A Delightful Interview with Americana Gospel Indie Artist Katie Garibaldi
I consider myself lucky when it comes to having the opportunity to interview so many wonderful independent artists, and when Katie Garibaldi sprung up in front of me recently, there was no question or hesitation what-so-ever.
Having the pleasure of knowing Katie since Music Talks first began (almost 5 years ago) she has been one of those artists who you will always be more than happy to accomodate and work with.
Katie’s music is blissfully calming and easy to listen too with a gentle and alluring personality; I believe it is only a matter of time before Katie Garibaldi ‘s music reaches the masses and touches more souls around the world.
Enchanting, Beautiful & Delicate Music from Young Indie Artist, Sage
Tracey: Hello Katie, great to have you back on Music Talks. It has been a little while since your amazing Delightful song. Can you tell us and everyone how long you’ve been singing and performing for?
Katie: Thanks Tracey! At the risk of sounding cliche, I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Humming and making up melodies was something I always did as a kid. I just loved singing. When I learned how to play the guitar at age 11, I started writing songs and discovered my love of songwriting, and soon after that I started performing live while in high school. I always feel really grateful for finding a passion for something at such a young age because music really helped define who I am as I grew up.
MT: Delightful is truly delightful; Can you tell us what this song is about and what inspired you to write it?
Katie: Thank you! I had been playing around with the guitar melody for “Delightful” for a little while and when I sat down to play with it, my emotions were more in a melancholy state. I became aware that I was allowing other people’s negativity get me down. So the lyrics for the verses are a bit heavy: “How did I get here, losing myself in fear?” But as I progressed through the songwriting process, it turned out to be a very positive song, more of a call to action to take control of my own happiness. So the chorus is about finding liberation in honoring the light inside myself as well as in others: “Take these shades off of my eyes and shine all of the light inside. We could be delightful.” I love songwriting so much because it allows me to connect with a higher realm that can deliver messages I need to hear, as well as share with others.
A Delightful Interview with Americana Gospel Indie Artist Katie Garibaldi
MT: Who was your biggest inspiration when you were growing that perhaps helped you pave your way and decision to make music your career?
Katie: Hands down, Jewel was a huge inspiration for me when I was starting out. Her big debut album Pieces of You was released around the same time that I was learning guitar and starting to write songs, so her guitar playing really inspired me to expand my practice on the instrument as well as be authentic in my songwriting. I remember seeing her on the cover of guitar and music magazines and feeling so motivated to pursue my career in music. Also seeing her play live and how she commands an audience as a solo performer inspired me to be more confident onstage.
MT: When you were little, what kind of things did you do in regards to music? Did you sing in-front of the mirror with a hairbrush, or sing along to your favourite artists performing for family members?
Katie: When I was little, I was always, always, always singing. I was a very shy girl, so I probably sang more than I spoke! I didn’t really do it for anyone else. I just sang because I loved it. It made me happy and I felt connected to my true essence through music. My brother and I however did perform some Christmastime “shows” for our family back in the day. He played guitar too so we’d put on little concerts of songs we’d practiced and I would sing a Christmas song every year for a while. We had a lot of fun.
MT: I’ve noticed the feel and genre (although we don’t like to put artists in boxes) varies from Folk style Pop, Country/Americana, Christian pop and even noticed some jazz elements to some of your songs. Do you have a preference?
Katie: That is so true and I do get this question a lot because I think it’s kind of difficult to define my genre. I don’t have a preference for what someone labels my genre as. I love that different listeners connect with different aspects of my songs. It’s very endearing because I don’t sit down to write a “country” song or a “Christian” song. I just sit down to write what’s in my heart. So to hear someone call it what it means to them is cool because it reached them in that way. Yes, as an artist I do need to put myself in a box in a sense sometimes in order to promote my music more strategically, but I don’t let that interfere with my creative process so I just try to go with the flow.
MT: How would you describe your sound?
Katie: I typically use Americana as the term to describe my genre because it’s such a wide umbrella to encompass the folk, country, and roots sounding element to my music. And mainly, Americana is welcoming to storytelling centered songs. I don’t think my songs are very folk in the traditional sense where I’m telling long stories, but the story in the lyrics is a very important element in my songs. I like to weave in an aspect of hope as an underlying theme for the most part too.
MT: What is your most recent release?
Katie: My most recent album release is an original holiday and faith inspired album called Home Sweet Christmas, which is available on iTunes, Spotify, and other online stores. My most recent music videos are “Safe and Warm (Lullaby for Jesus)” and “Wonderful Mother Mary,” which can both be found on youtube.com/katiegaribaldi.
MT: Your songs have been described as ‘Grammy Award Winning’ and you have won so many awards and accolades; Have you been nominated for any Grammy’s yet amongst all your other awards? (I think it’s about time) ☺
Katie: Thank you so much! I haven’t had a Grammy nomination, but I am a member of the Recording Academy and very active at their events as they’re heavily involved in songwriters’ rights and fair pay. It’s also been a lovely opportunity to network with so many great artists and creatives.
MT: How often do you perform live and where can people see you? Do you have a residency anywhere?
Katie: A couple years back I was playing out at least twice a week, if not more, and traveling a lot for mini tours. As much as I absolutely love performing live, this kind of schedule really burnt me out because at the same time I was also recording, promoting—doing all the things, all at once. So I found that at the end of the day I couldn’t fully enjoy anything! Last year I made a conscious decision to cut back on playing live and create the space I felt I needed to write my new album and fall more in love with music again. So I only played a handful of gigs, and for the majority of the year I wrote. It was an extremely healing process and necessary for my mental health as well. I was also busy last year traveling to different film festivals to represent my video screenings, so that kind of took the place of live shows as far as being out on the road and meeting people. It was a lot of fun. Now, I’m looking forward to recording my new songs so I can share them in a lot of different and new ways, including live shows when possible.
MT: When you write your songs, how do you decide on what the topic or sound of that song should be?
Katie: The process is different for every song. I don’t have one set way of writing. Sometimes I have a lyric idea and then will sit down with my guitar to work with that, and other times my guitar playing will be the instigator for an idea. Typically though, it starts with melody, whether I hum a melody or find something on the guitar. Once I get an inspirational inkling, I’ll play around on the guitar and when I find a melody or chord progression that moves me, I’ll keep playing until the words start to form. It’s a very difficult thing to describe the creative process because most of it is just following my intuition and responding to an inspirational call. Usually the first few words that start coming together will inform me of what the song is going to be about, not so much me telling the song what to do. Once the song starts coming to fruition, I’ll start to get a sense of what I want the sonic production to entail.
MT: Do you have any special moments through a collaboration, either in writing or performing that you would like to share with us?
Katie: Sure. I’ve always loved the sound of stringed instruments and envisioned my songs accompanied by an orchestra. On my Follow Your Heart album, I had a couple songs that I really felt strongly about recording with an orchestra on. I had the opportunity to work with the Magik*Magik Orchestra here in San Francisco on those songs, and was able to sit down with the arranger Minna Choi before going into the studio. I hummed out the string melodies that I wanted and she wrote them into the arrangements. There were parts I heard strongly in my head. Other parts I didn’t quite know what to do, but I knew the emotion I wanted or the general vibe, for instance, building up slowly. Minna was able to add her creative ideas to that and came up with some beautiful arrangements. It was a really cool experience being able to witness the melodies in my head come to life in such a beautiful way.
MT: Do you have your own band or regular musicians who record and perform with you?
Katie: I work with a variety of musicians for studio sessions as well as live performances, so they vary depending on the project, location, and availability. I’m grateful to have met some gifted musicians and engineers in different stages of my career. Shout out to Todd Richardson, an amazing drummer and percussionist, who has worked on many of my recordings and live shows. He’s one of the most talented and professional musicians I’ve worked with, and a great person too.
MT: Do you have a favourite song of yours and what makes this your favourite?
Katie: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite song I’ve written because they’re all meaningful to me for different reasons. I’m particularly close with my song “Delightful” though because it’s become somewhat of a personal anthem for me on my philosophy of how I want to live my life and the kind of message I want to share with other people as an artist.
MT: What would be the hardest time so far in your career? How did you get through this time?
Katie: One hard time was the period leading up to recording my album Follow Your Heart. I had back-to-back producers not work out right before we were set to go into the studio. So it was twice the disappointment. Not a great way to start a new project. I went through a period of depression because I felt like I was being repeatedly let down, when I had been so pumped up and excited to record my new music. I was at a standstill, not wanting to trust anyone else with my creative endeavors. I got through it by eventually loosening my grip on the way I thought things should be, and started to shift my perspective on the situation. Instead of an obstacle, I had an opportunity to reclaim my power and ended up producing the album myself, which was an extremely crucial and magical adventure for me as an artist. It took some time, but once I redirected my focus from fear to faith, things came together in a way I would have never expected, bringing the right people into my circle to create the album, and it’s still one of the best experiences of my life.
MT: Have you ever felt like giving up music?
Katie: Although I’ve had hard times, like I’m sure every artist goes through, I wouldn’t say in my heart of hearts that I ever felt like giving up music. I’ve definitely been in black holes before where I took a break from my guitar before picking it up again. But I never abandoned music. It’s sort of the vibration deep inside my soul that has always sustained me. If I lost that, perhaps I’d really be giving up on myself. I’ve had times where I’ll question my path: “How do I keep going?” But I just always kept going.
MT: How important to you is it to keep your faith in what can be regarded as a difficult industry?
Katie: Keeping my faith is extremely important to me in anything, including my professional life. This industry can be regarded as difficult, but I also think that has become an overrated notion. Just because a particular something was hard to accomplish for someone else, doesn’t mean it has to be hard for you. I’d love to start hearing people in the industry tell artists and songwriters, “Go for it,” instead of, “Well, it’s really hard so what’s your backup plan?” These stories should be questioned and challenged. I hold on to my faith like it’s nobody’s business in this regard because even when I tell these stories to myself (“you’ll never be successful”), which is what the industry can cater towards, I find that one tiny whisper that is saying, “You got this,” and hold on to that. I’ve discovered that success is not in doing, it’s in being. It’s just being true to yourself. That’s success! To be. God has given me my light for a reason so dimming it would only be telling God he made a mistake. I feel more aligned with my purpose when I put my faith first and simply be who I am.
MT: Your music videos are just gorgeous. Where do the ideas of how your music videos should look, or the storyboard ideas come from?
Katie: Thank you so much! The creative process for my music videos varies with each project, depending on the video and who I’m working with. For “Delightful,” I trusted the director Anna Haas’ vision because I wanted the video to portray the message of taking responsibility for my own happiness and loving myself first, which Anna told in a beautiful story. For my video “Wonderful Mother Mary,” I was more involved in the production and wanted to tell the story of an awakening of faith by using a few different factors, including color. So the video starts in black and white, slowly turns to a sepia tone, and then is in full color by the end. I wanted it to be more of a performance video so the lyrics of the song could be the focus, but certain film techniques like color, fog, and light, would take the viewer on a visual journey. I absolutely love how music videos can make a song shine in a whole new way.
MT: Are there any rituals or lucky charms you may do or have before you go on stage?
Katie: Before I play a show or do a radio interview or anything where I’ll be sharing my voice, I usually say a prayer, which is something along the lines of, “God, please use me for the highest good. Allow the light inside my heart to be received with love and allow me to see and receive the light from others in return. May this performance/conversation be rooted in love.”
MT: Do you have any plans for any music releases in 2020?
Katie: Yeah! I’m currently in the pre-production stage of a new music video, which I’ll be filming in Los Angeles soon. I’m hoping to release that in the summertime. I’m also planning on recording my new album this year. I don’t know the exact release timeline yet, but I’m excited to share my new songs very soon and looking forward to getting back into the studio.
MT: What advice would you give to other upcoming artists or those who have been trying to break with their music?
Katie: Being an independent artist is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of work, but if you love it, the work is fun and fulfilling. Don’t let the work intimidate you. If you love doing music and being creative is what lights you up, it’s so worth it. All I would advise is to be conscious of staying in flow with the directions that life takes you. If you focus on the end result too strongly and hang on to a particular outcome too tightly, that’s when things get tough. Work really hard, but also be comfortable with letting go and trusting. That’s when things come together and you can enjoy it.
MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Katie: I want to say thank you so much for everything you do for artists and songwriters. Music Talks gives us a platform to share the stories behind our musical journeys, which allows for a deeper human connection. So I really appreciate it, and appreciate you!
Thank you heaps for your time Katie, have a great day !
Katie: Thank you so much for this opportunity!
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