One of my favorites new records in regular rotation over here at Fuse HQ is Sees The Light, a just-released collection of hazy, girl group-inspired heartbreakers from Vivian Girls’ “Kickball” Katy Goodman, who is now recording solo as La Sera. One recent morning, I called her up at her house in Los Angeles, where she was just waking up. Here’s what Ms. Goodman had to say from the comfort of her bed…
What’s the biggest difference between Sees the Light and last year’s debut?
A different crew worked on this album. For the first record, it was just me and a friend doing everything. But on this record, there’s a full live band. Also, this [album] is way more personal. A lot of the songs on the first album were these stories that weren’t particularly true. But this one has more messages to people specific to my life.
Did that more personal approach make the album more difficult to write and record?
Yeah. But it all came out easily once I started.
“Love That’s Gone,” one of my favorite tracks, sounds particularly brutal.
That’s the saddest song I’ve ever written. It’s also my favorite song on the record. It’s actually my favorite song that I’ve ever written. It’s about leaving relationships. You know, when you’re the one who’s… well… [listeners] should take from it whatever they want to. But the first line, “I love my life without you,” pretty much sums up the album.
What were you listening to while recording? Any new influences?
I was listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and it came through in a lot of songs. So Fleetwood Mac was a big one. Roy Orbison is always a huge one. I always learn new guitar chords from learning his songs. He’s one of my biggest influences. He has so many songs that are great. The one that turned me onto Roy Orbison was “Crying.” When I heard it, I was like, “What is this song!?!” I immediately needed to hear more.
Where did you shoot the video for “Please Be My Third Eye”? It definitely has a cool look and vibe.
We shot it all over Los Angeles in one day. We filmed the whole thing in slow motion, so I was singing along to a version of the song that was played at 33 percent of the regular speed. I had it in my headphones, those little Apple bud headphones. They were going down my back so you couldn’t see them. We were rogue filming everywhere. The background dancers would just move around as quickly as they could, and later, when we sped the video up to normal speed, it looked like they were going insane! And I’m moving like a robot, or like a weird bug or something.
La Sera, "Please Be My Third Eye"
When you were recording last June, what was the one thing you couldn’t live without during those long hours in the studio?
We recorded the album in Sunset Junction [a hip ‘hood in L.A.] so I would eat really good food every day. There were a lot of really good restaurants around, so that was the one thing I looked forward to every day. My favorite spot was Porridge, which has all local health food.
Were there any tensions in Vivian Girls when you decided to pursue the solo La Sera project?
Doing solo projects is always a strange growing experience because for a long time you and your bandmates are only doing your band. But at some point someone goes and does something else, and it’s welcome. [Vivian Girls singer-guitarist] Cassie [Ramone] was the first one to go off and do something else with her band Babies. So when I started mine, it wasn’t a big deal because we had already started branching off.
Were you nervous about it?
Yeah, just because I had never done a solo project. Vivian Girls was my first real band, so I didn’t really know what being a frontwoman would be like. It was scary.
Were you nervous going out for your first performance in the front, instead on the side with the bass?
Oh yeah. I was terrified. Also, my band has changed a lot of times throughout the past year and a half. I would always be more nervous because I was playing with a fresh band every two months. But now I’ve had the same band for a year, so I’m feeling a lot more comfortable on stage.
Did the band change the way this album sounds?
Definitely. The band I have now is the band that played on the record. We sound like the album [live in concert], which is way better.
So what’s up with the Vivian Girls?
We don’t have anything planned right now. I saw Cassie at South by Southwest and we were talking about it. Something will happen at some point. But we’re trying to do other things ‘cause we’ve been doing Vivian Girls for five years straight. So I think we both wanted to do other things and see what the world is like without Vivian Girls. But we’re definitely going to get back together at some point and do another album.
As soon as you start missing it, I’m guessing?
I already miss it…
What are you crushing on these days?
Game of Thrones just came back on and I love it. I’ve been really digging coconut-kale smoothies. They’re so good. There’s banana and stuff in it, too, but the main ingredients are coconut and kale. And I’m really into my cat right now. His name is Walter. He’s a ginger. He’s white and orange, and only seven months old. He’s still a baby and when he’s sleepy he’s really cute. But he’s becoming a man right now, which is awesome. He’s growing up!
Did you pick him because he’s a ginger, just like you?
No. I didn’t pick him; he picked me. Well, I was going to go to the pound and I tweeted, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to the pound to get a cat tomorrow,’ and one of the Vivians Girls’ fans was like, ‘Hey, I have a kitten that needs to be adopted.’ And I was like, ‘Ya know what? I’ll just adopt your kitten.’”
What do you have in your purse now that might surprise people?
A Rubix Cube!
Can you align all the colors really fast?
Yeah. I can do it in like two and a half minutes.
How many years of practice does that take?
It doesn’t take years; it takes hours. Like, ten hours of good, long practice.