Katie Ruvane Premieres Gorgeous Alt-Folk EP 'Part II': Exclusive

Ryan Grace
Katie Ruvane

A couple weeks back, Billboard premiered the first three tracks of a new project from Katie Ruvane, a recent Belmont grad with a stunning voice and a knack for poignant alt-folk balladry. Today (Oct. 18), Ruvane returns with the next batch of songs from her forthcoming debut album, The Lines. More delicate and minimal than the first round, Part II showcases the New Jersey native's ear for picturesque arrangements and heartfelt narratives. 

"I wrote these songs within the same year, 2016," Ruvane tells Billboard. "It was a rough year for me. I lost my grandfather that January, and as a result began battling some pretty intense bouts of anxiety. Many people I loved were struggling, too -- with their finances, their relationships, their mental health, you name it. I was questioning the validity and value of everything."

This trio of new songs that came out of that period feature the guitar work of Jordan Hamilton (a friend of Ruvane's co-producer Zach Hughes) and the first two, his vocal harmonies. "He has some sort of emo-synesthesia," she says. "If you explain how you were feeling when you wrote the song, he can echo it back to you on guitar pretty quickly. As a writer, that really resonated with me."

Check out the new songs from Part II, premiering exclusively below, ahead of their Oct. 19 release date. We also chatted with Ruvane about her astute influences (including Phoebe Bridgers, Carole King, and Julien Baker), the meaning of the music, and her plans for the future. 

On these songs, which artists, songs, and techniques were particularly inspiring to you?

For Part II, I was inspired and encouraged by the music of a host of different people, including Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Bruno Major, and Carole King. Zach and I had a shared vision, and for this portion of the album it was really important for us to leave the bones of the songs uncovered. No fluff. 

I look up to Carole King as the queen of musical intimacy -- it’s almost impossible to think about her songs because you’re too busy feeling her songs. I tried to make that the north star of this EP, and the whole album really: I want people to feel it. Julien Baker makes that kind of music, the kind you can only listen to when you dare to let yourself feel everything. She sings with nothing but heart. I definitely tried to channel that when we laid down the vocals, especially for “Strong Hands.” 

When it came to instrumentation and production, Zach and I talked a lot about the beautiful arrangements in Bruno Major’s record, A Song For Every Moon. He put so much thought into every note and every rest. I feel the same way about everything Phoebe Bridgers releases -- every element is exactly what the song needed, no more and no less. I think the most inspiring artists are the ones who know when to sing the song and when to let the song sing. My goal was to be just as mindful and vulnerable with Part II.

The mood and general theme of these songs appears to be melancholy; what sort of mindset birthed them? 

I wrote these songs within the same year, 2016. It was a rough year for me. I lost my grandfather that January, and as a result began battling some pretty intense bouts of anxiety. Many people I loved were struggling, too -- with their finances, their relationships, their mental health, you name it. I was questioning the validity and value of everything. It’s still hard to think about. Because life just keeps moving, and we all have to keep going, so sometimes I feel weak just acknowledging it. But everybody goes through periods of uncertainty, when they feel like they’re walking through hell -- and that’s just how it felt. 

Writing about it helped me process some of the darker things I was feeling. Things I didn’t know how to talk about, things I thought I should’ve gotten over already. And now, nearly three years later, I remember 2016 as the year I made some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, the year my family became stronger than ever, the year I landed dream internships, and learned how to trust my voice for the first time. If I had never taken the time to write these songs and acknowledge how low I was feeling, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to appreciate all the good things that came out of that year. 

What’s coming up for you?

Part II releases everywhere at midnight tonight (Oct. 19) and Part III, the final installment of The Lines album, will be coming out at the beginning of November. I’m excited to announce that my official release show will be held on Friday, Dec. 7 at Relik Vintage in East Nashville. The bill is incredible and I can’t wait to share the stage with some of my dear friends! I’ve never put so much heart into anything in my entire life, and I cannot wait to debut this album with my Nashville family. 

And of course, I could never forget where I came from -- I will also be having a really intimate East Coast release show for my hometown folks, on Dec. 29 at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Live shows are what I live for, so get ready for a big group hug. I can’t wait.

The Lines is available for pre-order here.