Kat Hamilton and Emily Hulslander of Guyville Are More Than “Girls With Guitars” BC Exclusive: Interview With Kat Hamilton and Emily Hulslander of Guyville
LOS ANGELES, CA- I’ve been listening to Kat Hamilton‘s music for a few years now, and I’m always taken aback with the all of the emotion she brings to the table. It had been a while since I’d seen her perform live, but when I noticed on social media that she was releasing new music with Emily Hulslander of Social Drag, my curiosity piqued. The two have teamed up create music under the name Guyville and the 3 songs that they’ve released are a breath of fresh air. Considering that I never published the photos that I took of Kat and Emily when they performed at The Hotel Cafe late 2021 as their solo projects, I decided to reach out to them and talk about their new project and get the skinny on what they have planned for the rest of 2023.
Blurred Culture: Thank you so much for spending some time to chat a little bit about your respect your guy’s project, Guyville. I just wanted kick things off by mentioning that it seemed like you guys were both very active musically last year. It seemed like you guys were doing a lot of shows together. And Kat organizing that songwriter’s showcase. Must have kept you really busy. How do you think last year went for each of you? Were there any significant high points?
Emily Hulslander: You mean like for Guyville stuff? Or like our solo stuff?
Blurred Culture: Both! Solo and Guyville stuff. I feel like you guys were both being pretty active with performances and recordings and stuff.
Emily Hulslander: Yes, I think what’s really great about Guyville is that Kat and I … we come together and we’re like in Guyville land. We’re really focused, and we’re present and work so well together on this project. But then we also both have our solo stuff. she’s got her solo stuff, and I’ve got my solo stuff… and it’s nice to know that neither one of us is waiting on the other… you know? We’re kind of diligent. Like… we’ve gotten all this Guyville stuff done… So, cool. Go do your thing for a bit, I’ll do my thing for a bit. And when we need to circle back, we circle back and it’s time to be present with each other … If I didn’t have something else going on, or if she didn’t have something else going on, it might feel stagnant at times, but we both have tons of stuff going on […] It feels like a family. She’s very supportive of my stuff. And I’m supportive of her stuff. And then we come together for our stuff it feels like it’s kept in this wonderful creative family. I’m very grateful for that.
Blurred Culture: Was this musical relationship born out of a friendship? Was something that you guys just all of a sudden, one day, just decided, “Hey, like, what are you doing? You want to work on some music?” kind of thing?
Emily Hulslander: I mean, to be honest, we hadn’t really established much of a friendship yet when we started writing together. And, you know, obviously, we very quickly became very close friends. But we’d only met kind of briefly. I ran into her out and about, you know, like at a show … and you know, we were just kind of like, “Hey, how’s it going? Let’s write some time.” Then we set a date in the calendar, and literally within the first couple hours of us getting together we wrote our first song. It was that magical. It was that sort of chemistry. It’s been off to the races ever since. Obviously the friendship is… she’s one of my best best friends…. and it’s really great to work with someone that you love so much too. You know?
Kat Hamilton: I’m getting emotional.
Blurred Culture: So, in terms of in terms of Guyville’s music, do you think it’s something that stands apart from or in conjunction with each of your own solo music?
Emily Hulslander: That’s a great question.
Kat Hamilton: Yeah, I think it actually kind of does both. Emily’s project is more straight up rock and roll at the moment. And I feel like it accesses a more, I guess … rowdy and primal place. And I feel that Guyville can kind of be a lot of different things …. Some of our songs are a little more rambunctious and rowdy and party songs. But some are a little sweeter, and some are way more country. When I met Em, it did feel like she was hungry to lean into that dynamic that she accesses in her solo work. And by her getting to beat out like the rock and roll of her personal stuff, It allows Guyville to be more nuanced, in a way that works for the music really well … Versus, if she didn’t have that, I feel like she would want the project to move in that direction, and not that it would be bad, but it would be really different than the specialness we’ve captured which dances around in a lot of different popular genres. My stuff is very emo. Very introspective. Sort of almost like quiet screaming. I tend to think my stuff is really sad. It was really nice for me to have Guyville …. that’s a little more upbeat, and a little bit more out of my own head. And I feel like if I didn’t have my stuff, I’d be trying to pull Guyville into like this more internal place. Because, I need it in order to stay healthy to write from that place. But instead, it gets to be like this amazing cleanse from the tortured area of my soul where everything comes from.
Blurred Culture: So, each of you are kind of each other’s Yin to Yang, huh?
Kat Hamilton: In a lot of ways.
Blurred Culture: You two kind of balance each other out emotionally when it comes to songwriting.
Kat Hamilton: Oh, I definitely think we do I feel like. And we also possess talents that even each other out. Like Em has a really different skill set than I do.
Blurred Culture: Do you mind kind of going into that a little bit?
Emily Hulslander: Yeah … And this is by no means meant to insinuate that the other is lacking and any sort of way…. We’re both incredibly strong songwriters. I’d say, that I come from a bit more of a like Pop/Melody background. I grew up on the Beatles. I just have melodies for days. And I’m very like, “That’s going to be a big chorus,” and that’s kind of what I feel like is my superpower. That I can bring really strong hooks. And Kat has that too. To me, she is one of the best lyricist I’ve ever worked with and heard. I personally feel like I’ve struggled with lyrics most of my writing life… so when I listen to our records, the lines that punch me in the gut are the ones that Kat wrote.
Blurred Culture: Kat’s music does have a tendency to do that. Punch in the gut.
Emily Hulslander: You know, I always tell her that she makes me just want to up my game. I’m just writing my own stuff… but Guyville… like this record was so cool. It’s like a partnership. We have sessions every week. Kat comes with a song idea. I come up with a song idea. And we just finished together and it just flowed.
Kat Hamilton: Em and I have had lengthy discussions about this, but they’re super spot on. I consider myself to be a storyteller in many forms. And so lyrics are where I go to express myself the most. And Emily is a very skilled melodist. And I feel like my melodies … sometimes they verge on the side of dissonant, especially as a way as they like, hang out with harmony. I think that Emily is always reminding me to simplify something, and to make sure things are listened through with a great flow. I think that’s something that Emily really has a skill set for… flow, and anything that’s going to musically take you out of it. She’ll notice that immediately.
Emily Hulslander: Yeah… but you know… what I’m working on… and I think, you know, what, I was able to kind of accomplish a little bit more in my Social Drag project is that I was able to think outside of the box… proverbial box… I’m not trying to blame my alma mater, but at Berklee College of Music, I was a songwriting major, and, it’s been very very hard to think outside of that kind of form box. I’m still struggling with that, you know? So, it IS kind of like my go-to like, “Oh, hold on. This doesn’t Rhyme. Like we can’t use it.” And Kat has been wonderful because she has pushed me to be more like, “That doesn’t matter. We’re telling a story. So, what does the lyric mean?” I’m like, “Alright!” I guess I can think outside the box. It’s scary just getting outside the box!
Blurred Culture: Artistically, that sounds pretty liberating. I mean, it’s kind of like dipping your toe into a new pool of something. Kat kind of reflected on that. You having the same kind of effect on her in regards to kind of the flow and the let loose of the rowdy and rambunctious side you bring.
Kat Hamilton: Yes! I mean, Emily she helps me like… you know… I can go to very dark, serious places, and Emily gives me like, a whole new vantage point to write through, which is really nice. It’s something I got really excited about, to be able to write from a different perspective that was less cerebral, and more passionate and urgent and immediate… and it’s really nice. Something about Emily that I think has really helped to shape my writing […], she wants things to be the best they can be. Go into harmonies, melody, chord structures, and be like, we can do even better. And so I find myself saying that to myself all the time. You know?
Emily Hulslander: I hate the term Perfectionist, because it sounds so pretentious. It’s not actually supposed to be pretentious. Like it’s kind of a curse to be honest, because it’s stopped me from releasing a lot of music throughout the years because it just never feels done or like it’s never good enough, you know? But yes, I struggle with that a lot, you know, and like Kat has also like loosened my reins in a great way to, where she’s like, “Hey, this is where we’re at. This is what we’ve had. The tools we’ve had, we made.” Like she’s helped me to see the beauty in all of the little messy moments. And we can all say… all three of us… that some of our favorite records of all time, have these wonderful messy moments. And it’s just capturing lightning in a bottle. I think with our record, you know, there’s times when I’m kind of like, “Oh, I wish that vocal had been a little different,” or like, “Maybe that guitar part?”, but she’s like, “Oh, it was such a beautiful experience making it.” And that’s just what happened that day, you know, and so she’s helped me to find the beauty in the work being as good as it is. I don’t know. Does that make sense?
Blurred Culture: No, I feel you. I mean, obviously, you each have a very positive effect on each other’s artistic output. Why don’t we talk a little bit about the new E-P that you guys are planning on releasing? What’s the title of it? And when are you guys planning on dropping it?
Kat Hamilton: Oh, wow. We’re going to publicly declare the title and we haven’t done yet.
Emily Hulslander: It’s actually a full length album. It’s 11 songs. We have three singles out. So, you know, that leaves the remaining eight songs. We are aiming to release it on Valentine’s Day. We’re still kind of finalizing the title…. I don’t know….
[Editors Note: The album release date has been moved to February 24th, 2023.]
Kat Hamilton: We should announce it. It’s the title.
Emily Hulslander: Okay. We’re going to commit it.
Blurred Culture: No pressure. If you guys don’t know, you guys haven’t decided on it. I don’t want to publish the wrong title.
Kat Hamilton: No, I think it’s good. Because, I think we both know it’s the title.
Emily Hulslander: And that would be…
Kat Hamilton: You’re so funny. We’re talking about calling it, “Girls with Guitars.”
Blurred Culture: Is it a pretty straightforward album? Or is it like a concept album or other themes that you guys focus on in particular?
Emily Hulslander: I wouldn’t say, it’s a concept album. It’s not like we wrote this coming from either one of us fresh off a breakup where it’s like, all the songs are about that proverbial person. I’m a very conceptual writer, I kind of need to start with like a title and like what’s the song going to be about. And Kat is such a wonderful storyteller that, we definitely drew from personal experience, but I do feel like they’re a bit more just like conceptual songs. Does that makes sense to you Kat?
Kat Hamilton: Yeah… It’s definitely not a concept album. Though there are concepts songs. I feel like this album is actually just like a wonderful like “Meet Guyville” record, because it showcases all the different things we tap into together. And almost like a friendship love letter.
Emily Hulslander: Oh, that’s great.
Blurred Culture: Friendship love letter. Nice.
Kat Hamilton: The songs takes you on a journey of all the ways in which we can give inside the partnership. So, there’s a country side, there’s an indie rock side. There’s some really fun, almost like early 2000 style, “ballady” things, but also some like late 90s “ballady” things. So, it’s the stuff that Emily and Kat like to make together. And a lot of songs are about breakups, but there’re also songs about being in love. There’re also songs about self and how you feel about your self. And so I felt like the first three singles that we have out right now give you a nice taste of the indie rock side of what we’re doing, but I am really excited for people to hear the other stuff. The more country and the more “ballady” side, because we haven’t really shown that yet.
Blurred Culture: Is there maybe one song in particular that kind of epitomizes the kind of idea of Guyville? A song that epitomizes what you guys are?
Kat Hamilton: I’m excited to hear what Emily thinks!
Emily Hulslander: Yes right. So, just to repeat what you said, is there one song that you feel like encapsulates who we are? That was the question?
Blurred Culture: To you. Like when you play the song, or you hear the song, you think, “Yes, this was Guyville, for me.”
Emily Hulslander: I think probably “Should Have Never Dated”. Maybe I have a soft spot because it was our first song we wrote. But I think it really does a great job of… it has this like sing-songy chorus, but the verses are darker, and there’s some like crunchiness to them. And the lyrics are very detailed. It feels like it’s a good bridge between the best of what both of us kind of brought to the table. Every time we play that song, and we lock into it, I’m like, this feels like us. For me, I think it’s that one.
Kat Hamilton: I’m going to pick one that hasn’t been released yet just to be a contrarian. I’m going to go with “21 Again. Because It’ll introduce the audience to a song form, we use a bunch in the album, which I’ve never really used in other projects, which is this like a-b-a-b-a-b form.
Blurred Culture: You mean in verse chorus-verse chorus-verse chorus?
Kat Hamilton: yeah.
Blurred Culture: Okay. No bridge?
Emily Hulslander: We got bridges.
Kat Hamilton: But “21 Again”. doesn’t have “a bridge”.
Emily Hulslander: No, it doesn’t.
Kat Hamilton: It doesn’t.
Emily Hulslander: Actually we don’t have a ton of bridges…
Blurred Culture: You’re discovering some new stuff about your own music!
Emily Hulslander: I honestly… swear to God…vI never even realized until just now, I was like, “Oh my God, we only have two bridges!”
Kat Hamilton: This particular form… I think it’s really fun. I think it’s working really well. And I’m excited for people to experience it just because I think the three songs we have out now are all in like an A-B-C situation where there’s a big bridge and love it. This is really fun. Because it’s not that we removed a bridge. It’s that we have third verses they kind of do this sort of like, older vibe of like… and the story continues! And I really liked that. I’m very excited about it.
Blurred Culture: You like that song Kat because it gives you guys more of a chance to tell more story.
Kat Hamilton: Yes, that’s not shocking.
Emily Hulslander: Yes. That’s not shocking.
Kat Hamilton: No, I really liked “21 Again.” There’s this feeling that it feels very “us” because it’s sort of concepts, but it’s also personal narrative. It’s almost like a wish fulfillment personal narrative.
Emily Hulslander: I do love that song. That’s definitely top three. It’s a special song.
Kat Hamilton: So, I’m excited for that one. It does feel like us. I mean, all of them feel like us, but it does feel like us in the sense that we’re sort of combining concepts but it’s also personal narrative. It’s both.
Emily Hulslander: I’m going to go ahead and say this is a no skip record. That’s a good time to you know, but like honestly… I was listening to it last night because Kat and I trying to finalize it, practicing and the flow. And this is a very important thing, and you want it to be a nice flow songs. And I’m like, “Man, I really do love all these songs. We’ve had them for a few years now and I’m still not tired of them.
Blurred Culture: Yeah, hopefully other people will, too.
Emily Hulslander: Spread the gospel, man, we got to get ears.
Kat Hamilton: It would be nice for people to hear. I mean, like, people aren’t making as many records these days. And, you know, they’re kind of opting for EPs instead. And I’m not an EP hater, I’m going to put one out this year, so, I’m not like sitting there going, like EPs are dumb.
Emily Hulslander: Yes, the same. I’m also putting one out.
Kat Hamilton: Yes, we both are putting out solo EPs this year. But I tend to go by the adage of like, if it feels like it needs to be a record. It’s a record. If it feels like it needs to be an EP, it’s an EP, you know? Go by what feels right. But Emily and I are both big fans of records where from start to finish, you feel like you want to listen to the whole thing. You don’t want to just listen to the singles. You want to go on the journey.
Blurred Culture: Those are the best albums.
Kat Hamilton: It’s a different world now-a-days. And I think that people are putting out less and less of those kinds of albums. Assuming that people will listen to the end.
Blurred Culture: What does Guyville have planned for the year?
Emily Hulslander: Well, the record will come out. We did just also shoot a 2nd music video that we got to get some eyes on for “Should Have Never Dated”, which was such a great video experience. It was so fun. We’re both really proud of the video. We’re going to do a big release show two weeks later. I’m going to spend most of my year just trying to get people to listen to it. I’m really proud of what we created, and I can feel like I can stand behind it and say, “Hey, everyone I know, needs to listen to this record, because it’s a great record.” Yes, so just trying to get the word out and play more shows and you know, all that stuff.
Kat Hamilton: I mean, I think we’re both on the same wavelength with that. We believe in the record. We want to be successful. We have other things going on in our other projects. Ideally, everything works together, in the sense that people who like Emily’s stuff, and people who like my stuff, will end up moseying over to Guyville and to our other projects. But we want to see people listen to the whole thing. Sit down and listen to the entire thing. And maybe that’s old school, but it is something that I think like, they’ll get up. I feel like we’re really working on a cold track-listing, right now. And if you listen to the whole thing, you’ll be really happy. And so the rest of the year, I’m going to be spending trying to make that happen. You know, I think we’re going to see what happens in terms of how the album gets received, and adjust plans from there. Looking at how the drop goes and going, “Well, maybe we should move in this direction,” in terms of, maybe we should go back out on tour. Or maybe we’re going to want to make some more music videos and let it steer where we go.
Blurred Culture: Yes, take it as it comes.
Kat Hamilton: Totally, you can’t really control anything, anyways. And have a rocking release show.
Emily Hulslander: Oh, yeah.
Guyville is planning on having their album release show on the date of the release, February 24, 2023 at Molly Malones in Los Angeles. Tickets are available at this link. Joining them on stage will be Preston Perry and Single Girl Married Girl. Grab your tix now!
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