Canadian jazz-pop artist Katie Ditschun marks a new spot on the music map with Here We Are, the latest single off her debut album Spare Skirt — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
Recorded in Ottawa, and featuring some of Eastern Ontario’s best jazz musicians, the track and album feature Ditschun on vocals, piano, and ukulele — a nod to the singer/songwriter’s self-described style of quirky piano pop meets serious jazz notes and thematic, explorative story-based lyricism.
“My songs are about relationships — of love, and of those often confused for love,” she explains. “I’m particularly interested in situations where people lack self-knowledge, or gain greater awareness about oneself, or one’s place in the world. Here We Are speaks to the feeling that there’s some distance between what your life is and how you thought it would turn out, who you thought you’d become, or where you thought you’d be.”
Born and raised in Brantford, Ont., and diagnosed at 18 months old with juvenile arthritis, Ditschun began piano lessons at age four to keep her fingers moving. “I could read music before I could read books,” she recalls. “Singing is all I want to do. I love songwriting and teaching private music lessons, but there’s something about being in the moment when the music is all there is. All life’s worries melt away and I’m left only concerned about what phrase comes next and letting the notes float out.”
Following her studies at Berklee College of Music for jazz and contemporary vocal, she spent time in Montreal before returning to her home province. With her full-time pursuit of music well underway, Ditschun’s debut album Spare Skirt was released in the spring of 2019. The origin of the name is a tale unto itself.
“I usually tell people that the term Spare Skirt means to always be prepared, kind of like the Boy Scouts motto,” she quips. “But it really comes from a strange experience I had once with a fan who gave me a skirt: Her skirt that she was wearing! What happened was, a band I was in was performing at a business function. The woman who booked us had seen us perform before and, seeing me upon arrival, excitedly let me know not to rush off afterward because she wanted to give me a gift. I thought, ‘How sweet!’
“When the band came off stage, she quickly directed me into a secluded corner in the hallway, telling me she had a skirt to give me. I thought that was odd enough already, but thought, okay, I guess. There, in the shadows, she pulled a skirt out of a bag and instead of giving me that skirt, she proceeded to discreetly pull it up underneath the skirt she was already wearing! And then she placed the skirt she had WORN ALL DAY into a — no joke — take-your-clothing-items-home-from-the-hospital-bag and said, ‘here, I sewed this skirt myself. I think you’ll get more use out of it than me.’ Weird, right? Anyway, that’s how Spare Skirt became a thing.”