Stories From Home - Kaia Kater

Every week, we ask a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view. Through words, video and music, each musician will share their story, along with an audio or video sample of a recent project, and a link to purchase their music so that you can support their work.

This week, Kaia Kater discusses managing expectations around creative output, rediscovering the fun of practice, and writing for film.

"It’s been interesting. I’m a songwriter and my writing process has become a lot more sporadic. Some days I’ll have tons of creative energy and other days I can barely get up the enthusiasm to go outside, let alone write music. Most of my intrinsic creative motivation for daily writing has all but disappeared, so I rely on weekly writing groups with friends to encourage me to submit something new every week.

At the beginning I felt really guilty about my own lack of motivation in March and April. I’d internally berate myself that I wasn’t “using” this experience of being quarantined to write write write. However I noticed that the more I bullied myself, the more avoidant I became. It became this odd arbitrary metric. If I couldn’t write for two hours, then I’d tell myself it wasn’t worth it. But now, if I can find the motivation for ten minutes of writing then I absolutely run with it—because ten minutes is better than zero. I’ve been adjusting my expectations and teaching myself forgiveness and patience.

I’ve learned that a writing practice doesn’t have to be rigid. It can be free, creative, playful. Most of what I’ve written in these last eight months I might never perform onstage. But I’ve loved writing little melodies on my iPhone or structuring these epic synth ballads on Ableton. Previously to the pandemic I’d look at every song like: “How can I perform this?” and if it wasn’t something I’d want to perform publicly then I’d drop the idea altogether. But now that live shows are suspended, it feels like that entire framework doesn’t work anymore. And that’s a freeing feeling—I can write anything, it doesn’t matter! And I think this sort of dual nihilism and irreverence for what I’m “supposed” to be doing has made my writing better.

I’ve started writing music for film! I’ve scored one short documentary and am in the process of writing for a longer documentary now. It’s a quick learning curve but it’s also pretty fun to work on other folks’ projects and help bring their visions to life. That is something I’d like to keep doing into the future. I’ve also worked on some covers of other peoples’ songs. It’s been a low-pressure way to interact with great art and brainstorm ways to re-interpret the lyrics and harmony."

Support Kaia by purchasing her music from her website.