“It’s such a cruel feeling to be standing next to someone who has checked out of a relationship yet is still going through the motions with you,” Katie Jo lamented to American Songwriter.
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Born in Wichita, based out of Los Angeles and inspired by country legends like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, Jo is no stranger to the type of heartache that walks hand-in-hand with the aforementioned scenario. In fact, the retro-Americana songwriter explores that very topic in her new dreamy single, “I Don’t Know Where Your Heart’s Been.”
“With this song, I wanted to capture that awful, heart-sinking moment in time when a relationship hasn’t quite ended, but you both know it’s over,” Jo explained. “For me, this tune is really a little capsule of that, saying ‘indifference is the opposite of love.’ Whether it’s a puppy-love crush that isn’t reciprocated or a longterm partner who has one foot out the door, that holding pattern before a breakup is sometimes almost worse than the heartbreak itself. It’s even worse when it’s clear someone else is in the picture.”
For Jo, the inspiration for this song came to her just a few months after her own relationship fell apart due to infidelity. “I was convinced that we were soulmates, but looking back there were so many obvious signs and red flags that this person was in no way ready to settle down,” she explained with retrospect. “So, the narrator of this song is perhaps a smarter version of myself who recognizes when their lover isn’t fully invested—that gut-wrenching epiphany that they’ve closed themselves off to you and are directing their affections elsewhere.”
Coming ahead of Jo’s debut album, Pawn Shop Queen (due in April), “I Don’t Know Where Your Heart’s Been” is an excellent encapsulation of the singer’s knack for expressive storytelling. Even when recording the song itself, Jo tapped into her experiences from life to augment her performance—and she accidentally wrote the script for a music video in the process.
“When I was recording the vocals and trying to get back into that specific headspace of heartbreak, it really hit me just how many times in my life I’d felt that awful sting of indifference from a lover,” she explained. “I tried to think of the very first time I experienced that feeling and I immediately remembered going to birthday parties at the local roller rink as a preteen and being devastated watching the boy I had a crush on skating away holding hands with another girl. As I was singing, the entire storyline flashed before my eyes—down to pretty much every shot you see in the song’s video. By the time I stepped out of the vocal booth, I knew I wanted to recreate that very first innocent childhood heartbreak at my hometown roller rink back in Wichita as a video for the song.”
And that’s exactly what Jo did—teaming up with “an amazing local film crew and some very talented child actors,” she headed down to Carousel Skate Center (her actual childhood roller rink) and shot a gorgeous video to pair with the song. Dreamy, nostalgic and infectiously genuine, the song and the video unite as a single testament to Jo’s vision as an artist. While the scars from her childhood heartaches still lay bare in her soul, maybe all of the awkward, roller rink rejections were worth it to write this gorgeous, solace-offering song all these years later.
Watch the music video for “I Don’t Know Where Your Heart’s Been” by Katie Jo below: