Most of us feel we don’t really fit into a box, but oftentimes we are too scared of ridicule to say so openly. Ironically, we still tend to try to fit other people into neat little boxes. Those who live as they are, without apology, are often the ones who bring about revolution—and they usually don’t understand what the big deal is for the rest of us. These are people who push boundaries without realizing they’re doing it. If you tell them they’re breaking new ground, they will shrug their shoulders and say they’re just being themselves.
It is that way with Katie Pearlman, a New Jersey native who now lives and makes music on Long Island. Born to a family of mostly men, Katie was a self-professed tomboy who took up playing the drums at the age of ten. She was playing in bands and recording music before she was old enough to leave home. These days, she is a highly sought-after session and live musician, well-respected in the community and unfazed by being a female drummer in a scene mostly full of men.
“I’ve always felt very comfortable in this scene,” Katie explains. “Until this year, I always worked with men. I’ve been fortunate to have known and worked with some great men in this business. That being said, I realize now that it’s special to be a woman, and it’s important to pay tribute to women who have been through life experiences and have come out on top, so to speak.”
That is exactly what she’s doing with her new release, Girls Like Us. Katie got the idea to write an album celebrating women when she read Andrea Buchanan’s book Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All. “I was interested in reading stories about other women. The title track, ‘Girls Like Us,’ is about a woman who I related to at the time I read the story. Greta grew up somewhat like me, a tomboy. She had brothers, she played guitar, she loved sports, etc. She was a professional athlete and wrote of the difficulty she had going from [being] a professional athlete to a pregnant woman [and dealing with being] much larger than her former body. I was pregnant at the time and loved this story because she spoke of how superficial beauty can be because our physical bodies change at some point in our lives.”
Katie’s experiences as a new mom, especially balancing her family life with being a working musician, caused her to look at life a little differently and colored the perspective of the album. Katie’s songwriting is deeply rooted in storytelling; in many of them, she will introduce a character and simply share that person’s story. But a thoughtful, introspective sensibility pervades each tale, causing listeners to feel that maybe this story is about them, too.
Girls Like Us is Katie’s third album, and instead of settling into a comfortable, “more of the same” sort of groove as so many artists do, Katie is taking the opportunity to grow, change and learn. She has put a new band together and has stepped out from behind the drumset to play guitar, embracing the intimacy of performing as a singer-songwriter rather than just “one of the band.” You can catch a glimpse of this at the cd release party for Girls Like Us on January 6th, in the lobby of the Patchogue Theatre. You might just come away from the experience feeling ready to do a little growing, changing and learning yourself.
For more information and other upcoming dates, please visit katiepearlman.com.