When you listen to In Another Lifetime by NJ rock-folk band, Kate Dressed Up, you are transported to a space of storied wonder and ethereal expansion. Intended as a concept album inspired by The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the anticipated timeline for In Another Lifetime was pushed back due to the pandemic. During that time, frontwoman Katie Miller found that the album had taken on new meaning. What Miller did not expect was that she had more to say beyond the themes found in Antoine’s philosophical children’s book.
Never being the sort of songwriter who chooses when or what to write about, Katie Miller willingly relinquished control. The result is a brilliant symbiosis of Miller’s personal sphere meshed with the motifs found in Antoine’s famous work. Art wants what it wants, and thus, In Another Lifetime went from a concept album to a full-length Kate Dressed Up narrative debut.
“There are hints of The Little Prince in all the songs,” Miller says about the themes that unfold on the album, “sometimes lyrically and sometimes sonically.” That’s what made working with SPHMRE, Miller’s producer, so magical. Together, they discovered how the tracks should sound as they went through the process of bringing the album to life.
“Many people put so much of themselves into this album,” Miller says, “[so] I want to put everything I can into its release to honor their hard work.”—and of course, her own. The album highlights a lot of talent, particularly that of SPHMRE, who has become one of Miller’s most treasured friends. She wants everyone to know just how much of a role he played in the studio.
“We worked at Flux Studios on the most inconvenient days, during the most inconvenient hours,” Miller says, “and over the years, never once did SPHMRE’s enthusiasm waiver.”
That’s the greatest blessing Miller’s had through the process of making In Another Lifetime. The pair took advantage of everything Flux Studios had to offer. For the first time, Miller played through a Leslie speaker, and simultaneously, SPHMRE recorded live drums. This gave them room for lots of exploration and musical experimentation. Like bringing in horns for “How Could I Have Known” and strings for “Fly Along.” At best, In Another Lifetime is “Kate Dressed Up on a musical playground.”
Katie Miller’s personal story unfolds alongside the themes of The Little Prince, though the message conveyed is more fragmented, even more complex, than that of Antoine’s. Miller admits that her own story presents more questions and very few answers. This makes the title, In Another Lifetime, so appropriate.
“In Another Lifetime is the answer to a lot of those questions,” Miller muses, “questions about love, family, all these myriad connections that we experience.” [sic]
Kate Dressed Up traverses the often temporary connections we experience, the choices we make, our regrets, and our fears for the future. The silver lining is learning from the past in order to forgive ourselves while looking positively toward the future with its limitless possibilities. That’s what In Another Lifetime is all about.
While art means many things to many people, In Another Lifetime means different things for Katie Miller. The album’s significance for her varies on different subjects, even on different days. On this particular day, she says that “[In Another Lifetime] is about the unanswerable questions we accumulate as time passes and we get older, about seeing the past with regret while at the same time gratefully learning from it…about fearing the future while maintaining a deep abiding hope.” [sic]
It is Katie Miller’s hope that everyone can find something meaningful in the introspective tracks that unfold dreamily on In Another Lifetime. But realizing that the album does not necessarily end on a bright note, she contemplates how she wants listeners to feel as they come away from it. The conclusion Miller comes to is that the moments of hope will stand out on the album.
“Everything changes,” Miller adds, “every day can bring something unexpected, we have far less control than we would like to think.”
Equipped with this awareness of how infinite and connected we really are, Katie Miller keeps her faith in gratitude and gives what she can. Not just for herself—but for others. It is every intention that In Another Lifetime is an example of that.
*Cover photo by Jenna Murphy/Okie Dokie Studios
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