Katy Goodman of La Sera
For La Sera, there was no need to build buzz; it came right away thanks to frontwoman Katy Goodman. Indie are any of the other Vivian Girls in this band, or is it a completely different lineup. Also, why did she come up with this name?/she's it, no one from VG; as for name, same reason as above/ah music fans know her as the bassist for Vivian Girls, a trio whose fuzzy, catchy songs have made it one of the most-talked-about bands on the underground circuit.
So not surprisingly, there was immediate interest in La Sera. For most new bands, finding a label is an arduous process. The first label Goodman shared her songs with was Hardly Art (a sister label to Seattle indie giant Sub Pop), which quickly agreed to release La Sera's debut. When the first song hit the Internet, the biggest tastemaking blogs posted it, and some of the band's first shows were on desirable bills at New York's CMJ music festival. There wasn't so much heavy lifting required; much of the groundwork had been laid.
But having an established identity can also have drawbacks. Familiarity breeds interest but also brings certain assumptions to the table.
"There are definitely people who already have ideas about what the music sounds like," Goodman says. "People are kind of expecting my album to sound more like Vivian Girls. More lo-fi, more like that."
In fact, La Sera's self-titled debut doesn't bear much resemblance to Vivian Girls. It glides instead of rumbles, an enchanting collection of 12 lovelorn songs with a clean sound that would appeal to those who might find Vivian Girls' songs too ramshackle.
"It kind of all happened by accident," Goodman said of La Sera. She wrote the songs a year ago, told her friend Brady Hall about them (in a Google chat conversation, no less) and eventually sent him the demos she had recorded on her own. He listened, liked and rerecorded the songs in his home studio while Goodman was on tour with Vivian Girls. She then recorded vocals, the pair mixed it together and, just like that, the album was done.
"It's a weird way to start a band. Definitely a unique approach," Goodman said.
The instant attention also means some learning on the fly. Goodman is no stranger to performing live, as Vivian Girls have made their way across the country and overseas plenty of times. But being a frontwoman is something new. In Vivian Girls she shares the spotlight; in La Sera, all eyes are on her.
"Even now I'm better at being the lead singer than I was a month ago," she said. "I feel like I'm learning at an exponential rate thanks to all these shows we're doing."
And there are a lot. Goodman is in the middle of the busiest period of her life. From February through June, her calendar has been packed with multiple La Sera tours, a Vivian Girls tour and even the inaugural four-day Bruise Cruise, a punk rock festival on a cruise ship.
"I've never had this experience," Goodman said, sounding more excited than nervous. "I enjoy being busy. It's definitely stressful at times, and it is fun to switch back and forth between bands. I learn a lot from each band."
--David Malitz, March 2011