Katy Davidson was born in 1977 in rural Arizona. Her first home was a geodesic dome her father built on the south side of a mountain in the Sonoran Desert. Every spring the mountain would turn orange when the poppies bloomed. As a child, Katy was obsessed with the albums Third Stage by Boston and Seven and The Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran. She taught herself guitar as a teenager by playing along with Liz Phair CDs on a nylon-string acoustic.
She moved to Portland, Oregon in 1995 to attend college. Portland at the time was a small village of dilapidated Craftsman homes supported by two vegan restaurants. Katy wrote her first song at age 19 in a dorm room. She played in a band with her college friends that sounded a lot like The Mamas and The Papas. She started the band Dear Nora in 1999 after moving into a house full of musicians who introduced her to the wider world of indie music. Magic Marker Records released two 7”s, Dear Nora found an audience through touring the west coast, and Katy decided to devote her life to writing, recording and performing music.
Amy Linton from The Aislers Set recorded Dear Nora’s first full-length album, We’ll Have a Time. Shortly afterward, in early 2001, Katy moved to San Francisco. Her rent was $550 for half of a Victorian apartment. This was a 215% increase in rent from her place in Portland. Later that year, 9/11 happened.
Dear Nora released a handful of enigmatic and compelling albums throughout the 2000’s and played shows in the United States, Japan, Sweden and Australia. Throughout the years, the Dear Nora live band featured a rotating cast of band members, including an auxiliary percussionist named Nora. Oftentimes Katy played solo. She retired the band name in 2008 after a tour of Florida with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Katy released albums under the names Lloyd & Michael and Key Losers between 2008-2011.
Now Katy has decided to revive Dear Nora because an unnamed music journalist sweetly coerced her, and because Orindal Records is reissuing Katy’s favorite Dear Nora album, 2004’s Mountain Rock, on vinyl in early 2017.
Katy’s music represents a spectrum of styles encompassing melodic folk, experimental music, and ethereal pop. She writes lyrics with layered meanings that contemplate the vast realms and intersections of wilderness, humanity, morality, technology, late capitalism, and love.
Aesthetically, Dear Nora has borrowed from Judee Sill, Young Marble Giants, Joni Mitchell, Arthur Russell, The Roches, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Nico, Linda Perhacs, and Yazoo. She is constantly striving to sound a little bit more like Talking Heads.
Katy has assembled a dream team of backing musicians for a January 2017 Dear Nora tour: singer-songwriter Stephen Steinbrink, Zach Burba from the band iji, and author Gregory Campanile.
- Dear Nora official website
- The Believer interviews Katy Davidson
- PDX Monthly interviews Katy Davidson
- PopMatters reviews Mountain Rock
- The Fader profiles Dear Nora
- Portland Mercury interviews Katy Davidson
- Bandcamp interviews Katy Davidson
- Pitchfork names Mountain Rock "Berst New Reissue"