Not many people can pull off honesty like Waxahatchee. Like a drunken tattoo or triple denim, honesty is the kind of look that really only suits a certain type of person. Happily, Katie Crutchfield is exactly that kind of person. Renowned for her deeply personal lyricism and unblinking, stripped-back approach to her craft, there's a clarity and openness on her third full-length album Ivy Tripp that most songwriters would eagerly sign away their souls for.

Ivy Tripp dropped earlier this month to universal cheers and celebration, and Katie's now on the road for a many-month long tour which'll see her arrive on UK soil in June. Despite her ridiculous schedule, we catch up with her to talk about honesty, solitude, growing up... and how Nicki Minaj happened to help out with writing 'Air'. Her latest single 'La Loose' was released yesterday.

Hi Katie. How're you doing?

I'm just sitting in the backyard with my dog, I mean, I just woke up like fifteen minutes ago. It's finally spring here, so it's just now starting to be warm enough to even come sit outside, so I'm just enjoying that. My record came out today, in America. And my first day of tour is today, too.

Congratulations! Ivy Tripp's been so enthusiastically received on this side of the pond - it must be a reassuring thing to see before you head out on the road?

It's strange because I try... you try to brace yourself for people disliking what you do... I mean, when I made Cerulean Salt I didn't know that anybody was going to hear it, so it was kind of a surprise, and when that started to happen I just distanced myself from it. Not from like... hearing critique, or hearing, you know, peoples' reactions, but just trying to not put too much stock in that. I guess it goes both ways. It's fantastic and super flattering when people are connecting with the record, but I also try hard to sort of... live in my own experience.

And to start releasing on Merge - once home to the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and Dinosaur Jr - could be quite a daunting thing if you started thinking about it too much.

Right. It also feels like it's just happened super gradually. You know, today, because of the way that people consume media, I just feel that bands put out one tape, and they're the biggest band on earth. Things happen so fast for people. I feel like I've been really fortunate, because everything that's happened for me has happened so slowly, and so gradually, that I've not only built up a pretty big body of work, with other bands and records I've made and stuff as well, but on top of that I also feel comfortable and confident in what I'm doing. A kind of... clear-headedness.

So if you were to release your first album now, would you feel differently about the whole process?

I mean, I'm a different person than I was, I've grown up a lot since I wrote that record. But, in a way, I feel like, when I hear it, I can still relate to... that person. I feel like I really processed a lot of stuff, personally, through making that record. A record like that has a lot of potential to be really cringe-worthy for the writer I think, later in life, and I don't cringe when I hear it. I still play a lot of those songs live, so...!

Do you ever stop and think, ahh... I should tell this story this certain way, but I feel awkward about it?

I have to create a certain environment for myself, I need a lot of privacy... some kind of fortress of solitude. Then I can usually focus enough to know exactly what I want to say.

And how you wanna say it.

Yeah, that's trial and error!

Would you write a line and be like, no, now that's over sharing? Do you filter some things out?

Haha, I try to keep things vague enough. To write things in a way that's sort of... abstract. But nothing really feels off-limits to me. I mean, I've written about some really personal, intense stuff in the past. I feel like... my style of writing has always been able to... have discretion about certain things, to be respectful about people that I'm writing about.

You've clearly honed a talent for killer put-downs. Is there a sense of being able to say things with lyrics in a way that you couldn't at the time?

I don't know if it's just my own energy I'm putting out... like... Cerulean Salt was pretty sad and depressing, and Ivy Tripp is also kind of sad and depressing too, but I think there's a lot of frustration in these lyrics, and that's a new emotion for me to feed off of when I write. It's definitely a great way to capture... not a 'zinger,' necessarily, but to capture yourself saying exactly what you want to say.

Ivy Tripp is also about fundamental, elemental things: air and dirt and running water. It feels quite poetic, in that sense... Was that a conscious decision?

Yeah. I mean, it's kind of my opportunity for writing poetry, or something like that. Just writing something that wouldn't make sense in conversation, just playing with words. It was, well, sort of subconscious I think, but there's more observational references [on Ivy Tripp]. Like, before, I've only really written about my own experiences: My interactions with people, or how things that I've experienced directly affect me emotionally. I feel like this record is more about me taking in the world, and observing other people, and other patterns of behaviour, things like that.

And, this time around, you're working with a much a larger palette in terms of sound. Is that something you felt you wanted, artistically? To make a record that is 'bigger' that way?

I never really thought about it being 'bigger,' although that is a word that people are using a lot. It was never really my intention. I knew that I wanted it to be different, and I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted it to be different, to be a bit sharper and more filled out. But also, I had all these ideas that I never really executed until we were recording. Lists and lists of ways that I wanted the skeletal versions of the songs that I had to be presented to the world. So it's hard to say what I had expected; I didn't have a perfect vision... A lot of the best parts on the album, in my opinion, happened on the spot.

Yeah, there's a cool interview with Kyle Gilbride (who produced the record) about making 'Air' - he said that you had no idea how it would turn out. 

Yeah I did an interview the other day, with Mac from Superchunk who runs Merge. We were both being interviewed together, and they asked, 'What came first in Air?' I said, well, I'd written the guitar part and it was the summer when that Nicki Minaj song 'Pills n Potions' came out, and there's that beat? It's just like a bass drum, hitting in a weird time, and I was like, that beat would be so perfect behind that song.

Amazing! You've said, many times, that you'll always identify as part of the DIY scene. For you, what would constitute disrespecting those values?

You know, I feel that it's more of a learning experience. That ethos has always been prevalent; I make every decision with the mind of a person who was a part of that scene for a long time, those things are still really important to me. I always turn down things that I think are lame, or fucked up. I only say yes to things that feel good. For a while, yeah, it was like a witch hunt if a band signed with a certain label, made this choice, goes on this tour... they're kind of excommunicated. And maybe it's still like that with younger people, but I feel that the community I participate in is just excited and happy when cool things are happening. You can be a little heavy handed on yourself, I think. I'm at a point where I just want to be happy, and the people that I love to be happy, and that's what's important to me. When you're young you don't think about stuff like that. 

Waxahatchee's new album, Ivy Tripp, is out now.'La Loose', which you can hear above, is released on June 1st via Wichita Recordings.

  • Waxahatchee European Dates:
  • Sat 23 May Dresden Beatpol
  • Sun 24 May Manheim Maifeld Derby Festival
  • Mon 25 May Nuremburg K4
  • Tue 26 May Strasbourg La Laiterie
  • Wed 27 May Paris La Maroquinerie
  • Thu 28 May Zurich Rote Fabrik
  • Fri 29 May Grenoble La Ciel
  • Sun 31May Ghent Dok
  • Mon 1 June Münster Gleis 22
  • Wed 3 June Hamburg Molotow
  • Thu 4 June Copenhagen Beta
  • Sat 6 June Athens Plissken Festival
  • Sun 7 June Berlin Gruner Salon
  • Mon 8 June Köln Blue Shell
  • Wed 10 June London Electric Ballroom
  • Thu 11 June Bristol The Fleece
  • Fri 12 June Manchester The Ruby Lounge
  • Sat 13 June Dublin Button Factory
  • Sun 14 June Belfast McHughs
  • Mon 15 June Glasgow Stereo
  • Tue 16 June Newcastle The Cluny
  • Wed 17 June Leeds The Brudenell Social Club
  • Thu 18 June Sheffield The Harley
  • Fri 19 June Southhampton Joiners
  • Sat 20 June Brighton Bleach
  • Sun 21 June Hilvarenbeek Best Kept Secret Festival
  • 5-8 August Luhmühlen A Summer’s Tale Festival
  • Tue 11 August Odense Dexter
  • Wed 12 August Aarhus Voxhall
  • Thu 13 August Oslo Oya Night
  • Fri 14 August Gothenburg Way Out West
  • 19-22 August Paredes De Coura Festival
  • 20-23 August Green Man Festival