a chess-adjacent chat with pacing

a chess-adjacent chat with pacing

If all of us on the internet are "surfing the web," Katie McTigue, who plays music as Pacing, has been churning up some sweet waves. She continually finds new, incredible delivery systems for her idiosyncratic indie-pop tunes: writing Spotify links on a banana, or adorning a CD with snake stickers and the plastic grass that separates delivery sushi from lumps of wasabi. The internet is so large and awash in increasingly disconcerting currents of white noise (as I write this intro, everyone is currently enraptured by a TikTok streamer who styles herself as a sort of human cartoon, receiving digital coins in exchange for saying things like "ice cream so good!" in a disconcerting tone); the Pacing digital universe is so awesome because it feels like it's animated by a real person making music because she wants to, and not because she's feeding the algorithm with slop willy-nilly.

So when I emailed Katie about doing an interview over DMs for I Enjoy Music, I shouldn't have been surprised by her response: "Can we use like... the most obscure DM platform we can think of? Is AIM still around? (Just kidding ish)." Tragically AIM is not around, otherwise I'd try to resuscitate my old screen name: conflagration999 (I was a self-styled pyromaniac in middle school). We settled for a second choice at Katie's suggestion: the chat function of a virtual chess game on Chess.com.

Now, I am no chess player — apart from a stint in my elementary school chess club, whose instruction has been wiped so cleanly from my memory that I must have gotten zapped by one of the Men In Black at some point —  but I was willing to sacrifice my pawns (and bishops, and the little horsies, and my queen and king) in order to pull off a chat-terview. The following is a lightly edited transcript of our chat as I got totally destroyed on the chess board. Over the course of a couple of weeks (it was slow chess, ok??) we talked about preparations for first-ever live shows, post-virality depression, Ira Glass as designated Responsible Adult, "the crippling pointlessness of It All," whether Cheekface is at all like Cake, Katie's new Pacing single "Live / Laugh / Love" which is out today, and much more:

Live / Laugh / Love, by Pacing
track by Pacing

ktmctig: Hello!!

themollyzone: hi!!

ok great. we're doing it. we're playing chess. i'm not too proud to admit i googled what to do

which i don't think is in the spirit of chess but maybe it is! maybe bobby fischer would have wanted this

while we're doing this i'll also put my music journalist hat on and ask: what have you been working on lately with Pacing? after the epic Snake Facts CD that is

ktmctig: We're doing it!! Hahaha that's ok I don't mind

Bad news, Bobby Fisher was a Nazi sympathizer lol

themollyzone: oh god no not bobby

ktmctig: I am finishing up the agonizing-over-the-final-details phase for my album which comes out this fall! There will be epic CDs

I'm also entering my hot girl summer of music collabs era. I just want to try lots of different styles and write with different folks

themollyzone: any particular style that you feel is calling your name?

also as someone who recently got back into CDs after a long absence, i would love to hear your personal CD history

ktmctig: Nice, you defended your pawn!

I love CDs! As a kid I would buy CDs based on the cover art with no idea what it would sound like. When I finished the demos for my first album hatemail, I thought it would be fun to make CDs myself on a CD burner just to give to my friends. But they were so much fun to make that I just kept making them and making the designs more elaborate... Things have clearly spiraled out of control

Lmao I accidentally just pasted that message into a chat from a different game. I'm sure my opponent is highly confused

I think CDs are the future!

themollyzone: hahaha "sorry i am being interviewed about music"

ktmctig: hahah that is basically exactly what I told them

themollyzone: i youtubed "mountain dulcimer" and after several autoplays i'm listening to someone play "everybody wants to rule the world" on hammered dulcimer

ktmctig: oooo you should look up the Aaron O'Rourke trio! probably the most famous dulcimer player

themollyzone: i also think CDs are the future. sort of the opposite of streaming AND more cost-effective than vinyl

ktmctig I agree! I find vinyl intimidating. CDs are comfy for me

[i start making incredibly ill-advised chess moves]

themollyzone: ok that was the limit of my chess knowledge and googling, i'm now going sicko mode

not a music Q but do you enjoy playing games, recreationally?

ktmctig: you're doing great! In the opening you usually want to develop your pieces and try to control the center with pawns

I enjoy games! Chess was my 2021 obsession and I have since fizzled out a bit. I have kind of an obsessive personality. I also like Stardew Valley

do you like games? lol being interviewed is weird I feel so rude

themollyzone: no this is great, not rude at all

i'm a recovering competitive person (was a nightmare middle school basketball player, for example) so now i just try to vibe

ktmctig: Lolol picturing you just beating up kids in dodgeball

themollyzone: yeah i was a real freak on the field of play

ok so i have a question about your methods of getting your music out there

CDs, the epic banana with the spotify link written on it, etc.

how do these ideas come to you?

ktmctig: Who knows man! If I knew where ideas came from and could actually control that process I'd be superhuman

But once I have an idea there's usually a logical next step from it (paper -> banana -> apple, lol)

I am definitely inspired by lots of people and things: books, stuff people say in conversation, memes...

themollyzone: re: banana, i saw that first in the context of ur ig post about the "pacing music band business model" which made me laugh

but also made me think about the emotional process of releasing music

would you say that cycle of build-up / release is a common feeling for u when you put stuff out? what does it actually feel like to put music into the world?

kind of a deep q - or maybe not 🧐  

ktmctig: Haha definitely!! There is a little post-release depression of like aw mannn I'm not the center of attention anymore

I've realized I have the most fun when the thing I'm releasing really matches my current mental state if that makes sense. That's why Snake Facts was so fun, I had JUST written it and released it basically immediately. It felt great. It can be annoying when you're promoting something you wrote 2 years ago lol

themollyzone: that makes total sense!

well speaking of new music, "live / laugh / love" rocks

i love the image of screaming into a live laugh love pillow so much

not to be all "what was the inspiration behind the song" but - what was the inspiration behind the song??

ktmctig: Hahah well that's the perfect segway. The song is sort of about feeling like everything you do is cliche and has been done before. I think it's impossible not to feel that way if you spend enough time on the internet

I think it started from the mantra "everything I do is dumb"

You know, the crippling pointlessness of It All

You know what's funny is I can't find a dang Live Laugh Love pillow!!! They only sell ironic spin-offs of it now. Fitting that my song about feeling irrelevant is too late to be relevant

Btw this line is called the Fried Liver

[at this point Katie is just...eating up my chess guys. d

themollyzone: the fried liver!! im truly just running on vibes on this game. but it makes me want to learn how to chess more thoroughly

ktmctig: Ahaha I'm down to play anytime! The chess.com lessons are also great

Thanks for doing this you're a good sport

themollyzone: well for what its worth i think you are doing some very interesting and not dumb things! and would love to see a live laugh love pillow w a CD tucked inside

ktmctig: thank you!! I try very hard to be not boring lol

themollyzone: not a musical question but given it is the fourth of july - do you have a favorite holiday and if so, how do u celebrate it?

ktmctig: Hmmmmm I would say that overall I am very bad at holidays. My husband is the same way, early on we were like "yeah no valentine's day" etc

Maybe Halloween? Horror movies are fun

themollyzone: also bad with holiday celebration, mostly in a "why are we putting decorations up when i will have to take them down" type of way

i like an external holiday experience like going to a festive restaurant then returning to my austere home

ktmctig: Hahaha that's it that's exactly it

Once again the crushing pointlessness of It All

themollyzone: got a fave horror movie?

ktmctig: Hmmmmm I've always loved The Village

Also went through a big Stephen King phase last year, although the movies kinda suck. I have a thing for Pet Sematary

I like horror stories where the scary thing ends up just being people

themollyzone: ha! i love that

have you ever read "Dolan's Cadillac" by Stephen King? my 7th grade english teacher taught it. it goes so hard, and it's just like...a guy who wants revenge. it rocks

ktmctig: No I haven't! That's fun your English teacher sounds cool. I feel like a lot of teachers dismiss Stephen King as Not Real Books aahhah

themollyzone: i also have another music related question which is about a post i saw of yours a while back with the theme "mastering isn't real, nothing is real, do whatever you want." it seemed like it resonated with people and was inspirational!

so my q is, what does getting audience/ listener feedback like that feel like?

ktmctig: Hmmmmm good question I am bad at describing feelings lol

It feels... Good

Ahaha but yeah I am definitely happy if I can inspire people

Ok actually that one other meme is great for explaining how I feel when a post blows up lol. It's like 5 minutes of high like "hey look I did something" followed by the anxiety of "ok what am I gonna do NEXT what if that was my last ever good idea"

Dunno if that's normal 😂

themollyzone: i feel that that is!

especially the virality feeling which is an emotional roller coaster

ok a topical question as today we see the launch of the twitter-competitor Threads

are you, as a musician / poster / meme creator, excited by the creation of new places for social media? or is it like....oh god now i have to post somewhere new

ktmctig: Ahahah thank you for starting with musician and not content creator

Well it's always interesting when there's something new cause it's sort of the great equalizer lol we all go in with 0 followers

Like the people who were early TikTok adopters obviously benefitted... Or had their lives ruined depending on how you look at it lol

Idk! I guess I don't feel anything really

A little annoyed at how everyone keeps copying each other all the time lol. Like every platform wants to be TikTok and TikTok wants to be YouTube and I guess now Instagram wants to be Twitter

But yeah I'll go wherever lol I'm a hoe 🫡

This is called a skewer

themollyzone: i feel it...i feel the skewer

also yes the intra-platform stuff drives me nuts

inter- AND intra-

i saw someone post a thread on their ig story and now i'm like great, you can do that. you can post an ig post on ig stories. you can put video on threads. ay yi yi

ktmctig: Not to mention reels!! Instagram is a mess lol

themollyzone: anyway.....as i slowly back away from social media....i ask, what music are you listening to these days?

ktmctig: Ok every time someone asks me that my brain shuts off and I can't think of a single band

Other than cheekface lol


At this very moment I am listening to Shutups

This morning I listened to the new Speak Now

I thought that new feeble little horse record was really cool

I've also been having a big Diane Cluck phase recently, she just makes me feel zen

Last night I saw my friend Kabir's band Left Tracks! They were so good!! But you already know that

themollyzone: oh man i'm going to see Left Tracks on Sunday!! i'm stoked

ktmctig: Oh that's awesome!! You will definitely enjoy

themollyzone: ok i have a specific Cheekface question because i was listening to their KEXP set and was like...does Cheekface kind of serve as a contemporary version of the band Cake? in that they have these very witty lyrics and a kind of droll delivery

does my theory hold water or am i full of beans

ktmctig: Ok I never really listened to Cake so I am the wrong person to ask

The first time I heard Cheekface my mind was totally blown lol I had never heard anything like it

I will say the Cheekface discord community definitely loves Cake though so you might be on to something

You can be full of both water and beans?

themollyzone: brothy beans! ok that makes sense...some parallel interests

Cake is fun but i have also heard Cake described as "the favorite band of people who don't listen to a lot of music" lol

ktmctig: I kinda get that! Haha I feel similarly about Cheekface like I just find it immensely accessible. I think of it as a good thing

Wait now I feel the need to over explain the "accessible" thing lol in case that sounded condescending. I think it's a real feat when you can grab people's attention with something catchy and fresh but then it also has additional layers of depth to it

And they do that super well

themollyzone: oh yeah the accessible definition totally makes sense

like a fruit on the bottom yogurt....yogurt's great but wait til ya get to the fruit!

ktmctig: that's it!! the fruit!!!

themollyzone: are you planning any live shows in the near future? and do you like playing live?

ktmctig: Ok guess what I have just booked my first show ever!!!! Opening for a really cool band I am terrified

Pacing has fully just existed on the internet for the last 3 years and this year I am committed to leaving my house 🫡

So I've been working really hard to not suck. I played a few live streams which was really fun (shout out Charitindie!) and hit an open mic in San Jose

But yeah it's funny cause I feel like I don't know any of the etiquette or culture of playing shows. I definitely have mad imposter syndrome

I've also just been going to a lot of shows lately which is rad

My live setup currently is just me and a guitar. Ben said it feels kinda like a standup routine lol

Oopsie ya dropped your rook

themollyzone: omg i did not realize you hadn't played live yet! that is so exciting

i feel like the live show format is wide open and you can really go nuts if you want

i talked to an artist recently about DJing vs playing live music because she does both and she basically said she liked playing music more because she felt like she could really be in charge of channeling the energy of a room

literally on a microphone, hollering at ppl

ktmctig: ahahha I love that! I think I will definitely have fun with it once I get over being terrified, I enjoy hollering at people

themollyzone: are there any shows you've been to in life that you would say are influential on the way you'd like to perform?

ktmctig: hmmmm great question! Ok weirdly when I think that about that I am thinking of stand up comedians again haha

Like Morgan Murphy how it's kind of an intimate confessional vibe like "hey guys look how f***ed up I am!"

Anyway I'm not THAT funny but I do think it's fun to like talk in between songs and over explain stuff

My buddy Jeremy (shout out Hi54.blog) told me about this guy Todd Snider in Nashville. He tells stories in between songs a lot, I really like his energy (just from listening to the live bandcamp album, I haven't actually seen any of these people live haha)

Are you allowed to talk a bunch on stage if you aren't famous? lmao

Clearly I am still figuring it out

Oh I also have a really formative memory of seeing Kimya Dawson in high school! She had us all sit on the ground. And at some point someone left halfway through a song and she stopped playing and was like "bye have a good night"

Yeah I don't know why I didn't start with that. Kimya Dawson, final answer

Are you allowed to ask people to sit on the ground if you aren't famous?

[by this point I am in a bad way, chess-wise. [by this point I am in a bad way, chess-wise. if this chess game were a land war, I would be losing the land war real bad]

Maybe I should sacrifice my Queen to make this game more interesting ahhaha

themollyzone: i love the stand-up / story-telling concept of live shows! i feel like we're losing banter in general as an art form so that whenever someone has good banter i get really excited

i think you're allowed to ask ppl to sit on the ground for sure - the only "artist request" i am weary of these days is from DJs who want you to "get low"

i sometimes go to EDM-style shows and i swear every DJ does it. they want everyone to get low

yet few of them play music that even warrants such a thing

ktmctig: Lmao that last sentence is poetry

Yeah I love banter and storytelling! I am now realizing that Gilmore Girls and This American Life may have impacted my life more than I thought

I have such a weird parasocial relationship with Ira Glass, there were a few years where he was like A Responsible Adult In My Life

This game is hilarious I am so sorry you are such a good sport for letting me crush you hahaha

themollyzone: lol i know i'm being very brave!!

in new york apparently the cool kids are playing chess out at bars. it may be due for a nytimes styles section write-up any day now

ktmctig: That totally checks out. I got into chess after watching The Queen's Gambit like everybody else. I need to see hot girls do a thing before I want to try it

Is this 👆🦋 feminism

themollyzone: yes hot girls do make the world safe for activities (walks.....drinking milk, apparently)

TAL rocks. not too proud to admit i listened to it to lull me to sleep after a breakup 10 years ago. god bless ira glass

ktmctig: Do not be ashamed that is what Ira is there for!!! For us all

I was heartbroken when I learned Ira Glass got a divorce. Not because I knew anything about his life but just because I feel like he has perfect communication skills. If he can't make it work how is there hope for any of us

But yeah he's just a dude lol.

How do you feel about podcasts?

themollyzone: i like podcasts! my favorite is probably Who? Weekly, one of the most reasonable approaches to celebrity goss i have seen. what is on ur listening roster? besides mr. glass

ktmctig: That sounds fun! I actually don't really listen to podcasts anymore lol. I feel like my music queue is endless and takes all my listening time

But there are a couple that absolutely raised me and we're just how I learned about the world as a preteen lol. Mostly TAL and some super early comedy podcasts

Ok it's about time to checkmate you

themollyzone: my bod is ready

ok as i prepare to have my royal family brutally m*rdered on the chess board

what would your advice be to musicians just starting out in the music-making world?

can be as specific or general as ya'd like

ktmctig: Lol advice is so hard. I feel like the most useful advice is really general cliche stuff like "be yourself" "keep trying" and you're like "yeah I know that :|||"

But then it turns out you actually don't reeeally know that until you learn it on your own

So yeah. Be yourself. Keep trying

Also don't do stupid sh1t! You know it's stupid just don't do it

Like getting on shady playlists, or following and unfollowing people

themollyzone: i feel like that's underrated advice actually

do you generally see that in the music-sphere, these "growth hacking" internet type of tricks?

ktmctig: Haha yeah stupid sh1t is rampant unfortunately

My inbox is always full of people trying to sell their playlist pitching services or whatever

Just gonna open this file here

I'm very inefficient at attacking sorry for the slow death probably

themollyzone: ahaha that's ok. my husband just took a look at the board and said "oh no"

i forget whether i said this already but in 2nd grade my elementary school had a chess club, which i joined

i absolutely remember winning one game but...you know...against another 8 year old. my blaze of chess glory

ktmctig: Ahahah that's so awesome I bet you kicked @$$

Dude 8-year-olds are not messing around

There are some very serious chess kids

I think the youngest grandmaster is 12

That's basically like getting a PhD

My dad taught me to play when I was about that age and I was like BOOORING

Took another 20 years to come around

themollyzone: that's nuts. child prodigies are wild

i still maintain if i had studied harder, i could have gone to the scripps spelling bee

i am stealing a question from this guy i met in NYC who has a page called "what's your sound"

which is - what was your favorite musical artist when you were 13?

ktmctig: Avril Lavigne! Lol

Ok the end is near

Any final words ahahah

I say and then I will blunder my queen or something ahahah

themollyzone: i feel like i keep wanting to move my king away like he's running away in a horror movie

well my last words are this has been a great time

ktmctig: Hahaha

It really has! Thank you so much!!

themollyzone: and that this idea to interview via Chess.com is genius and speaks to your unique perspective

ktmctig: Talking about myself and playing chess are two of my favorite things

themollyzone: and that i'm excited to see people get into "Live / Laugh / Love"!

ktmctig: Well you are a very good sport and I loved the questions

themollyzone: hail yeah

ktmctig: Lmao I kinda thought that was checkmate

themollyzone: omg i'm alive!!

ktmctig: See I'm so inefficient 😂 Finding the quickest checkmate is a real skill

Bout to go to a meeting - "hold on guys gotta checkmate this music journalist real quick"

themollyzone: HAHA

"Live / Laugh / Love" is out now!