When we asked Emma Ballard to interview Katie Who, the response was “finally”.
The Gold Coast is expecting great things from Katie after she took out the inaugural Battle of the Buskers in October 2014 which included a recording package as part of the prize – she has a five track EP due real soon. She’s humble and sweet and very, very talented. She’s home-grown and she’s an acoustic stomp boxing, guitar tapping, one woman band. So who is Katie Who? Emma delves beneath the surface.
How would you best describe your music?
It’s a hard question for me. I’ve never tried to play a certain style – my music is what it is. I don’t really have a label and I don’t feel a need to define the genre. I feel I could play at Soundwave, Tamworth or Splendour and would fit in okay at either. I guess if I had to define it I would describe it as a mixed bag of funk, blues with a slight punk rock influence as I was really into punk rock as a teenager.
Has music always been your calling and what inspires you to write?
I began singing at the age of two before I could even talk. Music is the only thing that’s ever made sense to me. I’ve always had a constant passion for music and when writing I love to tap into the magic of the universe. The ocean inspires me. And driving – I can be driving along and I start singing a vocal melody so I record it on my phone. Then I go home and put some guitar to it. Songs can be inspired by a personal experience, something one of my friends is going through or something going on in the world, also love and life lessons things like that. It’s always been a spectrum of things and taking people to another place.
Your style has been compared to Stevie Nicks and Alanis Morissette. Were these artists influential?
Not so much Alanis but yeah I was really into older bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and Passenger. I love the way Passenger writes about life and beautiful things that take you to an atmospheric place. Again I haven’t tried to write like anyone so no one was a direct influence. I listen to and appreciate all sorts of music.
You won the Battle of The Buskers Competition how was that experience for you?
It was incredible, just incredible. The energy in the room was amazing. I only sang two songs but people stopped talking and got up and started dancing. They were engaged and were digging it so it was a great feeling. Then I found out I won and I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting it and when I won the prize of recording an EP at Love Street Studios it was everything I needed.
You also took part in the Valley Rumble in May last year how was that experience?
Again it was great. I was the only solo artist competing against 39 other bands and I came second so I was thrilled.
And you played on the Buskers Stage at Bluesfest 2014?
It was great but I was so nervous. When I first applied for the Buskers Competition I didn’t make the cut. Then I got a call on the day of the comp and was invited to the Beach Hotel to audition. There were 40 acts and only ten acts were picked to play – I got to play a set to around 200 people and people were dancing and singing along. I felt really proud of myself to be there.
Did you also play at Splendour 2013 as well?
That’s an interesting story! I didn’t actually get booked to play. I’m a massive Splendour fan and I’ve been every year for ten years. One night I walked through the camp grounds with my guitar at 2.00am and stopped at a camp fire. I started playing and began drawing a crowd. It was raining and people didn’t care. They were coming out of their tents and before I knew it there was maybe 200 people gathered around. It was like an upscale bonfire sing along! I would love to get to play on the stage at Splendour one day.
You are currently recording a five track EP – how’s it coming along?
It’s going really well. It’s almost finished now and due for release in April. Three of the tracks are with a full band so that was really cool to do and my inner rocker has come out on a couple of the tracks. Scott French the producer at Love Street has been great to work with. I would also like to give a big shout out to Barry Martin who has been incredibly supportive. In fact I’m so grateful for all the support of family, friends and others along the way.
You’re becoming well known for your unique mash ups. What’s your favourite?
The crowd favourite is ‘Thrift-Shoop’ a mash up of Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Salt N Peppers ‘Shoop’. My personal favourite is the Chet Faker mash up.
Does overseas appeal to you and what’s next for Katie Who?
I’m doing a couple of gigs a week and I’d like to do more. This is my first year as a working musician after I gave up my job so I’m gonna give it a good crack. One of the judges at the Valley Rumble told me I was world class and I felt blessed and honoured to hear that. I’ve always been interested in travelling and music will take me there. Later this year I’d like to go to the UK and the plan is to be international in my own right.
For me music isn’t about getting rich, it’s about enriching my soul. Spreading joy, happiness and good vibes getting people dancing, crying and taking them somewhere they can relate to. I’m so grateful and happy to share my gifts on a daily basis. Maybe in the past I wasn’t ready but now I’m ready to give it everything I have.
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Katie Who launches her debut EP on Saturday 18 April at the Dust Temple, Currumbin Creek Road. Tickets here.