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Meet our BOTW: La Sera

The latest La Sera album (streaming now on Pitchfork) begins with a suckerpunch in exhilarating opener ‘Losing To The Dark’, a caterwauling garage jam that deals with a drug-addled ex-lover. Bringing to mind the scruffier ends of riot grrrl, or an extremely lo-fi Long Blondes (remember them?), it’s a distinctly frigid, slightly menacing 2-minutes, and everything feels as though you’re being mentally deep fat-fried. A bit like a haddock, or something. But this greasy vibing isn’t emblematic of the rest of the album. Elsewhere, you’ve got a more wistful, sun-dappled feel that totally makes you want to be chilling in LA right now: from the fling-evoking ‘Summer of Love’ to the seductively harmonic ‘Fall in Place’.

Here’s what Katy Goodman, a former Vivian Girl, recently had to tell Notion about her third album under the twilight-themed moniker, the tragic themes at its core, and her outrageously adorbz pets.

Planet Notion: Hi Katy. First things first, you’ve been tweeting about earthquakes. What’s that about?
Katy Goodman: Well I live in LA, and we had a bunch of small earthquakes all in one week. None of them were “the big one,” but feeling any earthquake at all is truly weird. Sometimes I forget that that’s something that can just happen here anytime.

PN: Why is your new record called Hour of the Dawn? The title-track seems to suggest that summer time isn’t all as brilliant, happy and sunshiny as it’s made out to be.
KG: Good call. The first song is where I explain a bad situation in the past, but as you move through the album the theme of new beginnings starts to emerge. The album is about moving on from traumatic experiences and letting a new day begin.

PN: I Love the album art. Where’s that shot?
KG: My friend Eddie O’Keefe took that photo of me this past summer. A bunch of friends and I went to see some bands play in Topanga Canyon, where the Manson Family lived. It was an amazing day, and he just happened to take that photo randomly, and when he put it up on his website, I emailed him and asked if it could be my new album cover. I think the photo really captures the mood of that day, and the entire album.

PN: What t-shirt are you wearing?
KG: It’s a Poison Idea shirt, which is an early 80s hardcore band from Portland, OR. They are just a band I really love. This shirt in particular is the cover art for their “Pick Your King” EP… There’s a picture of Jesus on the front and Elvis on the back. Very clever.

PN: Hour of the Dawn is your third album. In your view, how does it differ from your second?
KG: I think it’s pretty different from either of my precious albums. I think that’s because I’ve matured as a songwriter, and our new guitarist Todd Wisenbaker had a clear vision for how this album should sound. I think the full collaboration with Todd and the band made this album sound way fuller than ever before. I can say with certainty that these are the best songs I’ve ever made, and that feels awesome.

PN: ‘Losing to the Dark’ is an amazingly bold way to begin an album. I heard it was about being in love with a drug addict; what inspired you to write that track?
KG: While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that I did have a romantic experience that didn’t end well. Although that’s pretty clear when you listen to it. While the song is very finger-pointy, I have to admit in hindsight that he wasn’t the only party to blame in the situation, and alcohol didn’t help.

PN: Do similar tragic tales appear elsewhere on the album?
KG: Yes, but I think “Losing to the Dark” is the peak of tragedy mountain. It’s definitely the least hopeful of the songs.

PN: ‘Losing to the Dark’ has a totally different feeling to the more melodic and upbeat ‘Summer of Love’, the second track. What’s that one about?
KG: Oh man. Yeah this song is also sad. It’s about not being able to turn a romantic fantasy into a reality. Some summer flings are just not meant to carry into fall, and sometimes you find out the hard way.

PN: Are you looking forward to summer?
KG: Yes. If only because this is such a summer album, and I can’t wait to play the songs in the heat.

PN: What’s your least favourite season?
KG: Probably winter, because I prefer the heat. I love perfect sunny LA weather.

PN: The album makes remarkable use of backing vocals and girl-group style melodies. Who sings them?
KG: Thanks. I actually sang all the back ups. I really love harmonies and back up vocals, so I put them just about everywhere.

PN: If you had to pick one melody (sung by anybody ever) to have stuck in your head ad infinitum, what would it be?
KG: That’s a hard one. Probably “Crying” by Roy Orbison, even though it’s so sad. It’s just such a beautiful melody.

PN: Who is in your band now?
KG: As of now, the band is Todd Wisenbaker on guitar, Greta Morgan on 2nd guitar, me on bass and Nate Lotz on drums. They are all really great musicians and I feel honoured that they are playing in La Sera. They are also a hilarious bunch of people to hang out with, so touring will be fun.

PN: You’ve been uploading lots of pictures of your dog and your cat on facebook. Are they your spiritual band-mates?
KG: Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. My pets inspire me daily.

PN: Are you looking forward to your UK shows? What can we expect?
KG: Expect a party. We have been having a tonne of fun practising, and we will bring that fun with us to England. Todd is going to shred a lot, so be prepared for lots of guitar shredding.

PN: Do you have any fond/cool/bad memories of touring over here?
KG: I always remember the first time Vivian Girls went on tour in the UK in fall 2008, and we met Male Bonding. We had so much fun. I’ve had fun on pretty much every European tour I’ve ever been on. Especially the one where La Sera opened for Jenny and Johnny. That’s where I became friends with Todd, who would eventually join La Sera.

- Huw Oliver

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