Girl K have been making a splash wherever they play, whether it’s headlining a Halloween show at Martyrs last year or opening for the likes of Dream Wife, Charly Bliss, Thin Lips or Beach Bunny, they bring the rock wherever it’s needed. Frontwoman Kathy Patino’s youth belies her perspective on the world. To make observational indie rock that far out matures her years. Joined by Kevin Sheppard on guitar, Alex Pieczynski on bass, and Ajay Raghuraman on drums, the Chicago suburban native is set to celebrate the release of new record For Now at Schubas this Friday, March 15th. Tix are $10 ($13 doors). Girl K were kind enough, to answer a few of our questions, in the midst of planning the show.
KP: Kathy Patino
KS: Kevin Sheppard
AP: Alex Pieczynski
Your new record For Now drops tomorrow. What excites you most about the upcoming release and the inevitable attention you'll receive after people get to listen to something you've been working on for so long?
KP: I’m really excited to have some new music out, and to see how people react to it! We’ve been working hard and have had so many amazing friends supporting us, so it’s important that we deliver an album that we are proud enough of as a way of giving back to them. It’s all really terrifying at the same time, but I’m just hoping people can find things in these new songs that can help them through tough times, or highlight their best moments and really form a connection with the music!
Girl K started as a solo project but soon developed into a band. Is the songwriting mainly still handled by Kathy, or do the other members take part?
KP: The songwriting is still just me, but especially during the writing process for this album I went to Alex, Kevin, and Ajay a lot for advice and for their opinions. I think Ajay is an incredible songwriter, and Alex and Kevin are very honest and have amazing tastes in music, and I love them all so much so their opinions really matter to me. At the end of the day, they’re still my songs, but with a better instrumentation [than] I could ever come up with.
What was the recording process like on "For Now?” Fill us in on where it was laid down and who was involved?
KP: Well, because I’m so terrible at scheduling studio dates, they were all very spread out which gave me time to write, but was a pretty slow process at the beginning. We probably had around five or six sessions at JamDek In Humboldt! That’s not including the millions of hours Doug Malone (our favorite studio guy who also plays in a sick band called Courtesy) spent mixing and mastering all the songs. It was a really exciting process and his energy in the studio really made it fun for all of us, Doug is a great guy and the boys and I joke about him being sort of like a father figure to the band. As the release was getting closer we kept in touch about the progress and rough mixes, and Doug always emphasized how he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he didn’t make these mixes perfect. He really cared about what we were doing and about the songs, and I feel like we were really lucky to have someone who was emotionally attached to songs mixing them.
Ajay, Alex, and Kevin are all involved in other projects. Is it tough for you all you find a balance between Girl K, your lives, and the other bands?
AP: I think if balancing the things in your life isn’t at least a little tough then you’re probably not doing enough things. But the decision to dedicate the necessary time to Girl K is easy because it’s an important part of my life.
KS: Not really. With the focus on the album we’ve had time to work on other projects in-between gigs and things will probably shift to more Girl K-centric following the release. The hardest thing is managing all of that with a full-time job and trying to stay energized.
There has been a wave of young female indie voices in the past several years from Snail Mail to Billie Ellish to Grace VanderWaal, and those are just the famous ones. What do you feel has attracted female teenagers to these non-mainstream sounds?
KP: I don’t think there’s anything special about our gravitation to the styles of music we play. I think we listen to it and play it because we like it, just like everyone else. I don’t think it has anything to do with being a woman or a man, it’s just a matter of loving music and it being your passion. Women have always been present in every genre of music, so maybe we haven’t seen such a visibly huge wave because women and as well as other communities (POC, LGBTQ, etc.) have to face a lot more prejudice than the bands fronted by white heterosexual men.
Kathy, have you experienced any push back from the scene due to your youth?
KP: Not really, I think the only thing is not being able to play some venues, but for the most part it doesn’t really come up. I don’t think age should ever limit the length and success of our dreams- there are so many young people out there selling out shows, being nominated for Oscars, competing in the Olympics. Ambition starts young.
Do you all have any tour plans in the works to support the record?
KP: Yes! We’re planning on hitting some of the surrounding states of Illinois! None of us have ever been on tour, so it’s really for us to get out there and test the waters and also see places we’ve never been. We’re all so excited, Alex keeps bringing it up in our group chat and there’s a lot of “you better get used it” jokes, and a lot of the dates still need to be booked, but we’re so stoked!
What comes after "For Now" for Girl K?
KP: Oh boy, well I don’t know honestly haha! I want to write another album, but as of right now I am really excited to just really establish that Girl K exists and start playing shows again, tour in the summer, a couple of surprises here and there! The future for Girl K is a big question mark, but it’s just getting started.
Are there any overlooked Chicago acts you think our readers should know about?
KP: Absolutely!!! Get ready:
What are your favorite venues to play and/or catch a show?
KP: Schubas and Lincoln Hall (insert heart eyes)!
They have such an amazing team and really put the best bills together! They’re also huge supporters of the local scene: they have these 100%-off bands shows (which is how Girl K played at Schubas for the first time) where the show is free to attend, but they have drink specials and that money goes towards the band! These shows showcase local bands, and I think that’s really special. I also really love the Empty Bottle. However, it’s 21+ so I can’t really ever catch a show there, but every time I’ve played there I’ve had a great experience. My first show ever was at Beat Kitchen, so I’m super stoked to actually be playing there in April with the lovely folks in The Slaps! Also have many fond memories of Subterranean, I’ve seen so many of my favorite acts there and remember being so excited about playing there for the first time.