5 Questions: Katie Alice Greer

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Katie Alice Greer is a force of nature.

As the charismatic vocalist for Priests, Katie commanded the stage with a fire, energy and unpredictability that ensured every live performance was seared into your memory.

When the band announced an indefinite hiatus at the end of last year, it prompted fans to ask — what’s next? Katie decided to opt for a major life change by moving to the West Coast. The passion that always ignited Katie on stage continued to drive her to create and explore in her new environs.

Since moving from DC to L.A. in the early part of the year, Katie has released two EPs and a stunning cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic, “Play With Fire.” She is currently working on what promises to be a must-hear solo album — no doubt infused with the wild creative abandon that has long been her hallmark both in Priests and in her own previous solo material.

With Katie playing a special livestream show for WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE on Friday, Aug. 7th via Twitch, I took the opportunity to ask her new life in L.A., her evolution as a solo artist and how she is staying positive in a world that is trying its best to keep us all from feeling that way. Read on…

1) You relocated to L.A. not long before the COVID-19 pandemic. What prompted your move and what has L.A. life been like for you in these strange and scary times?

KAG: I moved across the country and got about 2 weeks of what was previously normal Los Angeles life before we all started staying home. It’s been a strange time. I moved here to continue making music. I love DC and now I love Los Angeles too. It’s a great city for what I’m working on these days because so many other people are working in creative fields. My life is probably similar to most other people’s these days– I tend to stay home, I mask up when I go out for groceries or a jog. I keep in touch with people by phone. I try to spend time in nature regularly because it really brings me a sense of peace. I also try to meditate once a day. And I’ve been making a lot of music. I just try to keep in mind that reality is really stressful right now– for everybody — and do whatever I can to not add to it for myself or anybody else. Let’s go easy on ourselves. And try to have fun when it’s possible.

2) Even though Priests is on indefinite hiatus, you still run Sister Polygon with some of the members. What has that experience been like, especially with you now living on the other coast?

KAG: It’s mostly the same, really. Daniele and I complement each other well. Daniele’s brain works in ways mine never can.  We’ve slowed down our release schedule for the time being. I’ll have some news soon about a new imprint I’ve been working on.

KAG – “Play With Fire” (Rolling Stones cover)

3) I’m curious to learn more about your creative process as a solo artist versus being in a band. You released an inspired cover of the Rolling Stones “Play With Fire” in February and two EPs in March. How do you see the way you make your own music evolving now that you don’t have a full-time band as well?

KAG: Limitation and restriction are essential for how I make stuff. I love making music by myself as much as I love making it with other people. By myself, the limitations are very technical. I’m not a great musician. I’m not being self-deprecating, it isn’t my strong suit. I don’t care that much. Not that I don’t respect musicianship, if anything I deeply respect it and just know it’s not ‘my role,’ I write songs. I know my way around the instruments I need, and can usually have more proficient friends play parts I write, if need be. I usually incorporate the recording process into the songwriting, instead of writing the song first, and then recording. Recording, for me, is like an instrument, and definitely the one I’m most proficient in. But I mostly consider myself a songwriter and maybe a producer, depending on the project, and a performer. With others, the restrictions are determined by the group. What fits in the center of the Venn diagram of the different interests of those involved? I really love that as well. I’ve been writing with a few friends during quarantine, sending tracks back and forth. I love that whatever we come up with sounds unique to the collaboration, and not necessarily like something either party would write solo.

I’d like to finish the record I’m writing and release it. I was hoping to put a live band together out here in Los Angeles before covid-19 struck! Maybe someday we’ll be able to perform for live audiences again and play music with others. I would definitely want to be playing live shows with a band for most of the new material I’m writing.

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4) What’s your take on livestreams? Has it been difficult to adjust to performing for a virtual audience?

KAG: This will be my first where I’m playing music, so I don’t know yet. We hosted an SPR variety show a couple times at the beginning of the pandemic so I have a little experience as a livestream host. I thought it was really fun and started getting the hang of it, like compiling news analysis to read between guests and stuff, but it was super time-consuming and I’ve often had a hard time prioritizing my own work and realized this was continuing that pattern. I like the idea of connecting with people from the comfort of my home. I’m interested to see how it changes my performance. It seems hard to feel stage fright staring at myself in a phone, but I imagine I’ll feel a little silly which is fine.

5) These are dark and scary times we are living in for a multitude of reasons. When you look at the state of our world, is there anything that gives you hope for the future?

KAG: I have a hard time with this one. Some days I read the news and just feel really, really bad. I’ve been reading a lot of political theorists from the past and in different parts of the world, seeing how their thoughts and experiences navigated them through tough times. I have a feeling I go to demonstrations for the same reason people go to their house of worship if religious. I feel so deeply moved by people coming together. I’ve seen so much thoughtfulness and concern for others when I’m out marching. People keeping enough distance, wearing masks, handing out masks to others, hand sanitizer, snacks. Feeling my own sense of personal politics evolve is always exciting to me, and I really love seeing it in my friends too. It’s certainly strengthened my resolve in my own political beliefs. I am deeply moved by the number of people who have surveyed the toxicity of our reality and instead of giving up, spitting in the face of evil and cruelty and saying, “hell no.” We’re in a renaissance of social movement— labor resistance, human rights and environmental protection. It is truly profound to see people organizing to create a reality they actually want to be a part of. I’m not usually a person who puts much stock in electoral politics, but we have to consider how completely eroded our houses of government have become by decades of electing lawmakers to look out for corporate interest instead of people. So I am also right now inspired by the work of organizations like Justice Democrats, and the kinds of candidates they’ve so far successfully gotten into office. I want to see more Cori Bushes in Congress in the next few years, and I’ll do whatever I can to help make that happen.

Listen to and purchase Katie’s music on her Bandcamp page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. And catch her WFTBO livestream show Friday, Aug. 7th at 10pm EST via: www.twitch.tv/WFTBO

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YouTube Playlist: Michael Kentoff, Chester Hawkins & Chris Videll

One of my favorite things about co-hosting the long-running monthly WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE music party in Washington DC is bringing together so many different and deliciously geeky perspectives on what we loosely refer to as “left-of-center” music — music that you’re unlikely to hear through most mainstream channels.

This 15-track YouTube playlist with commentary perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about. With five tracks each selected by The Caribbean’s Michael Kentoff, Chester Hawkins and Chris Videll, this playlist runs the gamut from abstract minimalist techno and obscure tropicalia to dub-infected krautrock and classic Slumberland faves.

Good news for us, then, that Michael, Chester and Chris will all be taking turns behind the turntables at the March 1, 2019 edition of WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE. Enjoy whetting your appetite with their smashing selections below…

MICHAEL KENTOFF

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Bill Ding – “Make It Pretty” (1997)

Michael: “At a record store in Chicago in 1996, I heard the record Bill Ding and The Sound of Adventure and was like WTF? It sounded (and sounds) like nothing I’ve ever heard. Turns out Bill Ding was a project by John Hughes III and Dan Snazelle. My former group Townies wound up recording an EP with John in 1997 (still a favorite of mine) at the Hughes family compound on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. John picked us up at Midway in his white Ford Bronco and promptly played us the new, yet-to-be-released Bill Ding record, including the first single “Make It Pretty” – it was a memorable drive. The weekend recording session, from which I learned a ton, included dinner with John’s family wherein I had the opportunity to discuss Kubrick with John’s dad, the director and writer of Sixteen Candles. Bill Ding music takes me back and thrusts me forward.”

The Whatt Four – “Dandelion Wine” (1967)

Michael: “I’m not necessarily old enough for this to take me back. I discovered this recently on an amazing Ace Records comp Happy Lovin’ Time. The Whatt Four, a quartet from Riverside, CA, recorded this beautiful, mysterious song with the legendary Bakersfield producer Gary Paxton in 1967. I listen to it constantly – like a mental patient.”

Monster Rally – “Vaqueros De La Isla” (2017)

Michael: “Monster Rally was probably a WIRE magazine discovery for me. Ted Feighan of Cleveland, OH is Monster Rally. He obviously crate digs lovely exotica and makes it even more magical through samplers and sequencers. If I had this album (Flowering Jungle) on vinyl, I’d play it at WFTBO.”

Arpanet – “Wireframe Images” (2002)

Michael: “Arpanet is a project by the surviving member of one of my favorite groups, the Detroit techno duo Drexciya. Gerald Donald made this record as Arpanet in 2002. His work has become progressively more abstract, but no less cool. I love Arpanet, though, because it still swings like a motherfucker.”

Jane Weaver – “I Need A Connection” (2014)

Michael: “UK songwriter Jane Weaver’s most recent album, Modern Kosmology, is one of my favorite records of the past couple of years. I play it often and I’ve played it quite a bit at prior WFTBOs. Rick went fucking ape the first time I spun it, so I thought I’d throw in an earlier song that’s just as addictive as her most recent stuff. Dying to see Jane live.”

CHESTER HAWKINS

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Moebius & Plank – “News” (1979)

Chester: “First heard this LP at age 12 and it re-wrote my brain immediately. It was also my introduction to the work of Dieter Moebius, who remains a huge influence today.”

Hawkwind – “Opa Loka” (1975)

Chester: “Another one from early childhood that stuck with me for a lifetime. Perfect blend of motorik rhythm + classic 2-note bassline with atmospheric flourishes. It could go on for hours… it SHOULD go on for hours.”

OSE – “Orgasmachine” (1978)

Chester: “Heldon-related project (Pinhas & Auger from Heldon + Hervé Picart) — A charming bit of late-70s French electronics which holds up beautifully.”

Chrome – “New Age” (1980)

Chester: “Infinite classic. I found Chrome during DC’s suffocating late-80s hardcore era and it was a breath of magical clean air. Dystopian anti-wave for Ballard readers and irredeemable acid eaters.”

Qluster – “Perpetuum” (2018)

Chester: “Saving this for last in honor of the lateness of the hour when WFTBO closes shop. A perfect balm for 3am space travel, Qluster’s latest marks a return to sequencers and electronic patterns. Roedelius & co. never fail to deliver unique stretches of headspace.”

CHRIS VIDELL

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The Normal — “T.V.O.D.” (1978)

Chris: “A brilliant single, Warm Leatherette b/w T.V.O.D. BLK TAG recently did a deconstructed live cover of T.V.O.D.”

The Lilys — “February Fourteenth” (1991)

Chris: “A favorite on Slumberland. I’ve played this one before at Marx. And another one with a fantastic B side.”

Stereolab — “Cybele’s Reverie” (1996)

Chris: “We were talking about favorite singles from the ’90s the other night, and this Stereolab came up.”

Flying Saucer Attack — “Wish” (1993)

Chris: “I have almost everything Flying Saucer Attack released, but not the ‘Wish’ 7 inch. I really hope for a singles collection from FSA one day.”

The Chills — “Rolling Moon” (1982)

Chris: “Realized the other day I hadn’t listened to this in a bit. And since The Chills will have played here by the time this is out…”

Want more? Be sure to check out the Friday, March 1st edition of WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE at the Marx Cafe (3203 Mt Pleasant St NW DC)!

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