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The Reclamation of Kate Faust.

January 11, 2017


Text by Emily Scott. Portraits by Magdalena Papaioannou. Show images by G.W. Miller III.

Kate Faust says she can remember writing songs in her head before she even knew how to write words.

“I would just scribble down pretend words because I really liked the way people’s hands looked when they were writing words,” Faust says. “I remember being a kid and watching my mom write and just watching her hand glide over the paper.”

She once found a journal from second grade that had song lyrics in it and she remembered how the song went in her head.

“I think basically I’ve always been the same person,” says the Philly-based R&B-electro artist. “I’ve just been very different versions of the same. I have always been this someone who needs to make art to interpret the world around them.”

Faust, who grew up in Lancaster County, lived in a music-friendly household. Her father is a drummer and her mother is a music lover.

When she was 14, she went without Christmas presents and used her life savings to buy a Casio Privia, which she still has today.

“Some really special music has been composed on it,” she says. “I will never sell it. I may pack it up in my mom’s attic for years but I’ll never sell it. It’s too special.”

Faust says she didn’t want to attend college because she wanted to pursue music, but since her parents felt it was important, she decided to study voice at The University of the Arts. She graduated in 2011.

The first time she ever heard Jill Scott’s music, she says, it opened up a “richness and beauty in the world” that she never knew was possible.

“It sort of shifted everything because up until then I hadn’t been exposed to anything like that,” she says. “I finally felt like I had something that my spirit and soul recognized in the world around me.”

Although Faust has always made music solo, she has also been in bands like Perkasie, Toy Soldiers and Lady. She also is now in a duo project called King Kate with Kingsley Ibeneche.

“She writes really depth-filled songs, which can be pretty intense, but Kate is very atmospheric,” Ibeneche says. “She fills the space instead of focusing on dancing and she finds ways to incorporate both. Definitely with your body, you can really get down to that.”

In 2012, she began creating electronic music again and released the solo EP, Crucial Companion.

“One of the reasons I stopped being in bands was also because I met up with some of those people who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and none of them were playing music anymore,” she says. “I’m not about that life ever, so it’s just easier sometimes for me to get shit done the way that I do it now.”

In 2015, Faust released two EPs: Eros and Undercover. She currently has a five-song EP “ready to go” and eventually hopes to release a full-length debut album. She released a music video for the song “Your Body” in late August.

She’s also working on a short film that was shot at the Rigby Mansion, a Germantown home where she has spent a lot of time making music and playing shows. The film is based around a volume of poetry that she will be releasing.


One of her strongest  inspirations is intimacy, she says.

Eros was heavily influenced by the concept of self-discovery through intimacy,” says Faust, who added that Eros is named after a speech by feminist and writer Audrey Lorde. “I feel like my music has a lot of those erotic undertones … I mean erotic in the sense of this chaotic, sort of very emotional, intuitive underbelly, the glue of every interaction that we have. I feel like I had always operated in that space but until I heard her perspective on it, it had never been so clear to me. It kind of just helped me put a frame around the work I had been doing in my mind.”

Faust says she’s in a “weird, transitional place” and is unsure of how much longer she will be in Philadelphia. She’s thinking of moving to the West Coast in the next few months.

“I love Philly,” she says. “I just don’t think there is really a scene for the kind of music I do here. If there is, I think we reached the top of it because I don’t think there is anywhere else to go from here.”

Faust also feels that overall, the music industry is disrespectful toward women.

“It is a microscopic view of society at-large,” she says. “There are always people who are predatory to us, whether it is management people, whether it’s producers, whether it’s other musicians.”

Faust was offered the opportunity to work with a person she refers to as a “very famous producer” whom she looked up to. She was set to visit his studio one night but she called to say she wasn’t going alone.

“I’m a woman,” she says. “I’ve never met you before. I am not going to your house by myself. I am bringing my bandmate because we are here to work on music.”

The producer cancelled on her at the last minute.

Faust, who is a victim of sexual assault, says it infuriates her that she has to think and worry when working with a man in the music industry.

“Actually, only a few weeks ago, I got the courage to tell my other bandmates what had happened as part of my own healing process,” she says. “Seven fucking years down the line. And I am not unique.”

Faust feels that sexual assault in the music industry is too commonplace, looking back at Kesha’s case to break her record contract due to the fact she said a producer sexually assaulted her.

“She’s not lying,” Faust says. “This is the shit that happens all the time and no one talks about it. And when they do talk about it, someone like Kesha, what happens? Nothing. He’ll go on and be fine. But that trauma to her body, to her life, to her spirit, will live with her. And it forever changes your DNA, how you walk through the world.”

Faust says a lot of the poetry in the short film focuses around the idea of sexual assault and sexism in society as a whole.

The poem in the film is called “Pray,” Faust says, and at the end it repeats, “You did not die.”

She adds that the best thing she did was address her trauma through movement and music.

“That was a turning point,” she says. “Since that floodgate opened, I haven’t been able to stop loving people, or being giving and generous with my time, heart and spirit. Once I was able to reclaim my body, it just changed everything for me. Music is a great way to do that because that’s where my voice is. It’s here.”

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