Photo: Irida Mete

Katelyn Tarver

Katelyn Tarver is not afraid to get vulnerable with her recent single “Friend Like You.”  The singer-songwriter is also gearing up to release her new album Quitter dropping on February 9,  2024. On it, she shares her account of navigating her 30s and gets personal about her struggles with self-worth, which hey a lot of us deal with on a daily basis.

Tarver sat down with EUPHORIA. to discuss her new single “Friend Like You” and the upcoming album.

First of all congrats on the release of “Friend Like You.” Tell me a little bit about the creation process. What influenced the track? It’s so relatable!

Thank you! Mainly, I really wanted an excuse to not have to buy my friends any more birthday gifts for the next few years. Like, “I wrote a song about you. What else do you want?!” Also, the older I get the more thankful I am for true friendship, and I wanted to express that in a song. Two birds!

Is there a line in “Friend Like You” that you feel is most vulnerable?

Hmm, I guess the chorus lyric: “I just needed a friend like you.” It’s very sincere and earnest and just being like hey, I’m thankful for you and I need you in my life which is inherently pretty vulnerable.

Your album Quitter comes out in February, so what stories are you sharing on it?

It’s my retirement album! It’s time to hang up my hat and quit music, so I wanted the title to reflect that. KIDDING! It’s a lot of songs about life and meaning and value and self-worth and asking a lot of big questions. Very much a snapshot of a time in my life when I was trying to make sense of things, and I just funneled it all into the music.

Can you provide some insight into your creative process when writing your own music? Do you have any rituals or inspirations that fuel your songwriting?

Nothing super concrete other than just trying to be really good about writing everything down. Maybe it’s a lyric, maybe it’s a word, maybe it’s just a concept, maybe it’s a fully formed chorus, I don’t know. Can be inspired by a movie I watched or something I read or a conversation with a friend… but I’ve realized over the years that’s where most of my songs start, so I don’t brush anything off as nothing because I never know what’s going to bloom into an idea

What songs mean the most to you on this album? Why?

They all mean a lot to me in different ways of course… There’s a song called “Japanese Cafe” that was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. I’m really excited about it because it’s talking about a younger version of me and a feeling I’ve been trying to get into a song for a while now. “Parallel Universe” is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I love how it explores so many different sides of the coin, and I just know it’s a song I’ll love forever. I’ll have to stop there or I’ll just keep listing the songs on the album and explaining why this one’s ACTUALLY my favorite.

Were there any challenges creating the album and/or current single?

Some of these songs deal with heavier themes, so it wasn’t always a fun headspace to be diving into. It felt necessary and empowering and scary and all the things you are supposed to feel while trying to make something good and meaningful… but yeah it felt challenging! Ultimately it’s a collection of music I’m super proud of. And hopefully, people can find some comfort and solidarity in the lyrics if they’re feeling alone. If not? It was all for nothing. I’m kidding… kind of.

Do you ever feel vulnerable putting very personal tracks out?

Extremely! But that’s the gig, so I try my best to lean in and embrace it. And the times that I can’t, I’m like, “Why why why couldn’t you have done anything different with your life?!” Balance, right?

What drives you to keep creating music?

I love that a song can change your life.  I love that something scary or painful feels less scary and painful when I sing about it. I love getting to play live. And there’s a part of me that feels like if you’ve been given any sort of musical gift, it’s tragic not to use it in some way!

You recently wrapped up your first North American headline tour! How was that for you? Any memorable moments?

I loved every second of it, to be honest. It was truly a dream realized, and I felt like I was luckily in a place to enjoy it and not take it for granted. So many memorable moments. We filmed most of it and posted a video a day on my YouTube. It’s a really fun watch if you want a look into what a tour like that is really like. And if you want to see me steaming all of my outfits and putting weird tinctures into my tea.

Believe it or not, 2023 is already coming to an end! How would you describe your year and what do you hope to accomplish next year? Any big goals?

The year just keeps going by! I think for me this year was… illuminating. A lot of diving deep into my head and my heart and myself and trying to figure out what and who is in there. I hope to keep making music next year, touring, and learning more and more about myself. Those are my big goals! Keep doing my thing, and being open to the things that find me along the way.