One of the most important things in the world is human connection,” frontwoman Kate Kurdyak professes of an ethos that ties just as much to her personal life as it does the unified front of the band, “what is life without people and without relationships?”
While Vancouver trio The Katherines’ journey has really just begun, they’re already taking scope of their growth and filtering it through the prism of modern pop. Together, they’re refracting elements of rock, R&B, dance music and more into their exquisitely expansive debut LP, To Bring You My Heart.
The record’s roots trace back to Kurdyak’s early days as a solo performer, from playing coffee shops on her own to building a songbook with a backup band. As she started crafting the collection that would become To Bring You My Heart, Kate’s sister Lauren Kurdyak and life-long friend Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher stepped out from the ad hoc ensemble to take on a larger role in helping realize her vision. As the tracks took shape, whether by flirting with the shadowy sounds of noir-N-b or the sock hop pep of ’60s girl groups, the three decided to come together as The Katherines.
While Kate Kurdyak handles the songwriting duties, Lauren Kurdyak and Hansen-Boucher have brought their own distinct flavours to the pieces to studio sessions, onstage performances, and during the odd busking session down on Vancouver’s waterfront. The close bonds between the three have also crossed-over into The Katherines’ lyrics, with “Cherry Lips” finding Kate sensually summing up the breakdown of a bandmate’s romantic relationship.
“We tell each other about everything that is happening in our lives— I’m always aware of what’s going on,” she notes of The Katherines’ closeness before explaining by-proxy the crux of the narrative of two lovers drifting apart. “He was exciting, but there was this part of him that didn’t want to be tied down, and needed to experience freedom–there were all of these things that he couldn’t find by staying in one place. It wasn’t conducive to the relationship, even though they were good together. It’s about having to reconcile with that.”
The same kind of emotional push-and-pull is presented all throughout To Bring You My Heart, but the thematic drive is presented over a plenitude of stunning soundscapes. “Cherry Lips,” a track put together in Toronto with producer Tino Zolfo and Mounties drummer Hawksley Workman, spirals smoky drum machine work and at-dusk dreampop guitars around its sensual vocal harmonies. “Wrong Side of the Bed,” meanwhile, flips the mood by wrapping up a playful tale of young lust with breezy acoustic guitar strums and a busy-footed, effervescent bounce.
“Primitive,” co-written with JPNSGRLS vocalist Charlie Kerr and Hot Hot Heat/Mounties frontman Steve Bays, strikes the core with twitching electronic percussion, icy ’80s keyboard tones, and lyrics on the state of “modern men.” “Heart on the Table,” is a rafters-reaching breakup ballad propelled by a mix of cinematic, sweeping cellos, bass drops and snap beats. Elsewhere, the deft and diverse To Bring You My Heart can stomp along with EDM-leaning four-on-the-floors (“Ultra Violet”), deliver soul-searching and synth-driven duets (“Better Off”), or offer up a take on glossy and gorgeous ’60s pop (“You”).
Kate Kurdyak theorizes the album’s genre-jumping pattern can be expected, as each experience The Katherines bring forth on To Bring You My Heart comes from a different place. With the range of studio collaborators including Steve Bays, Colin Janz, Tino Zolfo, Hawksley Workman, and Fake Shark’s Kevvy, the collection is an extended look at our many connections, and the value there within.
“It’s about the expression of a particular moment,” she says about her approach to each song. “That’s probably why there are so many genres on the album, because it covers all of the different feelings from a period of time in my life.”
Released in 2017 on 604 Records, To Bring You My Heart casts its net wide, but at the core of the sonically ambitious LP are a series of intimate, relatable portraits. Whether they weigh in on the tingling anticipation of new love, or take a wistful look back at what once was, these are songs that tap into the essence of our human condition.