Thanks once again to our friend Tony Taylor at Dreamwest Magazine, we’ve been able to get in touch with Katie Cole! Katie is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and now based in Los Angeles. Among her influences are platinum artists such as Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Katie appears as a guest vocalist on Glen Campbell’s final studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, and she’s enlisted Kristofferson to appear her own upcoming full length, Lay It All Down? Katie is a singer/songwriter breaking through the clouds
HVUM: Hi Katie. It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to get to know you better. You have quite an interesting story. You are from Melbourne, now living in Los Angeles. Tell us more about yourself and how you made your way from Australia to Los Angeles.
KC: I’m a songwriter chasing a dream. Corny as hell, yes, but 100% true. My record producer Howard Willing (Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Ok Go, Nerina Pallot) reached out to me while I was in Oz. I basically flipped out and somehow made my way over to Los Angeles. I always knew I’d end up in California…just didn’t know how I’d get there or why. I play guitar, piano and a little bass when I’m forced to and I’ve been singing since I was 2, but professionally since I was 15/16. I’m a scorpio, various favorite colors and self-confessed cat person. Also, it is unwise to leave pizza near me.
HVUM: We know from your biography that you were brought up surrounded by the rock of the 60s and 70s – Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. How do you find the influence of these artists plays into your music?
KC: I suppose any and all music plays a role on a person that goes into a music-related profession. I think the early music and concerts I was subjected to played a huge role in the way my brain crafted an idea of what constitutes great song, song structure and live performance. I still love a soul/blues edge to notes I choose to sing and great guitar riffs are a must. As a listener, I definitely go through moods and phases, but those early influences sort of stick around whether I like it or not.
HVUM: You tell us that today you relate to artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Sheryl Crow. Do you have a specific sense for how these musicians are part of your work?
KC: I think I just feel a kinship towards singer-songwriters and bands of that nature that maintain an uptempo feel to the bulk of their work. I’m a huge fan of the anthemic songs and these artists managed to deliver many songs that I consider to be staple material. Sheryl Crow, to me always had such diverse lyrics and clever but easy-sounding choruses. As a lyricist, I learnt a lot from her work. Petty brings to the table simple chord progressions with deep and often dark subtext coupled with easy sing-along choruses. Fleetwood Mac having so many lead singers bring the effect of 3 bands. Christine McVie songs, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks songs. All felt vastly different from one another depending on who was singing. That’s a rarity in a band….to get away with such diversity. I feel I learned how to take complex characters and bring them to life in timeless sounding songs. It’s hard to compare yourself to other artists, but I love the above mentioned for those reasons. That said, I’m always learning. Always trying to challenge what I write and the way I record it.
HVUM: So, describe Katie Cole as Katie Cole…How do we best describe your sound?
I always say uplifting, singer-songwriter with flavors of folk, country and rock. Strong lyrics and stories that feel relatable. My vocal style is closer to Sheryl Crow and music style is a hybrid between Tom Petty and new artists like KT Tunstall and One Republic. I write emotion from the heart with elaborate plot lines. A lot of relationship songs that aren’t standard “i love you” songs. I think it’s about the details. I like details.
HVUM: For you, personally, does any of your work to-date stand out as the crowning achievement?
KC: I suppose the first single taken from my first American EP of the same name “Lost Inside a Moment” would be that song. I knew it was a special song when it was a challenge to write. Sometimes a song is ready when it’s ready and it was definitely worth the time spent writing and recording. It was my first song to get radio play in the UK on BBC Radio 2. For me, that’s a big deal. It’s probably a big deal for any artist. It was play-listed, then another song was. It was a really important time for me. In 2011 I had released the EP in America and I felt, that song wasn’t really reaching ears. I suppose there was a good gut feeling and some luck involved when it jumped across the pond. A great song has legs, the mystery and sometimes frustration about that is not knowing when those legs will sprout. There is a lot of persistence and hard work involved in what I do.
HVUM: You do a lot of collaborative work with famed artists such as Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Tell us a bit about you collaborations. Is collaborative work something you really enjoy?
KC: I first met Glen Campbell in 2009 when I first popped my head over to Los Angeles to start the meetings and recording process. My amazing Producer Howard Willing is also Glen’s producer and helped introduce me to his team. I ended up opening some shows up for him in Nevada in 2009 then again in 2010. When it came time to record his 2011 “Ghost on the Canvas” album I was brought to sing all of the female parts. A huge honor. It’s very sad that Glen is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. His fans will always remember what he’s given to the music world though. I also found out that a few songs from that album are being re-released on a new album 2013/2014 for Glen. An amazing singer and unbelievable guitarist and showman. Chatting with him and our Producer I was quick to learn his background as a session guitarist and all the iconic albums he performed including Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys etc. Huge stuff. Then it came time to record my new album and my Producer Howard once again reached out to somebody amazing. I actually wrote the song on the album called “Penelope” for a male artist just like Kris Kristofferson to sing. When I decided I was going to record it myself, Willing reached out to him having previously engineered the last couple of Kristofferson records for Producer Don Was (also a legend). Timing was just amazing and it happened. Collaboration is an incredible thing. None of the collabs I’ve done have been fully planned. There is definitely some randomness to that equation. Randomness and magic.
HVUM: You’ve toured a lot – Do you have any special or favorite places to perform?
KC: I really enjoyed touring American cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville and Denver. I love London too. I can’t wait to get back over there. I think I just enjoy travel and visiting new cities. It’s not always about the live shows, but the people you meet and the food. The vans – not so great.
We’ve been featuring your new video, “(We Stared A) Fire” (just out November2013). The track has been described as “American Country meets British pop”. What’s the story there? We’d like to know more about the track and the video.
KC: Thank you for supporting my music!! Well, the song was the last one I wrote for the record. I just wanted one more uptempo song. To me, this one is a tad sexy in nature although it’s at a fast pop tempo. I don’t think I do slow, sexy bow chicka wow wow songs. Haha. It was a really organic recording process as the drums and bass were laid down first with rough guitars and vocals. It was clear between my Producer and me that the drum part was going to be a feature and was going to drive the song. Everything else just sits on top of that. Guitar parts punch through and keys float in and out. It’s mostly my voice and that drum pattern that drive the song. I wanted a video to match the nature of the song. I felt like I wanted the main scene to be the band shot as I was hoping to introduce the viewing audience to my live band. The colored lighting of each scene change from a red band scene, to yellow fabric scene to a black scene with a yellow fluorescent lamp and a smoky scene where I’m wearing an amazing gown. All up it has a raw, rock feel with a sultry streak. There is a real live sense to the way it’s shot. Director Justin Coloma really captured the video exactly how I imagined it and the rest!! It’s moving, flowing and changing the whole ride. Lighting was a real key to this video along with elements of fire itself to illuminate some key shots.
HVUM: We know you have a new album coming our way “Lay It All Down” Tell us about that project and when should we be looking to buy the album?
KC: I actually launched a kickstarter campaign mid 2011 and it was successfully funded. Yes, it was that long ago. It started as me wanting to record 5 songs as a new EP. Once my Producer and I started to go through costs and songs, it was clear that I had too much solid material and it was more cost effective to spend more time and record more songs. So another 6 months went by with recording and planning. Put the first single out Oct 2012 called “I can’t wait”, signed a small record deal….some time flew by (6 months)…then extracted myself swiftly from that deal. Long story and I lost a lot of time. Time that I can’t get back unfortunately. I opted to somewhat restart. A lot of artists go through this. My producer wanted to remix the record and I launched the second single “(We started a) Fire this November. The new album is due out March 3rd 2014. I wanted to allow enough time to promote the new single. To me, you get one first impression of your art …so I’d rather wait and do something right than be impatient and release something early for the sake of it. That’s the definition of vanity and this is not a vanity project. I suppose I’m trying to compete with other major label and indie artists and that takes time and planning. So here we are!
HVUM: In the meantime, let’s take some time to check out that video “(We Started A) Fire”.
HVUM: Okay! We’ll be watching out for “Lay It All Down”. Any other projects in the works?
I spend roughly 1-2 weeks every other month writing in Nashville. I’m positive I have enough for another 2 full albums…but I’d like to narrow that down to an EP of songs. I’m thinking on that at the moment. I haven’t released “Lay it all Down” yet, but I’m definitely already planning something new.
HVUM: Do you have any particular causes or charities that you support and want to mention for our readers?
In Australia I used to do a lot of work for the Cancer council and the Variety club. Since moving to the US, I have been supporting Red Cross, MS Society (as my mum has MS) and WECAN that empowers women and supports awareness of Climate Change globally. I give charitably to a lot of random causes too and when needed I will buy a subway sandwich for a hungry face. I think kindness is a daily ritual and not something to brag about. It’s quite easy to be nice and do nice things even if no one else knows about it.
HVUM: Finally, my favorite question? Do you have any special superheros of your own? Why?
My Mum is my favorite superhero. It’s really hard being away from her. She’s a strong women who has overcome some difficult challenges in her life. She also now has MS. She’s still stubborn as ever, which is funny, and demands to do as much as possible on her own. I love that sort of independence. I hope I got that from her. I also think my cat here in Los Angeles has super powers. But those superpowers are only present when no one else is watching and only when she’s not napping or eating.
Visit Katie Cole at http://katiecoleofficial.com/