On her latest record, this month’s “Next Thing,” Kline continues honing her craft, tackling themes like love, friendship and memory across 15 tracks of soft-spoken bedroom-pop.
A&E held a Q&A with Kline ahead of her 7th Street Entry show on Monday.
Your music puts an emphasis on lyrics — that’s a huge part of the listening experience. How do you think that translates live?
The live show is pretty true to the record, but I think it has some interesting changes, too. I’m excited for people who’ve heard the record to come and see it [live]. I try and make it so everyone can hear the lyrics during the show.
A lot of your songs are about age, youth and maturity. What do you write about that doesn’t make it on your albums?
I’ll write a lot of songs about the same thing and then pick one of them to put on the record. So I’ll have a year of various iterations of a concept that I’m trying to work out how to express it. I’ll throw away stuff that I really like but I don’t think I need because there’s another song that I think expresses it better. The throwaway songs are [about] stuff I’ve already dealt with, conceptually.
Does it take more for you to revisit a concept that you’ve already explored?
It’s different every time. Right now, I feel my writing is really different than it’s ever been. With this record, a lot of the concepts repeat themselves. We were re-doing songs from the past and also writing about those same concepts in the future. There are concepts that are repeated but with different emotions attached to them. I think it’s interesting to grow through all the emotions on this record, especially when we play the whole thing live — lots of emotional changes throughout the record.
What are the strongest emotions on the record, for you?
It’s hard to explain. I want people to figure it out for themselves [laughs].
On the song, “Outside With The Cuties,” one part that stands out is when you break the fourth wall and sing, “I haven’t written this part yet / will you help me write it.” How do you feel about that line?
I love that line. I wrote it at a time when I knew that my boyfriend and I were not going to be in each other’s bands anymore, but our bands didn’t know it yet. I wanted to capture the feeling that I felt during the band then, the great feeling of bringing a song to my band and asking them to help me with it. It’s a special line for me — I wrote it as a reminder to myself of what that felt like. It brings me back to that. But I don’t know what it does for other people.
Rather than being a call to someone in the present, it’s a reference to how you used to create?
Although, I can see how it could be interpreted as a call to the audience. I think that’s a beautiful idea, too, though that wasn’t the original intent.
In a recent Pitchfork article, you reference Arthur Russell as an influence. Who else inspires you to write songs?
So many people. I always forget to mention two of my biggest influences. Michael Hurley is a huge part of why I write music. He’s a folk musician from the West Coast.
He’s, like, 75 years old. He’s been making albums for a long time, and he still tours. He’s just a really crazy, creative guy. Connie Converse is another big one. I’ve been listening to her a lot again, and I realized that I never really publicly thanked her for her influence.
Joanna Newsom is one of my favorite current musicians. I feel like we would get along; she doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and I think that’s really important. The way she writes music is so unique, and I really look up to her attitude about making stuff.
Turning that idea around, what’s something about your songwriting that’s unique?
I’m of the opinion that every single person’s thing that they make is unique because you’re the only person that can make it. That’s what keeps me going if I ever feel crappy about what I’m doing — I’m the only person that can make it because I’m me. That’s a good thing to think about. I feel it’s special because it’s coming from me. That sounds really self-centered, but …
That’s apt, considering how much of your personal experiences you channel into your songs. On the new album, the lyrics on the song, “O Dreaded C Town,” I love the last line, “I don’t know or care to know / I don’t care or know to care.” How did you come up with that?
I wish I could remember exactly what it was like. That one’s a really important one to me because it’s a perfect example of a song that took me years to write. It’s about a person and a time that I’ve been trying write about for a long time. Personally, I’ve always fallen short of expressing how I felt. That song is looking back from many years later, being able to write about that perspective. I’m really happy that one’s finally on a record.
Did it feel like a healing process to write it?
Totally. I didn’t write it during the difficult time — I wrote it much later. For me, it’s about forgiveness and deciding to stop caring about this thing that you’ve been holding onto for so long. It was a healing process, for me.
I pick up on the apathy, but I don’t hear the forgiveness as much.
I’ve been spending many years trying to see things from other people’s perspectives, and I write a lot about that. I think that song’s meeting my own feelings about my experience but from the future. It’s not so much forgiveness but closure. Letting things go that I thought would never get closure.
Do you ever reflect on your past work?
Totally, we’re actually taking a lot of songs that I wrote a couple years ago and re-working them with the band for a future album. I like pumping new meaning into really old writing of mine.
How does it feel to look back on older songs?
There’s obviously this joke embarrassment about all of it being out there, but I think it’s important. I like being able to look back and have this whole archive of me learning how to write and how to be a person and going through being a teenager.
The way that someone else looks back through old diaries and remembers what they were going through, I have a diary that shows how I changed as a writer. I like listening to my old stuff — it inspires me to get into my teenage brain and think about how I felt then and how I wrote then.
Where 7th Street Entry, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis
When 7:30 p.m. Monday