How A DIY Punk Hit The Big Time

29 January 2016 | 3:39 pm | Alex Griffin

"It’s been a total dream come true."

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It’s late to be on the phone from Philadelphia, but Katie Crutchfield speaks with the same kind of gentle but hard-earned wisdom as do the songs she performs as Waxahatchee.

Coming quick on the heels of the perfectly morose debut American Summer and the slightly more hi-res, Cerulean Salt, last year’s Ivy Tripp is her best record yet, a remarkably sensitive suite of songs arcing out the silent challenges of mid-20s ennui and desire.

As her first release with the revered NoCal indie label Merge, it’s been a dream arrival into the big leagues. “It’s great! They were the label I wanted to work with since I started to play music,” Crutchfield exclaims. “I was always into their bands and the records they put out, so it’s been a total dream come true. Since the label was founded by people in a punk band, Merge is a dream for someone like me from DIY and punk who doesn’t have a music industry background, and isn’t interested in getting one.”

That sense of empowerment sings through the whole record. Despite dealing with uncertainty, the songs are anything but, breaking new ground from the sadly winsome La Loose to the proggier portent of the closing Bonfire.

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Waxahatchee is named for a creek that flows where Crutchfield grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and she’s stayed close to her roots; her twin sister Alison (of Swearin’) plays in the live band, and on Crutchfield’s last and first tour of Australia, she took her mother along. Early teenage days with her sister remain influential. Well before they began playing shows together as P.S. Eliot, they lived to play music together in the basement. 

“We didn’t have a ton of friends, and were in that phase of reviewing the things adults had guided us towards, and rejecting a lot of them. It was also that time you could download any music you wanted for free all the time!” laughs Crutchfield. “Which was a beautiful time for me, I learned so much about music. We would just play covers in the basement all day and after school. It was the first thing we did and picked up on our own without anyone telling us to do it.”
Originally published in X-Press Magazine