Texas-born indie singer-songwriter Kaycie Satterfield’s latest EP, Women’s Fiction, explores all aspects of being a female artist – deconstructing everything from performative femininity on tracks like ‘Norma Jean’ to the strange and utterly irrational fiction genre that gives the EP its name, a ‘genre’ that also still manifests itself in the music industry in the form of lumping “all-female” or “female-fronted” bands into their own separate category. The title track is a crushing, potent cry of despair, featuring one of Satterfield’s most moving performances alongside some of her most memorable lyrics. “I’ll keep telling my stories and keep begging someone to listen/ I’ll keep telling my stories, they’ll keep calling it women’s fiction,” she sings on the chorus. Her sound might have changed from her jazz-infused debut Your Favorite Records, as she utilizes more of a classic indie rock sound, but her jazz influences are still evident in the song structures and chord changes. We can’t wait to hear what she has in store for us with her upcoming album.
We caught up with Kaycie for this edition of our Artist Spotlight segment, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk a bit about their music.
What got you interested in writing and playing music?
Honestly? Barney. But I started playing guitar when I was about nine, and at the time Sheryl Crow was my icon. I pretty much started writing as soon as I started playing. My guitar teacher hipped me to Joni Mitchell and her open tunings and really interesting songwriting, so my music and taste quickly segued into that sort of vibe. In high school I sang and played rhythm guitar in a Western swing group, so that’s where I learned my jazz vocabulary! That was really special because my grandpa grew up on that kind of music and knew how to two-step really well, so playing in that group really helped me connect to him in a cool way.
I read that you grew up with an appreciation for jazz music. In what ways has that affected your songwriting?
The harmony in my music is still very jazz. I pretty much have never written a song without a ii-V-I or a seventh, probably even a ninth and an eleventh, too! Nerdy, but true. It’s informed my songwriting in a huge way. You know, even Carole King and Joni Mitchell were heavily influenced by jazz and the pop music of the time, which was also heavily influenced by jazz.
What were some of the influences behind your new single ‘Women’s Fiction’?
Yeah! Speaking of jazz, the first time I heard the progression in the verses of “Women’s Fiction” was in “It Never Entered My Mind,” off of Working with the Miles Davis Quintet. But lyrically, I was listening to the song “Damn, Sam” by Ryan Adams (I know, I know) and the verses of that song all start with “As a man…” and I just started thinking about how (differently) the song would go if it were me singing and I were saying “As a woman…” and that’s how the song started and before long I was weeping and the song was finished.
How was the process of writing and recording it?
Writing it was one of those almost divine intervention-esque, finish it in twenty minutes kind of things. It just sort of spilled out. My friend Sarah and I travelled down to Nashville to record with Don Bates, who was recording out of his house. We tracked everything in a couple of days. My friend Brad was on drums. If you listen closely, when I sing the word “scream” you can hear Sarah literally screaming like a banshee into the microphone. It’s pretty low in the mix.
‘Women’s Fiction’ deals with how female writers – in any field – are not held up to the same standards when telling their stories as men. What prompted to write a song about this issue? Is this something you have experienced yourself?
Yeah, I was reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and she talks about it a bit. When we, as female creatives, talk about things that are perceived as feminine, we are typecast and boxed as that sort of artist. If you’re a female musician and you sound feminine, you’re categorized in that way. Like, there’s this artist in Nashville called Tristen, and people always call her pop, or indie pop, or anything but what she is, which is a rocker. When, in reality, she’s as much rock as, say, The Growlers. You know? “Women’s Fiction” sort of dares people to do that to me. It’s sort of like, if I talk about my honest-to-god experience, you’re going to cast me as a “feminist artist” and put me in that box so you’re comfortable with it, and that’s not where I’m headed or what I intend to be at all. I’m a feminist all of the time and I deserve to speak to all corners of my experience as a person and a woman.
In what ways should the conversation about gender and music change?
So, I want to see as many female instrumentalists on the bandstand as I see male, I want to see as many female producers as I see male. I want women to think bigger, take risks, inspire other women to take risks and we can expect the conversation to change around that. I want younger female musicians to be spoken to as if there were no reason they wouldn’t be taking risks or thinking big. I think it’s time for action and staking our claim in this industry, I think people will be reticent to receive that but I think it’s time to lead by action.
Can you talk a little bit about the EP’s artwork as well?
Yes! I drew them. There’s an article in the New York Times by Chloe Schama entitled “Show Some Spine.” It talks about how there’s “a plague of women’s backs… upon us in the book cover world.” So when it came to making the cover art, I was like, I bet there are some Playboy covers that have silhouettes of women’s backs. And I was right, so they’re all reductions of Playboy covers.
What direction are you taking for the album that’s coming after the EP?
Expect the unexpected, I will too! I’m not entirely sure, yet. Third eye wide open.
If I’m correct, you’re planning to spend 2020 living entirely in your tour van! What inspired you to want to do that?
I’m literally watching Tiny House Nation right this second and dreaming about it. I may adjust my timeline a bit, but that’s something I want to do. Having too many things really bogs down my headspace. I just want to live minimally, stay on the road, keep playing and seeing the world.