INTERVIEW - Munroe

INTERVIEW – Munroe

Munroe

By Kristin Archer

Hamilton native Kathleen Munroe is based in Los Angeles and is best known for her work as an actor. She is about to make her mark in the music world as well with a stunning collection of songs. Her debut EP was recorded in Hamilton at Threshold Studio with producer Michael Keire and is set for release on May 12th on local label Hidden Pony.

We’ve been treated to two fantastic songs so far, the haunting “Bloodlet” and “Summer,” which is also accompanied by a video. Munroe also recently filmed a live video on Southern Souls.

I am honoured that Munroe will be making her hometown debut with this material on Friday at This Ain’t Hollywood! Get there early – Munroe will be opening the show!

I Heart Hamilton: The Playlist 4.0 (Fundraiser for Food4Kids)
Featuring Fast Romantics, Grey Lands, Aukland, Munroe, DJs Kristin A/B
+ Pop-Up Shop Girls With Gunz

Friday, May 1, 2015 / 9PM
This Ain’t Hollywood, 345 James Street North
$10 Advance / $12 at the door
[Facebook event]

Poster by Darlene MacNeil

Poster by Darlene MacNeil

I Heart Hamilton: When did you first move to Los Angeles? How often do you venture back to Hamilton? It must be difficult to schedule and split your time.
Munroe: I first went down to LA in 2007. I try to get back home as often as makes sense; at least once a season. I feel best when I have a balance between California and home.

We of course know you as an actor, but have you always been working on music?
Yeah, I’ve been playing and writing music my whole life. This is the first real release, and the first time I’ve really taken it on with more focus.

As an artist, it must be a great experience to explore a different side of yourself creatively. With music, it must feel so much more personal, perhaps in a different way than acting. How do you find music as a different kind of creative outlet to explore?
Yes, it’s nice that these fields aren’t incompatible or mutually exclusive. I can do both, and get both similar and different things from them. They’re both expressive. They both involve storytelling, which is probably my primary interest. The main difference between the two in my life was that acting is collaborative and music was private, though that’s not entirely the case anymore. I think making music felt like shelter for a long time because of the solitude involved in making it, and I valued that amid the other more public things I was doing. But I guess I’m realizing that the solitude I valued in music isn’t compromised by sharing it. I think I wondered if having an audience would change the creative process in music, but it doesn’t. It definitely shouldn’t.

Munroe. Photo from official page.

Munroe. Photo from official page.

When did you know it was time to take the leap and record an EP? How did you come to work with Michael Keire at Threshold Studio in Hamilton?
A couple of years ago I was collaborating a little more with musicians I know, and that was motivating. I also had a little time off to try doing something in music with more focused direction. It meant something to me to make the record in Ontario, and I met Mike Keire through some friends (the guys in Dark Mean) and I really liked what he was doing. I had just heard the early New Hands stuff he did, and was impressed with how clear a perspective Mike seemed to have as a producer on something that sounded different from other records he had made. We spoke about what I wanted to achieve, he listened to a lot of demos, and I was confident he could realize the sound I envisioned. He became a real collaborator over the course of our sessions. I value his input and his skill tremendously.

Keire works with some of my favourite artists; I’m such a fan! You both produced this EP – how was it collaborating and what did he bring out in your sound? I also heard that Ben Muñoz (formerly of New Hands, my favourite local band!) was helping out in the studio during the recording process.
Mike and I operated with an ethic of restraint. Sparseness fit what I wanted to say/do, and his instincts are so good. He knows when to add, when to subtract, and when to let things live. And the tone he got for the vocals was key. I really feel like we operated as partners in this.

And goddamn: Ben Muñoz is something. He’s overwhelmingly generous. I was really lucky he was recording in the studio below us; it was easy to steal him from time to time. He understood the language I was trying to speak. He’s subtle. Watching him work–on both my stuff and on a bit of his own (I ended up singing on a track of his)–I was just kind of awe-struck and in love with his brain. I was really lucky, in general. I had some great people contribute: Julie Fader (of etiquette), Noah Fralick (of Young Rival), Steve McKay (of YerYard). Billy Holmes (of Dark Mean) and Dean Povinsky (of Wildlife) came and played on a couple tracks that didn’t ultimately end up on the EP. There’s a solid community here.

Munroe. Photo from official page.

Munroe. Photo from official page.

The haunting “Bloodlet” was our first introduction to the EP. It has a folk, Americana sound with also a darker edge to it. What can we expect from the rest of the EP?
The EP draws on a few different traditions, but the unifying thing I guess would be the mood/vibe. I think it all has some darkness.

Your debut EP is set for release this year on local Hamilton label Hidden Pony. How did you connect with them?
I was connected to them through Mike Keire. I linked up with them last fall after they’d heard some early mixes. Lovely people there.

When and where was your first show playing this material, and what was that experience like?
I just played the Dakota in Toronto. I love that venue. Felt great.

I am so excited that your first Hamilton show will be at I Heart Hamilton’s annual fundraiser, The Playlist 4.0! Can’t thank you enough for taking part in this show! How does it feel with a hometown show coming up?
I’ve been aware of I Heart Hamilton for some time, and I have a lot of respect for it. It celebrates a city and a community that mean a great deal to me. I’m really looking forward to a hometown show, and it’s for a good cause. Thanks for having me!

RENDEZVOUS RAPID-FIRE!

Favourite place to eat in Hamilton:
Weil’s Bakery for the chocolate buns.

Favourite breakfast food:
chilaquiles

If you were a drink, what would you be:
bourbon

Your go-to karaoke song:
“Lola”

If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be?
Irish

Favourite word:
galore

Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen:
Too tough! I think few things felt as big to me at the time as seeing Radiohead did when I was in high school.

What is on your playlist right now:
Etiquette (Reminisce), Leonard Cohen (Popular Problems), Jessica Pratt (On Your Own Love Again), Young Thug (Barter 6)

If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Barcelona

Favourite mode of transportation:
train

What’s one thing on your bucket list:
My grandma used to bake this tomato soup cake, and I can’t totally nail the recipe. I’d like to nail it.

Thanks so much, Kathleen! Can’t wait for the show this Friday at This Ain’t Hollywood!