Interview: Katie Earl of The Mowgli’s previews new music, talks women in the industry and future plans
The Mowgli’s have had one wild year. After taking time away from touring, the band returns with their new EP, American Feelings, out March 1, 2019. Atlas spoke with singer Katie Earl about the new music, the band’s return to touring and bringing more women into the industry.
Atlas: Congrats on the new music! Can you tell us about the writing process and the direction for this EP?
Katie: So first of all, we came out with our first body of work in 2013. We, as individuals, have been through a ton of interpersonal stuff and relationship stuff and life stuff, so all of that is pretty naturally reflected in what we make together. We also have all been working creatively really consistently together, apart, in different combinations of band members with people who aren’t in the band [or] alone for years now. Basically, every time something happens that is just perfect for The Mowgli’s, it’s brought to The Mowgli’s.
With this particular collection, all four songs were written in different environments at different times with no theme in mind. It was kind of like whatever came out, happened. When we sat down as a group and pulled up all of the songs we’d written over the last few months, those four really stood out to us. So we held onto those 4 and listened to them over and over and we found a common theme- they each spoke to things that I think a lot of people are feeling right now, things that are in the ether. So we called it American Feelings and it just felt really appropriate.
Atlas: The Mowgli’s are headed out with a different touring group this time. What are you guys looking forward to most on this run with these bands?
Katie: For me, personally, I’m really excited for our set. Touring is all about playing shows- I’m not going anywhere I haven’t been. I’m just really excited to get back onstage. We’ve been touring a lot since 2013 but this past year in particular has been rather light for us. We took a little time off of doing the US tour so this is kind of the first long run we’ve done in awhile. It’s pretty exciting to get back onstage and see people who came out to see us- not just college shows or corporate events but for Mowgli’s fans. I’m really looking forward to that.
Atlas: If you could curate the perfect tour, who would be joining you on the road?
Katie: Okay well you’re speaking to me, so without naming any names- bands with all girls. I’m so sick of being the only girl on tour and it seems like a crazy thing in 2019 that in the alternative scene that I happen to work in. I know there’s a lot of women in music- I see them, I follow them, I’m aware of them, but they’re not in my touring circle and that really bums me out. So my ideal tour would be a tour where women outnumber men.
Atlas: There’s been a lot of controversy and conversation regarding women in music over the last few years in particular. What are your thoughts on all of this and how do you feel about the progress being made?
Katie: I get asked about this a lot and I feel like I’m in a unique position because there are a lot of women in music. I follow a ton of bands like The Regrettes and Haim and The Aces. I follow all these bands that are made up of completely women. There’s so many female pop stars that are thriving and topping the charts right now. The Grammys was essentially dedicated to women in music- I think because the Grammy guy said such a dickish comment last year about how women needed to step up so they overcompensated this year.
Regardless, all of this is happening, I’m aware of it and I support it. Still, for me, when I get off the bus and walk into a venue, nine times out of 10, I’m the only woman there. In San Francisco, there’s a venue that has a sound woman instead of a sound guy. In certain venues, there’s sometimes women working and every once in awhile we go out on a tour with a band that has a girl in it. But for every band that has a girl in it, in my scene, they’re playing with four guys and their crew is made up of men and the people working at the venues are made up of men. So it’s a weird place for me to be in where I know there are women in music, I know that their visibility is becoming more heightened and in my day to day life, I see so little of it.
For me, it kind of leaves me in a place where half of me wants to seek out different scenes that are more dominated by women and another half of me that doesn’t want to leave the scene I’m in because I’m one of the only women I see in it.
It drives me crazy. I actually got into trouble- I’ve gotten into trouble miswording things on Twitter before. There’s this reality where every audience I look out into is comprised of mostly women and yet that’s not reflected onstage. It’s not even often reflected backstage. These bands of guys are playing for women and getting paid by women and they’re using women on their imagery, in their lyrics and in their music. This industry is fueled and driven by women and I’m not seeing them as celebrated as I wish I was.
Atlas: What advice do you have for women trying to make it in this male-dominated industry?
Katie: Any women who are in a position where they’re the only woman that they work with- just keep on keeping on. At the same time, I don’t want to encourage any women who are in a male-dominated field to leave. Stay and take over and bring more women into it. If you’re doing what you love, just be the best fucking person there.
As far as being the only woman on tour, I seek out a lot of time by myself. I go on walks, I try to exercise, I try to go get lunch and dinner by myself, but most importantly, I get on the phone with my girlfriends as often as possible. Every time I talk to a woman that I love, I feel better.
I’m not going to tell anyone that being a woman in music is easy, but it’s getting easier, it’s getting better and we need more women to get involved so stick it out and join the team.
Atlas: What’s coming up for The Mowgli’s past this next tour?
Katie: We definitely are excited about this next tour and about putting this music out. We have done a few outside of the box things lately. The band wrote a theme song for a Disney show that we’re really excited about. It’s called Big City Dreams and it’s in its first season right now. Hopefully more opportunities like that present themselves because we have so much fun writing theme songs and scoring. Expressing ourselves and expanding beyond music [as well]. Everybody is just exploring themselves in different ways and pushing themselves creatively. I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photos courtesy of The Mowgli’s