Although she's written and released music for more than a decade, on her latest EP songwriter Katie Pomery has finally found her voice.
Katie Pomery is finally speaking with her own voice
Sitting down with songwriter Katie Pomery in the back of an old West Adelaide pub, her sunshiny presence contrasts the sombre and solemn tone of her latest release.
In March of this year, Katie released what might be her most vulnerable work yet, the three-track EP this pain is from a while ago, but sometimes i still feel it.
Although it’s a short record, it packs a punch. Katie bares her inner thoughts and recalls painful experiences from her past, in a collection of songs written years ago that Katie had long left untouched.
She says the title for the EP reflects the relationship she has with the songs and their stories. It was a freeing experience to finally release the record, after holding onto these songs for such a long time.
“I almost didn’t release them at all because I was, like, ‘This is in the past’,” she says. “It was a process for me of then learning that it doesn’t matter that it’s in the past, because it will always come back. So it felt quite fitting.
“I do still feel it sometimes.”
The EP is a three-act story of recognition, growth and gratitude, as Katie looks back on a relationship from her past and the ways it still affects her now.
It begins with ‘the water’, a song about Katie trying to make sense of a relationship with a large age gap from her past. She ruminates on the formative effect the power imbalance of the relationship had on her as an impressionable 17-year-old: “It didn’t change you, but it shaped my fears”. The song questions whether the relationship seemed so big at the time because it really was big, or if it was just all she’d known up to that point: “Whenever I taste the water / I wonder if you ever think of me”. The song has a raw honesty that acknowledges there’s still a part of her that can easily step back into the desire to impress the person she once put on a pedestal.
‘Way too far’ is Katie growing up out of that place and realising she needs to let herself be an adult on her own. It’s time for her to leave behind the life she was living, no matter how much she loves it and the person she’s with: “‘Cause there’s not much left to say to you / And there’s not much left for us to do / And though it’s spanned so far, so blue / There’s no room in this place for two”. The bittersweetness of leaving behind something you loved for the chance at something greater hits hard.
Katie ends the EP in a place of gratitude, with ‘cactus song’. While there will always be a sadness about moving on from experiences and loves from her past, if she had not experienced them, she would not be the person she is now: “Part of you is in me forever”. The slow build of this song is seductive, as are memories of past loves when they return and demand one’s attention.
Katie says she wanted to end this story with a “sense of a new beginning” for the next part of her life.
Though the tracks are remixed versions of songs written and recorded many years ago, they represent the 25-year-old version of Katie who chose to release them – a braver and more self-assured artist that has finally found a voice that is purely hers.
“It definitely has taken me a long time,” she says. “I feel like only in the last couple of years have I known actually what I want to sound like and I can actually tell the people who are playing with me what I want them to do.
“When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted things to sound like, so I was like, ‘Yeah, sure’, and just went along with a lot of things.
“I loved the people I played with, but a lot of people influenced what I sounded like so much.”
Being a woman in the music industry also impacted Katie’s confidence in knowing what she wanted from herself musically.
“I’m sure I might’ve had an idea of what I wanted, but even if I did, I don’t think I would’ve known how to express it or felt comfortable expressing it,” she says. New here? Sign up to receive the latest happenings from around our city, sent every Thursday afternoon.
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“It’s not necessarily the fault of the men, but it sucks that we feel like that.
“When you’ve got a whole band who are like, ‘Yeah, this is sick’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t think it is, but I’ll go along with it because obviously it must be’.”
While she’s erased a few of her early EPs from the internet, the evolution of Katie’s sound is clear even when listening to the six-track EP Freed, from 2017. This pain… moves away from the heavier drums and electric guitar of that release to make space for a gentler approach.
Much like tender topics require tender care, Katie has created music that feels sympathetic and compassionate to a past self that is hurting.
“I think I put it off for a long time as well because it is so vulnerable and so terrifying,” she says of returning to the songs after a long period of time.
“I wrote these songs a long time after [these experiences] even happened and I felt it. It took me so long to be able to write about it, but also then once I’d written them, recorded them, I didn’t release them for so long.”
Katie’s vocals are front and centre in the mix; her voice in these stories is important. Larger waves of instrumental sounds build intensity but do not compete with the vocals.
These songs became a way for Katie to process and move through the stories and pain from her past that continually returned to her over the last few years.
“I’ve written so much music since then and I really want to work on that and release that, but I was, like, I can’t move on until this chapter is out and done,” she says.
“Everything I wrote about was years and years and years ago, but having to look at it again and talk to people about it… I had to think about what those songs were about.”
Katie says the “upfront, honest and confronting” style of indie-folk singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers was a big influence on her. Singer-songwriters Adrianne Lenker, of American indie-folk band Big Thief, and Laura Marling have also been significant influences on her EP.
Bridgers’ influence is most notable in ‘the water’. The grounded vocal and guitar paired with light percussion, piano and strings is reminiscent of Bridgers’ style.
The explorative vulnerability of Katie’s songs is essential to her as an artist.
“I can’t write music that’s not vulnerable. I can’t connect to it. I don’t enjoy writing it. It doesn’t mean anything to me,” she says.
“I have to be finding something out about myself through the song or it’s, like, what’s the point?”
This pain … marks a version of Katie who knows who she is and is ready to speak. For this current-era Katie, there’s so much more still left to explore.
“There are so many cool ideas that I want to make happen,” she says.
“I want to be in those cosier spaces where you can be vulnerable and tell stories.
“I want to explore that and care less about trying to fit a mould and fit the brand.”