Residing in Asheville, North Carolina, multi-genre vocal powerhouse, songwriter, and instrumentalist Katie Sachs released her latest LP The Factory of Almosts on September 10. In it, a raw, urgently emotional musical experience comes to life through eccentric lyrics and catchy melodies, revealing brutally honest and deeply vulnerable meaning.
Her appreciation for wide-ranging musical styles and influences like Billie Holiday, David Byrne, Pixies, and Feist helped bring together a variety-filled record that explores the complexities of romantic relationships and self discovery. This inner realization detailed in the album includes Sachs’s transition from the “rambling phase of life” to the more grounded phase – a shift that came with “finding a place that felt like home and getting older.”
“I definitely took advantage of my 20’s so to speak – I traveled, explored, met lots of new people and had lots of new experiences, tried out different career paths, etc.” said Sachs. “I ended up moving to Asheville when I was 32, which happened to coincide with the ending of my ‘Saturn Returns’ phase of life (for all you astrology folks). I feel grateful and lucky to have found a wonderful community of friends, professional and creative opportunities, and resonant nature to ground into. Now at 35 (almost 36), the thought of picking up and moving again feels exhausting and disorienting.”
In writing about these very real life changes, she doesn’t hold back in including everything, the good and the bad. Inspired by “Sad Girl” musicians, such as Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Bjork, she is known to gravitate more toward sadder songs. She shares that this is because songwriting has always how she processes some of the more challenging situations and experiences of life.
“I’ve had my share of personal tragedy, so I guess that makes my songs tend towards ‘sadness’ Sachs said. “When things are going swell, I don’t really need to write about it – I’m just living my best life! As I continue to work at my craft, I definitely have a desire to push myself to write when things are “going great” – it’s more of a challenge, but actually something I want to get better at. I’d like to have more “happy things” happen in my life and also be able to still create.”
Different from her other music, the album’s lead single “Trees” does just that. As the most, if not only happy, folk-like song on the record, it taps into a new sound for Sachs – a cheerier, more conventional one.
“I don’t usually follow traditional chord structures for songs (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), so this one is definitely more ‘mainstream’ and stands out a bit on the album in that way” Sachs said. “I’ve also been told that the chorus is an ‘ear worm.’ I really like the song, and also picked it as the single because it was unanimously selected by my friends as the album favorite. It is probably the only straight up Folk/Americana/strummy tune on the album, which is great for adding musical variety!”
In comparison, the other songs explore a 90s garage rock sound, accompanied by some blues, jazz and solo acoustic avenues. Yet, there are still some “upbeat rockers” (“Triangle”, “In The Dark”, “Sex is Dangerous”) on the album that keep that “happy” feel alive, but it’s difficult for Sachs to see the album in these kinds of terms.
“To be honest, it’s hard for me to think about this record (and life in general) in terms of ‘Happy/Sad’ binaries – all of the songs are just about my life” she said. “I feel like all situations ‘good or bad’ really come down to the lens with which we choose to view them and the meaning and lessons we are able to glean from them. My music discusses topics like: personal growth, grief, loss, hope, paradoxes, love, sex, anxiety, and redemption. It’s about the full human spectrum of emotions and experiences, which I often find live somewhere in the ‘grey area.'”
Written specifically about an experience, well at least one she dreamed up in her head, “Ethel’s Garage Sale” is her favorite song from The Factory of Almosts for its quirky and lyrically unusual nature.
“I dreamt that I was watching a duo perform the chorus on a stage and was thinking to myself ‘wow, that’s a great song, I wish I had written that!'” said Sachs in explaining how it came to be. “Then, I woke up and I wrote it in about 15 minutes. I love the way the arrangement came together and the contributions from the other musicians who really helped bring it to life. I’m a huge Tom Waits fan, so I think of “Ethel” as my weird Tom Waits song.”
Giving an actual glimpse into her mind, the song like the rest of the album is an embodiment of who Sachs is. Her most evolved work to date, The Factory of Almosts is her last studio album release for the foreseeable future. Knowing her purest thoughts and emotions were poured into this piece makes it the perfect point for her to step back and focus on just living in her new home while being a little older than she used to be.
Stream The Factory of Almosts on Spotify.
Photo Credit: Scott Sturdy
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