Photo by Andy Fortson
Katie Cole is a Melbourne singer songwriter I first interview in 2005 and discovered and dug her music, yep a long time ago. Now she has moved to LA and made a real red hot go of cracking the music industry. Read and discover why she is doing so good and how she is successfully using social networking sites to get her name out there, and what you should be doing as an artist to really make go of your music.
1. Are you happy how things are going for you so far with the music?
I have been fortunate enough to work with some the best people in this industry. My producer Howard Willing (Ok Go, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Van Hunt) pulled in the best musicians to play on my record. I got EXTREMELY lucky to find someone who supports my music and believes it has a place in the market. We were able to track much of my record including the "LOST INSIDE A MOMENT EP" at Henson Studios, Sunset Sound and other amazing historical recording establishments. Randy Jackson walked into my first session at henson in Hollywood to say "hi" to my Producer. I fist pumped him. I got lucky that when my producer reached out to me from Los Angeles to me in Australia, I knew exactly who he was, wanted to work with him and was prepared for the next step.
The simplest answer is "yes".
That being said, getting your music recorded is actually the smallest part of the equation these days. It is a very trying time for indie/upcoming and new artists. Don’t get me wrong, music is MORE popular than ever, but all you have to do is log onto Facebook or Twitter and within 2.3 seconds you can find a million new artists. The market is flooded so it causes new artists to push their music harder than they ever thought they could to the media, or purely remain a live music entity. I am attempting to do both, and I feel I am creating a "buzz".
2. How have things changed for you in the years of making music?
I now travel in limousines only. hehe. No. But there are many things that have changed and evolved for me socially, creatively and in a business sense. As a songwriter, I have been writing songs for almost 10 years, so there is a dramatic change in my ability to craft material and articulate what I want to convey. I really love telling stories and for me, I have learned to take real emotions and mix those with my ridiculous imagination to come with interesting stories. That way the story in the song is new, but the emotion is real. This also applies to writing new chord changes. Sometimes "complicated" is just complicated. You don’t have to say too much, just say enough. Make it count. Musically, I like to stay mid to up-tempo, but I now know how to challenge that.
Socially, I am learning that people make this industry function, so it’s
great to know more people, artists and network!!! Not to shmooze or be
cheesy, but to stay informed with who is doing what. I moved from
Melbourne to LA, so I had to learn fast. I was very much starting from
scratch. I try to stay on top of my online personality as much as my
live one. This way you can engage people from around the city, the state, the country and the world. It’s all about flooding the market, however you can do it.
3. What inspires you now as an artist?
I like good art, books and believe or not, I love cartoons like Family Guy and South Park. I nurture the adult as much as the inner child in me. I find I don’t actually need inspiration to write, I just need to be in a good place mentally. If I’m happy/content, I generally write very fluently.
4. How is LA different to Melbourne in terms of music?
Vastly different. Melbourne caters to rock, indie, folk, blues and roots etc, LA caters to singer songwriter, rock, punk, jazz, pop, folk. It is a little more diverse. It’s not to say that Melbourne isn’t diverse. It is. However, if LA has a venue that is punk, it REALLY is punk, and I’ve seen my friends punk band play at Les Deux Rock Mondays in Hollywood, and saw real mohawks and real punks. It’s not a fashion statement. People in LA live their personas. This is expressed in the live music scene. Venues like "Hotel Cafe" are very important for singer songwriters and pop artists, so you see artists like Guy Sebastian, and Missy Higgins from Australia will play there. Does that make sense? There are far more venues like Room 5 and The Mint in LA where I play, and these venues have artists like Anna Nalick, Colbie Caillait and Sara Bareilles perform too. There is a focus on pop in LA. I feel it’s missing in Melbourne. But Melbourne makes up for it with musicianship and rock.
5. Do u think working with different songwriters & producers has helped shape your music?
Absolutely. I think you can learn something form every situation. I try to be objective about my writing… so that when a co-writer or Producer says, "that part is too long" or "Let’s re-write the bridge"…. you are willing to try it. It never hurts to try to better a song.
6. Who has been the biggest help with your career?
My producer Howard Willing. Hands down. Greatest guy, and biggest curmudgeon that ever lived. haha. He has helped open some doors that never would have opened without his expertise.
7. What was it like supporting Glen Campbell?
Amazing. That guy is the REAL DEAL. He still sings all his classics in the same key, and plays guitar solos. A lot of people don’t realise that aside from having hits like "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Wichita Lineman", Glen Campbell was a major session guitarist in the 60’s. he played on some of the important sessions very recorded like "Strangers in the Night" for Frank Sinatra. The group of session musicians were nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew". The musicians involved were players Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye and dozens more. They played on all types or records fro artists including The Mamas and Papas, the Monkees, The Carpenters and The Beach Boys to name a few.
It was a real honour to perform with him, not just for the artist that he is, but the musician too.
8. Has the Internet & Social Networking sites played a huge part in your career?
YES! Did I mention yes?. YES. The online part of the music business is 90% of the business. When someone googles your band, do you come up? What comes up? I have generated more buzz, fans and exposure on the web than I ever have could have done on a one to basis with a publicist. It’s truly amazing. I can post something to twitter, or my website, and with enough people watching – it can make a difference. It’s a lot of up-keep but it’s worth it if you can be patient and target who you are reaching out to.
9. What advice can you give to somebody who wants to make a career in music?
Manage your marketing. Find an angle, and model from other like artists and bands. What are they doing? how are they doing it? It’s all about good press, reviews, buzz and flooding the market with your name and brand. Be involved with as many like groups, organizations and bodies as possible. more is more.
10. How did it feel to win a Future legend of 2010 award from MOVADO?
Great. it was all very fast and unexpected. I entered a competition via West Coast Songwriters ( a Californian based musician org) and entered my song "GRAVITY". The comp involved MOVADO watches and their new range the "BOLD". My song immediately jumped to top 3 of all the entrants. I was called and interviewed by the head of Marketing at Movado. It was at that point they decided to use my song in their ad campaign nationally and flew me to New York and presented me with their award. I was amongst big names like Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and Baseball star Derek Jeter that evening. I was driven around in limousines the entire time I was in New York. It was pretty cool
11. How are playing gigs in LA different to Melbourne?
They are vastly different crowds and there is an expectation to bring people into the venue in LA. In Melbourne, many venues have a built in crowd. I was paid to play in many venues in Melbourne. Very different. Most "name" venues in LA , for the most part, have an expectation to bring fans in. It is actually to gauge how popular a band is. And it DOES work for that matter. There are venues in LA that A&R will scout for talent at.
12. What has been the highlight so far?
Biggest highlight of my career. hmm. Opened up for Glen Campbell, toured with Anna Nalick, shared a stage with Jackson Browne, I released my first American EP and had a full venue, I won an award from Movado, had a song in a national commercial, I am currently sitting as the frontrunner to record a song with Keith Urban and open up with my band at one of his concerts…… All of these things are amazing. I am grateful for it all. These are the highlights. More to come!!!!