Philadelphia band The Lunar Year has easily been one of my favourite new discoveries of 2017. Combining pensive and poignant piano ballads with raw indie rock, they made one hell of a first impression with their debut album Herodias. Having offered some of my personal highlights of the year, naturally I just had to find out more about the album. With her unique vocals and affecting lyricism, I was overjoyed to be able to chat with frontwoman Katie Burke about the new record:
Thanks for your time! You’ve just released your wonderful debut album Herodias, are you happy with the way it turned out?
I am very happy with it. We’ve been working on this record for so long and are just so thrilled to finally be releasing it.
With it being self-produced, did that prove to be more of a help or a hinderance when creating the record?
Both, in a way. We were lucky enough to be able to record a handful of the songs in bigger studios and had access to some insane equipment. But for the most part, everything was done in our home studio. That was nice because we were able to record and collaborate whenever we felt like it. It’s more comfortable and fun. However, it will be nice to hopefully in the future have the ability to record in a larger, more professional setting.
Lyrically it strikes me as a very intimate and personal record. It must be daunting to share your innermost thoughts like that with the world?
It is. I’ve always been a closed off person, and I’ve realized that it’s not always something that is healthy for me. Sharing my life through music is a good way for me to become bolder and more well-rounded. Plus it makes me happy so it’s worth getting through the daunting aspect of it.
One of the things I loved about the album was the light and shade, the contrast between the tender balladry and the full-blown indie rock elements. Who were you biggest influences for those two different sides to your music?
In writing and planning the order and production, there was a lot of pressure to try to conform to a single genre or mold. Not from other people, more from myself. Sometimes I felt that I had to either be “Piano singer-songwriter” or full-out indie rock. I wanted to blend both, because I love both and that’s how I write. The National does that really well and I adore them. I also tried to look at the beginnings of some of my favorite musicians – Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, and Regina Spektor to see how they incorporated certain elements into their songs. That really helped us get a sense of where we wanted go with the record.
‘Backyard Deck’ in particular has a real sense of nostalgia and reflects on childhood memories. What is your earliest musical memory?
My earliest memories are of my dad playing guitar and singing to me and my brothers. Music was a big deal growing up, and it was incorporated into everything.
What song from the album would you say you are most proud of?
I think I would say ‘Backyard Deck’, but it’s a toss-up between that and ‘Herodias’. ‘Backyard Deck’ is an intensely personal and nostalgic song. It’s also the one I’m most proud of composition wise. But, I love the chaos of ‘Herodias’ and it’s probably just as personal as ‘Backyard Deck’.
If you could co-write a song with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Without question- Justin Vernon. For Emma, Forever Ago is one of my favorite albums ever and I think I would just die if I ever got a chance to work with him. I think that our voices would blend very well, and I relate to his music so much. If you know him, give him my email haha
Now that the album is out, what’s next for The Lunar Year?
I am traveling back from California for a short time to do some Record Release shows, one of which is in my hometown, Philadelphia. We’re really excited about traveling and showcasing the record. Hopefully we’ll be planning some more tours in the near future – hopefully to the UK!
Massive thanks to Katie! The Lunar Year’s debut album Herodias is out now.