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Interview with Katie Herzig

Katie Herzig of Ten Out of Tenn performs at Music City Center on May 19, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Katie Herzig of Ten Out of Tenn performs at Music City Center on May 19, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo by Royce DeGrie

Katie Herzig is placed into the singer-songwriter category, but she doesn't feel that is completely accurate. For some critics, her recently released new album "Walk Through Walls," is a departure for the singer because of the increased production. Really it's more of just a slightly different sound, with some songs leaning more towards radio friendly pop tunes, but still the Katie Herzig her fans love. Before her tour stops by The Hamilton on Friday night, Herzig discusses the new album, what the Nashville music community thinks about Nashville the tv show, being a singer-songwriter, and working with producer, remixer, artist RAC.

FO: Is there something about your music that sets you apart from that singer-songwriter bubble.

KH: Atleast for me when I think of singer-songwriters, I think of something that is probably a little more acoustic song based. I think I’ve slowly kind of gotten further away from that over time as my interest in production has been a lot more influenced by bands. My production is equally important to me, and it’s kind of in the writing; the production goes hand and hand. I think that’s probably why it feels not quite right to say singer-songwriter in some way.

FO: When you went into this album, did you already have a lot of material and decided to make the album? Or did you just go into the studio and start writing?

KH: I went into the studio and started writing. I had been touring my last record for probably a year and a half of on and off the road before I started writing for the album. And it was a pretty deliberate season of writing, of recording at the same time. And I was pretty intentional about wanting that season to last a long time, [laughs] so I can be off the road. Just like indulging in that season of life, just cause it really is my favorite part of it all, is the creating part. That all happened hand and hand in one writing recording season.

FO: There are some songs on here where you moved more away from the singer songwriter genre. Like “Your Side” and “Drug” to me, kind of sound like an Ellie Goulding and Tegan and Sara mix. Where it has a mellow vibe but also a bit anthemic, you can see people singing along to them in their cars. Was there a lot of compromise with your producers on tracks like these?

KH: Not at all. I co-produce with Cason Cooley who produced my last two records. A lot of the stuff I’m just as involved in the production of starting to build these songs. I like the fact that you would hear more likeness with some of those artists, because I feel like those are a lot of stuff that I love. There isn’t a lot of having an exact idea of what I want a song to sound like. It’s kind of like chasing whatever moves me. So like “Drug” was so fun to record, just cause of all these little sections, and it’s so cheeky and fun that you could just sort of mess around with things. “Your Side” was a little bit more of a beast in the end because it started out as one of our favorites, and there was a little bit of how big do we go with this. In the end we worked so hard but we never felt resolved about this is exactly how it should be. So in the end we just let it be what it became. And in still kind of figuring out what that song is, like in the live shows it does kind of have the sound of feeling kind of big and anthemic, and just being straight forward groove kind of thing.

FO: When I was listening to “Walk Through Walls,” it sounded like a pretty deep song and then I watched the video and thought this is kind of serious. Can you explain the video?

KH: [laughs] Totally. It’s basically, walking through walls is like the metaphor of you living in a world and space that is constructed and protected, and has some sort of order to it. Then catching a glimpse of something outside of that, and realizing that the world you are living in is much bigger than you thought. What you kind of have to go through to get outside of that. When the song premiered, it was the first single, I remember saying something like it’s basically me having to come to terms with I have an idea of what my life would look like and getting to this point in my life where the more I held on to that the unhappier I was. And so it was kind of having to let go of that. So it’s kind of really about the moment leading up to letting go. The video was shot in Mexico in this amazingly beautiful place, in only like one shot, that’s how extraordinary it was. That’s kind of the whole idea.

FO: Your songs have been on Grey’s Anatomy a lot, I started calling people’s music similar to yours Grey’s Anatomy music.

KH: [laughs] That’s funny.

FO: What is it about your music that the music supervisor for the show really likes? Have they ever told you they love using your music for a specific reason?

KH: I don’t know. I’ve had friends and heard other artists who were on Grey’s Anatomy before my stuff was on Grey’s. I always just associate it with oh this is cool, this is something that is really great to be a part of. The first placement I got was because an editor, the wife of an editor on Grey’s heard me on KCRW and told the editor about it. So they just randomly put my song on. And then in the mean time, the licensing company that pitches my stuff, I have a great relationship with them too. So there’s been opportunities to feed them songs over the years. Somehow that adds up to a lot. They’ve been on the air a long time, it’s pretty cool.

FO: You’re based in Nashville now. Have you seen the show Nashville?

KH: [laughs] Yes. I haven’t really kept up with it, but I’ve seen a few random different episodes. Do you watch it?

FO: I do.

KH: Yeah? Do you like it?

FO: I do, I really like it. I guess I really like ABC dramas. But it’s also because it’s very music centric.

KH: It totally is, which I think is really great. It’s been so great for Nashville, and for artists here to contribute to that show and be a part of; promotes the cast and a lot of the writing. Some of my close friends had a whole lot of traction with their music because of the show. And I think their intentions are really great, involving the real Nashville community in the show. When I first started watching it I thought I wonder if this is how doctors feel about watching Grey’s Anatomy [laughs]. Cause there are so many little things where you are like that doesn’t happen in Nashville. Or they would never go hang out in that bar. Like little things like that. That was a part of my early experience, but I’ve been really happy with the show.

FO: So you haven’t heard any backlash?

KH: I haven’t heard any backlash, I’ve heard mixed feelings about it. Like some people really love the show, and some people think it’s like a soap opera. Which you know, are a lot of dramas on television. But I’ve met some of those guys, some of those actors, I just feel like a lot of those guys are just really thankful to be a part of it, and genuinely are in awe that they get to do that. I think there are a lot of great people working on that show.

FO: They are actually going on tour. A few of the actors are going on tour as part of the Nashville show tour or something like that.

KH: That’s awesome, I hadn’t heard about that.

FO: Jonathan Jackson and a few other actors who play main characters are going on this tour. How do you think the other people in the Nashville community feel about these actors, who are not primarily singers, getting this opportunity to have this tour?

KH: I think a lot of the writers have had such a fun time writing with and for these actors, and the actors ways of appreciating these songs and bringing life to these songs and bringing these writers income. I’m not hugely in on the country scene writing here, so I’m kind of on the outskirts of that, but I feel like there’s kind of genuine excitement about it on behalf of the writers. But I’m sure there are different opinions out there. I think anytime you have actors playing singers, their gonna get flack for it to some degree. But I think the actors they’ve chosen are really great, really good voices. And a lot of the actors are songwriters themselves. Like the party I was at where they invited songwriters and actors and we all sang songs for each other. A lot of the actors were singing songs they had written and loved.

FO: I just read that you just worked with RAC on a record. How did that come about?

KH: The last record I put out was on Dowtown and they had worked with RAC in the past. He did remixes of a bunch of their bands, so he did a remix of “Free My Mind” from the last record that I loved and it turned out really great. So that was a great experience working together. And he got in touch cause he was writing with people for his original work, for his new record. He emailed me over thirty instrumental track ideas, and out of those I could just pick whatever I loved. And I wrote lyric and melodies to it and sent it back and forth to him until we had a song. And it’s on his album. So we’ve never actually met in person, we’ve had a lot of email creative exchanges. So yeah, I really love his stuff. It’s really cool to be a part of that scene, cause it’s a little different from the scenes I’ve been in so far.

FO: Is it something you would want to pursue more after this tour is done?

KH: Possibly, yeah. I’m open to where the energy leads. I would love more collaborative things to happen like that down the road, that’d be great.

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