Cincinnati’s KNOTTS is an experimenter of off-the-beaten-path indie music, shining a light on the dream-pop artists that inspire her music. The artist’s lively and colorful sound is most recently displayed in their new video single, “Good Morning.”
The bubbly love-filled track could be considered a single that almost never was. The inspiration came when lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Adalia Powell-Boehne was waitressing at an Indian Restaurant years ago when she scribbled a lyric on a napkin, and held it in limbo. Almost eight years later, she was ready to build those lyric fragments into a fully-produced KNOTTS original song, the result being a catchy retro pop bop.
The unique indie music project that is KNOTTS was founded by Powell-Boehne, who juggles her artistic calling along with being a wife and mother of two. She is proof of managing a balance of family and creative passion. When she isn’t playing mom and wife, she is hard at work on her musical projects, the next being a sophomore album, Ribbon Dancer, scheduled to be out next year.
In 2018, KNOTTS was honored with the prestigious award, “Best New Artist” at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, and has had their music featured on Hulu and NPR. The art-pop act has grown to include keyboardist Antoine Franklin, guitarist Jordan Wilson, and drummer Isaiah Cook. They have eagerly joined her on the road, opening for fellow genre-experimental artists like Thundercat and Lucius.
We had the pleasure of chatting with KNOTTS about the new video single, her upcoming record, tour, and much more.
How has the year treated you so far? Do anything fun for Halloween?
This year has been pretty good so far. Halloween was pretty good- my kids dressed up and we trick-or-treated around the neighborhood. I really like sorting the candy with them into piles.
Can you talk about the origins of KNOTTS and how y’all landed on the name?
KNOTTS started as a solo project and was a burst of creativity in the form of songs I wrote in the summer of 2015. I landed on the name KNOTTS based on a street art installation by Meg Saligman in Philadelphia called “Mary Undoer of Knots Grotto.” It was this installation where anyone could come and write a personal trial on a strip of paper and tie it into a knot on the sculpture. I resonated with the project and the sentiment, and landed on KNOTTS as the musical project’s name.
How about the overall influences behind the band? Who or what inspires your sound and creative direction?
There are layers of influences, my formative influences are Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, R&B and Motown. Later on, those tastes morphed into more alternative and songwriter focused. I loved Sufjan Stevens and Regina Spektor and The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. Now I’d say I gravitate to strong storytelling and crisp sounds when I’m making my own music. I adore Solange, Dirty Projectors and Blood Orange, also Japanese Breakfast. I like pop and just try to make it a bit weirder.
Let’s talk about your new single, “Good Morning.” What was the inspiration and back story behind it?
The first lines of “Good Morning” were written while I was a senior in high school on a napkin at an Indian restaurant I worked at. In between delivering plates of Indian food I rushed to write down, “Your face is kind, I’ll stay with you till my face has lines.” Fast-forward a few years later to an internship at Audiogrotto recording studio in Cincinnati, where during slow days I would practice creative exercises in songwriting and record myself making short songs.
For one exercise, I used the lyrics from the napkin to start writing “Good Morning” and posted a short verse onto Soundcloud. Soon after, a hip hop artist heard the demo on Soundcloud and asked to use the chorus, and the song had its first release titled “Your Face Has Lines.”
Almost 8 years later, the song has been taken back by me and recreated as a full band KNOTTS song. What started as a love song about growing old with someone has made an 8-year spanned addendum reworked to include themes of self-love with lines nodding to those waitress years, “when I was waiting tables I knew it all along, I was closing doors behind myself. I knew I couldn’t find nobody else,” and now I am also singing to myself the words “Your face is kind, I’ll stay with you till my face has lines.”
The music video for this single is colorful, lively, and a little weird. Can you talk about the vision behind it and working with your director, Francesca Marcotte Rietz?
Me and Francesca are very good friends and met years ago. She is a writer, filmmaker and director living in LA. I was talking to her on the phone about the idea, kind of as a what if and we just kept going back and forth.
“What if it was about this girl living alone in the woods?”
“Yeah, like this subversive Disney princess.”
“What if she takes a shower in glitter?”
So “Good Morning” is the lead single off your upcoming album Ribbon Dancer. What else can you tell us about the album? Any overarching themes or motifs etc.?
The album is a bop. It has some fun retro themes and it’s just a wildly fun and liberating album.
Fascinating. How has being a mother changed your songwriting and/or creative process?
Being a mother has made me want to show my kids how to value things that are important to them, for me that’s music. It’s cool because they’ll listen to mixes and they have a good ear for lyrics and structures of songs, so I’ll listen to their opinions.
What is one of your favorite places you’ve toured or venues you played at and why?
The biggest venue we’ve played by far was MegaCorp Pavilion in Newport, KY, opening for Thundercat (who was such a cool person to meet). That was one of the greatest nights of our lives. There were thousands of people and you could tell they were really feeling it, it was one of the coolest feelings.
What else might you have in store – musically or otherwise – for the rest of the year and into 2023?
The full Ribbon Dancer album is slated to be released this year, and we are looking forward to a national tour supporting the album in 2023.