Gatlin: The Two Sides of a Woman in Love

Formerly just-a-girl-with-her-guitar-esque singer-songwriter, Gatlin, also known as Gatlin Thornton, has dropped all of her filters in an upcoming double single release that nakedly presents all of the big, chaotic feelings of a woman in love. 

Her last EP, I Sleep Fine Now, was a lyric-driven breakup bash with a sultry sound. Oftentimes employing music as an outlet to process her emotions, sincerity could always be felt in Gatlin’s music. However, with this new release, the formerly Nashville-based musician has embraced her sometimes-dark, messy, and angry side, with a unique musical shift that places emphasis on rawness.

FRONTRUNNER spoke with Gatlin about this double single release, deemed the ‘two sides of a love coin,’ by Gatlin herself, female powerhouses in music, and the cathartic nature of songwriting.   

What was the role of music while I was growing up? 

I think it was just like always playing in the house. My dad had such an appreciation for music and so he was just constantly playing and it was such a bonding thing for my dad and I, just to dive into old music, and I just loved it. I really gravitated towards female powerhouses. I always felt like a really big personality as a kid. And so, obviously, I was into Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift. I really loved Gwen Stefani. The first concert I ever went to was Shania Twain. ‘Come On Over’ and ‘Up!’ were always playing in the house. And Gwen Stefani’s ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby.’ was always playing… I feel like it was just very a lot of women-music in the house,

Was there a particular reason why you were drawn to them?

I think being a little girl and just wanting to feel very empowered and very out there. I was always performing as a kid and wanted to be the center of attention. And so I think having all of these like female role models was really, really, really cool. That’s kind of what I mostly gravitated to.


How would you say that your musical style has evolved over the years? What was it when you first started? How would you describe it now?

It’s kind of all over the place. When I started I thought I wanted to be a worship leader. At one point, I was really, really deep in the church. And then it kind of went into wanting to be an indie folk girl—like just a girl on her guitar playing really soft music. And then I realized I have a pretty loud voice. I’m a pretty like, in your face kind of person. I’m not mysterious. I feel like I was putting on something that didn’t come naturally. So I started falling in love with pop music. Playing live helped a lot I think because I liked really high energy stuff. I lived in Nashville once I turned 18, I went to college there for a few years, and that kind of shaped it. And then, coming out to LA and doing all the traveling that I do… I evolved as a person. So like, the music has changed, throughout, with what is going on in my life.

What is your songwriting process like generally? How do you find your inspiration?

Most of it is what is going on at the time. Right now I am working through a lot of childhood traumas. But again, that’s because I am in this era of life where I am healing a lot of that, and I’m doing a lot of self work. So it’s really what I’m writing about is what is on my mind. I just pull from what is going on, from what people say, from what’s happening and what conversations that I’m having. A lot of my previous music is breakup music. So it’s things that these people I’ve been in heartbreaks with have said to me.

I wanted to ask you about your EP, ‘I Sleep Fine Now.’ What was the process of putting that together?

It was an EP that walked through the stages of grief. It was about losing. It was a little bit like, not only grieving the person that I was in a relationship with but also grieving who I was, for the beginning of my adulthood, from ages 18 to 24. I think that was me being able to close a chapter because I knew this person from 18 to 24. And now they’re out of my life. And so it’s not only that person, it’s all the friends I had in that life and who I was. And so yeah, it was just kind of collecting all of the songs about grieving, all of what happened, and all of my emotions through that. Some of the songs were self reflective and it spurred me on a lot visually while I was writing it. It was such a fun project because I think it was the first time I got to be creative in all facets, and really had a very clear vision. It was very fun. 

Do you generally use music as a way to understand your own life and deal with things? Is it an outlet?

For sure. I think it’s very cathartic. It’s very much like journaling, you know. It’s like a creative outlet and it’s also a way for me to understand my emotions and to get them out. I call it my Big Feelings EP. I have a lot of big feelings and in therapy I’ve learned that I used to kind of push them down, and they would come out big, and then I would ignore them, and then they would come out big. And so I think it was a way for me to process through them. 

Tell me about your new single Too Much Woman. How did that start? And also, I can hear a sonic shift there. I’m wondering how you’re changing your style with that and what that represents for you.

That actually was a song I wrote with the chunk for my EP. I wrote and recorded it with the chunk for ‘I Sleep Fine Now.’ It was just more of like, an angry, kind of sassy version of myself that I wrote, I was very free in writing it. But I was still, I think, scared to put something like that out, because maybe I didn’t feel as comfortable in my sexuality or in my anger as I do now. I think I felt that it is a lot more comfortable to be put in this box and be neatly wrapped up and be able to be easily consumed by everyone, and I think this is a little more out there. And I feel very comfortable in who I am now. I think it is also a sonic shift. So it didn’t feel like it fit with the EP. But I am moving more towards having angry things or saying different things and cursing and talking about having sex, and all of these things that I think even a year ago, I was not comfortable doing.

This upcoming release is a double single, alongside your cover of ‘The Reason’ by Hoobastank. What made you want to do a cover of that song, and how did you make it distinct?

I wanted to make it pretty indie. And so I use some background vocals to cover some of the melodic lines they do with guitars or pianos. So yeah, I just wanted to make it indie. I feel like I’ve been a really big fan of Soccer Mommy, being from Nashville, and she did a cover of Drive by Incubus and I just always thought that was so cool. And The Reason really has stuck with me because I have core childhood memories attached to it, with me just being the most dramatic. 

You referred to the two songs in this double single release ‘the two sides of a love coin.’ What does that mean to you?

I mean, The Reason is just such an emotive song. I remember being probably 10 years old, in my bedroom, pretending I was in a movie or in a music video, and being very theatrical with it. So I think that it is the more yearning side and the more lovely side of love. And then, Too Much Woman is the more chaotic sister. It’s the two sides of the love coin and it feels like the two sides of me, where I can often be like, I am too much for you. I know my worth. I’m awesome. And then I can also be like, oh, no, I love you so much. So it feels like that. Also, Too Much Woman is double dimensioned; it has a harsher production element, and then in the back half of the song it’s very graceful and lovely. It is kind of like the duality of women, like we can be soft and graceful and we can also be really scary in a good, empowering way.

I know you had a recent tour and I was curious about what the vibe is at your live shows and what you want them to be like.

I love playing live. I think it feels like a very safe space, I hope, for people to not feel like they are too much. And to feel all of the emotions. I really like taking everyone on this roller coaster of emotion because I feel things very high and very low. And I think a lot of people who listen to my music have big emotions. On this last tour, I was like, you’re my big feelings kiddos, and so there are some songs where we can dance around and be silly, and then there are some songs that are about really dark things. We can take a second and be really emotional and then go back to the party. I like the idea of my shows being like, let’s just get everything out, you know? And I like the idea of everyone just being exhausted because they were just really open and got to be there with me, like experiencing music, because I feel pretty tired after every show, in a good and cathartic way.

What is the overall direction that you want to take your music after this? Do you have any particular artistic goals? 

I think it’s just going to be very, very, very unfiltered. I have always filtered my art, always because of fear of what people will think. As I’m making this new batch of music, I’m kind of just making it for me, instead of having the voice in the back of my head that is like, well, you might put this out and so and so might hear. So yeah, I think it will be more experimental. My tastes have evolved, you know, and I’ve been falling more and more in love with rock and have been exploring Nirvana and Radiohead, and even Bruce Springsteen. I think it will have a lot more of those elements.

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