Interview: Katie Von Schleicher Seeks Beautiful Imperfection on ‘Shitty Hits’

katie von schleicher interview

Photo by Bao Ngo

Katie Von Schleicher likes to invent genre names. Her 2015 release Bleaksploitation and her forthcoming album Shitty Hits (due July 28th) both have titles that also function as musical categories. During a phone interview, Von Schleicher said, “Both of the album titles, I think, are the genres of music that I make.”

The meaning of Bleaksploitation seems clear for an artist who uses melody and lyrical introspection to probe feelings of depression and isolation. But what, exactly, are Shitty Hits?

“’Shitty hits’ is the genre of music from the ‘70s like Bread, or a lot of people that I like,” Katie explained, also referencing the country hit ‘Galveston,’ which was written by Jimmy Webb and popularized by Glen Campbell. According to Von Schleicher, these are “beautiful songs that also have this weird sheen of production.” She continued, “Sometimes I’m telling people to listen to songs that I like and they’re questionable songs, but there’s a piece of them that is perfect.”

Von Schleicher produced and recorded Shitty Hits in the living room of her childhood home in Pasadena, Maryland. “It’s not the finest place,” she said of the town. “There’s not much to do in Pasadena, Maryland. There’s nowhere to eat except for the Texas Roadhouse. It’s not quaint – it’s actually kind of Republican and weird and backwoods. People have guns and confederate flags. … It’s beautiful despite that stuff I suppose.”

The memories contained in that Pasadena house played a role on Shitty Hits, as did a “grueling” schedule of therapy sessions, which Von Schleicher attended three times a week for over two years. “Processing the past was certainly a part of therapy that I’m sure played an unconscious role in going back [to Pasadena] and making a record,” she said.

katie von schleicher interview

Photo by Chris Baker

“I’ve been thinking about [therapy] a lot because of this album and how formed by therapy it is,” Von Schleicher explained. She credited her work in therapy for providing the confidence she required to self-produce Shitty Hits. “I think it was instrumental in helping me decide to produce my own album. … Overall, it enabled me to be more confident.”

Before Shitty Hits became the album title, it was a working title for the album’s captivating opener, ‘The Image.’ Katie described her songwriting process: “That chorus melody was something that came to me constantly over a two-year period, and I heard it in my head as midi trumpets and horns and stuff, playing a really bad car commercial – you know, [sings melody]. Like, really cheesy. I would just do it all the time. At a certain point I was like, you know what? This is really catchy, there has to be a way to make this a song. Good or bad. So, I put some minor chords underneath it and changed it up and that’s what happened.”

Shitty Hits will be released by Ba Da Bing Records (no relation to the fictional strip club where Tony Soprano holds court), where Katie Von Schleicher is an employee. The album is available for preorder now. Watch Katie Von Schleicher’s video for ‘Paranoia’ here:

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