Seattle poet and songwriter K. Van Petten released their debut cassette tape of hybrid music and poetry last week ‘For Someone’ via Hello America Stereo Cassette.
Van Petten created ‘For Someone’ in Port Townsend where they sampled sounds, wrote music, and recorded spoken poetry in residence with Centrum at Fort Worden. Since 1980, the Centrum Artists-In-Residence program has welcomed hundreds of artists and creative thinkers to immerse themselves in the historic charm and natural beauty of Fort Worden, which inspired Van Petten’s project.
“This record was heavily influenced by rituals set to the acoustic qualities of the Pacific Northwest, on the traditional territory of the S’Klallam and Chemakum people,” said Van Petten. “I wanted to bring the feeling of a place, and the in-between of where we listen and where we go, to the listener.”
Alongside sweeping views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, miles of wandering beach and forest trails, and a peppering of World War I–era batteries and bunkers, Van Petten captured the feeling of the PNW with the sound of water, waves, birds, boats, trees, and more. Many sounds recorded in an offset of the 2 million-gallon concrete cistern, deemed the Cistern Chapel by Dan Harpole, with its iconic 45-second reverb time.
“I brought my mic with me everywhere I went– on hikes, swims, ferry rides, bus rides– everywhere. I even recorded the sounds of a local saltwater bath house. I found myself interacting with what is sonically possible. How would this leaf sound in water? How does this grass sound different from morning to night?”
Adam Gnade, founder of Hello America Stereo Cassette and author of the viral book ‘After Tonight Everything Will Be Different’ hand selected this release from countless submissions. Gnade defines this emerging genre of music as “talking-songs” in a subset of “audio literary arts”.
“The music- gentle and light as air, a tapestry of earthy sound. The words are illuminating like sunshine after a long night. There is a benevolence to these 11 pieces of writing that will stick with you long after listening. For Someone is in fact for someone for you, for me, for anyone who needs it, and I feel certain a very large number of people need this encouraging, sweet, magical creature of a debut album.” -Adam Gnade
For years, Van Petten has made poetry and music separately, and the thought to combine the two never hit them until walking by a sign outside of Everyday Music is Capitol Hill that said ‘first spoken poetry record since the beats’, and they were talking about Ross Gay’s collaboration with Bon Iver. From there they found Hello America Stereo Cassette,the record label for writers releasing cassettes of poetry. They took what they learned from taking classes with local poets like Bill Carty and CAConrad, and the rest is history.
The cassette tape will be available for purchase alongside cassette players on Hello American Stereo Cassette’s website, and in Seattle at Light in the Attic Records inside of The Gathering Space at KEXP, alongside Caffe Vita.
About K. Van Petten
Van Petten (they/them) is a queer and non-binary poet and songwriter based in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. You can find their music under ‘Baddy Gold’ and their poems in zines floating around Seattle coffee shops. They are the founder of Pandemic Poets, a movement of poets writing donation-based poems benefiting COVID relief funds and Not A Press, a small press dedicated to publishing work from underrepresented poets in the PNW. They currently work for local coffee roaster Caffe Vita, and poetry magazine Poetry Northwest.
Baddy Gold is the songwriting project of K. Van Petten. Their debut record ‘Quiet World’ was released independently, followed by an EP of demos from Quiet World called ’EVERYONE HERE IS SOMEWHERE ELSE’, raising funds for Covid Relief and Black Lives Matter. They are currently working on their band’s debut album, set to release in 2023 with Dance Cry Dance.