Neko Case On Loss, Time-Outs, & Life In The Country

15_NekoCasePhoto: Courtesy of Neko Case. Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
It may have taken four years of much-needed personal time, but Neko Case has returned with one of the year's most powerful records. With a title as honest as its contents, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is an ultimately triumphant look at depression, loss, and love. We sat down with Case in a Soho hotel lobby for an unguarded conversation, where she talked overcoming her personal travails and regaining her confidence. ("My compass and my gauges were just all a mess," she said). Along the way, Case touched on topics such as her love of rock 'n' roll, covering Nico's “Afraid," and appreciating nature at her Vermont farmhouse.

Between Records
"I just had some human things to do, like slowing down and taking care of myself. I had a couple years of being pretty depressed, mourning deaths in the family. Just normal human things that, earlier in my life, I never really slowed down to do. My body just said, 'You're out of get-out-of-jail-free cards. You've got to stop and do it; otherwise, you're going to be really unhealthy.' I just let myself take longer."

The Worse Things Get
"The happier songs were written on either two ends of the spectrum. 'Happy' meaning more...what's the word I'm looking for? Productive. Just realizing that I'm still a strong human who will persevere. It feels good to realize that now and again, because I was few and far between for a while. I definitely lost a lot of confidence that I had had since I was a teenager, and that was really disorienting and confusing. It kind of makes you feel like you're on weird drugs that you don't want to be on in that situation. You second-guess every little movement. I just kind of lost my human fluidity, and I became a really gawky adolescent."


Rocking Out
"It's been easier than I thought it would be, as far as translating the new material [to the live show]. It's always nice to be reminded how much fun rock 'n roll is. It is easy to forget sometimes, when you're so busy you never go home. Allowing myself to go home and become a tired human for a while really reset that and tripled my appreciation for my job. I would be dead without this job; it's my husband, for sure."


Neko on Nico
"I know people are going to be like 'Neko covers Nico!' but that is purely coincidence. I'm a huge fan of hers, especially Desertshore. Desertshore doesn't nearly get enough love, because that is a weird record. She's letting her freak flag fly in the wind. She's a really singular artist, and a lot of people kind of write her off as 'Oh, she was a model — she just looked good.' Totally not the case. She's a really interesting human being, and she wrote that song. I thought it was so sad and beautiful and hopeful at the same time."

Country Life
"There's a lot of softness to the light where I live. And, just the dirt and nature and clean air. Like, last night, I walked out to my car in a hurry. It had just rained, and the fireflies were going crazy. I just sat on the hood of my car for a while. I was just like, wow, I live in one of the most beautiful places in the word. I'm just going to sit here for 20 minutes and watch. And, those things happen in the city, too — it's just different."

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