Katie Crutchfield on the Songwriting Superpowers of Fiona Apple
For this year’s annual Women Shaping the Future issue, we asked 12 of today’s top musical acts to talk about the women who have inspired them most in their lives and careers. Here, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield talks about her lifelong admiration for Fiona Apple’s music, and how she helped inspire Waxahatchee’s most recent album.
I grew up taking dance classes, and I had this cool dance teacher who would play good music, and music that I wasn’t superfamiliar with. So the first time I heard Fiona was right around When the Pawn . . . came out. We did a dance to the song “Paper Bag,” and I remember immediately being like, “I’ve never heard anything like this.” Even as a kid, I just immediately clocked it. I was like, “This person, Fiona Apple, is really interesting.” This is before I was a songwriter at all, before I had much of my own taste. That was the beginning of my fandom, and it’s gone all the way through her career.
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What I think is so cool about her is, there’s this trope or this stereotype of women’s emotions — the idea of the hysterical woman — and that has been weaponized against women forever, from the beginning of time. What’s so special about Fiona Apple is that she takes that idea and she turns it into this superpower. She’s so smart and so poetic, and she takes this thing that had been used as a negative against women and just flips it completely on its head and makes it powerful and very relatable. I hear her make these really profound statements in her songs, and I have this vision of millions of women across the world hearing that and feeling so empowered.
It was so cool and triumphant to watch her have such an amazing year in 2020, and be so recognized as the greatest of all time when she made Fetch the Bolt Cutters. I enjoy that, as a fan of hers — watching her not be overlooked, watching people put her on the pedestal that I think she deserves to be on. She has a long-standing career where she’s chipped away and chipped away and gotten closer and closer and closer to whatever her truth is. I think her next record will probably be her best record yet, and that’ll keep happening. So that’s super-inspiring to me. That’s the kind of career I want to have.
I appreciate what she does as a songwriter even more now that I do the same thing. I appreciate how good she is at it. Especially on my last album, I was really, really paying attention to her lyrics. She is such a poet, such an incredible, detail-oriented writer in a way that is singular. When I was in the studio, I had a picture of her on the board — Fiona, SZA, and Lucinda Williams were my three patron saints for that album. And then when I heard she had a new record coming in 2020, I was like, “Thank God.” I think that her history is still being written. I really look up to that.
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