Black Belt Eagle Scout on "Mother of My Children" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, December 8th, 2019  

Black Belt Eagle Scout on “Mother of My Children”

Roots Rock

Apr 01, 2019 Photography by Jason Quigley Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
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Black Belt Eagle Scout, aka Katherine Paul, released one of the most arresting singles of 2018. But "Soft Stud" was a red herring. By which I don't mean a fluke of quality, rather that it's just one facet of her deeply rich debut album, Mother of My Children. Nevertheless, the grungy defiance of that single was a striking introduction to Paul's world, one she experiences as an indigenous, queer, feminist woman.

Paul returned to her roots to record her graceful and emotionally frank debut record, both literally and spiritually. She was drawn to Anacortes Unknown Recording Studio in Washington State as she was a fan of albums made there, that and it just happened to be 15 minutes from her parents' house. "It was just one week, so I was like, 'I'm just gonna take this as a vacation,'" Paul says. "So I just drove all of my gear up and stayed with my folks, and recorded this album."

If Paul's description of her homeward-bound retreat to make her debut record sounds cozy and casual, the outcome is anything but. "Soft Stud" is described by Paul as a queer anthem, one that mirrors the frustration of wanting what you can't have, and those feelings are played out with steely-eyed intensity. "Having [had] that frustration build up so much at the end of the song I wanted to go into this guitar solo to be like 'fuck it,' you know?" she explains of the track's blistering crescendo.

Although the Native American music of Paul's childhood remains a pervasive influence, the grungy fuzz tone of the guitars hints at an additional entry point. "I was really into the riot grrrl scene and grunge music. I learned how to play guitar on 'Doll Parts' by Hole," she says. Yet the emotional honesty that runs through the album appears to have its roots in her decision to return home to record it. As she explains, "It's so beautiful up there, and I feel most comfortable where I'm from. That's where my land is, that's where my ancestors are from, so it just felt right to do it there."

It's notable that Paul plays all of the instruments on Mother of My Children, pointing to her tenacity as well as ownership of her experience and creativity. "It's so personal. That's why I do all of it myself," she explains. "I also feel that I do all of it myself because I can, I have the ability."

The album was made in the wake of a grueling period in her life, which included the breakdown of a long-term relationship and the death of a friend and mentor. The comfort of her surroundings ostensibly allowed her room to vent all of her grief and frustrations most fully. "One of the ways that I heal is through playing music and playing guitar, through singing, just trying to be creative and getting feelings out," Paul says.

Happily, the tumultuous period of her life two years ago has abated, and she cheerfully reports, "I'm in a great place in my life and I feel very grateful that people will get to hear the album."

[Note: This article originally appeared as a bonus article in the digital version (for tablets and smart phones) of Under the Radar's Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.blackbelteaglescout.com

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