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Interview: Band Of The Week – Kate Voegele

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Did you know MySpace had a record label? No? Neither did I. But they do. And Kate Voegele is one of their artists. With a voice that could wow any American Idol crowd and enough spirit to make a pop album with integrity – no committee chosen songs here — Kate has come to that poised-on-the-brink place, where she waits. One problem may be that this pop songstress is no Britney or Christina clone, and her brand of pop-rock is more rock than pop and would probably fit better on VH1 than MTV; but at just 20 years old, with a face and body that could stop traffic, it is likely many older music fans would dismiss her out of hand as just another vacuous, homogeneous pop-idol. But it would be a mistake to dismiss Kate until you have heard her debut album, fittingly titled, Don’t Look Away.

Kate with guitarKate is the genuine article. Honest, talented and driven, she is no clone. What she lacks in emotional maturity – she is only 20 years old – she makes up for with a killer voice, passionate enthusiasm and great pop-rock guitar driven tunes – she even plays the guitar on her album — that are, for the most part, written by Kate. Avril Lavigne without the I’m-a-teenager-and-good-at-it attitude, or Pink missing the I-can-do-anything-boys-can-do chip on her shoulder. You could do much worse than to give Kate and her music a chance.

This Ohio native has been lucky enough to share the stage with many of rock's best, brightest and most talented like: John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Jamie Cullum. She is certainly one of the rising stars on the pop-rock horizon. I recently had an interesting conversation with Kate. I found that although she is still young, there is a down to earth quality about her that I really appreciated. Kate and I talked about life on the road, boys, spending time with her friends, trying to be a normal person and, of course, her music and debut album Don’t Look Away.

When did you get interested in making music?

I’ve always been interested in making music. I have grown up around it and it has always been a huge passion of mine. I love listening, singing it, playing it, anything. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 15. I was on vacation with my family in Florida, and my dad — he had played guitar since he was a teenage – bought himself another guitar while we were on vacation. I just kind of got interested, and I was like “Hey dad do you want to teach me to play”. I thought it would be a hobby like “Wow, cool I play guitar.” Never really planned on playing guitar so I could get a record deal and be famous that was never really my intention.

Once I started playing I tried my hand at songwriting and my dad bought me a little recorder and I put some songs down. I wouldn’t play them for anyone but he (her dad) of course sunk into my room and listened to them anyway, which is just what fathers do I guess (giggles). He convinced me to let him to let him record them better and give them to some people to see what they thought. They got an awesome response even though these were crappy little demos. And that is kind of how we got the ball rolling.

How old were you when all this happened?Close Up face

15. Yeah, so it was crazy it all happened really fast for me. I didn’t even have anything professionally recorded yet so we went and did something that sounded a little more professional. A little five song EP that I would sell at shows and stuff. Things happened really fast, I didn’t even have a chance to play much outside Cleveland or the Midwest before I had labels calling.

I didn’t end up signing the record deal that I wanted until I was 19. I think that was the best choice I ever made because it gave me a chance to grow as an artist and really decide who I was as a musician before I put a record out. I think that if I had signed a deal when I was 16 it would have been very easy for me to be moulded into something that I didn’t necessarily want to be.

So did you write all the songs on Don’t Look Away? Do you write all of your music, or just the lyrics?

I write everything for the most part; everything on my record is mine. The only stuff that isn’t I’ve co-written with somebody. It all has something that I have written in it. As of yet I haven’t recorded anything that isn’t original. Which is cool to me because I think, there’s some amazing songs that I would love to cover out there, to release my own version. But it’s awesome to write your own music, you can sing it with so much more heart. If it’s something you wrote then it was obviously something that you were feeling, that was going on in your life.

I really write to deal with things that are going on in my life. It’s so therapeutic for me and at the same time I think it’s cool that therapeutic for other people too. No matter what the situation they can relate to it and that is all that matters to me.

Which one of your songs, for example, is about something you were dealing with in your own life?

I think all of them are an example. One of the songs on Don’t Look Away that gets a good response, people say: “This is exactly what I am going through. This helped me so much. It is a song called “Wish You Were,” and the whole idea behind the song is that I am still in love with who I wish you were. For me in my life it was exactly that situation, everybody knows that situation. You fall for somebody, and you’re all excited about it and they turn out to be somebody who is very different than you thought they were in the first place. But you are still in love with who you wish they were. It’s this really weird feeling of loving somebody who doesn’t even really exist.

Kate smilingTell me about your new album. It’s your debut right?

Yeah, it’s my debut album; I’m really excited 'bout it. It’s 13 songs, it’s called Don’t Look Away and I just released it on MySpace Records. It’s out in stores and everything. A lot people think that because it’s MySpace Records that it’s only a digital label, but it’s actually not. It’s everywhere. It’s on Amazon, iTunes all those places.

It’s really exciting for me because I have been playing guitar since 15 but I have never released a full album. I’ve always done EPs and little demos, to try and get the right record deal. Now that I signed a record deal I was making my and I really wanted this album to be a representation of all the years I have been doing this. There’s so much that has gone on in my life and I have had so many great experiences, I just thought this record should tell the story of my life up to this point. So some of the songs on Don’t Look Away are three years old and some of the songs I wrote while I was in the studio recording it. So some of it’s very fresh and some of it is stuff I experienced a while ago.

Tell me about your music. What kind of music is it you want to continue to make?

Mainly I think that I want to put music out there that is real, and is heartfelt and is artistic in the midst of a pop world that is often characterised by fake, contrived, manufactured music. There’s a place for everything I think. There is a lot of good music out there but a lot of times pop gets a bad rap because people think that it is just, not real and it is not artistic. I think it can be, it absolutely can be. And I think the biggest challenge is writing a pop song that is heartfelt and that means something and that really is saying something. And I think that is kind of my goal in all this, to put music out there that is infectious and catchy and fun to listen to, but that also really says something to you. Music that you can listen to and be inspired by.

If you would like to hear a few tracks from Kate’s debut album, Don’t Look Away you can find tracks on her MySpace space. Kate is about to begin a summer tour with Tyrone Wells, below are the cities and dates for July, for more tour information or just to learn more about Kate you can visit her own website. You can buy Don’t Look Away by following the link on this page to Amazon.com or from iTunes.

July 19, Chicago at Martyrs
July 20, Ann Arbor, MI at the Ann Arbor Art Festival
July 21, Louisville, KY at the Phoenix Hill Tavern
July 22, Cleveland, OH at the Agora Theatre
July 23, Columbus, OH at Basement
July 27, Atlanta, GA at Vynyl
July 29, Nashville, TN at The Rutledge
July 30, Greenville, SC at The Handlebar
July 31, Raleigh, NC at the Casbah

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About A.L. Harper

  • shanita

    you are the best singer ever to grace the series “One Tree Hill”. I wish you the best of luck.

  • jxc123

    kate voegele is no clone, your right about that. i love the way you right about her in this article.

  • samantha

    Luv uuuu katee