Girl K Seizes A Moment On 'For Now'

Photos by Michael Sager

Photos by Michael Sager

As evidenced by last week’s sold out album release show at Schuba’s, Girl K’s time is right now. However, it isn’t just “for now”, despite the project’s self-aware title. For Now encapsulates a formative year for front-woman Kathy Patino - a year that not only closed out her teenage years, but also brought her new bandmates, a new sound, new acclaim, and now, a new album. “For Now is [named after] a song about everything being temporary, but just because things are temporary doesn’t mean they lose their value in terms of what we learn from it,” Patino matter of factly states. “I wrote the soundtrack to the movie about my life.”

Of course, to a keen observer of the local scene, For Now takes on additional meaning. For one the city’s buzziest young bands, it’s the acknowledgement that their current position is just one path to what they’d hope are many more. “for now” - is empowering, and a band like Girl K embraces the inevitable excitement of change.

For Now is the culmination of changes to Girl K, namely the addition of ex-books members Ajay Raghuraman, Kevin Sheppard, and Alex Pieczynski to the band, a decision that has informed the band’s trajectory in a crowded Chicago indie scene. This is thanks, in part, to Kathy and former books frontman Ajay Raghuraman’s aligned vision with the songs that she was already writing.

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“They see Girl K for what it is and they don’t try to stray far from the sound. They’re dedicated to it, which is amazing. It’s an easy transition,” Patino shares. Further, Raghuraman’s desire to not sound like a typical rock band with books has given Girl K a unique sound that helps spotlight the band alongside its peers. As Raghuraman states, “We knew what Girl K was about, we all loved the music. The essence of Girl K songs are pop songs, [and] I want to write pop songs exclusively. That is one of the reasons why we gel so well. The music that Kathy shows us is stuff I want to play.”

The resulting sound is an indie-pop exuberance that highlights each musician that shows an understanding of the foundations they’re building on. “I think our sound with this band is a lot more confident because we’re doing what we know what to do. We’re a lot more confident in the sound,” Pieczynski explains. However, the music is also about building upon those foundations, as Raghuraman explains, “Not that the music we make is particularly subversive or hard to understand, but you can write something that’s undeniably catchy and also undeniably unique that’s something people don’t know they need. You don’t have to fall back on old conventions.”

Both musically, whether it’s the wider spectrum of sounds found in their songs, or even how the band carries themselves on stage, Girl K has a sense of genuinity to them. Patino elaborates, “It’s really easy to lose genuinity. I feel like this actor persona that’s associated with rock music can still be present and filled with character, but it’s so easy to lose because [they’re] trying to be cool.” Sheppard adds, “Sometimes you go to a show and see the people in the band don’t even look like they’re having fun.” With indie-pop, there’s an inherent joy in how the melodies lift listeners, and that warmth and comfort opens the door for honesty in a way that some genres of sound don’t easily offer.

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For Now’s reverence for nostalgia can also be found in the band’s appreciation for the ‘80s. While the album doesn’t share many direct musical influences to the prototypical ‘80s sound, it’s their approach to songwriting that derives from their love of the decade. Patino explains, “There’s something really colorful and cinematic about ‘80s music. It’s satisfying in a way that other music isn’t. The ‘80s were this moment of explosion where creative freedom was allowed. I think that’s what I love about the ‘80s the most - it was a free-for-all, they were just making things.”

With For Now being Patino’s life’s movie soundtrack, it would make sense for freedom to be a main component behind the album’s songwriting. Patino summarizes, “[With] time passing, there’s so much to learn in those moments [of] being young and doing music. I’m throwing myself into it and taking a lot of risks and taking a lot of sacrifices to do music and growing and acknowledging the idea that a lot of things are so temporary and this is what I’m doing for now. The for now doesn’t diminish the lasting feeling.”