Katie Moore has been gracing Montreal with her gorgeous voice and down to earth demeanor from her early days at Barfly’s Bluegrass Jam. She’s sung with Chilly Gonzales, Patrick Watson, and Feist, but you can catch her solo, or singing with her band El Coyote, or hosting Montreal’s Country Classics Hour on CKUT. But don’t be fooled by all the coziness of her country side — she’s got a sharp wit and an almost comedic bluntness to match. I talked to Katie about her new album released this September and also her upcoming show opening for The Barr Brothers.
Rachel Levine (RL): You’ve been making folk for a long time, often collaborating with others. For example, your song The One I Love is gone is sung with Andrew Horton. Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
Katie Moore (KM): I prefer working with other people. It’s more fun. There’s a feeling when you’re doing something with someone else and it’s coming out well and it’s super gratifying and you feel this connection to the other person. It’s part of what’s so fun about playing music. There’s also the solo aspect, writing the music, and music is good too. If you play you’ll music you’ll never be bored. You can always pick up your instrument. But the playing together aspect is where most of my friendships come from. It’s a big part of my life.
RL: How do you find your collaborators?
KM: I meet them on Tinder. (laughs) They should have a Tinder for musicians. I guess it’s a small town, Montreal. Everyone knows each other. And then there’s places like Bluegrass Night at the Barfly on Sundays which has been going for like 17 years, and that’s where I went many years ago when I didn’t have anyone play country music with. I joined the open mic jam and that’s where I met so many people that I still play with like Angela Desveaux and Andrew Horton. Warren Spicer produced the album and work with a lot and I met him at a going away party for a friend over 10 years ago and we had a jam. and it sounded good together.
RL: You have such mournful, haunting sad songs that are often about difficult topics. Do you think music is largely a balm for the bad times?
KM: For sure. For me, writing songs is therapeutic. I have something in my head and that’s how I can get it out. Also, in terms of listening to music, when you’re sad and you listen to a sad song, it might make you sadder, but it makes you feel like it’s something that everyone goes through. Naming your emotions makes things better. I love sad songs.
RL: When it comes to writing music, do you start with lyrics or melody or some other method? How do you bring your music to your band?
KM: Usually I have some idea in my head that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I don’t really know how I do it. I generally write the lyrics and melody at the same time. And I go from there. When there’s a studio session coming up, I’ll show the songs to Warren [Spicer] and he’ll make a few suggestions or not. When we’re in the studio I show it to the band and they play and they do their awesome stuff on it.
RL: Tell me about your new album, Fooled by the Fun. Where does that title come from? Is it a theme on the album?
KM: It is a track of a song and it’s the last line of a chorus of a song and I guess it’s this idea that we try to distract ourselves with lots of fun or whatever it is we’re avoiding. It’s not really a theme on the album.
RL: I love the cover of Fooled by the Fun…
KM: Jessica Moss, she did the cover. It’s a collage. She did a bunch of collages. I liked that one. It’s so iconic of some lake in Alberta. There’s some weird gender neutral person on the front and the ladies in petticoats climbing the mountain. Jessica moss plays violin on the album too. She’s one of those multifacted artists. It’s disgusting. (she laughs)
RL: So, you’re originally from Hudson? Can you tell me how place may have informed your songs?
KM: I’m from Alberta. I moved to Hudson when I was three and lived there until I moved downtown when I was 18. Definitely, it’s on a lake and has so much space. It’s a very different experience from growing up in Montreal. There were train tracks at the bottom of the garden that I found very romantic. You have people going through, passing through. Every morning the train went past. It was our wake up alarm after 7 a.m. I think it’s such a beautiful place with lots of mental and physical space. I recorded half the album at my parents house in Hudson, this cute little old wooden house.
RL: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
KM: I’m so excited for tomorrow to be opening for the Barr Brothers. The venue is amazing in that church and I love that band. I’ve been to see them many times and they’re great people and make great music so I’m psyched.
Katie Moore opens for The Barr Brothers at Église St Jean Baptiste (301 Rachel E) for POP Montreal on Sept 17. 8 p.m. $35 at door.