“The good thing about New York is that it kind of briefs you on every possible thing that could ever happen,” says Katie Costello. The singer is certainly familiar with the surprises that life can throw at you. Only 20 and already on her second album, her career has followed an unusual, and quick, path.
Costello’s music, while pop-y and upbeat at times, possesses the soul of quirky indie and the instrumentation of rock. Her second album, Lamplight, which came out February 22 on Tiny Tiny, is full of songs of a similarly genre-defying nature. She slides effortlessly from jaunty piano tunes in opener “Cassette Tape,” to grunge-inspired rants in “No Shelter,” to a contemplative, melancholy ballad in “Fading Lately.”
Yet Costello herself rejects those musical labels altogether. “I think there’s sort of an issue with genre labeling at this moment in time. A couple of decades ago genres were very concrete and you were very much within a genre, and there were historical and cultural implications of your music as ‘rock,’ for example. It was more finite. So many bands now don’t fit into those genres. Most people are such a messy combination.”
After growing up in Los Angeles, Costello visited New York to finish recording her first album, Kaleidoscope Machine. She immediately decided to move cross-country—and she hadn’t even finished high school. “I just wanted to move here so badly that I don’t think I really gave myself the opportunity to be scared or worried because I needed to … I was convincing my parents to let me move. So even if I felt those things I had to suppress them, for the sake of proving my point that I really wanted to be there.”
Although moving to New York was “definitely the greatest thing that ever happened” to her, it proved to be more difficult than she expected. “Lamplight was written over the entire first year that I spent living in New York … I was just sort of spending a lot of time by myself.” Costello grapples with the problems of loneliness throughout Lamplight, singing frequently about her desire to make new friends and understand the people around her. It’s a wish to which any slightly shy girl living in cutthroat New York can easily relate.
Songs from Costello’s first album were featured on several TV shows, and after playing shows at small bars and venues around New York City for two years, she is just now beginning to get the national attention she deserves. She recently went on her first major tour, opening for Toad The Wet Sprocket. “They are the greatest guys ever. It’s nice to be around people that are really talented, have worked really hard and are really nice.”
Costello herself is similarly good-natured, though you wouldn’t know it when she’s asked what’s in her future: “Glory. World domination. And kittens. Actually, I hope the future holds a lot of touring. I just want to make music as much as possible for as long as possible.”