In March, Girl K’s highly anticipated album “For Now” will be released after their first single “Wish You Were Right” comes out later this month. Read how it went from a solo project to a full band, the transition from playing in the suburbs to the city, exclusive information on the upcoming album, their favorite songs from the tracklist, and more. Indulge below and make sure to follow them on social media!
Hi, we are Girl K! The band consists of Kathy Patino (guitar/lead vocals), Ajay Raghuraman (drums), Kevin Sheppard (guitar), and Alex Pieczynski (bass/backup vocals).
Let’s take it all the way back, Kathy, you recently shared your beautiful story on Twitter: “When I was 8 I had a tumor in my jaw, after surgery I could barely talk but my dad put on my favorite Hannah Montana cd on the drive home and I sang the entire way. Later on, I realized that music was an escape and able to comfort you as well as give you excitement and I loved that.” How does that moment continue to inspire you and drive you in your music career?
Kathy: I think about how I felt listening to music and how easy it is to feel healed by it through the comfort it brings. I want my music to be something people can listen and relate to that helps them get through whatever situation they may find themselves in. Music has so much power and it serves as an escape for so many, so the idea of being able to do that for others is what I realized at a young age and what has continued to drive me throughout my music career.
As Girl K continued to evolve you added 3 permanent band members. How did the process from solo artist to band play out?
Kathy: I always wanted to play in a band and I prefer not to play solo because my music doesn’t feel complete. It was always hard when I had an idea, but couldn’t execute it fully because it was just me trying to figure it out. Now having three amazingly talented people that I can turn to for help makes creating and playing music more enjoyable. It is still trial and error, but the group you play with can determine how you grow musically. I used to write songs in an hour and then play them live without much thought. These guys have helped me take a step back in order to hone in on my craft and give my songs the time they deserve, even if it takes months.
How was it for you three to come onto a project that had already been started?
Ajay: It was super easy. Us three have been playing together for a while so we knew that chemistry was already established. When we joined Girl K, we had two weeks to prepare for our first show. The transition and learning new songs all went smoothly. After that first show, everything seemed to click and we knew this was a band we wanted to be a part of.
You originated from Joliet and began playing open mic at the bar the Drunken Donut. As a suburban started project, what has been the biggest difference from playing shows there to playing in the city?
Kathy: When I played open mics I was playing solo. The only reason I started playing there was because my friend begged me to play live for his birthday. I played a song I wrote in the eighth grade on ukulele and the whole bar went silent. It was the moment I realized these are the people I want to be playing for so when I decided to move away to the city it was scary. Playing here was the true test because no one knew who we were. Overall, getting out of the suburbs has been good for growth because getting out of my comfort zone was a big step for me.
Kevin: It is easier to come across a crowd in the city that is willing to give you a listen. I can imagine in the suburbs it is a small and low-key venue like coffee shops. You can play at coffee shops in the city, but it also offers local venues like Schubas and Lincoln Hall where local bands can get stage time too.
“Dog Year Lungs” was declared as the last single before your EP. As a band what would you say your last single previews for the full album?
Kathy: “Dog Year Lungs” won’t be on the album, but we will be releasing a new single from the album in February called “Wish You Were Right.” “Dog Year Lungs” was the introduction to us as a band and getting our sound together and it worked as a prelude. This next single is a one upper and a great preview to the album because it highlights our main message of how temporary things truly are, but even in those temporary moments, there are lessons.
Last week, you officially announced that the album will be coming out on March 15th and will be titled, “For Now.” What is the significance behind the title and what was the process like for the band when choosing the name?
Ajay: It took weeks of us just bouncing ideas back and forth before Kathy suggested we call it “For Now” because there is a song on the record with the same name.
Kevin: It was the first song we wrote as a band after “Dog Year Lungs” so it seemed fitting and appropriate to call it the first track created for the album.
Kathy: The first name we came up with was “You’re so Young.” It stemmed from me reflecting on how people never know I’m 19 years old and when they find out the first thing out of their mouth is, “Oh my god, you’re so young.” When I pitched the idea to the boys I could tell none of us were truly stoked about it, so we called it “For Now” instead. I think it better represents a concept we can all relate to, which is that everything and nothing matters and that life is temporary but beautiful so we just have to live in the ‘for now’ and make the most of it.
Along with the album announcement came an image of the cover. How does the image represent the album for you?
Kathy: I love making clothes from thrifted clothing. I had been making album art and showing it to the guys, but every time it came off as underwhelming. I knew it needed to be more physical than drawn so I bought two sweaters and cut “for” and “now” out of felt to put on the back of them. Then I bought paper and stuck it to my apartment wall and added frames over it. Then I sat my two friends on a bench in front of it and had my friend Christian photograph away.
If I had all the funds in the world for the album cover, I would have done a photoshoot in a grassy field in London while it is a little bit foggy out. I’d have two people standing there in their underwear with the sweaters on and muddy boots.
That’s more of an aesthetic concept, but when I had to work with what I had, I thought of trying to build a home. The picture frames are representative of our memories, things we can look back on. The colors are all very bright and colorful to represent our childhoods/youth. The matching sweaters are representative of the connections and relationships we make throughout life. The models face the wall as they sort of reminisce on their lives, all whilst acknowledging where they are now.
Without giving away too much what can you tell us about the songs on the album and the overall theme or message the record has?
Kevin: “Dog Year Lungs” was experimental for us and our first time writing as a collective. When we wrote it, we were in my apartment gathered around in a kumbaya circle jamming on our acoustic guitars and seeing what we could come up with. We DIYed it and recorded it through Garageband in Alex’s basement. Knowing that, this record is overall going to sound better because we recorded it in an actual studio. With each song we create, we figure out song structure and our style of recording more and more.
Ajay: These songs on the album are fairly simple songs, but have layers to them. We are all proud of what we have been able to create and hope that translates when the record comes out. We recorded the album live so I would say this album has all the imperfections of an honest live performance but in a polished, non-robotic way. Girl K values honesty in our tracks and this is another step forward.
Alex: With the new songs too, I would say you can fully hear the band. Each instrument played its part and has a meaningful role in each track. It took us two months to write the whole album, but each of us were able to compose and contribute our own instrumental roles and that helped make the record a team effort.
Kathy: Before coming to the city I had about twenty songs written, but only one made it the album. The song “Ride” I wrote right before, but the rest were scrapped and we were able to start fresh as a band. Like I mentioned before, being in this band taught me that I don’t need to write a song in a day and I can take my time. Knowing that helped me calm down and cherish each song and the lyrics I was writing. They all reassured me of my writing and have brought each song to life right in front of me and beyond my wildest dreams. Each song has a story to it and that alone suits the overall message of the album, some of those songs were written a year ago and others a few months before we recorded them.
The release party will be held at Schubas. For the lucky people that get to attend, what will their experience be like?
Kathy: It is an invitation to our world and a chance for everyone in the room to interact with us through our music and let loose. I have a few surprises up my sleeve so, for now, they have to remain off the record
Ajay: Girl K is made up of very sincere people and I think that reflects in our music. Sincerity is cool and I want people to come away from this show recognizing that in us.
Alex: I hope people have as much fun at the show as we have playing. We have played at Schuba’s a few times and it has always been a welcoming environment for us.
You have also been very honest about the nerves you have felt about the upcoming album. What are the main pressures you feel from releasing this album?
Kathy: In general, I get anxious because people are expecting the same feelings they have felt from our music before and I get worried we won’t deliver that. It all comes down to a fear of disappointing and plateauing. I am proud of the record, but I want people to feel it and be about it. When making music is everything you gear your life towards, you can’t help but worry and plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
Kevin: It is so easy to obsess over tracks. For every good pat on the back moment, there are fifty what the hell moments. It makes you question whether you need to take a step back and hear it from the perspective of someone who has never heard it before because you are over analyzing it or if you need to point it out to the band. I am reassured though because as much as I love The Beatles and the fab four, their recordings aren’t perfect. Even in their legacy they made mistakes and kept them. It provides me with comfort to know they are humans and if they can accept imperfections, so can we.
When you reflect on the album as a whole, can you tell me what your favorite song is?
Kevin: “Just Kids.” We wrote it on a whim and it was the last song we put on the album. It clicked instantly for us.
Ajay: Same. It was magic the way that track came together and it has an organic sound to it that we all appreciate and vibe with heavy.
Alex: I have to agree with them. Kathy was messing with chords one day and I told her it sounded good so we kept playing with it until it became the song it is.
Kathy: As much as I love “Just Kids,” I’m most proud of “For Now.” Writing the lyrics for it was a major breakthrough moment for me and I view it as my metamorphosis in songwriting.
Written by: Colleen Kennedy