Isolation Drills: Katie Miller (Kate Dressed Up)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Miller: The past six or so months have been a trip, to say the least. Before March, things were looking real good for me, both personally and professionally. I was supposed to marry the love of my life, Roger, on May 15. I had—and luckily still have—my favorite Kate Dressed Up lineup of musicians so far, with a month-long national tour on the books for this summer. My friend and business partner, Mickey, teamed up with me to book the whole thing. My first ever full-length album was just wrapping up. 

It was recorded at Flux Studios in Manhattan, produced by Ravi Bhavsar (a.k.a. Sphmre). We met through a sort of butterfly-effect situation a couple years ago and immediately clicked. This album is his baby as much as it is mine at this point. There is no deviation between my imagination and the result with this set of songs. Point being, I had two single releases scheduled for this spring/summer, release shows and all.

All this to say, a lot has changed for me. And it hasn’t.

Kate Dressed Up is still alive and well. We have some fun stuff in the pipeline, some with the band and some just lil ol’ me, Kate. Music is something I will never stop, so that has been a comfort. Although we haven’t had the chance to get married yet, my relationship with Roger has been pretty spectacular through all this madness. He really is the best. And, as far as day-to-day, I’m able to see my close friends and family sometimes. We’ve had a few band practices (that have been nothing short of magical). It’s a far cry from normal, but it’s manageable.

New things! I decided to go back to school. I’ve worked as a live sound engineer for the past few years and really fell in love with it more than I expected I would. This got me tangentially interested in electrical engineering, so I’ve taken the first small baby steps toward holding a degree in that field. It feels very risky and daunting, as I already have a BA in history and political science—and therefore, not in engineering of any kind. It’s been challenging, stressful, fun, boring at times. My favorite class so far has been “Circuits,” so that’s probably a good sign, right?

What does the future look like other than that for me? I’m not too sure, to be totally honest. And that’s OK.

We’ve postponed our wedding until next May (God willin’ and the creek don’t rise). The album is still being mixed. Ravi and I decided to slow it way down once it became clear there wouldn’t be shows for a good long while. I think slowing our pace will make the album that much shinier once it is finished. I’m personally interested to see how the new schooling fits in with Kate Dressed Up as circumstances continue to change, and vice versa.

I generally count myself very fortunate, and I feel very grateful for the life I have. My heart breaks for this country and for all the people who experience injustice in their lives. I’ve been doing my best to be a part of positive change—voting, calling representatives, donating, educating myself, volunteering, protesting when and where I can—and I would encourage anyone reading this to do the same even if it’s only a very small action. It’s hard to know exactly what anything will actually look like going forward, but I continue to hope for the best in spite of everything.

Actually, it’s hard not to feel hopeless. Every day is an exercise in treading water. So I strengthen myself physically and mentally to make it easier. But the practical, external difficulty level of the day-to-day has no correlation with my internal awareness of how abjectly bad things are generally, in a macro sense. Every day is a decision to not drown. It’s the right decision; it’s a simple decision, but simplicity and ease are different things.