Sylvester Sessions #97

Katie wears Broderie dress.

Katie wears Broderie dress.

Katie Brown

Musician/Designer
New Zealand  
Katie wears Broderie dress.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

At the start of every new year there's always that wonderful sense of possibility - and this year I'm hopeful for a year full of fun live shows, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and seeing some growth with The May Project and my creative pursuits.

Tell us about The May Project, and how your music practice informs your clothing design and vice versa.

The May Project is my musical branch. I write using lots of layered synths, vocals, guitar and drums - it's a juxtaposition of the earthy and ethereal, and of darkness and light. This juxtaposition absolutely plays out in how I design too. The way a song comes together is much like the processing of patterning and re-patterning a style until it's perfect - the iterations from the first to the last often transform the song or garment into something completely different from its inception. And in this sense, in terms of the two practices informing each other, I've come to see that whatever naturally comes out in my music (and often I don't recognise exactly what that was until months later when I listen back to the lyrics!) will naturally come out in my design - so when I'm working on the two side-by-side, they tend to grow together, even if initially they started out in quite different places stylistically. They'll have the same feel.

Do the two work together to tell a collective narrative?

The first May Project tracks I did were to go with a small capsule collection for my label Etta Every, which was called 'Where Have all the Colours Gone' - it was a lighthearted, fun and colourful collection, with a two-track dream-pop release under the same name. Since then, my creative pursuits generally focus around a concept - the concept is the driver. I released my debut album last year called 'Elpis', and alongside it I released another capsule collection and a novelette I wrote. These were all based around the myth of Pandora's Box, and were an exploration of hope - the whole project is housed on theeveryconservatoire.com. I'm really interested in exploring different storied concepts via whatever creative mediums I can lend my hand to - and hope in the future for this approach to grow and to become more collaborative.  

What would you say inspires how you dress? And what are your goals in terms of feel and function? 

For me, dressing completely depends on mood and what I'm doing. When I'm writing, recording and producing, or doing the physical work of designing, patterning and constructing, I tend to mostly wear black and white, simple, quite androgynous pieces: a sort of blank working canvas. And in an 'ideas' phase where everything is still milling around in my mind I lean towards a mix of colours, and necessarily softer, more dramatic styling. In general, I tend to revert back to pieces I physically feel comfortable wearing - so the backbone of my wardrobe and style consists of natural fibres, clean and simple cuts, and not too much fuss - it's the worst to be wearing something you feel you're constantly having to adjust. 

What is the best thing about Winter?

Cold nights for better sleeping! Being able to pull out all of my wonderful KS knits and coats, and wear layers again. I find winter a very comforting, soothing and introspective season - the perfect breeding ground for creative projects. 

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

Next to my bed at the moment is a book of Keats' poetry bookmarked partway through his poem Lamia, and having just finished George Eliot's Middlemarch and Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, I'm now in the middle of the Lord of the Rings because I'm a bit of a sucker for epics and Tolkien's rich, descriptive language! I've just started watching the BBC mini-series 'Little Dorrit' (based on the Dickens novel) that is streaming on TVNZ on demand, and on the music front, I'm listening to a somewhat eclectic concoction of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's latest, the Cocteau Twins (an all-time favourite), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lykke Li, Miles Davis, Erik Satie, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, and Sigur Ros' long-play ambient playlist called 'Liminal'. Great for falling asleep to.

Interview & photography by Greta van der Star.        
Check out Katie here.