We’re delighted to introduce folk artist Katherine Priddy to you for the first time here on Belles & Gals. Katherine is a folk artist with a penchant for lyrics and storytelling, whose debut album, ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’, is due for release on June 25th. In this interview, she tells us what we can expect from the record, as well as a little bit more about herself, her musical journey, and the one female artist she would love to write with.
Hi Katherine! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers by telling us a bit about yourself and where you’re from?
Hello! My name is Katherine Priddy and I am a musician based in Birmingham, UK. I’ve been writing and performing my own songs on the guitar for the past few years and now I am on the cusp of releasing my debut album ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’ on the 25th of June. A long time coming!
When did you first become interested in music, and who were your musical influences growing up?
I have always enjoyed listening to music and grew up in a household where music was often on the stereo, though it took me a long time to realise I could actually make it myself and even longer to realise I could become an actual musician. My parents listened to a really eclectic mix of music, from Irish folk music like Planxty and Christy Moore, through to English folk artists such as Nick Drake and John Martyn, then a whole heap of strange progressive rock and metal to boot. I think the common thread throughout the music I enjoyed most as a child was the storytelling aspect – I have always focused in on the lyrics when I listen to songs. I think its important to listen to a wide variety of music in order to really feed your creativity.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey as a musician so far?
As I said, I’ve always enjoyed listening to music and was in the school choir and school orchestra as a child, but it was in my pre-teens that I began teaching myself guitar and first started trying to write my own songs. My school encouraged me to enter The Next Brit Thing competition, despite the horror I felt at singing in front of people, and I ended up getting to the finals in the 02 arena – that was my first gig outside of my village. After that, I started supporting artists such as Vashti Bunyan, Scott Matthews and John Smith, before heading off to University to focus on studying English. It wasn’t until I finished my studies that I began to take my music really seriously and headed into the studio for the first time to release my debut EP ‘Wolf.’ The release went so much better than I could have hoped for, and things have been growing since then really in terms of gigs and festival performances. I am now very excited to be releasing my debut album, after 2 years of recording and waiting, and feel very ready to take on this next chapter.
You’re debut EP, ‘Wolf’, got an incredible reception on its release. Why do you think it struck such a chord with listeners?
That’s a tricky question – I don’t know about other musicians, but I find it quite difficult to listen to my music objectively and work out why it may strike a chord with those who listen to it. But I do know that people enjoyed the lyrical aspects of the song, which is really important to me. I’d like my songs to be able to stand alone as poems, or stories. I also had great fun experimenting in the studio and bringing in other musicians for the first time, so I think the EP came as a bit of a surprise to those who had always seen me perform solo. It has a really full sound, with lots of harmonies and textures.
You’re latest single, ‘Icarus’, came out on June 6th. Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the song?
There are two songs on the album based loosely around Greek Myths – Eurydice and Icarus. I’ve always enjoyed mythology – the stories are absolutely ripe for the picking, with all the colourful characters and passion and cautionary tales. Icarus was a man who wanted to be able to fly and so made wings from wax and feathers. However, he ended up flying too close to the sun and met his doom. I’ve used the story as a jumping off point for exploring the consequences of never being satisfied with your lot and always wanting more.
What can we expect from your debut album ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’?
10 self-penned tracks featuring contributions from a sweeping string section, some brass, double bass, drums, electric guitar, banjo and accordion, as well as a couple of more stripped back numbers, with just guitar and fiddle. I wrote a lot of these songs during my teens and early 20s and there’s a real theme of nostalgia and childhood that travels through the record, especially in tracks such as ‘Indigo’ and ‘The Summer Has Flown’. For those who have seen me perform live, there’ll be some familiar songs, though perhaps with slightly new arrangements, as well as a couple of surprises. I think the one constant throughout all ten songs is a focus on story-telling lyrics and a use of harmonies and soft, atmospheric layers. I am really proud of how it has all come together and it feels like the perfect culmination of my musical endeavours so far!
What has life been like in lockdown? What opportunities and challenges have you faced as a musician in particular?
It has definitely been difficult, though there have been some really positive and hopeful moments that have shone through for me. I was actually hoping to release this record last year, but I chose not to put it out at the start of the pandemic as that wasn’t how I wanted to remember my debut album release and I wanted to feel like I had given it the best chance possible. The waiting was hard, and losing a year’s worth of gig bookings and carefully laid plans was heartbreaking, but I made the decision to focus on building my online audience through a series of live streams, online festival performances and collaborations with other musicians. Despite shielding my Dad and being in total lockdown, I was able to perform as part of Philadelphia Folk Festival Online, which is not something that would have come about otherwise, and my Nick Drake collaboration with Jon Wilks, Lukas Drinkwater and Jon Nice was played on BBC Radio 2. I was also totally blown away by the outpouring of support from those who follow my music – it made a huge difference to my morale. It doesn’t look as though we’re quite out of the woods yet, but I’m really hoping for the return of some live music this summer. Live performance is my favourite part of this job and it seems there’s still an appetite for it!
Finally, if you could pick one female Folk/Americana/Country music artist to write a song with, who would it be and why?
Ahhhh you’ve saved the hardest question ‘til last! I think if I had to chose, it would be Joan Baez. I grew up listening to her music and her lyrics and songwriting are just beautiful. It would be a dream come true to write and sing a duet with a voice that has been such a constant in my life.
Thank you so much for your time!
Interview conducted by Gareth Williams (twitter.com/lostinbluejazz1)
Photo Credit: John Fell