Kate Schutt's guitar teacher introduced her to Jazz at an early age and her new album No Love Lost harkens back to those early days. Different than her previous albums, which were just her and her guitar, this album features a wide range of players that Schutt brought together on the album she also produced.
Truly a master of her own fate, this album, like her previous ones, will be released on her own label, Wild Whip Records on May 8, 2007 in Canada, the country she now calls home. She hopes to bring the album to U.S. audiences late this summer or early fall.
Recently, Kate Schutt took time out of her busy schedule to sit down and talk to me about her music, her business, and the music that inspires her.
Tell me a little bit about the new album?
It's a jazz-pop album, called No Love Lost. I recorded it about half and half between here, in Boston, and Canada. I now live in Guelph, Ontario. I've been working on it for the last year.
It has a May eighth release date in Canada. Any idea when it will be available in the U.S.?
I'm in the process of shopping it to a bunch of labels, and I'm giving that about eight week's time. If nobody has taken the bait by then, I'll probably roll it right into an independent release. So we're probably looking at early June or — if nothing happens — early September. But everything is sort of in the air right now.
This was the first album you've done with a full back-up band. How was the experience different than before – just you and your guitar?
It was a wonderful process. It was challenging. The players I preformed with on this album were just great players. It was a really fulfilling thing to play with them, just a totally different experience than just recording live with my guitar. As a producer of this album, it was totally different to have anywhere from five to eight musicians on any given track there is just so many things to be aware of. But overall, the recording process, the engineering, the mixing stages were all really exciting and I had a great group of people around me helping me.
As you mentioned, you also produced and mixed No Love Lost, was this the first time you took that complete control?
No, I've done that for — I don't know the exact number — but a number of my past albums. But, in terms of having such a full sound, this is the first time I've produced an album with a scope this big.
Did you approach it differently from a song writing perspective?
Nope, not at all. I just wrote the songs. It's just that I had the opportunity in Canada to invite some other players to realize them, to give them a bigger format. So, no, I didn't approach them any differently. I just wanted to make an album with a full band, and these were the songs I had and the players I wanted were around.
This album in on your label, Wild Whip Records. How do you handle wearing both the artistic and the business hat?
To me that comes very naturally. It's just the business side of things is something I have a little bit of a knack for. It's definitely a balancing act, but in general I've always been oriented that way toward my career, in terms of handling the business aspect. So, for me it's just very natural. As long as one manages their time effectively, it can be done.
It must be very time-consuming?
It can be very time consuming and you always have to remember what the goal is, which is the music. The business has to be there, but there is no business if there is no music. You have to have your priorities right.
So, you really have to block out your time?
Right. It's a challenge, especially as this album starts to take off. There're a lot of things I'm involved with trying to establish myself in Canada. There are a lot of things that require my attention. I'm learning time management; it's something one can always get better at. You can always invite other people onto the team and delegate so that you can make sure you are doing the things you need to do. You can let those other people do things that maybe you could do but it's not the best use of your time.
Are there certain artists you watch to learn how they market themselves?
No, not particularly because I actually look at other business and watch their trends.
Do you mean outside of the music industry?
Yes. I find that looking at other businesses, like what internet startups have done in the last fast years, is helpful. Or Fortune 500 companies, I read a lot of books and follow what the Fortune 500 are doing. I just have more of interest in business outside the music business. Not that I'm not aware of the music business, I'm very aware of what's going on there. I read a lot about it and go to a lot of conferences on the music industry, but I tend to take my cue from the quote un-quote Wall Street business world or the internet startup world.
You mention the internet startup world. I notice you have a presence on the myspace, last.fm and pure volume types of sites. Is that part of you marketing philosophy?
Definitely! I mean, I'm young so I'm part of the generation that grew up with – not necessarily those things because I'm not that young – computers and the internet. I've always been an early adapter and interested in technology. It just seems like the wave of the future and I whole heartedly embrace those technologies. I think for someone like me, who tends to be under the radar and doesn't have a major label deal, all that stuff is really good. It can do no harm as long as you're educated and savvy about it.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I think influences are a bit of tricky thing. I listen to a lot of music, and I don't think what I listen to necessarily translates into what I create. That being said, at the time I was writing this album I was listening to a lot of Nina Simone, Little Jimmy Scott, early Motown, and because I'm a guitar player I'm always listening to instrumentals – all the jazz greats and some modern players as well.
You mentioned what you were listening to when you recorded No Love Lost. What's in heavy rotation on your iPod at the moment?
Right now? Let's see, I was just down at SXSW and there is a great independent record store down there, one of the last few around, called Waterloo Records. Whenever I'm down there I always get music there because they do a great job at recommending it. So on this trip I picked up the cartoonist R. Crumb, a famous cartoonist whose been around forever and has a passion for collecting old 78s, he's somehow got the rights to put these out on CD. It's a collection of the earliest recorded music. So, I've been checking that out. I'm really into compilations like that. I still listen to a lot of Nina Simone right now. I've been checking out a great female jazz drummer named Terri Lynn Carrington. So, that's what I've been currently listening to.
Make sure you check out Kate Schutt's myspace for upcoming tour dates and pick up a copy of No Love Lost when it hits store's shelves next month.