Los Angeles-based New Yorker KATIE GATELY is a sound designer by trade, working mainly (like so many in LA) in the film industry. How she ended up a musician is apparently a bit of a mystery, even to her. In an interview with The Quietus, she described the epiphany thusly:
“It happened like a switch went off! It wasn’t really elegant or gradual […] I wanted some of my personal art to show for this MFA I was doing rather than just always helping other people with their films. And I just woke up one day and was like, ‘I need to make music!’ I don’t really understand it still, but I was just completely focused on that, and everything else was sort of in the periphery. I bought Ableton Live, and I’ve been using Pro Tools, but it’s not as conducive to loop-based music as I feel Live is […] so I learned that and then I took a dance music class, with like eighteen-year-old boys! I don’t think I’ve had so much fun! Having just discovered this magical world of film sound, I was still hungry to keep peeking behind curtains…”
While I’m sure her work in sound design is top-notch, the world is a better place for that switch having gone off. Gately as a musician is FAR left-field and deeply weird. She can make you feel several emotions simultaneously, and on Pipes (Blue Eight), her C30 for the Blue Tapes label which initially appeared in a very limited run in 2013 but is now back in print, it is composed entirely from samples of her own voice.
The 14 minute A-side apparently took six months of long hours to assemble. It has been described as deriving influence from ARTHUR RUSSELL and Gregorian Chant. I would add that there are also similarities to BJORK’s largely acapella Medulla album and LAURIE ANDERSON’s superlative minimalist classic “O Superman”.
Gately’s approach however is much more complex and abstract, taking full advantage of the technological innovations which have happened since the release of any of the above-mentioned music to make something totally unique and futuristic. Things happen a mile a minute, while others happen in a way that seems to slow down time itself. Her background in sound design is totally apparent. Pipes is panoramic, expressive and dynamic. With more vocal-based recordings in the pipeline for 2015, you’re gonna want to check this one out now. People are going to be talking about her a lot in the near future.
Pipes (Blue Eight) is available now from Blue Tapes.