Karli Ingersoll is a very busy woman. She works full-time as a designer for the Spokane advertising agency Chapter & Verse. She co-owns and operates (with her husband Caleb) the downtown concert club the Bartlett, and they're working on opening a second venue, the Lucky You Lounge. She's working on a new album with her indie rock band Cathedral Pearls, and she plays lots of gigs with local retro-pop band Super Sparkle.
Even with all that on her plate, there's one more project that Ingersoll makes time for: her solo project Windoe, which will celebrate the release of its debut album Great Prize Friday night.
Each of Ingersoll's other endeavors comes with a more tangible set of pulls and pressures than Windoe. At her day job, she has a boss. Cathedral Pearls involves bandmates. Super Sparkle has a growing legion of fans to keep happy. The two venues contribute both to the Ingersolls' livelihood and the local cultural scene.
Windoe, on the other hand, is all for Karli. Which is exactly why it exists.
"Doing solo music again was kind of an effort to regain control of something that I gave up. A big part of that was being OK with using music as a really intimate therapeutic thing again and being OK sharing that with people," she says. "The other bands I've been in have been more like ... 'let's write music like this,' whereas the solo music is more who I am right now and what I'm going through."
Windoe is not Ingersoll's first time out as a solo artist. In the 2000s, she pursued music full-time under the name Karli Fairbanks, but "kind of crashed and burned," she said, in 2009 and 2010.
"When you're doing solo stuff, it becomes so self-centric. Everything's about you and (because) music is such a self-expression of things that you're going through, when it doesn't go well it becomes a personal failure," Ingersoll says. "The progress kind of plateaued and I got to the point where it was like, 'I'm not good enough.'"
For a half-decade or so, Ingersoll poured herself into more collaborative efforts, including her marriage to Caleb. But in 2015, she felt the itch to start making her own, unfiltered music again, and Windoe was born. Working with a small circle of friends, she released a single in 2016, an EP in 2017 and Great Prize earlier this month.
At 10 tracks and only about 36 minutes long, the album is a lesson in how to sound efficiently epic. Crunchy electric guitar powers songs like "Wild Thing" and "Standing Still," while "Take It Easy" crackles with the warm hum of strummed acoustic guitar strings. "I Had a Dream" floats woozily across an expanse of open space. "Deliver Us" shimmers like arena-ready pop even as it tackles dark subject matter. And album closer "Secret Keeper" sounds like Big Thief playing the slightly surf-y slow-dance song at a '60s high school prom.
Throughout Great Prize, production choices made in studio by the Ingersolls and their friend Scott Ryan give these songs a sumptuous, expansive feel. But Ingersoll's voice and melodies are the centerpieces of each song, gliding beautifully together across punchy folk-pop-rock arrangements.
That wasn't necessarily the plan at the outset, she says, but only because there was no real plan in terms of how the album would sound.
"What I wanted and what I still want (out of Windoe) is to be able to do whatever I want," Ingersoll says. "Whether that means my next album has more rock or more country, I don't know. The reason I'm doing this is so that I don't feel like I'm boxed in. It's not like I have a ton of people listening anyway, so the benefit for me should be that I have the freedom to make it sound like whatever I want it to sound like."
With the release of Great Prize, Ingersoll said she feels closer than ever to her ultimate goal for the project: to recapture the fearlessness and vulnerability she felt when she first started playing music more than a decade ago. She credits the passage of time, a couple of strong supporters in her corner and several years of hosting the Bartlett's open mic with helping her get to this point.
And now, she's ready to help others set aside their goals and deadlines and success markers and instead focus on personal fulfillment.
"People have this thing where they want to make it. They want to break through," Ingersoll says. "This album is about letting yourself work on something you're passionate about for no other reason than that. It's worth it if it's something that's fun for you and that you care about. That's my current anthem." ♦
Windoe Album Release with Jenny Anne Mannan • Fri, April 19 at 8 pm • $8 • All ages • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague Ave. • thebartlettspokane.com • 747-2174