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Breedlove Exclusive Artist Interview: Katie Garibaldi

Breedlove is pleased to introduce Katie Garibaldi.  Based in the Golden City of San Francisco, this determined and enthusiastic singer/songwriter/guitarist is an avid national touring performer who has acquired a devoted fan base, due in large part to her engaging live shows, and personal connection to her listeners through her music. She sings with an emotional nearness that, in combination with her melodic and catchy songs and her soulful and expressive vocals, captures her audience wherever she performs. While she’s been compared to household names such as Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Taylor Swift, Katie has a characteristic musical style wherein her equally pop- and country-tinged folk-rock gives her a distinct and edgy sound—Americana with sparkling memorable melodies.

She recently sat down with R.A. Beattie from Breedlove to talk about her new EP, the business of music and much more! 

RA:

Hello, everybody. This is R.A. Beattie with Breedlove Guitars. Today, we are chatting with Katie Garibaldi and welcome you to the show.

Thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us.

Katie:

Thanks so much for having me.

RA:

Yeah. We understand that you're very busy right now. You have a new EP that's coming out this spring that is called "Rooted Clarity." When do you anticipate that being released?

Katie:

The official release date is now set for June 3rd, so it'll be on iTunes and all the stores then, officially, but I'm doing some pre-release celebrations. I'm doing some release parties leading up to that starting now in April just to get it out there and enjoy the experience, instead of just releasing it and moving on.

Katie:

It's a big celebration.

RA:

You deserve it. It's a tremendous amount of work. If you look at all the time involved writing the music, learning it and then all the work that goes into the recording and everything. It's a tremendous process.

Katie:

Right. Yeah, it is.

RA:

How long have you been working on this?

Katie:

I started working on it by accident. It was the end of 2014, and I was touring in Nashville, and I happened to meet someone who had a recording studio. I have a bass player over there, and we just went in for fun. There was a special at the studio, and we just went in for fun and recorded a couple of songs. Just from there, it turned into a whole project.

We just did it, me and my bass player, and then I came home and started hearing some different arrangements for the songs and thought, "I should probably hang on to these. We just started working on it, and I wrote a few more songs that turned into a five-song EP. Yeah, it's been a long time now coming.

RA:

That's great.

Katie:

We worked on it all last year.

RA:

Tell me a little bit about these different songs that you've written. Are they somewhat similar to some of the other works that you've produced or did you move in a new direction with these?

Katie:

It's a new direction than my last album. My last album's called "Follow your Heart," and sonic-wise, it was a little more countryesque and a lot more full band stuff. For this one, we did a little bit more stripped down, so it's me and my bass player, and there is some percussion throughout, but it's not very traditional like full drum kit. There's one song that the percussionist did tambourine on only.

Yeah. It's a little more stripped down, and then I have some live string players, which I dabbled with a little bit in the last album, and I just loved the sound of strings, the cello and violin, so I wanted to get really more into that. There's a lot more of that on there as well.

RA:

That's great. Can’t wait to hear it. Tell me a little bit about your songwriting process. How do you go about producing your songs and your lyrics?

Katie:

I don't really have any rules or any processes but typically, I'm usually inspired by melody. I'll just start humming something, or if I'm playing around with my guitar and I find a melody, it'll inspire the lyrics or what the song is about. Then I'll just build the music around that melody.

RA:

How long have you been writing and playing your own original music?

Katie:

Let's see. I started playing the guitar when I was about 11 or 12. Yeah, a long time, almost 20 years now. When I picked up the guitar, it was like an automatic thing that I started to write songs. I think the guitar inspired my songwriting. Before that, when I was a kid, I did play the piano. My mom taught me piano, but it really didn't inspire me to want to write songs. I felt like I had the songwriting inside of me, but I needed the right instrument to bring it out.

Katie:

I started pretty young as a kid, and then I got into performing when I was in high school and just went on from there. I got the bug. I couldn't let it go.

RA:

That's fantastic. Music has, it sounds like in many ways, shaped the course of your life. What do you think your life would look like if you didn't get inspired to start playing and writing tracks? How would your life look differently?

Katie:

I don't know. It's such a huge part of who I am. I feel all the time really lucky that I figured out at such a young age what I wanted to do, because I know that's not always the case, and people are still figuring out, "What do I want to do?" Even when they're adults. I had it easy in that way, and it's been such a huge part of my life.

Then also, when I was a kid and in high school, it was my go-to medicine to be able to express myself and get my feelings out in a creative way. If I didn't have the guitar, it would probably be another instrument, but I don't know. It's just a part of me. I can't really imagine my life without it.

RA:

You were born to be a musician.

Katie:

Yeah. It just feels like it's definitely a part of my purpose, for sure.

RA:

You alluded to it already, but was there a specific point where you started to play, and things just started to come together, and you thought, "This is something I could do potentially for the rest of my life," Or, "This is my calling," Or, "This is what I should be doing."

Katie:

Yeah. I don't know. I can't think of a specific point, but it's really odd that I got into performing, too, because I'm just shy by nature, and when I was younger, I was really shy. I was that girl in school that was quiet and sat in the back and wrote poetry. Then all of a sudden, I chose to perform live in front of people. It's kind of crazy and weird.

Katie:

I don't know what happened there. I did go to some music business conferences and stuff like that for independent artists that, when I started performing, my mom would take me to different conferences. There was one in Vegas I went to. I wasn't even 21 yet, so I must have been 17 or so. It was just to learn about, "Okay. If this is what I want to do, let me see what this business is really about." I immediately fell in love with the whole business side of it, too, like the marketing and thought that was really cool. Having a bio and recording your songs and that whole world of it, which is a whole separate thing than just songwriting.

I think that excited me and got me really motivated to pursue the business side of being an artist. That probably was a turning point for me as well to get into this.

RA:

How do you see the music world shifting from a business standpoint, and what are the pros and cons of that?

Katie:

That's a huge question.

Katie:

It's definitely shifted from the time when I first started, but I think a lot of people that have been in the industry a long time still hold on to the old school ways of, "You have to be on a label in order to be successful," Or "You have to be performing on the Grammys in order to be a real artist," but there's a huge independent world now of indie labels and just artists, like you say, recording themselves or having friends record them. You don't really need a label anymore.

Having said that, I'm not against labels or anything. There's obviously pros to having more exposure or different connections to people in the industry that you might not find doing it yourself. Yeah. There's pros and cons. I've always been a big DIY girl. I've definitely had help from people in the business, but it's nice to start off DIY and just create your own voice, create what you want to put out there, have the say and then bring in people into your world to help you out. It's a different world than when I first got into this, for sure.

RA:

That's an interesting point. In a lot of ways, if you were to follow the more traditional models, you probably wouldn't have as much control ...

Katie:

Yeah. Depending on who you work with, yeah.

RA:

Let's talk a little bit more about your music. You've produced seven albums to date.

Out of those, is there one that really stands out that is your favorite or that you feel like is your strongest work to date, or is that always changing?

Katie:

I would say always the newest one is the favorite because each album is a snapshot of my life, so it's more what I'm relating to currently. I'm really proud of "Follow your Heart," my last one. Came out in 2014. Just because I got to experiment a lot in the studio, more than I've ever done before and sonically express myself, how I've been hearing my music for years but never really had the resources or the connections to express in the studio. It was really fun to see those things come alive that were always in my head. Like I said, the string players or I had a pedal steel player.

Also, we got to record live the basic tracks, which I didn't really do before. I've always done playing live with the band, and then I would overdub my vocals. We did the basic track, the drums and the bass player, and then me and my guitar and singing. We were all playing at the same time. We only overdubbed two songs for the vocals.

That was really cool to experiment in a whole new way. Then my new one coming out, the EP, "Rooted Clarity," that was a whole new world for me, working with the string arrangements and being able to produce my vocals the way I wanted them. It has a whole different sound to it than the last album.

RA:

This may be a tough question to answer, because I know you're just completing a massive project, but are there musical styles or things that you're itching to pursue or things that you want to do next, directions you want to head in with your future songwriting?

Katie:

I'm always writing, because I always have ideas for new stuff. I think the new EP has really inspired me to think about different ways of producing as well, because it was something new to me, being really, really vocal in my ideas. I produced it with my bass player, so we were on this team together. I would say something, and he'd be like, "Yeah. I was just about to say the same thing." Then he would say something, and I'm like, "Yes. That's what was missing."

That dynamic was really cool, too, and I'm excited to maybe experiment with producing with him again. His name's Kevin Blair. He's in Nashville. And then just the way that I was able to produce background vocals and experiment with that, which I've never really delved into before. Just that aspect inspires me songwriting wise to create songs that I can hear those things the way that they would be produced in the studio, if that makes any sense.

For example, when we were working out the string parts and the string player would say, "Oh, why don't I overdub this part in a different harmony," or something, and I never really thought that was even a possibility until they played something. Now I feel like my mind is a little bit more open for when I write songs for the next CD or the next album. I'll be able to think, "Oh, I can have the strings take a little section here and do a three-part harmony or something." It's in my mind already, so I feel like that inspires the song in a way.

RA:

Your music has been described as "Country-tinged folk rock," and you said that this current project is a little bit ... You say it's a little bit more on the country side.

Katie:

My last album was, but I feel like this one is a little bit more stripped down. I want to say it's more folky but it's hard to describe. It's a combination of folk with orchestra. I want to say, "Orchestral folk," but I don't know. I'll have to send it to you, and if you think of a better way to describe it ...

RA:

Yeah. We're really excited to hear it!

We have a lot of younger listeners that are aspiring musicians, or maybe just starting out. Do you have any advice for new players?

Katie:

For me, what I did was ... Like I said. I started going to the music conferences and the music business [inaudible 00:20:31] and I got involved with ... I signed up with ASCAP and started going to their conference every year. I still go to conferences, even though I'm doing music full time, because it's just ... Like you said. The industry is always changing.

There's always stuff to learn. There's always new ideas, and that's where you get to network with people who are doing similar things to you or people in the music business that you might want to meet. Everyone from all over, so you can go to one music conference and meet people from California and New York, the UK. It opens up all kinds of opportunities. I always encourage people to take advantage of that.

Outside of that, musically, I would just say ... It's kind of cliché, but just to stay true to yourself and don't be afraid to express yourself as you. Don't edit that, because everyone's different. In the music world, we need people to be themselves, so we need uniqueness. That's what I like.

RA:

That's wonderful advice. That's awesome.

Thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us.

Katie:

Of course.

RA:

For folks that are interested in learning more about your music, is the best way for them to go online and go to katygaribaldi.com or any of your social media outlets?

Katie:

Yeah. All my links are on my Website, katiegaribaldi.com, and my music's on iTunes.

RA:

Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it and can't wait to hear the release of the new EP.

Katie:

Oh, thank you. Thanks so much. I appreciate your time.