Beneath the Surface with Kate Fenner

Welcome, welcome one and all to another glorious Beneath the Surface feature. This time we chat to the incredibly, multitalented Kate Fenner. We talk about all things musical and get an extra special peak into her musical mind. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

What would you say first sparked your interest in music/who inspired you to make music?

I loved singing and listening to music from my early childhood. Music wound up choosing me in high school, when my boyfriend (Chris Brown–not that Chris Brown!) at the time heard me sing and invited me to join his band. That band went on to perform and tour for ten years, eventually leading Chris and I to New York, where we performed for years as a duo (and still occasionally do!) He has probably been my greatest influence and champion; he has a beautiful quality of listening that does not distinguish genre or time and prioritizes a kind of musical truth.

How would you describe the music you are currently creating?

I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem to fall into any particular genre–I think it does, until I am playing alongside someone in that genre (say, Americana) and I realize we have nothing musically in common. I am definitely driven by what I want to express lyrically. I am limited musically (I am a very rudimentary guitar player; I don’t read music; my palette is quite small), so the lyric drives the song.

What does your creative process look like?

I read and read and read and read, and then something I want to say usually shows up pretty fully-formed. Sometimes I will learn a song on the guitar and take a couple new chords and see how the idea falls out over top of those chords.

Who would you most like to collaborate with? (let’s send it out to the universe and make it happen!)

Bill Frisell (see below). And Bon Iver–I saw him live, solo, in LA at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption and I believed every word he sang. That’s the magic, for me.

What is the one message you would like to send out to your fans?

Thank you for taking the time to listen. Seriously. Having someone tell you they listened top to bottom to an album I’ve made–even one person–is all that needs to happen.

What’s your top tip to rejuvenate your creativity/get over a writer’s block?

Reading! And going to see music I don’t know anything about–sometimes modern classical music, weird tonal stuff, angular operas, art/sound exhibits. Anything that kind of confuses and activates the creative mystery.

What’s next for you, what do we have to look forward to/ what are you currently working on? Well, I would like to play these songs for as many people as I can. I am conceiving of a New York show that will be less a gig, more a “performance”, using Bill Frisell’s trio with Tony Scherr (my long – time musical collaborator) and Kenny Wolles on. That is, if Bill ever has time in his beautifully engaged schedule.





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