Vail Valley music: 7 questions with songstress Katey Laurel
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Katey Laurel, who performs in the Vail Valley Thursday, spent her childhood living in some odd places – a VW bus, a teepee and eventually a one-room log cabin.
In the background, bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Emmylou Harris belted out the soundtrack. Not surprisingly, the experience left Laurel with a free spirit – she has a hard time settling into one location or lifestyle, she said – and a deep love of music.
“I guess being transient as a child has made me a bit of a footloose and fancy-free adult. I think my background also helps me relate to a wide variety of people from all walks of life.”
Laurel, a Denver-based musician who just released her first studio album “Upstairs, Downstairs,” will perform a free show at Loaded Joe’s in Avon Thursday. She took some time to talk to the Vail Daily about the plethora of instruments she plays and what she’s been up to since her last gig in town.
Vail Daily: From your bio it sounds like you’re quite the musician. How many instruments do you play and what are they?
Katey Laurel: Piano and acoustic guitar are my primary writing voices, but I’ve been to school for French horn performance and have toyed with a cornet (like a trumpet only conical instead of cylindrical bore – that’s for the geeks out there).
I have also been known to pick up an auxiliary percussion instrument or two in the studio, or at shows or jams with musician friends. Some of my favorites are shaker, tambourine, triangle and water/wine glasses.
VD: It sounds like your parents were hippies. Do you consider yourself a hippy?
KL: (Laughs) Not at all! I think the only thing rebellious about me is my inability to stay at a corporate cubicle job and the fact that I currently don’t have health-insurance. Although I do sometimes relish the thought of random road trips and living out of my car. I’m versatile but not necessarily revolutionary.
VD: You’ve drawn comparisons to Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Jewel but how do you describe your style?
KL: Lyrical folk pop. Now it’s becoming more and more pop country. Jewel would probably be the closest match, or Sheryl Crow.
VD: What’s on your iPod that you can’t get enough of lately?
KL: Lady Antebellum’s single “I Run to You” and Alex Wong’s new project “The Paper Raincoat.” Opposite ends of the spectrum, of course. One’s mainstream pop country, and the other is outside-the-box electronica/pop similar to Postal Service.
VD: Tell me about a recent song you wrote and what inspired it.
KL: A friend of mine and I were sitting down to write together when a good friend of his called and said his little sister was going through a breakup. I asked him what happened when he got off the phone, then I said, “That sounds like a song,” and we wrote it right then and there. It’s all about empathy for someone going through a hard time and encouraging them to cry if they need to rather than trying to make them feel better.
VD: What’s new in your life since you last performed in Vail?
KL: Well, several things really. I put out my latest project “Upstairs, Downstairs” and played on Channel 2 in Denver, and have been receiving some airplay around the country. The really big news is that I just booked a five- to six-month hotel gig in Hong Kong for 2010. I’m about to go international.
VD: You seem to have a knack for writing upbeat songs with lyrics focused on pretty depressing topics – loneliness, lost love, etc. Is that on purpose?
KL: I have no idea. Maybe it’s my way of processing those times and I hope someone else is inspired by the mood of the song as well as the message – sort of a kick in the pants to move forward and stop moping.
I’ve done way too much of that in my time. I think I’m going into a new phase of writing that will include a more positive slant. I’ve been experiencing a lot of life’s growing pains myself and am ready to see the sun break through the clouds.