Multi-Faceted Asheville Singer-Songwriter Katie Sachs Discusses Her New Single ‘Trees’, Musical Diversity, & More

Genre-exploring songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Katie Sachs delivers catchy melodies and aberrant lyrics in her newest single, “Trees.”

Delivering honest and relatable messages throughout her music, it’s hard to put an exact label or style on her artistry, which makes you appreciate it even more. Living all over the country and currently based in Asheville, North Carolina, Sachs has used music as a guiding light through it all, and brings you into her inner world along with her. The combination of styles, rhythms, and her wide vocal range set no limits on what she will release next.

Her 2019 EP, A Matter of Time, highlights sections of her voice that are more jazz and indie, making her albums highly eclectic from one another. Her forthcoming album is also a multi-genre work that dives into complex relationships and self-discovery featuring musicians from Texas, Massachusetts, and local artists from her town. 

Having long been fascinated with the marriage between writing and music, Sachs received a degree in Creative Writing, which helped develop her songwriting skills and further spurned her imagination. She knows how to connect with fans, making them feel a gamut of emotions from crying, to laughter, to contemplation, and much in between. Having performed at venues across the country, she is constantly evolving and growing in her music. 

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We had the opportunity to discuss more about her writing style, upcoming album, recent single, and much more.

So where did you grow up, and who or what got you into writing and playing music?

I grew up in Western Massachusetts, though I was born in New York City to New Yorker parents, and I’ve now lived in the South for almost a decade, so I don’t honestly know where I’m really from, lol. Music has always been something I’ve just innately felt connected to and have had in my bones since as far back as I can remember. I’ve always loved to sing, and my first instrument was flute, which I started playing when I was in 1st grade.

Writing became a passion of mine when I was young as well, (I have a BA in creative writing) and I remember getting really into poetry in grade school. I started learning how to play 4-chord songs on the guitar at my eccentric summer camp in Vermont when I was 13, and began writing my own songs soon after. At this camp, I was exposed to TONS of music and important bands. I definitely feel like I owe a gratitude to the culture it provided and the people I met there for expanding my musical horizons, as well as supporting my fledgling artistry. 

How would you describe your sound and style to those wondering what Katie Sachs is all about?

This has always been a hard question for me to answer, as my musical influences, and thus my “sound” is kind of all over the place.

Each record I have put out also has its own unique “vibe.” Anyway, I’ll do my best 🙂 Vocally, I am heavily influenced by Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, David Byrne and Janis Joplin. Because I play an acoustic instrument and am a woman, it’s easy for me to get pigeon-holed in the “folk/singer songwriter” category, though honestly this has never really felt accurate to me or been what I’m trying to do. My previous releases are definitely more in the Jazz/Indie realm, however this new album is a bit of a divergence for me stylistically, and shows off more of my “90’s/garage rock” side. Bands like Pixies were a big influence for this record.

I suppose the common thread connecting all of my music is that it is lyrically driven, musically adventurous and emotionally raw. Everything I write about is from my direct personal experience. I like to make records that are quirky and musically eclectic.  I get bored when I put on a new album and every song sounds exactly the same, so I try to avoid that as much as possible. 

What does a day in the life of your songwriting process look like?

My songwriting process can be super sporadic. I will go a year without writing a song, and then something big will happen in my life and I’ll write four new songs in a month. It just kind of comes when it comes. 

So I was hoping you could talk about your new single, “Trees.” What’s the inspiration and influence behind it?

For sure! The idea for “Trees” actually came from a friend/fellow songwriter who pointed out to me that all of my songs were sad, lol. I was like – “OK, I’ll bite. Let me try to write a happy song!” I had just met a man, who eventually became a serious romantic partner, and who ended up inspiring several other songs on the album. “Trees” is sort of a “pre-relationship” song. I could feel that there was something brewing between me and this person, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. In a way, the song is also about putting my “rambling days” behind me, and rooting down into Asheville, a place that I feel has very much become home after many years of searching. I basically just sat down to try and write a happy song, and “Trees” is what came out!

And you have a new album coming out in September is that right? Will this track be on it, and could you discuss the album as a whole?

Yes and YES! It’s called The Factory of Almosts and I’m so excited about it. The record chronicles my dating history over the last 7 years, and examines the complexities of romantic relationships and how challenging it can be for them to work. At the same time, it reveals how all connections, even “failed ones” (whatever that means) are all avenues for us to gain a bigger and more nuanced picture of ourselves and can bring us closer and closer to self-love and self-actualization.

Sonically, it is all over the place, and offers a multi-genre, eclectic listening experience. I’ve been writing songs for over 20 years at this point, and this is my 4th studio release, but in many ways it feels like everything I’ve ever done up until this point has been practice for me to make this record. I can’t wait to share it and hope people can find some comfort and comradery in it.  So many people went through really tough break-ups during the pandemic, just like I did. This album is dedicated to all of you. 

What makes this particular song so special to you, and what made you choose it to be a single?

To be honest, I chose it because every single person I shared the album with early and asked to pick a single picked this song, lol. I think it’s a great tune, though it’s not necessarily my favorite, and in some ways, is kind of an outlier musically with the rest of the record. But I also get why people chose it – it’s catchy, upbeat, positive and fun. It also has some great three-part harmonies – who doesn’t like that?!

What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?

GREAT QUESTION!! My answer to this has shifted greatly over the last decade, as I have redefined my relationship with the music business over the course of my career. Departing from my days in Austin in the early 2010’s, where I sacrificed my physical, mental and financial health to try and “make it,” I have created a new definition of success. 

Success for me now has become much more of an internal feeling than an external reward. Recording this album, which I believe is leaps and bounds better than anything I’ve ever made, feels like a success in and of itself. Of course I would love for as many people as possible to listen to it, and to receive some press/reviews/money/etc, but this is not really the goal for me any more. I just want to keep writing better and better songs. To keep evolving in my craft. And most of all – to have FUN doing it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned playing music all this time is that if it isn’t fun, it’s not worth doing – no matter what kind of external reward you get. 

Do you have any plans to do some light touring or gigs in support of the album release?

Potentially… I just started playing with a rad little 3 piece garage band and I have an album release show scheduled on September 12th at The Grey Eagle in Asheville. I am super open to some regional touring or a few gigs here and there. I have found that every time I start a project and try to “make it something” it always falls apart. I am also pretty burnt out of being a solo act playing my ukulele in the corner of some cafe or bar. Again, if it feels “fun and aligned” I’m totally down. My main focus for the record is to promote it over the internet.

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