"I don't know if I'm ready or ever will be..." - Black Belt Eagle Scout opens up about her new album At the Party With My Brown Friends
Black Belt Eagle Scout is Katherine Paul, a native of a small Indian reservation, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, but now based in Portland.
After spells in various local bands, Paul branched out on her own in 2014 as Black Belt Eagle Scout. A series of excellent early releases earned her a deal with Saddle Creek Records, home of Bright Eyes, Tim Kasher and lots of other contemporary folk royalty.
She capped it all off with the release of her stunning debut album Mother Of My Children, a dreamy collection of folk songs, married with Paul's ethereal vocals and lyrical wit and bite.
Now she has unveiled a follow-up, the equally charming and spiky At the Party With My Brown Friends.
We spoke to her about how she made it...
When did you start work on the songs for At the Party With My Brown Friends?
"A few of these songs were ideas from a couple of years ago that I put down and picked back up when I started creating the music for this new record at the beginning of 2018."
Did you have a goal of how you wanted this album to move on from Mother of My Children?
"I knew that I wanted this record to be different from Mother of My Children, mainly because that record was so much about grief and processing. The thing is though, I tend to write about my life and what happened to come out was still about processes but in the presence of friends."
You self-produced the album, did you ever consider getting in an outside producer to work with you?
"I have thought of this but I don't know if I'm ready or ever will be. I have such an intimate connection to Black Belt Eagle Scout that it feels weird to let someone else in. Perhaps I'll meet the right person, kind of like when you fall in love with someone. But with a project so personal, it only seems right that I do it myself."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"Lyrics, for me, come towards the end of my writing. I'm not a 'traditional' songwriter and the lyrics sort of form themselves after the guitar lines are running through my head."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"Probably 'I Said I Wouldn't Write This Song' and I don't even know if the recorded version is 100% the way it's supposed to be. I'm excited to tour and play it as I think it will grow closer to the version I feel it should be."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Scorpio Moon' was the quickest to come together. It's the only song on the album that doesn't have a regular drum set on it. I recorded the drums for the song on an old Casio keyboard, playing along to the guitar part. I added keys after and then finished up the singing."
When did you decide on At the Party With My Brown Friends for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"I don't remember what day it was or where I was when I came up with this title. It was a title well before the album was recorded and before some of the songs were written. I had this idea brewing in my head about what sort of things were going on in my life."
"These were things that involved politics in the world and what it means to be a brown person in this political climate. It seemed that we were and are still all at a weird party, and this party wouldn't be as doable without the support of my brown friends."
When will we see you back in the UK?
"I'm hoping to tour the UK for the first time in the spring of 2020. See you out there."
Black Belt Eagle Scout's new album At the Party With My Brown Friends is out now.