / Nicolette Daskalakis

  story / Ariana Tibi

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