Pop Culture

Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield Stay Grounded with Sunset Walks and Chicken Pho

“The sunsets really linger here. Especially in the summer, they can stick around for a really long time,” the musician Kevin Morby said by Zoom earlier this week. He and Katie Crutchfield, the frontwoman and songwriter of Waxahatchee, were sitting in their salmon-colored living room in Kansas City, bathed in the last few hours of light. It’s a theme for Morby, whose latest album, Sundowner, lands Friday with an accompanying livestream show. His website defines sundowner as “one who feels increased melancholy during the twilight hours,” which rings true at a time when nightlife is shuttered, leaving us to disappear into our phones. 

Incidentally, that’s where Crutchfield and Morby have turned up in recent months, offering unlikely salvation. Beginning early in quarantine, they tuned in for “weekly rodeos” on Instagram Live: an hour-long duet toggling between his songs and hers. Domestic and warm, it felt like a candle in the window of a country house: a safe haven after dark. Crutchfield’s own album, Saint Cloud, dropped in late March, as the confusion of the pandemic swirled. “There were peaks and valleys of the whole experience,” she recalled of the unconventional rollout, stripped of a tour’s celebratory release. “But I think people connected with it in a way they maybe wouldn’t have. There’s a lot of darkness, but a lot of hope at the same time.” 

The couple has been stationed in Kansas City, Morby’s hometown, for a good part of their three and a half years together—a retreat between tours. (Incidentally that’s why he thinks they relish the sunsets so much: Musicians are always stuck inside venues at that time.) “We were gearing up to spend a lot of this year apart,” Crutchfield said, but instead the downtime has seen them knit together in new ways: Morby lending vocals to her livestream sets; Crutchfield turning up in his videos for “Campfire” and “Wander.”

“A lot of things have been resonating that maybe didn’t before, like Badlands,” said Morby. “That’s a movie about two people, just them against the world. It really feels like it’s just Katie and I.” (And his nunchucks, which have become a fan favorite: “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” Morby added.) For this wellness diary, then, it made sense for the couple to go about it together: Vietnamese soup and mental-health strategies (his meditation, her Zoom therapy) and a horror-movie marathon. “We started with I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream, and then we took a hard right to Hitchcock,” says Morby. Psycho as cure in uneasy times.

Tuesday, October 6

8:15 a.m. Katie: My best friend Marlee spent the night on her way to Michigan to see her family. She and I walked to the park by our house, did a few laps around. We talked and caught up and got a little exercise. Morning is my favorite time of day, and getting out into the world as early as I can always feels really grounding.

10 a.m. Kevin: I go for a walk around a lake near our house while I make some work calls. This is something I’ve really made a point to do during quarantine—to be in motion and outside while doing monotonous work. Exercise has been so essential to my mental health and I try to begin each day with either a run or swim. But on days when I’m busy, like today, I at least do a walk.

12 p.m. Katie: I research painting kitchen cabinets and solicit advice from my bass player/interior design expert Jacki Warren, then start painting our kitchen a nice bright white shortly thereafter. House projects have been big for me lately. We spend so much time in our house, which has led me to notice little ways to customize it.

1:15 p.m. Katie: I go to therapy. My therapist’s name is Irene and she’s amazing. I started with her right before the pandemic, and it’s become such a big part of my week. I think of therapy as sort of Self-Care 101. It’s always where I start when people ask me what I do to feel sane in this anomalous time.

A quiet corner at home.

Courtesy of Kevin Morby. 

6 p.m. Kevin: Katie and I go for a ride in my truck. We drive into the city listening to Blaze Foley, Jackson C. Frank, and Justin Townes Earle. With nowhere to go, it’s good to just aimlessly drive sometimes, to get out of the house and let your mind drift. I love driving through downtown Kansas City. Kansas at night—it’s dark and desolate and reminds me of being in Texas.

8 p.m. Kevin: We return home and order chicken pho, my all-time favorite meal—always so healing, especially during a week of doing interviews and talking a lot. We put on the NBA finals. I’ve always been a sports fan but it’s been crucial this year. It’s something to concentrate on that’s not politics or the music industry. It’s really become a safe place for me. Katie: I’m a big basketball fan. I became interested in it when I got sober because it gave me something to focus on and look forward to at night that wasn’t drinking. When the NBA season resumed, it became a big part of our day-to-day.

Wednesday, October 7

5 a.m. Kevin: I can’t sleep. It’s a busy week and, with a lot on my mind, my sleep has been uneasy, so I do my transcendental meditation. I started doing TM a few years ago to help me sleep better on tour, and it never lets me down.

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