The Van Mag Q&A: The Katherines

Vancouver musicians The Katherines talk about this city's music scene and their role in it

March 2, 2016

By Eliot Escalona / Photo: Lon Gross

Kate Kurdyak (KK), Lauren Kurdyak (LK) and Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher (KB)—known collectively as The Katherines—have stepped in to the spotlight of Vancouver’s music scene with their musical ode to the pacific northwest. The two sisters and their best friend, who were all born and raised in Vancouver, sat down with Vancouver Magazine to talk about this city’s music scene, their love of mountains, and local talent. With this month’s announcement that the Government of British Columbia will invest $15 million into the local music industry—rumour has it the powers-that-be want to make Vancouver the new Nashville of the northwest—we asked The Katherines what it’s like to be a young band trying to make it in Vancouver.

Kate, what role do you think Vancouver has played in the creation of The Katherines?

KK: In terms of musical opportunities, this city has been everything to us. The art-filled atmosphere when I was at Byng Arts (part of Lord Byng Secondary) helped start all of this. We were all in choirs, took music lessons (I took guitar because I wanted to get closer to some boy), played in symphonies and were part of musical theatre. I don’t think any of us would be musicians without that environment. Vancouver has a lot of music contests that help artists as well, like B.C.’s Best Teen Band, which is how we met our record label.

Do you feel the music industry here in Vancouver has influenced you as an emerging band?

KB: I think it gave us a better sense of self. We are stepping into a world where everyone already has their own persona, and we came in so fresh that we didn’t really know what vibe the three of us were going for. We had to take a moment and reassess what we wanted people to see, how we want our label to portray us, and how we were going to get across what we want to say and share.

LK: I also think that it is important to remember that in the long run we can—and will—keep changing our image, it’s not as set in stone as we think it is.

What’s it been like building a fan base in Vancouver?

LK: We owe most of that specifically to 604 Records, because they’re fully based out of Vancouver they have a great fan base here that are very loyal. At the same time, all of the artists under the label are a very supportive group—it’s a tight community.

KK: Networking isn’t exactly the right word to use, but since we all grew up in Vancouver, we have met so many people that have been part of our support base as we have become artists. Every time we meet people here, somehow there is always a mutual friend or a third connection that helps us grow stronger bonds and build more fruitful relationships.

KB: Vancouver is a big city with a small-town feel because everyone here knows each other. We’re always seeing people that we know, meaning we never feel lost or disconnected from our fans.

Do you draw inspiration from specific aspects of the city when it comes to writing lyrics?

KK: Yes, definitely. For example Primitive was all about the nature that surrounds us and sort of being in that natural environment away from modern life. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the mountains recently, I love being in and around them because I think it’s important to feel small sometimes, it’s very therapeutic.

KB: Growing up here, I think we sometimes take for granted how amazing this city is and how close we are to so much beauty.

LK: Also, the duality Vancouver offers, being both city dwellers and a forest lovers has been so important to us. It’s a mixture of  modern aspects mixed with raw and sort of rugged ideas that come to light in our music.

Is there one thing you would like to change about the music industry?

KK: Being a woman in the industry, and in our case three women, is kind of a weird thing because it is so easy to be pigeon-holed as this sex object or beauty icon that you are selling—and people really can’t get past that. We found ourselves stuck in that a little at the beginning, and sometimes still. We get asked a lot of interview questions about what our favourite lip-gloss is or our favourite accessories. If we could do something for the industry or change it, it would be that you can be a girl and have your message be the most important thing about you, not your body. What we say is more important than how we look, and if we can drive that home, it will be a win in our books.

KB: We want to be able to change the industry so that the three of us can be a band of girls, not necessarily a girl band. As Kate said, it’s important that our message is at the forefront and not our looks.

What is your favourite local act right now?

KK + KB + LK: We really enjoy JPNSGRLS—their chemistry makes for a great experience when you see them. In terms of live music, they’re the best.

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