As a music fan, how many times have you thought, “I would love to see what was really going on in their life at the time that song was written.” or “I would love to know what their thought process was when they wrote that.” Well, I know some radical folks that are giving fans of indie artists just that opportunity.
A little background first. Here at BBB we like to support our bands/artists in all of their ventures and this one just so happens to have to do with two of my favorite things, books and music! You all know (or should know!) Inch Chua, she did an episode of BBB Live last season and played a couple of our shows here in LA. She is a phenomenally talented singer/songwriter/guitar player. Who you don’t know is The Altar Collective side of this story, Katie Hogan. A little way down this post, you will get to know more about the lovely Katie. How do I tie into this? I know both Katie and Inch through some friends of ours whom you know as another Badass Band, The Absolute.
Anyway, recently both Katie and Inch clued me in on an insanely cool project they’ve been working on that allows fans to get a glimpse of just what I spoke of above, what was going on in Inch’s head as she was writing/performing over the last ten years. It’s a compilation of diary entries, drawings, poems, lyrics, and paintings that provide a candid, authentic and refreshing new way to get to know a musician. In just over a month, you will get to see Inch’s book, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and you will see exactly what I mean.
For now, you’ll have to take mine, Katie’s and Inch’s word for it. Recently, I had the opportunity to have coffee with these ladies, and they were kind enough to discuss how hard it was to chose pieces for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, how long they’ve been working on the project, when you can get your hands on one, and what exactly the mission of The Altar Collective is.
What is the Altar Collective?
Katie: I started the Altar collective in June of last summer with my business partner Chelsea Kirk. We’re both students and are both studying English. We saw so many publications circulating and so many people submitting to them, but no one was taking them seriously. We started to get frustrated because a lot of our friends were becoming scared of the publishing industry because you can’t get published by a major publication unless you have major publication experience. So, then how do you get that experience? We started it as a way to gently introduce people to publication. We wanted to start something that was more like a collective, uniting people together to appreciate good art. Our main attention to was to lay the groundwork for unspoken writers and it has been amazing. We’ve been working with people who have been writing for as little as two weeks, as well as those who have been doing so for many years. It’s crazy to see something develop so much. We have different sections, there’s poetry and everyone can submit to poetry, in this section alone over the last few months we’ve published people from Croatia to Indonesia to Canada to NY to LA. Then we have the featured writer, where Chelsea and I seek out a writer we are interested in working with and we approach them about a project with us. We just approached Kris Kidd, who is a model/internet sensation whom led a crazy life, for a set of six essays called I Can’t Feel my Face. Then we started the orchard series with Inch. This gives readers the chance to dive into the mind of musicians that they like. I’m really excited about it. As a listener I always wondered, “What goes on in a musician’s head?” So we work with musicians to showcase poems, drawings, short stories, and diary entries. Overall with the Altar Collective, we’re hoping to give multiple outlets to people, whether you’re a reader or writer, you can be a part of us.
Is the publication print or online?
Katie: Print only. I love online but I feel like print is becoming devalued lately. From the beginning, I didn’t care how much money we put into this as long as there were tangible copies. There is something about seeing your work, as well as other people’s work, in an actual book you can hold. It’s also easier to spread it to your friends.
How do you and Inch know each other?
Inch: Through The Absolute, who seems to actually be the binding factor for the three of us…
Katie: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been photographing them for about five years now, and met Inch through that.
Inch: It’s been really nice. It was funny because when she approached me about this project, I had been thinking about this idea of publishing old lyrics in a more tangible form. Physicals are kind of dying, but I don’t blame it for dying, people aren’t producing things that others want to keep! You want people to bring home something nice. A book that people can keep on their coffee table and randomly read to find inspiration is perfect.
How long have you two been working on this project?
Inch: It has been kind of unofficial for me because most of the work in the book dates back to 2005/2006. That is the authenticity of it. It was never me consciously writing for this. I started going back through my stuff a few months ago. I literally went through at least about a hundred of notebooks dating back to 2004. That is not counting a private online space I have which dates back to 2002. It starts from there all the way to here, so 2002 to now. That’s crazy!
How hard was it to pick the pieces to go in the book?
Inch: Anyone who goes back and reads their own diaries thinks, “God, I sound so stupid!” and you hate yourself a bit. I fought with myself about what I should publish because on one hand I sound stupid in some of these, however, you want it to be authentic and not censor yourself. It’s a challenge about how much you want to reveal about yourself. At the end of the day, I decided I wanted it to be a very transparent experience so half the time I’m like, “Oh, I wonder what people will think of me!”
How many pieces are in here?
Inch: Right now its looking like a solid 60 page spread, so about 120 pieces.
Katie: It looks so good already! I’m so excited! Its like when you see someone’s diary and that curiosity just builds up in you. I feel so much closer to her already!
Katie, what is your role on the publishing side of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?
Katie: We want to give our writers the freedom they want. We gave the last two that we’ve worked with, Inch and Chris, freedom to compile the book however they want and include what they want. We just make sure it flows, we edit it, and we make it accessible to read. As far as what belongs in it, that it totally up to the artist, I feel like if you limit that, you’re limiting how a person can relate while reading. Inch has done it and it’s amazing. With the writers we’ve worked with so far, because of the freedom we give them, there is a lot more drive and incentive because it is truly theirs.
Inch: We’ve had a great working relationship. They’ve given me all the support I need from the publishing side. When you second-guess yourself, its nice to have her opinion.
When will the book be released?
Inch: June 22nd!!
Will it be for sale?
Katie: Yes! We’re doing the best we can with distribution. We are currently working on the outlets for physical distribution. We are hoping to be able to get it into some independent bookstores in LA, NY, Singapore, etc. Since Inch has an international audience it will also be available online through Create Space.
Inch is the first to do this, do you have plans to continue?
Katie: Yes! I have two or three musicians already lined up and they are super top secret. It’s cool because they are musicians who are known, but are still growing. It’s a pretty strong lineup and I’m excited to see where this series goes.
FIND THE ALTAR COLLECTIVE and INCH CHUA HERE: