By Graeme Wiggins
It’s been a busy few years for Katie Crutchfield. Recording under the stage name Waxahatchee, Crutchfield dropped her debut, American Weekend, in 2012 and has since added three further albums and one EP to her discography. Add to that a fairly consistent touring schedule and it’s not hard to see why she might be a little worn out. It may be surprising, then, to learn she’s starting off the new year with yet another tour.
“It’s funny,” Crutchfield laughs. “I keep calling 2019 my sabbatical year. I mean obviously it’s not because I’m going on tour, but the idea was to do some west coast shows that were headline shows because I haven’t done that since Out in the Storm came out [in 2017].”
After that, however, it will be time for a break. “I have been passively writing for a while,” she says. “The plan is to just take it easy. I’ve burned it from both ends for a few years now, so to get myself excited about it again I need to go away and read and write and not play shows.”
With that time off to write, we shouldn’t necessarily expect a return to the quiet side of Waxahatchee that she has seemed to tease about wanting to return to. “It’s funny: when Ivy Tripp came out I told everyone I was going to make a really quiet album, and then I made Out in the Storm, which is the opposite of that,” she says. “So it’s hard to say. To me, Great Thunder was sort of that, but it’s a like a diffuser of sorts – it was old songs that I had some detachment from.”
For a songwriter who handles such personal subject matter, her interviews in the wake of Out in the Storm talked a lot about connection and audience. This was partly just due to the relatable idea surrounding the record. Her thoughts about personal writing versus writing for an audience tend to vary record by record.
“American Weekend, when I think about writing that record, it was just for me,” says Crutchfield. “I felt like I was singing into the abyss. I made it and sat on it for a year before I even played it for anyone.”
The more audience-focused aspect of Out in the Storm is something she’s working against going forward: “It’s a headspace I really want to get out of. I really want to write lyrics about what I’m feeling, and as your audience grows, it gets more challenging. I’m in the process of turning that entire thing off and getting off the grid and focusing on my feelings at the moment.”
Out in the Storm was a roaring portrait of overcoming a troubled relationship. It showcased more anger, but also more hope, than her previous work; there was a new self-confidence apparent. However, it’s not as though her next record will be brimming full of pure positivity.
“Positivity is interesting,” she says. “I feel like in 2019, everyone is all about positivity. When I first started making music it was all about being super emo. Super sad and negative and really exploring pain. I feel like it’s out of fashion to do that. It’s not what people want to hear, but also it’s what has always inspired me and I have a lot to draw from.”
Until that comes about, it will be a while before she’s here again, so we’ll have to settle for her upcoming show.
Waxahatchee performs at the Wise Hall on February 24