Kate Bollinger is in a constant state of motion.
Her most recent single “Running” embodies this enthralling dynamism. “Wait, I’m always running/ I can’t keep up it seems/ Even in my dreams,” Bollinger croons during the chorus, her honeyed vocals flowing over the strum of a gently arpeggiating guitar. Recorded with producer Sam Evian in the middle of the woods in upstate New York, the reposeful track sees the singer-songwriter acknowledge acute apprehensions with soothing self-assurance.
“It must have been two years ago now since I wrote that song. It was a big time of transition in my life, in multiple ways,” Bollinger said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “It’s definitely my favorite song that I’ve made.”
It’s easy to understand the artist’s emphatic appreciation for “Running,” which radiates her characteristic warmth — a unique brand of folksy, jazz-infused instrumentalism. Nevertheless, running is more than merely a vigorous activity that Bollinger partakes in while confronting change and traversing dreamy, lyrical landscapes.
“On the last tour, I started running,” Bollinger laughed, realizing the similarity between her preferred pastime and the title of her latest single. Hitting the road for extended periods of the year, the artist finds herself constantly surrounded by others, yet physical exercise keeps her grounded in a state of tranquil solitude. “It’s important to go do things by myself.”
As Bollinger continues her upward ascent, garnering nearly 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, finding these private, independent outlets becomes all the more important. Earlier this year, she opened for Faye Webster’s spring tour. More recently, Bollinger has embarked on her first headlining tour.
“I love opening for other artists. It’s really fun and exciting,” Bollinger said. “But it was just a different experience playing for people that came to see my band play.”
The observation exemplified Bollinger’s introspective sincerity, a quality that no doubt draws fans near and far to her sold-out shows. In Montreal, one dedicated devotee even traveled all the way from Japan to watch her performance.
“We took a bunch of pictures together, and I signed some things,” Bollinger said, her remembrance exuding equal parts exhilaration and shock. “It just kind of blew my mind that she came from Japan.”
After listening to Bollinger, however, it’s no surprise that someone would journey across seas to witness her live. The singer-songwriter unravels intricate memories and nuanced emotions with striking finesse and clarity, her lyricism unfurling with the revitalizing candor of spoken word poetry. Bollinger’s languid vocals meander over ambling acoustic melodies and airbrushed drum snares, further mesmerizing with atmospheric intimacy.
Sometimes, this intimacy comes effortlessly, as was the case with “I Found Out,” the first track on Bollinger’s most recent EP Look at it in the Light.
“It was pretty much done from the day that it was written,” Bollinger remarked.
Composed outside of a barn-turned-studio on a farm, “I Found Out” interweaves certainty and doubt with a self-reflective exploration of spirituality. Save for a few instrumental finishing touches, the track came together almost instantaneously, but this is a relatively rare process for Bollinger. Elaborating on her struggles, she even admitted to her recent fear of creating emotionally revealing music.
“I don’t want to be too exposed, but at the same time, most of the music that I like is really personal, and that’s the kind of music I want to make and release,” she said, articulating the difficulty of walking the fine line between vulnerability and overexposure.
Fortunately, Bollinger has a few tools in her back pocket to help her resolve this complex dilemma — namely, her upbringing. With a songwriting mother and multi-instrumentalist brothers, Bollinger grew up in a musically-inclined environment, to say the least. When navigating the turbulent waters of intimate lyricism, she naturally returns to her roots. In particular, Bollinger continues to heed the advice of her mother, who also happens to be a music therapist.
“She always told me to write bad songs,” Bollinger said. “Like, you have to write a bunch of really embarrassing personal songs that you’re never going to show anymore to get the ones out that you’ll love and end up wanting to share with people.”
Indeed, Bollinger has much to offer, her tender sensibilities capturing visceral moments of emotional release while also leaving much to the imagination. Though she crafts a compelling self-portrait, her ability to resonate with all listeners proves her uniquely transcendent magnetism.
Now, with three EPs under her belt, Bollinger looks to the horizon. “I want to make a really dynamic album that’s sort of genre fluid, and has a lot of different sounds on it,” Bollinger said, her enthusiasm palpable even over the phone.
To be sure, Bollinger finds herself running nonstop in her newest single. Yet when it comes to embracing the future, both artistically and beyond, she sets her own pace with aplomb.