st.martiins' Katie Lynch on debut EP hoping for the worst

Ahead of the release of their debut EP, we chat to Katie Lynch from st.martiins about the past, the future, and the importance of home

Feature by Bethany Davison | 09 Mar 2020
  • st.martiins

Over the past ten years life has been pretty hectic for Katie Lynch and Mark Johnston of st.martiins. From leaving their home of Dundee and since returning, experiencing loss and settling differences with a world increasingly harder to find joy in, it’s almost a surprise to find so much warmth in their music. Though warmth and sincerity is precisely what they put across.

The pair's debut EP hoping for the worst is embellished with the kind of fuzziness you would expect from a DIY band; intertwined with heartbreaking stories and witticisms born from struggle, it makes for an affectingly refreshing listen. Even in its name, Lynch projects her witty acidity onto a weary world. “I just thought it was kind of funny,” she explains. “It’s not that I do hope for the worst, but I expect the worst. [There was a] time I felt everyone would say that phrase, ‘hoping for the best’, I was like ‘fuck off, I’ll just hope for the worst’. And that just tied in all the themes.”

hoping for the worst has found Lynch’s approach to songwriting move away from premature external influences, instead turning her gaze inward, to build vignettes taken from a ten-year scope of things that have happened to both herself and Johnston. “I don’t really write in the same way now as I used to,” she tells us, “especially in this piece of work. It’s something a bit different and about things that have happened to us. It wasn’t like I drew direct influence from anyone, but what was going on in our life at this time.”

Lynch frames the issues dealt with on the EP as a sort of circular reasoning, confronting and condensing the complexities of the past decade. “I just wanted to explore that. I think it’s funny how I’ve always been quite honest that I’m not the happiest person, but I also see great humour in it," she says.

“The main themes of the work are grief and death, and the things that threaten normality. I’ve always had this huge fear of dying, but alongside the push and pull of being so scared of it, and the things that threaten it, like losing someone close and this feeling that the world is going to end. Those feelings lead to environmental anxiety too, like the feeling that the carpet will be ripped from under your feet.”

Confronting such intensely painful issues on the EP, it seems only natural that music brings Lynch a sense of catharsis. “Music has always been something that brings me a great feeling of serenity,” she tells us, “because my mind never really switches off, so to be able to write music and escape to the band, that’s quite a good thing for me.”

Through our conversation, the idea that home is paramount to the band is radiant, with this sense of safety in community lending itself to the warmth of the EP, underpinning the notion that things will be okay. After being met with isolation and creative paralysis upon moving to Glasgow, they soon returned home to Dundee, where all but one track on the EP was recorded. “We came back and just felt this sense of relief of leaving Glasgow,” Lynch confesses. “We kind of felt like we’d failed, but also like ‘I don’t really care’ because I’m safer now.” 

Further expressing the importance of Dundee to the band, Lynch says: “I think it’s funny how things are so Glasgow-centric. The way me and Mark are, the way we grew up, the people that are here, and where I live now, it’s a really funny part of Dundee, but it’s really beautiful, and that’s really important to my identity. I didn’t actually realise that until I moved away. I was in America for a while and then obviously in Glasgow, and when I came back here I realised that this style is so based on our experiences of being here, which is so interesting because I didn’t realise it before.

“Mark works at Assai so that’s a good gateway for us," she adds, "he always knows what’s going on. And our release of the EP is going to be with Assai which is exciting, they’ve been really supportive of us."

In terms of what's next for the band, it's clear they're not slowing down. “There are going to be [further] releases pretty soon,” Lynch imparts with the excitement that deservedly inflects onto their upward momentum. “We are just going to keep going – we want this EP out now because we’ve been sitting on it for years. I’m excited for it to be out, to move on to something else.”

hoping for the worst is released on 13 Mar
st.martiins play The Poetry Club, Glasgow, 13 Mar