La Sera is an enigma to the untrained eye. Started in 2010 by talented musician (and bassist for Vivian Girls) Katy Goodman, the band has transformed into a duo with the 2012 addition of her talented hubby Todd Wisenbaker. Their sound is very unique, with a little bit of country twang to it and, honestly, we can’t stop listening to their latest album Music For Listening To Music To.
When we caught up with La Sera, they were 15 minutes into their four day drive to the first destination on their tour. Katy explained that they were taking a straight shot to Nashville to hang out for a couple of days, and then their first show was going to be in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We chatted about the band’s background and sound, current events, everyone’s favorite things, and rest stops. Check it out!
MOSHERY: If you could introduce yourselves to our readers in any way how would you do so?
Katy: Like flying in on the back of a unicorn? No, we want to fly in on the back of cats playing guitars. Actually, make that fifty Pomeranians. We are on a sled, and they’re pulling us. The whole band is actually plugged in and playing on the sled. Wait, 5,000. No, 50,000! However many it takes.
M: Wow. That is the most creative answer I’ve gotten so far! OK, so where are you from and how do you think that has aided in shaping your lives?
Katy: I am originally from New York. I don’t know how that’s shaped me. Apparently I say “waiting on line” instead of “waiting in line.” Apparently only New Yorkers say that. That’s the one that Todd always catches me saying, and he always points out that it doesn’t make sense. I Googled it recently and found out that it’s because it’s only a New York thing. Todd is driving, so I’ll have to answer for him. He is from Ventura, California and he is a surf bro. That is how he was shaped. Brendan [McCusker, our drummer] is from D.C., and he says it didn’t shape him. He is who he would have been no matter where he would have been from. He’s an old soul. Brandon actually shaped his environment, not the other way around. He IS The Matrix. He sighs and the matrix reverberates out.
Your stage name is “La Sera”. What inspired that name choice?
Katy: I was on tour with Vivian Girls in Italy. We were at a bar venue and a waiter walked by with a tray that was covered in beautiful drinks that were bright pink and filled with fruit. I thought that was awesome, so I asked him what it was. He said, “La Rosa de la Sera” which means “The Rose of the Evening.” I thought it was a pretty name. That was the same time I was trying to name my band, so I shortened it to “La Sera.” I had also written the entire first record in the middle of the night, so it was appropriate. It was nighttime music. I would write from like, 10pm to 7am every day for two weeks. That’s how it came together.
Now I have a normal sleep schedule. We go to sleep around midnight and wake up around 9. It does not go well with tour. We are probably about to lose our wonderful sleep cycle pretty quickly. It took a long time to develop a good sleep cycle. And now it’s all ruined.
We’ll get it back.
M: “La Sera” was released in 2011, and was your debut album under the same moniker. What was that time like for you, Katy, as you were still acting bassist for Vivian Girls?
Katy: It was chill. La Sera only started because Vivian Girls started doing less. All of the sudden I had a lot more free time on my hands. Thought I might as well work on something. It was just so I could keep working on music. Once Vivian Girls stopped, I started doing La Sera full time. I am just as busy now as I always have been.
M: What is the story of how you and Todd met?
Katy: We met on tour in 2010. One of La Sera’s first shows ever was at CMJ in 2010 and we opened for Jenny and Johnny at Irving Plaza for the Ground Control Touring Showcase, which is my booking agent. Jenny and Johnny were also on Ground Control, so we opened for them for one of our first shows ever. Todd was the lead guitar player in Jenny and Johnny. We met at this cool show, but we didn’t start dating for another two years or so. We were friends.
About two months after that Irving Plaza show, we opened for them during a three week stint in The UK. We all became buddies. Todd joined La Sera in 2012.
M: I’m just smiling over here because that’s adorable.
Katy: AWWW. Todd’s smiling too.
M: Good! What was it like working with Ryan Adams as a producer on the record?
Katy: It was kind of a whirlwind. We spent a month preparing and arranging the songs by ourselves. Once we went into the studio it was pretty quick. Ryan was focused on making sure that the takes had the qualities that he was looking for. That’s what we focused on. We’d play the songs a couple times and he had very strong opinions. He was like, “That was it!” or “Do it again!” and that was his job. It was really fun! You bring in producers to help you do your best, and that’s what he did. It went really quickly and easily and it worked really well.
M: What musicians would you consider as inspiration for your sound?
Todd: Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Moore, and Chet Atkins.
Katy: I really like female country singers like Emmylou Harris. Country! The Smiths and country, and the intersection of the two.
M: You do a very good job of blending genres with your music. If you had to label your sound, what would you consider it?
Katy & Todd: Eighties indie rock with country twang. I don’t think we have a genre particularly. We have our own thing going on. Not modern. We’re going for a seventies/eighties vibe. We want our music to sound like it’s from then. The thing about Ryan Adams is that his studio is all analog. So it was like we were recording in the past, which was very cool.
M: You’ve traveled a lot in the past. What has been your favorite adventure so far?
Katy: We went to Japan last year. That’s easily the best thing that we do is go to Japan. I love Japan. We love Japan. We were very grateful to go last year, and I hope we get to do that again. It’s one of my favorite places on Earth. The fans that come out are amazing. Even getting a coffee in Japan is an amazing experience. Walking on the street is magic. We walked about 20 miles a day. Everything you do there is the best. It’s definitely worth going.
M: I saw on Instagram that you cut your hair short very recently. It looks really good! What inspired that decision?
Katy: Thank you! Honestly I don’t remember. Two or three weeks ago, all of the sudden, I just wanted to cut all of my hair off. I don’t know exactly what made me think that but once it was in my head, I went back and forth on the idea for two weeks. Then I was just like, “Let’s do this!” I have very thick hair and I saved all the ponytails we cut off and I’m going to donate them.
It’s actually the same haircut I had as a kid. When I look in the mirror, it reminds me of when I was ten.
M: You are going to play Middle of the Map Fest in Kansas City. What are you looking forward to about that?
Katy: I don’t think I’ve ever played in Kansas City. Vivian Girls played in Lawrence two or three times. If I’ve played in Kansas City with La Sera, it was a really long time ago. This is our first real U.S. tour in years. We have done east coast tours and west coast tours. The last time we did a full tour was in 2013, but I don’t think we were in Kansas City for that one. We will only be in town for the day that we’re playing, because we are in Chicago the next day.
M: I hate to bring it up, but I am. I saw you posted a clip from the Vivian Girls’ “Take It As It Comes” video re: Prince. What would you like to say about him?
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Katy: Todd says he is a guitar hero. Prince was his guitar here. I say he was one of the most talented human beings on the planet. He was a true visionary and it’s really, really sad. Everyone had that Prince poster on their wall. He was so sexy in that shower picture from that scene in Purple Rain. I had that on my wall at one point, that’s not weird. That’s why we put it in the video. But he’s left behind so many records! Luckily people will get to grow up with him forever. He will have an effect on all people’s lives forever, which is wonderful. He has been a figure in everyone’s lives.
The episode of New Girl that he is in is AMAZING. I remember when Todd and I watched it, we just thought, “Prince is remarkable. Everything he does is amazing.” I love that he loved that show. We also love that show. We watch it every week. You just feel like you know the characters because they’re so well developed.
M: Thank you for having something in common with me! That makes me feel awesome. So what is this I hear about you and Apartment Therapy?
Katy: I love Apartment Therapy and our apartment was just shot for it. We shot about two weeks ago, and they said it would be a few weeks. So it might go up while we are on tour. To me, it’s the coolest thing on the internet to be featured there. I’ve learned so much about design from Apartment Therapy. I couldn’t believe it when they reached out to us!
Photographer Jessica Isaac lives in Los Angeles and shoots apartments for it and she reached out to me on Instagram. I post photos in my apartment, and she said, “Your place looks cute. Let me come over.” I literally got out of bed and jumped. That’s how important Apartment Therapy is to me. That might be the most excited I’ve ever been and it had nothing to do with music. You can’t plan that. I’m so excited!
My number one tip is decluttering. I’m not great at it, but that is the secret. Everything just looks better in your apartment when there’s a little bit less. When we were about to do Apartment Therapy, I went around and took stuff out. I edited down because it makes everything that’s really cool stand out. That’s my advice to people trying to style their apartments.
I’m also a fan of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It’s good to read that book, declutter your entire place, and have a better grasp of what you own. When you know what you have and what’s in the back of your drawers, it’s like your whole life shifts. The reason people are going so ape shit over her book is because no one ever thought about going through your entire house or apartment and knowing everything that’s in it. She wants you to take inventory so you can think, “Well, I don’t need twenty… I need a few.” Marie Kondo would say you need one, but I like having more. There’s an art to it, and it’s also a skill. No one is born with a decluttering ability, but you can practice and get better at it.
M: Thank goodness. I am NOT good at it! So what do you do to stay active on tour?
Katy: I really like rest stops. It’s good to get out and stretch and do squats. Lunges. I try to get into as good of shape before tour as possible so it kind of lasts. That’s not a thing. But you can do planks in your hotel room. Everyone in the van is shaking their heads. We load in gear and lift heavy stuff every night. Plus playing shows is a very aerobic activity. I jump around holding a ten pound bass, swinging it around. That’s like core work.
M: What do you think is underappreciated in the world?
Katy: Todd said the most generic things, Bob Dylan and guitars. And we like coffee. But these are very standard, good things that people like. They aren’t underappreciated. We don’t really have an answer. We just woke up, so we’re probably too tired for this one.
M: That’s hilarious, so you get a pass! What music have you been listening to recently?
Katy: Audioslave. We listened to Audioslave the entire drive up to a show the other day. It was really weird because Todd was playing music in the living room and I was like, “What is this? I love this!” That’s when we both realized we like Audioslave, so we listened to them for the next few hours.
I also really like the new Springtime Carnivore record. It’s not out yet. I have an advanced copy because Greta is my best friend. That comes out in October and it’s going to be amazing. We also love the band Junk from LA. They have a song called “Fuck Face” that’s kind of remarkable. They’re really good. And oldies. We have Sirius Radio in our van, and we listen to Willie’s Roadhouse.
When Todd and I got married, we played the old country Spotify station. That’s all we put on.
M: Besides touring, what’s up next for you guys?
Katy: Todd will probably make a solo record this summer. Brandon says “not a clue.” I actually have a record coming out in August with Greta, but it’s not announced yet. The details will emerge later on.
We will keep up to date on all of that coming up! For more info on the geniuses behind La Sera, head over to their site. If you’re in the KC area, make sure to check out their set at Middle of The Map!
**Photo by Julia Brokaw
Meredith has spent her life pin balling across America. She is often referred to as an entrepreneur, photographer, writer, and multi-media maven. She would label herself “butcher,” “baker,” and “candlestick maker.” (Hint: One of these is not true.) She is currently trying to find the perfect design for the DIY ukulele her twin gave her for Christmas. You can find her random musings on Twitter and Instagram.