Intro by Erin Dickson, Body by Kathy Patino
Girl K — composed of members Kathy Patino, Tony Mest, Alex Pieczynski, and Kevin Sheppard — is an indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Unofficially dubbed the “cutest band in Chicago”, Girl K started out as Patino’s solo project but quickly turned into a full band shortly after the release of her debut album, Sunflower Court. Since then, they have released multiple singles as well as a second full-length album titled For Now. Their music, which combines upbeat guitar riffs with oftentimes bittersweet lyrics, as well as their passionate fanbase have quickly made them one of Chicago’s most up-and-coming bands.
Rounding out 2020, Kathy wrote the following essay to detail more about what the year meant to Girl K and what it looked like for her personally.
I remember watching a ton of documentaries on Netflix about pandemics and biology right before I first heard about COVID-19. I thought it was some sort of eerie coincidence that just as I had begun to learn about the horrors of a pandemic, one was just as quickly appearing. I kept up with the updates until I suddenly went into work and was told we would have the next two weeks off. Of course, those weeks turned into months.
Aside from being a musician, I work at a daycare. My center was closed for a few months before we were considered “essential” by some Chicago government official. The time I had off work was spent writing music, creating art, and watching a lot of TV shows. However, it wasn’t good music or even good art and the TV shows were not very stimulating. Finding the motivation and energy to create music became incredibly difficult. How do you draw inspiration from quarantine? Or how much?
Luckily, I was not entirely alone. My boyfriend and I had been living together for about a year and, even in quarantine, we enjoyed each other's company. He was the inspiration for most of my music and, if COVID did anything, it made me fall more in love with him!
However, it was not always peaches-and-cream. I also started school this fall as a Computer Science major. There were a lot of tears as I was working 35 hours a week and going to school almost every day right after. Nothing can really prepare you for that kind of stress and exhaustion, but I pushed through it and actually finished the semester with my first EVER set of straight A’s.
Through all of that, I never stopped thinking about what could’ve been. I missed live music, venues, and my friends, and wondered about what it would’ve been like to release our upcoming album had the pandemic not hit. Towards the end of the year, we got closer to the completion of the album and I went into a panic. There’s no way to describe the feeling of releasing a project you’ve put so much time, love, energy, and money into. I want this record out more than anything, but I also want to give it a release worthy of all that the guys and I have put into it. Either way, in 2021, we are releasing music, and probably lots of it. At this point, I just love sharing music and can only hope to connect with people through it.
2020 was hard for so many and despite any good that came out of it, this year was awful. I am proud of whoever is reading this right now and whoever isn’t. If you’re a musician or artist who struggled this year, I love you and am proud of you! If you’ve had to work during this pandemic, thank you for all you do and please continue to take care of yourself. I wish I could hug every single person who was negatively affected by all of this; I wish I could bring comfort to everyone. But for now, I will continue to be cautious and wait for the day I can see you all again. I hope at least some part of 2021 is better than this.
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