Kat King has been writing and recording her music since the age of 14, a natural result of being part of a musical family. Her ten plus years experience as a songwriter have led to several accomplished singles and EPs, culminating in the recent "Song From Spain." In this interview with King, we learn among other things how "Song From Spain" came about, the importance of sleep to her creative process and what music she's been raving about lately. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
Hi there! My name is Kat King and I come from a very small town in Kansas. My music has transformed quite a bit over the years. I began writing as a singer-songwriter and most often played solo, occasionally having my siblings as my backing band. After moving to Lawrence I began playing with more people and different group and was exposed to a whole world of music I never knew. This challenged me greatly and I began adapting and expanding my sound. Now living in KC and playing with a consistent full backing band my music has been described as indie pop rock. This gives quite a bit of leeway to keep experimenting and honing my sound which I’m really enjoying!
According to your bio, you’ve been creating music since the second grade. What spurred such an early interest in music? What were your earliest compositions like?
I come from a very musical family. My mom has been a performing musician since before I was born. She got me started on piano and then I ended up taking classical piano lessons for most of my childhood. Through that time I started teaching myself guitar and my brother taught me how to play the drums. He was also in a punk rock band in high school and I was so inspired by them. My earliest songs were influenced anywhere from Regina Spektor to Fall Out Boy, haha. They could range from synthy pop to punk rock and I was writing about love before I even knew the first thing about it. Luckily I had quite an imagination and I had no concept of trying to fit into one sound which I’m very grateful for. I love listening back to old tunes of mine.
Delve into the making of your newest song, “Song From Spain”. Where was it written and recorded? Did you try anything new you hadn’t done before?
I began writing this song while I was living in a tiny town in Wisconsin in the summer of 2017. I was pretty fed up by a back and forth, non-committal relationship I’d been involved in and the first lines were inspired by a letter she had written me. It kind of took off from there and I thought I had it completed until I went in to the studio. I recorded with a friend named Joel Martin who has a small studio in Lawrence (which has now moved to a new spaced in an old remodeled chicken coop - they call it “The Coop,” it’s amazing). Anyways, I was recorded the guitar track and whistling along to the melody. After I got that done he was said, “Do you want to lay down those whistles now?” And I responded, “Oh, that’s not actually a part of the song…” which he was super bummed about. Long story short, we went ahead and tried a whistle track anyway and then the song took a whole new shape. We layered it over a guitar riff I only had incorporated at the end and ended up making that the riff that the song continues to land back on after every chorus and in the beginning of the song. It was the happiest accident that could’ve happened.
Describe your creative process. How often are you writing music? Does music come fairly easily or are you a heavy editor for your work?
To be honest, it completely depends on my schedule. In high school and college I was writing constantly and honestly it came pretty easy. I remember one night I wrote three songs and none of them felt forced. It was incredible. I always had my guitar out and available and I didn’t have the reality of real financial responsibility yet. Living in KC and working full time has created quite a shift in my day-to-day life and the reality that I NEED sleep. I am still navigating how to make sure I am being productive in writing music but it does not come as easily as it once did. I also try to avoid rushing how to end a song unlike how I’ve done things in the past. Sometimes I get impatient and want to finish a song in a rush because I’m excited but I’m practicing letting my songs breathe and coming back to them with new ideas and I’m making it a goal to fit songwriting into my daily life again.
What music have you been raving about lately?
I’ve been preaching Maggie Rogers to anyone I can, but she’s making quite a name for herself now so most people already know! She’s fantastic. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Madi Sipes & the Painted Blue, all of Vampire Weekend’s new releases, Japanese House, and Lizzo!
What’s ahead for you in 2019?
That’s something I’m trying to nail down too. I have a music video in the works that will hopefully be released in the next couple of months and I am planning on recording another EP! Along with those things, I want to continue nailing down a solid backing band and really honing our live show. I’ll also keep performing as much as I can, so stay tuned for show dates!
Kat King's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
One of my all time favorite movies in your library is The Descendants directed by Alexander Payne. It's beautiful, hilarious, real, and depressing. I'm a sucker for that kind of a combination. And an album I would recommend is Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers!