“It’s difficult not to think about the end point when writing music, but honestly I think this is the least self-conscious thing I’ve ever made,” says Katie Von Schleicher on the phone from New York. “It’s based on a core belief and intuition that if you make something wholly for yourself it’s more likely to affect other people”.
She’s talking about her new record Shitty Hits, which, despite being her ‘proper’ debut, feels like anything but, considering the singer-songwriter has been making albums every year since she was sixteen.
“The label would murder me if I released any of them,” Katie laughs. “I certainly don’t have all of that music any more. But I’m grateful that I was able to develop a strong work ethic for a while. It’s taken me a while to become fully-formed and I feel like this album has come at a good time for me.”
Shitty Hits may not be her first attempt at an album but is her first full-length release. She previously put out the 7-track mini-album Bleaksploitation in 2015 after interning at her now US label Ba Bing Records, with Katie doing the press herself under a pseudonym.
Its follow-up, released last Friday, is an album of eclectic pop paired with introspective, troubled lyrics – often inspired more by literature than other musicians. “The ‘My Struggle’ series by [Norwegian author] Karl Ove Knausgard is a huge inspiration for me. I think there’s a reason people are interested in literature that avoids plot and is based purely on feeling – and that’s something I’m shooting for in my music.”
Katie’s music is often described as ‘dark’ or ‘reflective’, something the songwriter feels this is a fair reflection on her output: “The music is very tied to who I am. I deal with depression and anxiety, and I think someone else in my exact position could battle a little less with their chemical demons”.
“I still haven’t graduated from the fact that music and writing is very solitary. I work through things, and process things, through my music. Sometimes that acts as an incentive to write a new song.”
Shitty Hits also represented a new direction in songwriting for Katie. “I usually write songs in a really simple way – sitting at a piano or with a guitar,” she reveals. ““With this album I had an idea of what I wanted to do from the start – I even had the title of the record before I started writing it.”
“This time I demoed much more extensively, with full band arrangements for each song. That really shaped the record… I wanted to pair bright, concise songs with lyrics that don’t naturally fit with the music. The lyrics are totally shameful, and contain things I don’t consider as being attractive to share. I guess you could say they’re unadorned by any sense of glossiness.”