At Work: Waxahatchee
“Every record, you need the belief that it’s the best thing you’ve done—otherwise, what are you doing?” asks Katie Crutchfield on a recent morning from her home in Kansas. The 30-year-old indie-rock musician has been hunkered down this year, working on the follow up to her acclaimed 2017 LP, Out in the Storm. Ever since she started a solo career, performing under the name Waxahatchee (named after the Waxahatchee Creek in her home state of Alabama), Crutchfield’s crunchy guitar aesthetic had been poignantly lo-fi, up until Storm and last year’s Great Thunder EP.
Now, she’s in the throes of writing for her fifth album, a process that starts with demoing in ways that have her searching for a creative spark, day in and day out. “This is the sweet spot,” she says. “Making the new thing is the best part of what I do. I’m always chasing that feeling.”
Crutchfield has been on that journey for nearly half her life. When she was in her teens, living near Birmingham, Ala., she started playing in the male-dominated punk scene along with her sister Allison (who now fronts the band Swearin’). She says her initial love of music came from watching musicals with her mom; as a live performer, she’s confident, yet not afraid to show vulnerability when the song calls for it.
Her most recent obsession is the group she toured with earlier this year, Detroit-four piece Bonny Doon—they served as her backing band after their opening set. “Playing with new people and hearing old songs in a new way guided me to what I want the next record to be,” she says. But at a basic level, Crutchfield is really just concerned with two things that are the driving force behind all of her work.
“Every artist has a very distorted view of what they’re doing,” she says. “For me, it’s not really about the sonic choices, the instrumentation or anything like that. It’s about the melodies and the words. As a writer, you’re constantly trying to hear your own words through new ears. In doing so, it can turn you upside down.”
This article originally appears in the July/August 2019 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.