This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen. But stories like these — stories where a girl writes a song one day and a year later gets a record deal — are why people dream.
This girl was Kaylee Cole. Her music — gauzy, diary-like piano ballads — gained fast attention, scads of infatuated super fans and automatic standing ovations in Spokane. Two years after playing her first shows here, Cole, 23, has a three-album publishing deal with Chrysalis Music (home of Bon Iver, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Billy Bragg). And since leaving Spokane behind last fall, she says she’s done a lot of soul searching. We got her on the phone last week before a show in Oakland, Calif., to talk about recording, life without a home and sleeping next to a hot water heater.
INLANDER: It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in with you — give us a refresher on what’s been going on with you in the last year.
COLE: A year ago I talked with Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio and said, ‘I think you’re really great and I love all the music you do, will you make a record with me?’ And then [Sitek’s label] Chrysalis got in touch with me a couple days later on Dave’s behalf and said, ‘We think it’s great, Dave thinks it’s great and you think it’s great. Let’s do it.’ And I said, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!’
I didn’t even know you had left Spokane until I saw your house on the market.
Yeah, I left my job and peaced the f--- out of town in September. And I’ve been wandering around ever since then. I came back for a week or two in November. Then I spent some time in Seattle, time in Portland, then Skagit Valley where I’m from. I’m heading back down [to Los Angeles] in the near future and will keep on keeping on until we finish whatever we’re doing.
You played to such a loyal audience here in Spokane — is the reception as positive elsewhere?
Definitely, definitely, definitely in Seattle. I’ve been spending a whole lot of time there selling silver jewelry at a kiosk in the mall and sleeping next to a hot water heater and a keg-erator in my friend’s garage. Other than loving Seattle weather-wise and comfort-wise, I feel like I’m a part of the music scene there, and it feels similar to how I feel in Spokane. Other cities? Not so much.
Between traveling around and touring, how do you feel like this lifestyle change is influencing you as an artist?
Oh, man. I don’t know. I’ve been kind of wandering around since September, which is a really long time to be jobless and transient. I couldn’t really say how it’s changed me as an artist or what it’s doing to me other than that I feel like I’m going crazy. Only time will tell. It’s a nomad, epic journey of some serious self-discovery. That’s what I’m doing and it suits me. This has been fun time USA — all I want to do is have fun.
Kaylee Cole plays with Shenandoah Davis at Whitworth’s HUB Mind and Hearth Coffee Shop on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8 pm. Free. Call 777-4551. Kaylee Cole plays with Shenandoah Davis and Wolfgang at Empyrean on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 7 pm. Tickets: $7. Call 838-9819.