Katie Costello: Rebel Pop Track Commentary + Retrospective
Written by Anna Leuning on October 30, 2015
This week we have a 2-hour Katie Costello special! In the first hour we go track by track with Katie on her new EP, Rebel Pop Singer Songwriter. In the second hour, Katie tells us about each of her previous releases.
Katie and I had so much to say about her music both new and old that it didn’t all fit in the show. The following is an excerpt of our conversation that didn’t make it into the show.
Anna Leuning: So, can you tell me a little bit, in general, about the EP?
Katie Costello: So, My New EP is called Rebel Pop Singer Songwriter, and it’s a debut of my new sound and direction as an artist. I feel really grateful that I have so many past records that I feel very proud of, but I think that this new chapter definitely feels like a departure. I feel like I’ve become a better songwriter, and I think that my relationship with learning about yoga and meditation at Bodhisattva Yoga… it changed my ability to communicate better, and because of that, I feel like my songs deliver a message that I’ve been trying to say for years, if that makes sense. Almost like I now have the ability to be more truthful and honest and like, raw about how I feel. I feel like my music reflects both a greater vulnerability and a greater popular appeal because I’m just trying to think about how other people around the world feel at this point in time, in history.
AL: You co-founded a label, and is that sort of the mission of the label? To select musicians and releases that will carry on that mission?
KC: Exactly. The mission behind Rebel Pop Records is really to have one goal in mind – which is just enjoyable music, you know, made and then released without any third party or any sort of other motive. There’s a really wonderful privilege right now, as a human existing in this day and age, where the Internet allows us to completely interact with the whole world, if we are able to make those connections. I feel like, in the spirit of that, I want to take advantage of that and just make music and then connect with people directly. There’s no separation. My records are for sale by me, on my website. That is the first way that they will become available. That is my way of doing my own thing and following what it true for myself, as an artist. There’s no other consideration; it is music from the heart and [I am] making it immediately available for anyone that wants to hear it.
AL: Do you have future Plans for the EP? Are you going to expand to an LP, or do a tour, or anything like that?
KC: Yeah. My plan is to release and LP of more songs in the Rebel Pop Singer Songwriter vein and mission and sentiment. It will definitely have more songs about trying to take advantage of life, following your heart, and doing what’s true to yourself so that you can have a relationship with the world; You can make things change for the better instead of being a bystander or a witness to the craziness of the world unfolding. You know, like, being in a job that you don’t really like and ending up married and having kids and then being like, wait, this isn’t what I had in mind for myself. Why is it that I am being fed this story of like, who I need to be and what I need to be to be valuable in society, when we can see that the world needs to change right now in order for humans to survive. We have to change the things we value. We can’t be a disposable society and I think a lot of people feel that way. It is something that I feel really motivated to write about because I think a lot of people are scared to say that they feel really fed up with the way things are right now, in our society.
AL: I totally agree. And I kind of think that some of your earlier work, like your Kaleidoscope Machine album, you had a song on there, ‘Congratulations’, where you kind of started to have those thoughts. Where you were already thinking those things – where like, these traditions, these paths, aren’t necessarily what will make us happy. So it sounds like this whole time, you’ve been building towards this record.
KC: Yes! I totally appreciate the recognition of that deep cut. (laughs) I totally feel that it is something that I have been wrapping my head around for a long time. I ultimately left high school in my senior year and decided to finish high school online cause’ I felt it was a waste of my time being there. I don’t mean to sound like there weren’t valuable aspects to it but, I started to feel like I was being asked to memorize stuff, and any time I try to be an individual, it was seen as some sort of threat. Now that I’ve lived in New York for a number of years, being an artist, and trying to make it, I’ve learned a lot. I also think I’ve gotten a lot stronger just being true to myself because I realize that, at the end of the day, you have to be happy. If you’re not happy then, what’s the point? What’s the point of doing anything if it doesn’t lead to your happiness? We all want to be happy. I’ve really been inspired to write about that in many different ways because I think that the way that our society paints how you have to be happy, eventually makes people unhappy. They don’t feel that way, and are not connecting with the life they are living because they really wanted to do something else but they were pressured out of it.
AL: Your first single off the new EP, “New World” had some role for you and the People’s Climate March?
KC: Basically, last September in NYC, the People’s Climate March, I believe had 500,000 people in attendance. It was really just everyone coming together peacefully in the spirit of calling for immediate climate action; that the world leaders really rise to the occasion so that big changes are able to happen. So that we can save for our planet as best as possible, in the face of the tremendous difficulties that lie ahead. I wanted to capture the march in film so that it could be a part of the music video (laughs). I was like, “okay, this is for posterity and also to create a music video!” It was an all in one. The director of the music video, Jon Hoeg, filmed the march and I attended with Vivekan. Vivekan had also helped me edit the text that became the text of the music video. It’s actually just text from the 350.org People’s Climate March Facebook pages. It is various facts about climate change and information about how countries are starting to implement clean energy. It benefits communities and it benefits everybody if it is done that way. I think that the world is capable of harnessing that and that it should be available. So yeah, the video captures 500,000 people marching in the spirit of immediate climate action. This November, 29th, will be marking the Global People’s Climate March – Different groups from all over the world peacefully calling for immediate things to happen for our benefit.
AL: You made a really beautiful video for ‘Everything Has It’s Way’. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
KC: Oh, thank you so much! I made that music video with the director, Jeremy Herman. I described to him, the sentiments behind the song; the kind of visual imagery that came to my mind. I really told him to just essentially take that and interpret it himself. So that was, I believe, all footage from where he was living at the time, in France: different skyscrapers and stuff, Paris, and the kind of anthropomorphic scenery. I love what he did because it gives it a kind of a surreal visual. What we say is our everyday life – different imagery like that. It’s kind of how everything changes and takes on different meaning and shape and form over time. I think he captured that really well.
Transcription by Lizzy MacKenzie! Thanks LM!