“An Evening” With Katy Goodman
By Tamara Vallejos
La Sera’s as legit as it gets
Katy Goodman’s solo project, La Sera, was something of an accident. The redheaded bassist for Brooklyn-based trio Vivian Girls hadn’t ever spent much time writing her own tunes—front-woman Cassie Ramone pens the songs for the Girls—but when the band’s touring schedule started to slow down, Goodman found herself with some time on her hands.
“I was at home doing nothing between tours,” she explains, “so I thought, ‘Oh, I should try to write my own songs.’ And I didn’t realize that those songs would become a band. I was just writing to write.”
Hunkered away at her parents’ home in New Jersey, Goodman spent two weeks in February 2010 immersed in the process. It was a productive burst that yielded an impressive song a day. After passing her tracks along to friend, filmmaker and producer Brady Hall, who heartily approved and lent expertise, the solo ball started rolling.
Later that year, while in Italy as part of a summer European tour with Vivian Girls, Goodman and her friends began brainstorming possible names for her new endeavor, and “La Sera”—Italian for “the evening” was suggested.
“I was like, you know what, that’s perfect!” Goodman says. “I like the fact that it’s in a different language because if your name is in English, people judge your band’s music based on your name. Having a name in a different language kind of helps with that, so people don’t judge so quickly.”
Maybe there’s something to Goodman’s theory, but it probably helps that La Sera’s output has been legit. There’s little iffy judgment to pass along.
Vivian Girls has got a ’60s girl group vibe going for it, with a punk and garage rock edge thrown in for spice. When Goodman dropped debut album La Sera in 2011, those Shangri-Las-like influences remained, but gone was the Girls’ more cacophonous confidence. Vulnerability shows through Goodman’s first batch of angelically-sung songs, thanks to themes like love and death, and to her newness to writing and front-woman duties.
“I was definitely hiding a lot more behind reverb and doubled vocals on the first album. When I go back and listen to it, I can see that I was hiding.”
Things have evolved on Sees the Light, Goodman’s newest effort as La Sera. The sophomore album dropped earlier this year and its accompanying promotion brings La Sera to the Glass House on Saturday as part of Viva Pomona!
“The second album is more upfront lyrically,” Goodman describes. “And I feel like there’s more of a commitment toward the song structure. I was way better at editing myself on Sees the Light.”
It probably helped that she gave herself more time for the follow-up. Whereas La Sera was written in a fortnight, Sees the Light is a collection of songs written over a year and a half. The growing confidence is evident musically, as well as lyrically, with bolder guitars, drums and fuzz—and while you could call it a breakup record, Sees the Light is largely from the point of view of the person doing the breaking. (“I know that you’ve been in pain/And I see that I’m to blame,” she croons on “It’s Over Now.”)
The self-assuredness is also creeping into her frontwoman status, which Goodman says was initially intimidating.
“The responsibility of the band in La Sera is all on me, so that’s a little harder [than with Vivian Girls]. I’m so used to being the bass player, being more the backup or side person.”
Lucky for us all, then, that Goodman’s stepped into the spotlight.
La Sera at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat, July 14. 5pm. $12-$14.