Bri Guntz from WLUW sat down with Gatlin before her show at Schubas Tavern. They talked about Gatlin’s love for her cat (Binks), big feelings and touring.
Tell me about your musical background. How did you get started?
My parents, they flew in for the show today, but my dad always really loved music. And so it was always playing in the house and I was always just performing. I started with theater and show choir. And yeah, I just wanted to be Hannah Montana.
I know you spent a few years at Belmont University. Why did you leave?
Contrary to what’s going on right now, (Gatlin was in the process of doing her makeup during this interview) I am a bad multitasker. It was a hard thing to be putting out music, and I wanted to do that and like go for it fully, and like having to go to skip writes with amazing writers in town, because I had science class. [It] just kinda seemed silly to me. So yeah, I talked to my parents about it and they were supportive. And so I was like, ‘okay, I can always go back, school is always there. But, this is working.’
If you could change it would you skip college to begin with?
No, I don’t think at 18 I would have been able to just move to a new city, move to Nashville. And I think you definitely have to be in a music city. At least getting started as an artist. It was a easy way to meet people. Actually, one of my professors was the one who kind of plugged me in to all the different labels and publishers in town. He heard my music and was just like, ‘and here’s everyone in the music industry in Nashville.’ Which, is kinda crazy. I got to skip a lot of steps because of meeting that professor.
Do you have any advice that you would give yourself when you were at that transitionary time?
You know what? No. I feel like I kept up with friends really well from college, but also made friends in town. I feel like that was probably the time I was working the hardest in my life.I had a lot more energy then, than I do now.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t listened to it before?
Bel (show opener) and I have been joking on this tour, [when] you go around, people will be like, ‘oh, what kind of music?’ We’re like ‘it’s indie, it’s folk.’ So we have just been saying indiepopfolkrock. So yeah, I feel like it’s intentional lyricism, with a lot of pop melodies and indie production and stuff that can translate live with a band pretty well.
Your EP “ I Sleep Fine Now” was released about a month ago. What inspired that EP?
This relationship that I was in. They all sound like breakup songs, but a lot of them were even amidst our relationship. I think sleep was a theme of the last year in my life because of depression. Just like sleeping a lot. I would get into arguments with my friends about my sleep patterns. And so just the idea of the last song on the EP that I wrote was, “How Do You Sleep At Night?” and then just getting to name it, “I Sleep Fine Now” just felt like the closing of a chapter.
I know you were saying part of it is breakup, part of it is during the relationship. Did it feel kind of therapeutic to write?
Absolutely, I ended the EP with “Be Your Home,” which is about my siblings. I think for me it was definitely a ‘okay, I have a pattern in relationships.’ I write a lot of breakup songs and I tend to date the same guy. Not the exact same, same type. I think it was me being like, ‘okay, I’m gonna stop this pattern.’ Writing about breakup songs, for me, has become a lot easier. It’s like, ‘oh, I’ve got this down,’ and “Be Your Home” is touching on some of the childhood trauma that happened in my life. And I’m like, ‘Okay, I need to start focusing on that healing.’ Instead of just trying to direct my attention to boys. So I feel like it was really me being like, ‘okay, I’m done doing the same thing over and over and over and over again.’
Do you write these kind of healing songs after you’ve already healed? Or do you heal through the process of writing?
Through the process. I feel like its almost like a form of talk therapy. It’s like a form of external processing. Actually writing and [being] like, ‘Oh that’s how I feel. Oh, this is what’s happening. Oh, these six songs say this.’
What do you want listeners to take way from this EP?
I feel like I’ve been saying during a lot of shows [that] it’s a big feelings EP. So no one to feel silly for big feelings and to process through them instead of kind of shying away from them. Moving through the feelings and even if they’re big and seem dramatic, to just own it. I want it to be a cathartic piece of work that people will go to.
Do you have a favorite track off of the EP?
Right now “Really Funny.”
Why is that one your favorite?
Because, I started writing that one like I did when I was a kid. Which, was with my guitar , sitting on my couch. It just was like a very little magical moment the way it all came together. I had all the good feelings. Then I just brought it to a good friend of mine that I trusted a lot, Gabe Goodman, to finish it up. So, it was just a seamless process and it just makes me feel happy listening to that song.
Do you typically write alone or is a collaborative process?
I do collaboration. It’s almost like I really do need someone in the room to finish things. Whenever I try to write songs for myself, I get really distracted and go do something else. Most of the time it’s like I have 25 percent of a song done, or an idea, or have most of the song but can’t finish it. Then I take it to someone and just have them fine tune it or help me bring the whole idea to life. I really like collaboration for that. There’s no way I could finish.
How has your tour been going? Is this your first headlining tour?
This is my first headlining tour. I think this is [my] sixth or seventh tour, but just opening stuff. So, it’s a different feeling. It’s been going really well. It’s been very exciting getting to do an hour of a show instead of 30 minutes. That’s been a big change. But, it’s been awesome. I love my crew.
Do you have a show you’re most looking forward to playing?
I’m really excited for this one. This sold out which is the first one of the tour. I’m also excited for New York because that’s the last one and it’s also a Halloween show.
Are you going to wear a costume?
Yes, but it’s going to be a surprise.
I’ve noticed that on your Spotify, a lot of the videos that go along with your songs have cats in them. Tell me about that. What’s going on there?
I got a kitty last year. His name is Binks and he is my best friend. I love him a lot. With my fans, they just love him because I love him. So I’m like, ‘I want Binks to be a part of everything.’ He’s in every single piece of my merch too.
Do you have any last thoughts? Anything you want to share before we wrap up?
Stream the EP.