Indie duo Slow Dress has just released their debut EP Fever. The five-track project, which features previous singles like "Back Into My Body" is a beautiful and intricate affair. Written and recorded in Nashville prior to the pandemic with producer Collin Pastore, Fever is finally out in the world. Slow Dress, which comprises Katie Solomon and Bredon Jones, was faced with a difficult year, even beyond the pandemic. Bredon was diagnosed with cancer, and both Bredon and Katie have moved to different cities. For a while, caring for their health and friendship took priority, but they are now ready to share their music with a renewed energy. Of Fever, the band says, "The songs are deeply relevant to us as we continue to ask 'How can we live our lives in meaningful ways? How can we navigate the pain, loss, and confusion that life brings?'"
Recently, I had the great pleasure of getting on a Zoom call with the duo. Read on to see what the pair had to say about their creativity, their friendship, the experience of recording Fever, and what they have on their back-burner.
Tell me – how did you each get your start in music?
Bredon Jones: This will be unsatisfying. I played flute when I was a kid, third grade to eighth grade. And then I quit that, because I got uncomfortable being a boy playing flute. But then I didn't do much musically until I was in my 20s. I started playing guitar and piano a little bit, and I started writing songs. There's not really any interesting "thing" to it, I think that, like a lot of people, I just started doing it more and more. And then I started playing in a band. It's always definitely been a big part of my life. My parents exposed us to music when we were kiddos, so it's always kind of been floating around there, and I've always had a creative interest in it. It just took a long time to bake in the oven.
I get that. I played flute too! And I'm also just now, in my twenties, getting into guitar. I've always had a guitar, but I feel like I'm starting to take it more seriously now. How about you, Katie?
Katie Solomon: That's inspiring because I want to learn how to play guitar, and I just keep feeling like I'm too old to try. I played piano when I was young, but I hated it. I did some musical theater, but then I got really shy for a while and I didn't do anything. And then, out of college I started playing a little and performing in this other band. That's when Bredon ended up joining and that's how we met. So, yeah, kind of a wave-like story.
Yeah, and so that band - that was the Jackals, right?
Katie: Yeah, Jackals.
OK. And so that's how you met. What made you decide to start Slow Dress?
Bredon: We were at a point with Jackals where we were having some minor differences of opinion about the direction of the band and how we should do things. And we decided to split off. I mean, it's obviously way more complicated than that, but it was all amicable. I think Katie and I had started writing more and more together, and we decided that we would give it a go as a duo and see what it was like for the two of us alone as a creative engine. Jackals was basically three writers, and I think Katie and I wanted to simplify the process. Katie, what do you think?
Katie: Yeah, you nailed it. That's it.
Bredon: We started to figure out that we were very compatible creatively in Jackals. I actually joined because I wanted to sing harmonies for Katie because I really loved her voice. I was at an open mic where Katie and Jack were playing, and I was basically begging to join their band. But Katie's singing style, if you're new to it, is impervious to singing harmonies because she never does the same thing twice. So I said I couldn’t do it. And they were like, well, you play guitar, right? So I started playing guitar in the band. And then later, Katie and I started writing together. I’ve just been very motivated to keep that very fulfilling creative partnership going in any way that I could. There wasn't even really a question when she went out to Portland. We're still going to do it. You know, we'll figure it out while she's got grad school, and we’ll find ways to promote our music and to tour and play gigs and stuff during that time. When she's done with grad school and has a little more sort of freedom, we'll step it up.
That's cool. Katie, what are you going to grad school for?
Katie: Mental health counseling.
Wow, that's awesome!
Katie: Thanks, yeah! I feel a lot of different feelings about it.
Bredon: That's a whole other interview.
You’re releasing a new EP soon, called Fever. Were these songs written after you went to Portland?
Katie: No, they were actually written before the pandemic. We wrote and recorded them. Bredon is also dealing with some health stuff. And so this year has mainly been, well, the pandemic and also focusing on health. So we kind of paused. And now we were like, oh, you know what? We have these songs. We want to put them out. We have a lot of other stuff on our back-burner that we want to share. So we were like, now is a good time.
Bredon: Yeah. We just felt like we didn't want to keep waiting for the perfect moment. And we had already released a few of the songs, and we still have like 30 other songs. We want to keep going through them and get them out there. We can't let this stuff sit there and get stale.
What does your songwriting process usually look like?
Katie: I feel like we're really compatible creatively. I feel like it's been either that Bredon has an idea that he brings to me on guitar, and then I either write right on the spot with it, or I have some lyrics that I've been working on that I bring to it. And we fuck with the song to make it work. Or occasionally, I fuck around on the piano. I don't feel confident about it at all, and I write really simple stuff. And so, I'll tell Bredon here is an idea and then we'll sort of bring it together. He will help me flesh that out, and we'll create something together.
Bredon: Katie has a mountain of lyrics ready to go at all times. I think we mirror each other in the sense that I have hundreds of musical ideas. If I pick up a guitar, it's like almost within 30 seconds, I'll come up with a new musical idea that I can hear in my head becoming a song. And I’ll just share them with her; I'll send her four or five musical ideas or more. We have this huge archive of them. Katie is also really good at coming up with something on the spot. I can play something, and she'll be looking through her lyrics, and then she'll start singing, out of nowhere, a whole melody. We're both over producers of stuff that works well together.
I know that you recorded these songs with Collin Pastore in Nashville, and he's produced Lucy Dacus, which is awesome. Can you tell me more about that?
Katie: Yeah! So we had never worked with a producer before, and we just really wanted to feel really solid about what we were putting out as our first release with this band. So we did a lot of research and I'm super into, and Bredon is too, the Historian album. We reached out to a few people, and he was one of them. It was definitely different than we expected. We had sort of expected a lot of pre-production, but he's very work-on-the-spot in an incredibly impressive way. Jake Finch, who also played drums with Lucy Dacus, played drums on our album. And he does synth stuff. And he's just incredible. It ended up being this very immersive kind of rapid creation of stuff.
Bredon: Yeah, they were great. We recorded at Trace Horse which is his buddies Preston’s and Scotty’s studio. So it was the four of them. We were in to do five songs, but we were working so efficiently and honestly, that was amazing to us because our experience in the past has been much more prolonged and painful to get a finished product, and they were so fast and so receptive to what we were doing. So we decided to add a sixth song. And then I would say within a space of a few hours, it was basically a finished product. They worked so quickly. They had really great suggestions about the structure that we had created, too. They were like, let's do this, let's drop that and let's add this. I think there's this Nashville aesthetic about recording where people just go in and do it.
I love the songs. They are so great. I was also wondering, because of COVID, have you two ever gotten the chance to play live together as Slow Dress?
Katie: We did, thankfully. We played two or three little shows before I moved to St. Louis and then COVID hit. We had a bunch of shows and a whole tour planned, which was such a bummer. But now, at this point, that feels so long ago.
So with the pandemic and with your diagnosis this past year, did you decide to take a break, or did you keep writing?
Bredon: It was definitely not any kind of deliberate thing. We continued writing and working on things. It's definitely slowed down a lot, but there was no break. We did some live stream things. But we were still very bonded as a band and a creative unit. And that's what my priority is musically.
Katie: I think we're such good friends that it's kind of blurred. We talk all the time as friends, and then we'll talk about Slow Dress. I feel like it's slowed down a bit, the last six months just because you had a surgery. But I'm feeling our energy kind of kicking back a little bit, it's picking up.
I'd like to go back to your music and your sound – who would you credit as your inspirations?
Katie: I haven't thought about this one in a while. I really like PJ Harvey. I like Lucy Dacus. I like how intimate her sound is. And maybe Father John Misty in certain ways. I really appreciate him lyrically. I feel like he made me realize how I could write in certain ways. I could be really honest and explore a lot of shit that I wouldn't normally want to divulge to everybody.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Bredon: My influences don't have much to do with our sound, but the long time influences are there in the DNA. Paul Simon, both from a storytelling and a guitar standpoint. The Police, too, they're my old, old stuff. But more recently, The National, from an orchestration and arrangement standpoint. I think I'm really influenced by them. I really like the way they put songs together. Even songs that I don't like, I'm always like, “Oh, man, did you hear that little percussion thing?” Everything in that kind of music sticks around in my mind. So when we're in the studio, I'm like, “Hey, we need to add a little tick, tick, tick, tick,” or something like that, because that's what I like. I think also a more recent one for me is Caroline Rose. I love her last couple albums. I definitely share her stuff with everybody I know. There's a certain attitude to her music that I think weirdly jives with Katie's style.
What music are you listening to right now? Maybe it's not necessarily an influence on your own music, but you just can't stop listening to it recently.
Bredon: I've been listening to Jordana. Her latest album is really fun. I just really like it. I've been listening to a lot of Dan Deacon, like older Dan Deacon. I've been rabbit-holed on that. And then this guy, Jeremy Blake. He does some electronic instrumental stuff. He did a lot of stuff on the Teenage Engineering OP1, where he will compose whole songs on it, and they're just amazing. I can't believe he's doing it on this little four track digital recorder. They're so full and expansive and awesome.
I've been listening to Jordana too. I actually have a T-shirt, and I almost wore it today.
Katie: Bredon, you'll be happy to hear this. I've been kind of into Wilco. I was listening through the new Squirrel Flower album too, and I was digging a lot of it. And then honestly – so Zach is our bass player, and he's also my partner – Zach has tastes that I would never go to myself. But I really dig it when he puts on some Tropical Fuck Storm.
Tropical Fuck Storm?
Katie: Tropical Fuck Storm.
Listen to the new EP Fever from Slow Dress below.