I recently had an eye-opening and entertaining interaction with Katie Gately from Tri-Angle Records. The sound designer and music producer living in Los Angeles shared her thoughts on the ever-expanding electronic music scene, her experiences in the industry, and a few glimpses into her daily life. Here are the 6 sides of Katie Gately:
I asked her about her opinions on the development of electronic music and she offered a personal touch, explaining how she evolved as a producer via technology and how society’s psychological tendencies reflect our increase in computer use:
“I’ve started to feel a need to pull away from the perfectionism the computer has made possible (if not required?!). The hyper-edited insanity of my previous computer production habits – while joyous in many senses – started to feel like a ball and chain. Now I’m moving more towards play, improvisation, messiness and accidents with guitar pedals and loopers.”
The cultural critic
She continued on this train of thought by stating that this improvisational quality makes “music-making more about ‘How does this feel?’ vs. ‘How does this sound?'” which ultimately becomes an ethnomusicological issue (the result of a culture’s impact on music).
She translates this to the tendencies of modern society and how electronic music can evolve from this point: “With so much time lived online, I think this is becoming harder and harder to do….to check in with how we physically feel instead of what we’re conceptually thinking […] My hope is that we can find more ways to integrate the computer into the heart and hips of a more physical and ‘error-ed’ music-making. I’m optimistic things are going to get more interesting and exciting as more and more people find ways to externalize and physicalize the power of computers in their performance practice.”
The regular person
“Last year I was racing to get home because I really had to pee. I ran across the street on a red light and swiftly was ‘pulled over’ by a motorcycle cop for disobeying the light. As he started to lecture me about the law, I crossed my legs (pee-pee was on the way). He shouted “What are you doing?” and I burst into laughter out of discomfort and started to crumble to the ground (pee-pee closer to arrival). This enraged him more and he started to write me a $300 ticket for jay-walking.
“I immediately started mentally spinning…’How am I going to pay for this ticket? I can barely pay for food!’ So, I made an executive decision and decided to pee in my pants. In public. In the middle of the day. In a pair of jean shorts. You know, like a LADY!
“It was humiliating and ridiculous but…I didn’t ever get handed that $300 ticket!”
When asked about her interests aside from music, Katie’s first response was “Diapers!”, which almost made me pee my pants! Jokes aside, she recently joined a ladies’ book club reading historical fiction and essays written by “brilliant women”. She states: “The group is amazing, but the truth is…. reading historical fiction is pure hell for me. I only want to read sound manuals.”
We have seen significant progress in 2017 regarding the exposure of the wrongs done to women in the film and music industry in America, but we have a long way to go before our interactions become entirely based on equality and respect. Katie shares with us her experiences with sexual harassment in the film/music industry and her hopes for the future:
“Sexual harassment is big on my mind. Within a year of moving to LA, I was harassed by a director and told by my superiors that it was ‘normal’ and to ‘expect it’. This left me furious with the film industry and ultimately, I dropped out of it…only to realize these issues are just are prevalent in the music world!”
This issue transcends into other forms of disrespect that people seldom speak of, but nonetheless impact all of us in every walk of life: “Deeper than sexual harassment is narcissism and a lack of respect and empathy for other humans. If someone is a bully in a non-sexual way, they need to be called out too. Nobody is perfect but we need to encourage each other to be more decent, overall. I hope we’re moving towards a place where this is shifting.”
As most full-time musicians will tell you, the first issue is always money. In Katie’s case, she explains how this revolves around the industry’s expectations:
“I just don’t feel authentically aligned with the way the music industry operates. i.e. make a record, talk about your record, promote yourself constantly, play your record for nine months and then quickly make another record (without any reasonable advance or $) and rinse and repeat the previous steps…forever?! All the while, you have to worry about gatekeepers and hype which can create tremendous static in the creative process.”
She also shares her ideas on the potential solutions of navigating the industry: “I think we have to follow what interests us and we have to listen to our guts. That will be different for each artist. For me, I make a good chunk of my money teaching and I don’t mind it. This way, I make music when I want to and how I want to. Music stays this playful thing and I give myself padding and space to really experiment and fail.”
Ultimately, she claims that her bottom line at this point consists of “incubating my creative spirit from both cynicism and exhaustion.”
Stay in touch with Katie Gately: