I met Kait Berreckman at the Reverb Lounge in Benson to talk about songwriting, the Omaha music scene, and weddings. Weddings, because she is getting married next month and I love talking about weddings. Her mom isn't thrilled that her reception is taking place at O'leaver's. (But she hasn't seen the back patio yet! It's going to be lovely, Mom!)
Berreckman is from a musical family, and says it came pretty naturally to her. She asked for a guitar when she was 13, and there it was Christmas morning. Inspired by the many female songwriters of the 90s and early 2000s, she says she never felt out of place writing and preforming music. My favorite story she shared was one of the first times she got on stage, at 17, in her hometown of Cozad, Nebraska. To her horror she noticed two of the most popular boys in school sitting in the audience... she was really hoping to fly this one under the radar. They left before she finished, and she later found out that they had come specifically to make fun of her! But after hearing a few songs, they realized they didn't have any material- she was good. Berreckman still recalls this memory when she needs a confidence boost.
Kait Berreckman is the sole musician in our CSArt Omaha 2016 group. She is collaborating with photographer Alicia Armentrout on a project to go in the CSArt crates. Berreckman says the ability to "sing loudly and emote" is what makes music her preferred form of expression. And there is a special kind of magic in writing a song, when the pieces start to fit together to create something that wasn't there before.
Can you tell me about your song-writing process?
It involves a lot of mulling around and dog-walking. I kind of take the ideas as they come and write them down or record them on my phone and then when I'm practicing or messing around I try to see what those ideas have to offer - what they might look like more fully formed. Often the songs I end up loving and adding to my set are the ones that happen the quickest. Usually that just means the original idea had a good frame. I'll finish a draft of the song, record it, and walk away. At some point, I'll come back to it and polish it up - the last step is playing it to someone I trust or at an open mic. I can tell if something is wrong if I can't remember a part or if I hesitate to enunciate the lyrics. Then I go from there!
Your project for CSArt revolves around your relationship with Planned Parenthood, and specifically watching footage of the congressional hearing with president Cecile Richards. Can you talk a little about this?
I was pretty frustrated watching clips of the hearing. It seemed like many of the congressmen interrogating Ms. Richards had already made up their minds about Planned Parenthood and were allowing their personal biases about the organization and its work to severely affect their behavior towards her. I went to Planned Parenthood for all my healthcare needs from college until last year. I am a fierce supporter and I can't believe we are still listening to a bunch of white men tell women what to do with their bodies. So much of what these congressmen so naively believed about PP from those now proven fraudulent videos was due to a lack of education and a lack of empathy for women who can't afford conventional healthcare. They simply are not listening. So, the nice thing about songwriting is that you can often talk about one thing while making it sound like you're talking about something completely different, so I had fun doing a little of that and I had a beautiful opportunity to address my own feelings about my reproductive choices and their potential impact. Those two things fit so well together, I was excited to find a way to present them side by side.
How do you feel about the Omaha music scene?
I love Omaha's music scene because you can do whatever you want. You can invent and reinvent yourself, you can get the help you need at a price that isn't crazy, you can start conversations, you can take risks - why? Because people give a shit here. That's rare.
My new album is getting pressed to vinyl and will be out in August (fingers crossed). I'm super proud of it, just like I was with the last one, but this time I'm doing it right! Gonna get out on the road and make sure people hear it.
Next week we get to know local ceramicist Peter Scherr, and get a tour of his well-worn, high-functioning backyard studio!