Hailing from the UK, Katie Malco has recently released her debut album that goes by the name Failures. It’s raw and honest effort about her personal experience going through adulthood and all that comes with it. In the midst of the whole pandemic situation, we had the opportunity to talk with Katie about her first LP and how she’s dealing with everything around her.
First of all, I hope you and your loved one are healthy and safe. How are you dealing with the whole pandemic situation now that you’re about to release your first full-length?
It’s sort of been a life saver to be honest, I’ve been so busy getting things ready to release it that in some ways I’ve been grateful of the downtime from the rest of life so I can fully focus on it. The sad parts are that I live alone and I’m really missing small things like hugging my friends and family, I didn’t realise how important the touch of another human is until I went without it for months on end.
Failures is a really powerful album. You basically bare your heart and soul into all of the songs and it makes it so unique. It took a while to hear something new from you since you released your Tearing Ventricles EP back in 2013. Why naming your debut album as Failures?
It’s called Failures because it’s a coming of age record that chronicles my life up til now growing up, coming out of youth and facing adulthood and all the problems that brings. Each track on the album marks a particularly pivotal period in my life that you could call a failure of some kind, but that actually led to some growth and understanding. At the time however, it felt like I’d failed at something.
Your Tearing Ventricles EP was a collection of piano based compositions recorded live in an old studio hall, Failures has also some piano based songs, but it has a more 90s indie pop approach and driving guitar tunes. How was it like to write the songs for this album? What were your main inspirations?
I generally write songs on either piano or guitar, and then I play around with them in different formats to see what feels right. I have versions of all of these songs as very sparse solo numbers, and when I play live on my own, they are generally played in that way. It felt right to make them as big as they could be for the album, and express the full force of the emotional content in the music. I didn’t really have a lot of inspiration in mind for the band versions of these songs, I just wanted it to sound like me, and all the culmination of my experiences up til now including all the music I’ve absorbed since my teens.
You said that this is a coming of age record that documents your life as growing up and facing adulthood. Was it easy to touch upon those themes that are so personal to you?
I wouldn’t say easy. But it weirdly felt necessary. When I look back on my teenage years I realise I went through a lot, and dealt with some adult stuff too young. Nobody’s teenage years are easy and many people go through a lot more than I did of course, but it took me 10 or so years to realise how those years paved the way for a lot of subsequent sadness in my life. This might sound crazy but I felt like I owed it to teenage Katie Malco to release all of that pent up confusion and frustration and anger, and I would regret it forever if I didn’t. So that became more important than worrying about what people might think and letting them see it.
With that said, your new single “Animal” is about you felt while growing up in a small industrial town in the Midlands. How do you look back to those times and what did you take positive about it?
I look back on those times and it feels like I’m looking at a different person in a former life. I guess the positives are that I found family amongst really good people in this town, when I was kicked out of the house I grew up in at 16 and I was taken in by a group of people I still call extremely close friends. All of it taught me how to hold on to the people that really matter and who will look out for you no matter what. And who I can do the same for.
Your song “Creatures” is about insomnia. Did you had a lot of sleepless nights while writing this album?
I sometimes go through periods of not sleeping well, it’s not as severe as it is for some who suffer from insomnia, but when I wrote “Creatures” I had gone for about a week without sleeping more than a couple of hours a night, and I couldn’t really get to the bottom of what was causing it. It was another period of change, and it was where the title for Failures came from; “I see Creatures, they’re my failures”.
“Brooklyn” is about a friend of yours that moved to start a new life in New York. How’s she dealing with everything that’s happening in the USA right now and what are your thoughts about it?
She’s charging full steam ahead into protesting and also providing care packages for protestors…she’s very vocal about the need for radical change and she’s very active in her own community. My thoughts are that this has been a long time coming, I support protestors and activists and I’ve donated to various related charities and funds and I’ve been trying to educate myself on the intrinsic imbalance of our society and the harm and devastation it causes.
You had additional musicians to the recording of this album, Andy Jenkin on drums and Stephen Davidson on bass and backing vocals. Tell us about their contributions on it.
I met Andy through Stephen, and I know Stephen because of his own band Tellison. Andy is a producer as well as a drummer, and the three of us recorded the album together. It was so nice for it just be a small number of people, we were really able to take the time to pick things apart and build them back up again. They were both brilliant and very patient with me. I’m so glad they were a part of it.
You are now with 6131 Records. How’s been like to work with them?
They’ve been great. It’s run by Sean and Joey, so it’s a small operation but they put so much effort into their releases and have been incredibly supportive for the last couple of years I’ve been working through album stuff with them. They go above and beyond and they’re very easy to work with. I’m not sure they’d say the same for me, but I hope they would!!!
You played with Bob Mould last year, how was it?
It was amazing, honestly, I didn’t think I would meet him but he came out of his way to my dressing room to say hi and that he had heard some of my music and really liked it. Which was obviously a big deal to me to say the least. It was a great show too; I wasn’t sure how the audience would react to my stuff but they were super quiet and engaged.
How do you approach online spaces and social media?
Nowadays I just try to be me, and not censor myself. I think it’s so important to be genuine and I like having a joke with people, so I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to put across a personality that wasn’t mine. It’s such a big part of my music that I felt like it would be really hard to keep up a sort of ‘online persona’. So how I approach social media is with authenticity. It’s in no way perfect and it probably doesn’t always do me a lot of favours but it’s important to me that I can engage with people the way I want to and not always with cookie cutter artist responses and posts.
At this point, do you have a sense of what you want to do in the future?
I have already written album 2, so I want to record it. And I also want to tour this record if we ever emerge from lockdown.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
My biggest challenge is staying content and balanced day to day.
If you could say something to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
Everything is temporary, even this.
Any thoughts about Brexit?
Brexit is really dumb.
For last… What’s your favorite Slipknot song?
It used to be “Duality” but I think I overplayed it, so now I enjoy “Eyeless”!