Katie Von Schleicher talks to Tiny Mix Tapes about Shitty Hits, out THIS FRIDAY on Ba Da Bing

Katie Von Schleicher talks to Tiny Mix Tapes about Shitty Hits, out THIS FRIDAY on Ba Da Bing

They say you have your whole life to write your first record; it’s the next one that’s troublesome. Regardless of how you define Brooklyn DIY’er Katie Von Schleicher’s solo offerings (albums? mini-albums? petite-albums?), there has been no second album slip. 2015’s dark ‘n’ dazzling Bleaksploitation was a confident primary building block, however, Von Schleicher constructs a brave new world of her own on her latest record. The elegantly-titled Shitty Hits comes out THIS FRIDAY on Ba Da Bing (Full Time Hobby in Europe).

For our purposes, let’s call Shitty Hits the second “commercial” record of Von Schleicher’s, after Bleaksploitation and 2012’s digital-only Silent Days. Once again, Von Schleicher has created high art by bearing her soul, but Shitty Hits is far from an album of resignation and melancholy. Von Schleicher sounds particularly spirited in her performances, as evidenced by the shitty hits already available from the album: “Paranoia”, “Life’s a Lie”, and “Sell It Back”. A fourth track from Shitty Hits, “Midsummer”, is a lovingly self-produced pensive paean that is catchier than a trout fly lure and can be enjoyed down below.

We love Katie ‘round these parts, so we couldn’t have been happier when she agreed to answer a few questions about the new album for us. Shitty Hits is out Friday, but to ensure safe CD/LP delivery, it can be preordered here (or here for UK/Euro fans). Also, see the full Shitty Hits’ tracklisting and KVS’ tour dates after this mini/petite Q&A.

TMT: Bleaksploitation obviously has a certain homemade lo-fi feel to it. Was there a specific aim or sound you wanted to go for with Shitty Hits? And did you entertain going with a name producer or were you prepared to produce alone again?

KVS: Bleaksploitation was certainly homemade. I was working in my tiny practice space with a Tascam 424 cassette recorder. I’d begun to record all my writing sessions to a portable cassette machine and stacked up a whole bunch of long meandering tapes. If I hadn’t done it, a song like “Baby Don’t Go” wouldn’t have existed, because I’m sure I’d have dismissed it as too cheesy (as I almost did anyway) and never remembered the thing. I moved to the four track and started with “Ronny” one day, inventing the process, adding and adding, bouncing the tracks until I had one left on which to do lead vocal. Each song on Bleaksploitation took a day in the same fashion, just going at it till it was full. For Shitty Hits, I was more ambitious about it, but I was afraid of losing my limitations. So I considered a producer initially, basically anything that would offer me a load-off or simplification. But in the end, I took a leap and tried to make a progression into higher fidelity engineering. Producing is the part of the process that is purely enjoyable. I had help on the basic building blocks of each song, but most of the tracks myself in my bedroom. I was lucky to borrow some very fine gear for it, but only pulled it off in the end through the help of Eli Crews at Figure 8, who mixed it.

TMT: I don’t necessarily get stopped cold by lyrics but I did with Bleaksploitation, and I returned to it at the beginning of this year when I was going through some rotten times. All the tracks have universal feels and pulls regardless of what they were specifically written about. What kind of mental state does Shitty Hits represent? Are there certain overriding themes that you wanted to write about or did they become evident when writing had started?

KVS: In early 2016, I was having a resurgence of anxiety and decided to go to back into therapy, which I’d tried before. Around that time, I began Shitty Hits. The lyrics on Bleaksploitation were the most naturally occurring, the least planned, of any I’d made. Some of them I wrote on the floor of my practice space so I could finish recording the song. Others, in songs like “Ronny” and “Joanna,” I planned very consciously and were full of longing. Perhaps the whole record is full of that, even though I haven’t considered it until now. With Shitty Hits, the longing is far more inward. It’s about the process of eliminating obstructions within myself, the slow work of it, big, and sluggish. Taking stock of what’s ailing me. I’m glad you find the last record universal; I can’t plan that, but I hope there’s room enough for other people to personalize the songs. The same goes for this record, but maybe with a little more intensity. The themes on Shitty Hits are absolutely intentional. I want it to feel like working through emotions; the way it feels to run in a dream. And it takes its time, I think, even though the songs are briefer.

TMT: Why Shitty Hits? What’s shitty about the hits?

KVS: Like Bleaksploitation, Shitty Hits is the name of the genre I think I’m working in. For this one, I’m reconnecting with the songs I heard as a kid in my parents’ car, and the smooth pop hits of the 1970’s. Some of those tunes were immensely cheesy, but there’s a magic in the pairing of reverberated falsettos and obvious lyrics; there’s a melancholy I get from that sonic universe. There’s nothing like an ecstatic sounding track with sad lyrics. My stuff is different in that I’m trying to hit on the feeling they create, rather than emulate them outright. It’s a bit self-deprecating too, of course. And hopefully a little absurd.

Ecstatic-sounding, self-deprecating, absurd Shitty Hits:

01. The Image
02. Midsummer
03. Paranoia
04. Soon
05. Nothing
06. Mary
07. Life’s a Lie
08. Isolator
09. Hold
10. Going Down
11. Sell It Back

Shitty live dates:

08.03.17 - Washington, DC - Songbyrd
08.04.17 - Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool #
08.10.17 - Kingston, NY - BSP Lounge $
08.11.17 - Wellfleet, MA - Wellfleet Beachbomber $
08.12.17 - Hamden, CT - The Ballroom at The Outer Space $
08.13.17 - Burlington, VT - ArtsRiot $
08.14.17 - Montréal, QC - Bar le Ritz PDB $
08.15.17 - Ottawa, ON - House of Targ $
08.16.17 - Toronto, ON - Hard Luck $
08.17.17 - Ithaca, NY - The Haunt $
08.18.17 - Asbury Park, NJ - The Saint $
08.19.17 - Washington, DC - Slash Run $

# album release show (hosted by comedian Joe Pera w/Sam Evian and Tiny Hazard)
$ Surfer Blood

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