After a brutal year, Kathy Foster wants us all to dance
Kathy Foster is a mainstay of the Oregon punk rock music scene. She became known as the bassist of the now defunct band The Thermals. But in recent years you may have heard his records touring as a DJ in Portland or beating the drums in punk band Hurry Up.
Her eclectic taste as a curator is fully on display in this special playlist created for Oregon Public Broadcasting that highlights songs that have helped her through the pandemic. And while the selections here may sound wide, there is a theme. After a brutal year, she especially wants us all to dance.
“A lot of times I gravitate towards this type of stuff, like stuff that I would play at a dance party. [as a DJ]. So one of my favorite bands that I discovered during that time – and it’s a new band and they released an album very recently – is Sweeping Promises. I believe they are from Boston. It’s kind of a no-wave post-punk band that has a bit of a retro sound to it. When you hear it, you say to yourself “Is this from the 80s?” I really like the whole record.
“I like a lot of music which is rather rhythmic and punchy. I like a lot of international music – a lot of African and Asian stuff from all eras, but probably more like 60’s, 70’s stuff. And this song sounds a little Thai to me. It’s one of my favorite songs that I discovered last year, just because I love its groove and the punchy, hypnotic sound and it sounds a bit international.
“It’s another pandemic-themed song called ‘I Just Want to Dance’, because it’s something I miss. I miss dancing. I miss DJ dance parties, sweating with people . But to me, it’s another band that sounds a little bit retro. Their albums are really interesting. It’s kind of a collage of sounds – protest song type songs and then others that are more of a sound. Modern R&B, then something like that.
“It’s kind of a punk pop girl group and it reminds me of … a lot of early riot grrrl pop groups [1990s]. That’s when I started playing music, and I was really in a lot of riot grrrl groups and English punk girl groups. And I remember that band was there, but for some reason I never got into their music. So, I am delighted to rediscover Girls At Our Best! and they really inspired me to just get excited to play music again and go to shows.
“As a woman of color myself and playing in punk and heavy bands, I don’t often see people who look like me in the same scene. And so, I’m always trying to find and promote more artists of color doing more rock, punk, and shoegaze. So, I discovered this band, and it’s one of their first singles [from 1986] … It’s jangly, loud and dreamy pop. I love the sound of this song. It’s one of my favorite sounds and I was delighted to find an artist of color doing a song like this. It also reflects my personality because I like upbeat dance-y punk, but I’m also quite emotional and I like to wallow sometimes too.
“I really like lo-fi sounds. You might not be surprised [to hear that] with me playing in The Thermals and Hurry Up. But yeah, pretty much in all genres I like lo-fi sound. It’s funk, but it’s a little more lo-fi and laid back, and I just think it has a great vibe and groove and makes me want to dance. And of course, it’s a sweet feeling: “I’m going to see my baby”. And also another theme on the pandemic [selection] for me because last year we had to stay away from our loved ones and had to suspend tours.
Listen to the playlist on Spotify: