Katie McBride is a builder of worlds. Her music - experimental, ambient pop - transports its listener through canyons of light and shadow, sketching vivid vignettes. The Toronto native’s debut full-length, As Real as Anything Else, crisscrosses dreamscapes and altered mental states, reaching into subterranean currents for deep truths. Listen with your eyes closed, and it’s easy to imagine yourself treading barefoot through the volcanic landscape of an alien world – calm, eerie, and deep, like the music.
McBride’s biography as an artist began as a trumpeter - picking up the instrument in 5th grade band class and eventually attending Humber College, where she studied jazz and composition. After finishing school, she dabbled in scoring for film and television. But finding her life upended by a difficult breakup and her first of many existential crises, she turned to writing and recording music for herself. She soon became obsessed with Ableton, describing it as “an instrument without limitations”, and her passion for digital creation bloomed, eventually branching into photography, video, and artwork. Armed with the unquenchable thirst for truth and beauty, McBride began conjuring her own universe.
Inspired by artists like William Basinski, Enya, Miles Davis, and Aphex Twin, her deep dives eventually yielded As Real as Anything Else, which McBride recorded and produced primarily at her Toronto home. With contributions by fellow Toronto-based producer and frequent collaborator Joe Manzoli (DJ Planet Express, Ginla, VTX), it follows up her 2021 sample-based ambient EP i!i!, as well as her highly acclaimed EPs 08215 (2016) and World Of Dreams (2018). Always one for defying formulas, McBride has been gradually publishing As Real As Anything Else online for months, one track at a time. Her original artwork for each of its 9 singles - photos, self portraits, and digital drawings - comprise the 3x3 grid that is the album’s cover. Written over a two year period, As Real As Anything Else sees McBride through the beginning and end of a turbulent relationship, multiple periods of (at times self imposed) isolation, her transition into sobriety, and an ongoing search for self knowledge and spiritual freedom. The result is a transcendent journey of a listen; at times being created as it was being released, the album exists as a powerful documentation of the artist’s voice as a living, changing thing.
As Real as Anything Else is a canvas of color, yet radiates calm. Its sparkling mysticism is reminiscent of minimalist composers like Arvo Pärt, yet the album comfortably occupies a space in the terrain of contemporary electronica. The work defies easy categorization, yet feels intimately familiar – a stunning collection of music, full of authenticity and heart. Amidst all the bewilderment and alienation of our time, As Real as Anything Else is an album for the moment, offering us a quiet, centered stillness – an escape into deeper waters.