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katie ellen: “Starting katie ellen was all about challenging myself”

Often when a band breaks up and its members go on to start new projects, there’s a particularly trite adage that gets thrown around: ‘Like a phoenix from the ashes’. Thankfully, in the case of katie ellen, the new project from former Chumped members Anika Pyle and Dan Frelly, we’re spared such cliche owing to the simple fact that when Chumped called it a day, there was no fire from which ash could form.

Instead, the birth of Anika and Dan’s katie ellen is more symbolic of the butterfly emerging from the caterpillar’s chrysalis. “The thing about life, is that it is a constant series of changes,” Anika stated as the opening to her farewell speech prior to one of Chumped’s final shows at last year’s Fest. This wasn’t a bust-up situation – the band’s unity during that set spoke volumes of that – rather a group of musicians accepting that it was time to do something new.

“I wanted to find autonomy,” she explains. “Personally, musically and emotionally. Starting katie ellen was all about challenging myself to be better and stronger both as a musician and a songwriter, but also as a person. I really wanted to lean more heavily on my songwriting and to draw inspiration from artists and genres that I cherish but didn’t necessarily fit in my last project, like Billie Holiday and 60s girl groups and Patsy Cline and Judy Garland.”

Chumped’s second to last show, at Fest. They went on to play one more gig in their hometown of New York.

That’s lead to a pretty bold and drastic step away from Chumped’s pop punk on katie ellen’s recent demo (below). In its place is something more akin to the likes of Waxahatchee or Radiator Hospital.

“These songs have a different energy to them, more of a melancholy, soulful reflection rather than a sense of chaotic urgency,” Anika states. “But, I’m no less candid or vocal about my feelings or my politics.” That candidness becomes abundantly clear when she sings on ‘lucy stone’, “I don’t wanna have your children, does that make me less of a woman? / I don’t believe in getting married, it’s a socio-economic prison” – and that, along with the support of Jeff Rosenstock’s donation-based Quote Unquote Records, is a shining example of the fact that, at heart, katie ellen is still very much a punk band.

Though this is only a demo, it’s very promising indeed, and that Anika mentions that Dan and herself are in the process of making a record with the aim of putting it out by the end of the year is certainly cause for excitement. She does admit however, “there’s a ton of work to do still”, but, in keeping with the ethic that saw Chumped earn the undying respect of peers and fans, “regardless, we’ll definitely be sharing music, playing shows and doin’ the damn thing.”

On this evidence, whenever it ends up coming along, new music from katie ellen is going to be one damn thing worth waiting for.

Taken from the April issue of Upset – order your copy here.