SXSW Music Interview: Black Belt Eagle Scout

Multi-instrumentalist pushes increased visibility for Native people in music scene

SXSW Music Interview: Black Belt Eagle Scout
Photo by Jason Quigley

Katherine Paul's debut as Black Belt Eagle Scout yields visceral songwriting, emotional intensity delivered through airy, lovely melodies. Portland-based multi-instrumentalist, she grew up in a Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington state and wrote Mother of My Children while working through heartbreak on every scale, such as dealing with the intimate loss and pain of watching the protests at Standing Rock. The stunning LP received wide release last year after Saddle Creek Records found it and cold-emailed Paul.

Paul's "queer anthem," fuzzy breakout "Soft Stud," glimpses her rocking side.

“I was raised on a tribal reservation by two very strong Native people, so identity is a huge part of our life,” says Katherine Paul.

"I love being loud with instruments. It's something I'm more comfortable with rather than being loud with my voice," says Paul, who plays every instrument on the album and will perform in a trio configuration at SXSW. "Having different outlets of expressing myself is fulfilling, so I can sing really quietly and then simultaneously a guitar solo comes up and it can be really loud. It's just easier to express myself when I have full control of everything happening in the song."

The singer pushes increased visibility for Native people, and recognizes indie rock as a still predominantly white space. Live, she takes a moment to introduce the quiet, intense "Indians Never Die," which calls out colonizers and demands respect for Earth.

"I was raised on a tribal reservation by two very strong Native people, so identity is a huge part of our life," says Paul. "Playing guitar, playing drums, playing all these instruments; the one thing I find comes out first is music about myself, and music about my feelings. Music about who I am.

"That's the whole point of me doing this."

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Local songwriter rises through the fire

Doug Freeman, March 29, 2019

Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the <i>Chronicle</i> in New Video
Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the Chronicle in New Video
“They had it everywhere. My momma was loving it.”

Kevin Curtin, March 26, 2019

More by Libby Webster
ACL Live Review: Nilüfer Yanya
Nilüfer Yanya
English singer-guitarist animates acclaimed Miss Universe

Oct. 7, 2019

ACL Live Review: Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish
Superstar teen proves she should’ve been a headliner

Oct. 6, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW Music 2019, Black Belt Eagle Scout

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle