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MAGDA WOSINSKA

"I HAVE my degree in physics and a masters in education," says "Kickball" Katy Goodman. "I was looking for teaching jobs when Vivian Girls started doing well."

So instead of following up on those résumés she'd sent to a number of New Jersey high schools, Goodman found herself crisscrossing the globe with Vivian Girls' garage pop. Of the many things she learned along the way, one lesson trumped them all.

"DIY," Goodman says, without hesitation. "I've had a record label. I've released albums. I've booked all of the Vivian Girls' first tours—pretty much everything people outsource to other people when you're a musician." Only when the demands became more than Goodman could handle did she relinquish the reins to a publicist and booking agent.

But there is one thing Goodman didn't do for the Vivian Girls: write. She contributed parts, ideas, and harmony while singer and guitarist Cassie Ramone took care of the words. In the fall of 2010, Goodman took on that final piece. "I kind of just started writing songs," she says. "It wasn't an aesthetic thing. It wasn't like: I want my new band to sound like this. It was more like: I'm going to try to write songs by myself."

Upon piercing the dam, Goodman unleashed a flood. For two weeks she wrote a song a day. With help and encouragement from friends, 12 of those songs became a record. Behind Goodman's lush, sumptuous coo, La Sera was born, still reverent of classic girl pop, but with less of Vivian Girls' pomp and edge.

In La Sera, Goodman is the only constant. The band shifts around her. In March, she released her second full-length, Sees the Light. In the interim, she became more comfortable as auteur and frontwoman.

"When I wrote the first album I didn't even know it was an album," she says. "Looking back on it I realize I was kind of scared to come out on my own and I was hiding beneath a lot of noise and distortion. In time you become comfortable and you're like: 'This is what I sound like. I should just go for it.'"

Where La Sera—or, for that matter, Vivian Girls—goes next is anyone's guess. Goodman is humble and thankful for all that music's brought her. And should it wane or crumble, she'll always have physics.