Katy Goodman is an east coast woman, through and through–born and raised and college-d in New Jersey, with stints living in both Boston and Brooklyn. With her band, Vivian Girls, she became one of the symbols of hipster Williamsburg.
Not that that stopped her from abandoning us for LA, like so many weak-hearted people before her (Moby, Larry David). Her current project, La Sera, is about as California as it comes, full of big sunny riffs and beachfront sighs. If you jumped through a time portal from a distant time (say, 2005), arrived suddenly at today, and managed to get your hand on her new album Hour of the Dawn, out May 15 (without being sidetracked by answering a bunch of people’s questions about time travel), you’d be excused for thinking Goodman was born and bred in Silverlake. We caught up with Goodman recently and tried to get to the bottom of her flight to the West Coast.
See also: Vivian Girls Remember: Pizza! Wild Puppies! Jean Jackets!
You’re from New Jersey, and Brooklyn is where you became super famous. The east coast has been so good to you, but you abandoned us. Do you feel bad about it every day or just most days?
Just once in a while, when I’m back on the east coast, and it’s really nice out, I’ll be like, “This is nice.” That happens when I go to New York, like, in May, I’ll feel like, “Oh, I could live here.”
Was there a specific moment when you started hating it here?
I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it. There was just one really bad winter, and I was like, I’m done. And I told all my friends, I’m fucking done. And everyone was like, yeah right. And then three months later, I moved to LA.
Tell me about a typical Katy Goodman lazy afternoon in Los Angeles.
Waking up at around 10 or 11, going to get coffee, walking my dog around town or around Silverlake Reservoir, taking my dog to the dog park. Then I’ll just go home and order delivery and watch TV for like eight hours straight.
What’s the best strip mall you’ve eaten at in Los Angeles?
There’s a strip mall right by my house that has a Subway, and I go there sometimes. It’s the healthiest food you can get for $5.
Level with me: is the real reason you moved to LA that you want to be a movie star?
I’m like a terrible actress. Even recently, Todd [Wisenbaker, La Sera’s guitar player] filmed a fake ’80s instructional like guitar video. Todd’s just shredding the whole time, teaching you how to play “Listen to the Dark,” which is a La Sera song. And they were like, Katy, can you be in the video for like a minute? And I was like, all right! What do I gotta do? And they were like, just come in and be like, Todd! What are you doing? You’re using too much wah-wah effect!
But even that tiny role in a small joke video was like overwhelming to me. It was just too hard, and I was like, how do people act?! This is insane. So I don’t think I’m going to be acting any time soon. I’m pretty bad at it!
You’re good in your videos! Although I guess you don’t talk.
It’s the talking that gets me. Because I can just walk around.
That’s like real acting, like Oscar-winning acting, where you just look at stuff and it seems really interesting. That’s basically all Matthew McConaughey does.
Yeah, but he talks, too. I just don’t feel like I’m believable! I feel like, nobody’s going to believe this, because it’s not the way I truly feel. To my core, you know? In music, it’s all about how you actually feel, all the time. I feel like acting’s the opposite, because it’s about how someone else feels.
Can you tell me one thing about LA that’s better than New York that’s not the weather and also doesn’t use the word “vibe”?
Atmosphere? Ha, actually, not technically, because the actual atmosphere, the air quality, is terrible. The jubilee? Is the jubilee a word?
Yeah. It’s also an X-man.
That’s an X-Man?
Yeah. A lady X-Man.
Is there an X-Man named Vibe?
No, but there really should be.
He would be this California X-Man. Kind of indie, but also surfs.
What’s his/her power?
Just, like, being suuuuper chill, man.
Is the real reason you moved that Los Angeles seems vibrant and alive and full of possibility and not closed off to young people and decaying, like New York?
That’s not true! I wouldn’t be able to make music and put out records if it weren’t for New York. That’s where everything happened for me. It’s just easier to live day-to-day in LA, I think. It depends on your lifestyle, but in general, my life here is way cheaper and more relaxed. And it’s just, like, nicer out. I don’t have to worry about how to get places. It’s just a nicer, in general, way to live. New York has its own energy, which is kind of an insane energy, with crazy people all going apeshit all the time. Which is very productive.
Crazy people going apeshit all the time?
People who have a lot more energy than I do. And you need that to be successful. To be successful in New York, you need to have that drive.
LA seems like it really suits you.
From the very first time the Vivian Girls came to LA on tour, six years ago, I was like, oh. I’m gonna live here. This rules. It was like an instant love.
Have you ever met a movie star?
The other day, I was in a store, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Tobey Maguire, and some other dudes all came in and started talking to people. It was April Fool’s Day! And I was like, are they just fucking with everyone? Just running around town talking to people? And they talked to me. It was weird. It was a clothing store, and it wasn’t very busy. The only specific thing I remember is Jonah Hill looking at a bike and then asking me if I like bikes. Also, Leonardo DiCaprio looked at me and asked me if I knew that the warehouse across the street was used for. I said I had no idea.
So did you like join their run crew and hang out with them all day?
No, unfortunately not. There will be other opportunities. You do see movie stars around. They live here. We all go to the same restaurants.
“Katy Goodman: I go to the same restaurants as movie stars.”
Yeah, the Subway in the strip mall.
La Sera plays Baby’s All Right on Saturday, May 10
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 10, 2014