Black Belt Eagle Scout Breeds Beautiful Consequences

Katherine Paul talks happy accidents, native representation and more in this new SoundDiego interview

"'Mother of My Children' is about a person. It's not really a metaphor, but I guess it kind of is," Katherine Paul said over the phone, digressing a bit.

"It's about a person who I thought was going to be the mother of my children. I liked that name.... Motherhood and the fact that women can give birth is a really powerful thing," she said.

Paul, known professionally as Black Belt Eagle Scout, was recently named an NPR Slingshot artist, and according to KEXP's Jacob Webb, "Her debut full-length, 'Mother of My Children,' draws from Paul's experiences of romantic heartbreak, the death of a mentor and the destruction to the Standing Rock Reservation in the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

While the recent buzz around her new album is exciting for Paul, it's more a culmination of her years spent in the Pacific Northwest music scene than a happy accident, according to her. 

However, that's not to say that there aren't happy accidents with really beautiful consequences. A missed drum fill and a lot of noise are some of the reasons that one of Paul's favorite songs on her album is "Sam, A Dream," for example.

"I was really happy with the way it came out: There's all of this feedback that brings you back into this solo part at the end. I love that part.... I wouldn't normally expect that in a song," she explained.

But art is often the beautiful consequence of a series of unhappy accidents and of a painful movement through time -- both personal ...

"Really great art that gets to you comes from a lot of emotion. That emotion can be loss, but you can really just have these immense feelings about something," Paul said.

... and also political ...

"In the mainstream media, there aren't a lot of native people represented.... I just feel like there needs to be more representation of native people, but it's sort of hard just because native people were wiped out, and we're slowly trying to come back in a more mainstream way," she said.

Fortunately, beautiful consequences usually breed other beautiful consequences.

"Now, I don't think that there are as many challenges," Paul said. "I just want more people to know about native musicians."

Black Belt Eagle Scout plays Casbah with Tacocat on Monday, Nov. 12. Get tickets here.

Rutger Ansley Rosenborg has been an Associate Editor at NBC SoundDiego since 2016. Find out more here, or contact him here.

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