Katie Gately’s New Album Fawn / Brute Explores the Duality of Childhood: Innocence and Angst

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In her new album Fawn / Brute, School of Film/Video adjunct sound faculty Katie Gately uses her multilayered vocal collage to trace the journey from childhood to adolescence. 

Becoming what James Rettig from Stereogum calls a “macabre Mother Goose,” Gately’s third album is rooted in familiar bedtime stories and nursery rhymes like Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland, but with a twist. With a dip into the baroque and fantastical, her songs have a dramatic flair that lands them between avant-garde, avant-pop, bedroom pop, and future-pop. 

Fawn / Brute is a product of Gately’s pregnancy and the creative and tumultuous energy she experienced during that time. The cover art’s harlequin shows the dual nature of motherhood and childbirth. 

“When I got pregnant, I started to get creative again,” Gately said. “I had a lot of energy at first, but later on, my pregnancy was stressful and worrying, so the music got darker and darker: I was making angry music while I was supposed to be feeling maternal.”

She dedicated the album to her daughter Quinn, saying that she wanted the album to be something her daughter can enjoy as she grows up. 

“The first tracks are childlike and upbeat, but as we get older we start to experience a volcano of emotion, angst, and conflict,” Gately said.

The New York-born, LA-based artist’s work is often reminiscent of her background in sound design for film, in which she got her MFA at USC. Along with CalArts, Gately is also a professor at USC in the School of Cinematic Arts. Her music blends field recordings, found sounds, dislocated voices, saxophone, junkyard-style percussion, and more in a multilayer composition of what The Guardian describes as an electro mini-opera. 

Gately’s past albums Color, Loom, and Pipes followed her singles on Blue Tapes, Fet Press, FatCat, and a mini album on Public Information, many of which received critical acclaim. Along with her own compositions, she has remixed for Björk and Zola Jesus and produced for Serpentwithfeet’s Soil. Gately was also part of Mary Anne Hobbs’ Queens of the Underground Festival in Manchester with Aisha Devi in 2019.

Mixed by Jason Agel and mastered by Matt Colton, Gately’s Fawn / Brute travels from giddy abandon to dark fury. The album is available to stream online

—Ishika Muchhal

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