I thought it might be fun to revisit an interview I did with Kate Klim back in 2007! Fast forward to 2022 and Kate is still an industrious and intrepid songwriter. Since this interview, she’s moved from Boston to Nashville—East Nashville, to be exact. She has also recorded several albums, been married, had two children, and is now navigating the world as a single mother. Honestly, Kate’s music has never been stronger. Her lyrics are spot on and relatable to everyone and anyone who has experienced joy and heartbreak, and has moved into a period of self-discovery.
Kate’s newest album, Something Green, is a strong addition to her discography. The title track is a hopeful song about rebirth. Klim takes the environmental science of controlled burning and turns it into a metaphor for living a more optimistic life after one has gone through a difficult time. “After the fires have died down and we find out what is left / Let there be, let there be something green” she sings. Everything about this song points to a bright sunshiny day. Producer Andrew Delaney deftly weaves this and the other songs on the album into a passionate folk-pop paean for the ages.
Another notable song on Something Green is “Nobody Told You” that tells the tale of a Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer who didn’t surrender at the end of World War II. Instead, he stayed at his command in the Philippines until his former commander came to relieve him of his duty after 29 years. He endured much during the post-war but refused to surrender. As Klim sings, “Nobody told you when the war was over, the war was over, no one told you for years / When all you know of who you are is a soldier, well if you’re not a soldier / Why are you here?” The song gets across the notion of how tightly we hold onto our sense of self and choose to grasp and understand truth and wisdom.” This song is a modern-day parable for thousands of people today.
My personal favorite song on the album is “Lines.” The last-minute decision to add this song that Kate wrote while in Dallas recording the album was an excellent choice; it illustrates the universality that the world can sometimes strike us as being an unfamiliar place and that we may need to experience in different ways. She compares the sensation of not remembering her lines in a high school play to . Life is forever changing as she discovered after a tornado ravaged Nashville while she was down in Texas recording the album. The tornado’s path came very close to her home, her house was unscathed, and her family was fine. However, she opines that “Piles of what used to be, the thing about storms like these / Is you’re still feeling them for years after they’ve passed.” As one goes about our lives, it becomes clearer that each and every person perceives things in small and large ways according to their past experiences.
Here’s the video for “Lines.”
Retro Interview from 2007.
Kate Klim’s name and great reputation has been on my musical radar screen for some time now. She’s been a regular on the Boston-area music scene and has recently released her first fully produced and distributed CD called “Up and Down and Up Again.” Klim’s early influences include John Lennon, Billy Joel, and Carole King — her piano playing heroes and she’s recently been influenced by more contemporary acoustic counterparts—Patty Griffin and Chris Trapper. You can read a whole lot more about her at her website.
Kate has won all kind of awards and she has quickly become a favorite in the Boston area. Watch her in action on this video clip for “Choose Me.”
You went to Berklee School of Music. Was that an intense experience for you? Had you ever found yourself around so many talented musicians before?
It’s definitely intense — not just the caliber of talent, but just how surrounded you are by music at all times. There are people there who practiced 4+ hours a day, and would eat, breathe and sleep music. I resisted that a bit. Music was always (and still is) my passion and my life’s work, but I’ve always left room for a healthy bit of human interaction, side hobbies, and other things that provide content for songwriting (and prevent insanity).
You’re just back from competing in the New Folk contest at Kerrville. How was that experience? We hear so much about Kerrville. Is it everything and more than people say?
It’s everything and nothing that people say. I was told how great the community would be (which it was), but was not warned about the rain. I met an amazing group of people, but only lasted 3 days in the outdoors. Next year I’ll shoot for 4.
Producer Crit Harmon compares you to Carole King. I’m impressed, especially coming from a producer who has worked on albums with Mary Gauthier and Lori McKenna. Apparently Carole was one of your early influences. What was it about her music that spoke to you?
I think the first thing that struck me, being an adolescent when I discovered “Tapestry” in my mother’s record collection, was that she had done what I was trying to do. There weren’t too many women singer/songwriters who played piano. Every song on that album was brilliant, and since I was listening to it on vinyl, carried me away to another time.
I understand that you had a horrible experience earlier this year; your keyboard was stolen from your car. Knowing how close performers are to their instruments, I imagine this must have felt like losing a good friend. However, I understand that there is a happy ending to the story. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened?
First off, I must say that it was the only time I’d ever left it in my car overnight. (Cue sad string line…) I was sick, it was about ten degrees out, and I just didn’t have it in me to carry it up three floors to my apartment. It wasn’t even visible — it was in the trunk — so I’m pretty sure it was a neighbor who broke into my car and took it. When I discovered it missing the next day I was devastated. Having just completed an album, I didn’t have tons of money to throw around. Luckily, I posted the story on my site, and to my e-mail list, and the response was incredible. I had enough money to buy a new (better) keyboard within ten days. So it just goes to show you, there are more good people than bad out there.
The name of your new CD is called “Up and Down and Up Again.” I guess you could say that relates to the tale of the keyboard. If you could describe the music on that CD in one word, what would it be?
Just one? You saved the toughest question for last. Here it is: