San Jose-based artist Kathryn Mohr brings captivating yet depressive sounds into her songs, and she just released her brand new seven-song EP Holly, which beautifully well-crafted and produced by Midwife‘s Madeline Johnston. We caught up with Kathryn about her journey as a musician and all the work behind her new release.
Thanks Kathryn for doing this interview with us. For those who don’t know you, can you talk a little bit about your music background and what led you to become a musician?
This is cool, thank you for interviewing me! I have always loved that music creates experiences and feelings that would not otherwise occur. Many of the most important emotional experiences of my life were induced or enhanced by music. The creations of all sorts musicians and artists have continually kept me alive and functioning. Music stretches my mind, and challenges me to question what I think I may know about this world and the human experience. It took me many years of trial and error to find how to express myself. I have found it vitally important to keep in mind that there will only ever be one of you in all time. Your unique expression cannot come from any other medium but yourself, and if you block it, it will never exist. (This is a paraphrased quote by the dancer Martha Graham)
Holly is a beautifully well-crafted seven-song EP that you’ve just released and it’s the follow-up to your 2020 self-recorded demo tape, As If. When did you start writing these new songs and what was the inspiration for them?
These songs were written in 2021. I was doing a ton of urban exploring. Exploring felt compulsive and necessary at the time; to go out without any destination and see where I would end up. I have a ton of crazy stories. I enjoy the rawness and indifference of the physical world. Walking around and looking at things as they are keeps me from getting lost in mental wormholes.
“Stranger” is such a tender but emotionally deep song. What is the story behind this one?
I think it’s cool that a complete stranger can listen to music I have created, and that suddenly it will become their own, and fit into their own life. The music forms its own experience with a person I will never know. That’s where the title came from. The song itself doesn’t really have a story other than the one it tells.
You worked with Midwife’s Madeline Johnston for this EP and she produced it. What did she bring to your songs and how was it like to work together?
She brought another dimension to the songs that could not have existed without her. Her ear is incredibly unique, and she could hear many things I could not in the songs. She had a sense of direction and focus for the songs, and her creative momentum was contagious. I am infinitely excited about her music, and it was a dream to work with her.
Why did you pick a rural area of New Mexico to record this EP?
This is where Madeline’s recording studio was.
The artwork for Holly‘s cover is just stunning. How did you come up with that image and what’s the meaning of it?
It is a polaroid I randomly took of my hand in a bart station. I digitally added texture by fading in plaster-style scans of things I had found on the ground while walking. The nail of my little finger at the time was black because I had slammed it in a car door. In the picture, it’s not really clear if my nail is painted or bruised, so I started reading on the internet. I read that having a single black (painted) pinky nail was sometimes used to raise awareness of violence against children, and this felt appropriate.
Are you currently working on a music video for any of these songs or new music for another release?
I wish! I would love to make a music video someday, maybe soon.
What have you been listening to lately non-stop?
Cindy Lee and Grouper.
What are you looking forward the most for 2023?
I have no idea…