Interview with Kate Wakefield (Lung)

Photo: Nick Kizirnis

Lung came highly recommended to me by several of my trusted musician friends- the description alone of a cello-drums duo that played raw, visceral rock and roll with a punk energy- piqued my interest enough to check out their first album, and I was hooked from the first few measures. Singer and cellist Kate Wakefield takes advantage of the wide sonic range of the cello to write dark, captivating songs, set to Daisy Caplan’s steady, solid drumming. After several extensive tours nationwide, and a critically acclaimed new release All The King’s Horses, Lung has been gaining momentum and generating a lot of buzz. Kate graciously offered us a moment to talk about the history of Lung, the development of Lung’s new album, and what’s in store for fans of Lung’s music.

Tell me a little bit about your  musical history. How did you meet Daisy?

A few years ago I was gifted a loop pedal for an early holiday present and have been writing music on my cello ever since. I used to do opera but had a health problem that prevented me from doing it for a while, and when I was better I decided playing music in bars and writing experimental rock music was way more fun that what I had been doing. Daisy and I met a few years ago in the Cincinnati music scene. We collaborated a bit when I played back up cello for his project (with Rachelle Caplan and JJ Black) called Babe Rage. I started writing heavier material shortly after that and we started writing tons of songs together.


Did you have a template for the kind of act you wanted to be (another duo with similar instrumentation), or did you feel like you were you treading new territory? 

Definitely didn’t have a template but that is not to say that there aren’t brilliant cello acts and duos that have done similar projects. I just started writing heavy material and thought it would be fun to play with drums. Obviously I find artists who use cello to be inspiring and cool- such as Rasputina and Gretta from Cursive, but that wasn’t really why we chose to do things how we do things. Cello is just the instrument I play. If I played guitar or piano, I’d be writing with those instruments- but this is the one I got.

Who are some of the artists that most inspire you?

Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega, Sam Phillips, Patti Smith, Dresden Dolls, Gillian Welch.

Tell us about your new record, All The King’s Horses. How does it differ from the previous album?

All the King’s Horses is an album we wrote during the first year we were on the road. It represents where we were mentally and also physically. We got to see a lot of cool small and large towns across the country, and we got to experience the bizarre and horrifying shifts caused by the Trump administration, but all throughout the nation.


Describe the songwriting process in Lung. 

We have lots of different ways of doing things. Oftentimes Daisy will start with a drum beat that will inspire me to write a riff or a vocal melody. Sometimes we jam on a song idea for an afternoon, and the subject matter will just kind of happen as we are working on things. Other times I’ll come in with a pretty complete song and Daisy will help shape it and edit the structures in cool ways. We are very honest with each other and are good at bouncing ideas back and forth, so it’s a lot of fun.

The lyrics on this album are very evocative, relevant, and seem very raw and personal. Can you tell us about the lyric writing process?

Usually I’ll either write it all in one sitting- mid jam- or shortly afterwards. They are all personal. I just kind of let whatever comes out to come out, even if it seems over-done, cheesy, or overly emotional.

Photo: Travis Bradner

Tell us about the music scene in Cincinnati. 

There is so much great music coming out of Cincinnati right now. There are also about a million places that do live music, so you can pretty much see great free live shows every night of the week. Some of my favorites at the moment are Us, Today, Marjorie Lee and the Lovers, and Brianna Kelly’s solo work- but there is so much.

Lung recently embarked on a massive 2 month tour, and will tour until the end of September. What do you look forward to most about touring? What are some of the challenges, and how do you deal with them?

I love being on tour. I think my favorite thing about touring is the routine I get into. I just live a little more fully and more “myself” when I’m not at home. It’s great to be in a new spot every day, and it’s great to get to live in a minimalist and cheap way. We go to lots of parks and explore lots of places, and there is a lot of time to read when we aren’t driving or playing shows.


What can we expect in the near future from Lung?

We are going to be on the road for a lot of the rest of the year. Tour dates will be announced soon! Also, we’ll hopefully be recording another album in January or February.


Do you have any interesting non-musical talents you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Daisy makes buttons faster than anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t know if it’s a “talent” but I really dig making spicy sauerkraut.

If you had to take care of either a miniature version of a large animal, or a larger version of a miniature animal, what animal would you choose?

A miniature deer!! Definitely.

Check out Lung’s latest album, All the King’s Horses, here. And make sure to see them live- check out their tour dates here. 


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