Waxahatchee is, for all intents and purposes, Katie Crutchfield. The US songwriter introduced the moniker with the 2012 LP American Weekend, and has subsequently followed up with 2013’s Cerulean Salt and last year’s Ivy Tripp. In contrast to the bare-bones aesthetic of American Weekend, Waxahatchee’s latest two LPs have embraced a gutsier full band sound. After a solo jaunt Down Under last winter, Crutchfield’s back this month with her backing band in tow. Mixdown gave her a call in early January to find out what’s on the cards for 2016.
It’s nine months since Ivy Tripp came out, and I imagine there’s some ideas brewing for your next record. Have you had much of a chance to be creative while in the midst of all this touring?
[Touring]’s kind of part of the process now, because I have to tour all the time – pretty much every other year is spent mostly on the road. I spent all of 2015 gathering fragments of ideas. I have a lot of down time at the moment – the first thing I do in 2016 is come to Australia, so I have six weeks completely off. I’ve been trying to schedule my days around working on music, at least a little bit every single day. I don’t really know what it’s going to be yet. I made my last two records with the same people and in the same way. I really feel like I’m going to branch out from that this time. But as far as sound and just everything goes, it hasn’t really taken shape yet. I’m really excited to work on it and that’s probably what I’m going to spend most of my year doing.
It’s interesting to hear that Ivy Tripp and Cerulean Salt were made in the same way, because Ivy Tripp showed a clear expansion in the scope of your songwriting and the textures and sounds embraced in the studio. By saying you want to branch out, are you edging towards incorporating even more diversity in those areas?
I think if anything I’m going to tone everything back a little bit and make it more minimal. I feel like Ivy Tripp added a couple of extra layers sonically and instrumentally, and also the lyrics were more abstract and definitely different from Cerulean Salt and American Weekend. I feel like maybe I’ll explore some of the sounds and instrumentation and lyrics that I used to work with a lot, as far as subject matter goes. I’m not really sure. I’m kind of excited to go off the grid a little bit with my songwriting.
At the time when I was making Ivy Tripp it felt really natural for me to head in the same direction as Cerulean Salt. Now I’m really ready to go in a totally different direction. I’m just not quite sure yet what that direction is going to be.
When framing an album, do you tend to keep fiddling around with ideas until you find one you feel strongly about and it points you in the direction you need to follow?
The more I’ve written songs, the pickier I’ve gotten. But also the more meticulous I am about recording everything and writing every single idea down, no matter how much I like it. Just in case, because a lot of songs on Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp started out as an idea that I maybe wasn’t crazy about at first, but I came around to or it stuck with me. I’ve been pretty much meticulously recording ideas and writing things down.
On the subject of ideas you don’t necessarily love at rst but are drawn to later on – having done three albums and heck of a lot of touring, I imagine you’ve experienced an evolution in your relationship with your own songs. Does seeing how songs you’ve written change in significance over time – and realising which ones you consistently feel more enthusiastic about – have any influence on your thoughts when you’re working on new music?
That’s certainly something I experience. My relationship to some of my older songs, I guess it changed over time. But I’m reflecting on some of the stuff I’ve worked on in the past and I actually to a fault have been nostalgic for the time I spent working on my first record. It was just really an emotionally overwrought period of my life. And I think that I was able to get really, really close to my super authentic feelings. I got as close as I was capable of getting. That to me is a victory as a songwriter; getting that close to how I really feel and being able to articulate that. So I’ve been really thinking about that. I think that Ivy Tripp was more general. Obviously I still care a lot about that record and I’m proud of it. But the lyrics were more about just general issues that people have, and at times more vague or more abstract.
They’re two valuable abilities to have – being able to write things that are intimately personal and depict your deepest feelings, and also being able to write in a more ambiguous and general way.
I have this irrational fear that I’m going to stop being able to do that. It’s a fear I’ve had since I started writing songs, that I was going to suddenly wake up and not be able to do it anymore. But I think I’m being too hard on myself.
Waxahatchee will be performing at Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on Wednesday February 17 and at Howler in Melbourne on Thursday February 18. Ivy Tripp is out now through Wichita / [PIAS] .