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Meet Your New Favourite Girl

Favourite Girl

Katy Vernon had just watched her band dissolve after 10 years together and a growing list of successful albums. As a musician and advocate for equal representation, Vernon continued to use her resources to strengthen the community while writing a new archive of empowerment breakup songs that transcended beyond her ukulele. We chatted with Vernon on what motivates her to be so involved in our music scene, supporting underrepresented artists, the process of picking up the pieces from a prior band, and the origin story of her newest super-band, Favourite Girl.

Favourite Girl

Music in Minnesota: You’ve always been someone that seems to have their hands in a lot of different projects here in the Twin Cities, just recently booking for the Lunchtime Concert Series and Concerts at 50th & France. I’m curious to know what motivates you to keep pouring energy into our local community and music scene?

Katy Vernon: It really comes down to just opening up opportunities for others. If you are given the opportunity to book any kind of event, you are by definition a gatekeeper. I struggle with that because it’s the opposite of what I want to be. I look at it as a huge privilege to be trusted with sponsor money or a venue’s money. They’re making an investment. So my role is to try to use that money and that support to bring people in that I don’t see getting enough opportunities.

If you don’t see yourself having as many opportunities as maybe you think other people have, let me know. You don’t have to say what it is, but just put your hand up. I will try to bring as much balance as I can to any event series that I have the privilege of being able to book. But the music and the talent is always first. I’m a huge fan of songs, so if your songs are great, I don’t care what you look like or how many gigs you play, I want to hear your songs and get you in front of people.

MIM: You listen to a lot of local music. Any sneaky suggestions on new music we should go discover?

KV: I think Creeping Charlie was a standout to me. I don’t know if they even need my help promoting them. I see that they are playing the Hewing Hotel Rooftop, which is a good gig. Traiveon is fantastic young rapper who’ll be playing the Edina series. I love the International Treasures. Meghan Kreidler, whom everybody knows from Kiss the Tiger, but I’m really excited to have her playing solo. Colin Bracewell, Qlivia, Lexie Modica, Xibaba, and Soul Trouvère are other amazing musicians to check out.

MIM: Before we jump into Favourite Girl, there was the Katy Vernon Band for 10 years. What change happened in your life to move away from that group and direction?

KV: When I picked up the ukulele, I started really writing to be able to support myself and then thought, well, I kind of want to make a record and need other people. Clay Williams, an amazing guitarist in town, came up to me at a show and said, I hear you’re making a record and I want to be a part of it. He came onboard very soon, and I made a very folky record called Before I Forget. Then on the next record Present, the band was more of a unit. Then I thought Suit Of Hearts really was the pinnacle of my best songwriting and a very cohesive band record with everybody playing great parts.

Then 2020 happened and put all of our gigs on hold. In the summer of 2021, things had really shifted for everybody. The breakup was initiated by Simon Husbands, who I adore on the keyboards. He had really found himself in the way that some people did in the pandemic and really leapt into his own songwriting. We had a big goodbye gig for him at Lake Harriet. Then the very next day, I checked in with the band to see what’s next and it was kind of crickets, which was sad, but not completely unexpected. I think we drifted apart a bit, and I think that’s the thing of being a band…you reach a lot of goals, but if you don’t continue to grow beyond those, then you have to really look hard at it and decide, is this fun? Are we getting what we want out of this? And clearly it wasn’t fun for everybody involved.

“I really didn’t know what to do next and on my worst days kind of felt like four guys broke up with me. That was pretty heartbreaking.”

But one stood by me: Paul Odegaard on trumpet. I started writing breakup songs that turned very quickly into self-empowerment songs. Every single one of them was kind of like, you might not want to be with me anymore, or I might not know what I’m doing anymore, but I’m going to conquer this. I’m going to fly high, I’m going to be great. They were all this ‘I will survive’ kind of mentality.

Favourite Girl

MIM: Sounds like this was the creative spark behind the new band, which is chock-full of talent.

KV: Barb Brynstad was someone that I have known for a long time. We played some 60’s cover tunes many moons ago at Britt’s Pub. She actually mentioned to me that there’s a bit of a hidden thing sometimes in the music scene that if you say you’re an all-girl band, you need to be better than everybody else. You have to prove your worth because people automatically think it’s a bit of a gimmick, which is pretty lame because all-girl bands have been around forever.

Alyse Emanuel on the drums is just the most positive person I’ve ever been in a band with. She’s constantly smiley and upbeat, and she played in the Lizz Winstead house band for the Planned Parenthood fundraiser that I did a few years ago at The Cedar. Allie Pikala is just a good friend of Alyse who has been a bass player typically in other bands, and had always wanted to play the lead guitar in a rock band. So I love the thought of us all coming together to do something different, to kind of push our own comfort levels. Then Paul Odegaard on trumpet stayed with me in the band.

MIM: I’ve had the chance to hear the first single, which is a great introduction into the more rock-forward, turn the dial to 11 type energy. It encompasses everyone’s talent and sounds very close-knit.

KV: Well, the first song is our band name “Favourite Girl.” I wrote the song before I thought of calling the band that, but that’s an example of ‘woe is me, nobody likes me, but oh, wait a second, maybe everyone could like me again and I could feel powerful.’

“That’s the thought process behind quite a simple song, which is just, I want to get back to the feeling when people thought I was great. I hope that other people would hear it and maybe feel like if they had a relationship and there’s always hope that they can have another one and it’ll be great, it’ll be different, it might even be better.”

I am hoping to use this first single to introduce us and hopefully captivate and enchant people and then make a full album. All of the songs are pretty much written, but I’m doing a Kickstarter campaign to get people on board so that we can record a full album. I am looking at a ‘save the date’ of September 6th for the single release and Kickstarter launch. I’m going to do something really exciting and different and involve a lot of different women rocking, so keep your eyes open.

MIM: There are two really exciting gigs coming up for Favourite Girl where folks can get a preview of the new music. June 6th at Lowertown Sounds in Mears Park and June 13th at Crooners. What can someone expect in seeing these shows?

KV: Lowertown Sounds will be an hour set, and we’ll probably just end with a couple of covers and a couple of songs from the Katy Vernon Band. But other than that, they’re all these feisty new feminist anthems. It’s fun for me to put on a different songwriting hat because my music has tended to be about grief, mental health, and alcoholism with a delicate folky sound. So to be singing empowered rock songs is very fun.

Favourite Girl

Written by Smouse

Having spent 13 years recording and producing Minnesota artists, along with running a small record label, Smouse is a passionate advocate of musicians and artists in Minnesota.


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