We are delighted to welcome Katie Ferrara to Divine Magazine. Katie is an award winning alternative pop singer/songwriter from Los Angeles who writes honest and authentic music with an ethereal flair.
Getting to know Katie
If you could be a superhero, what would your superpower be and your superhero name?
This question is so funny because I’ve always thought that songwriters are superheroes. If I were an actual superhero, I would want to be able to see at night, but also fight like a ninja and jump long distances. I would be called Ninja Kat!
Do you have a cherished childhood teddy bear or other stuffed animal sitting on your bed at home?
I have a stuffed cat that I got when I was 12 from my mom. I had an ear infection from a swimming pool and she bought me this stuffed animal to help me feel better. I love cats and that memory so that’s why I keep it on my bed!
If you were a member of the Spice Girls, what would your spice handle be?
I would be Posh! I always loved her mini-skirts!
What was the last TV series you watched on TV?
Lucifer! Currently waiting for the last season…
What do you think the greatest invention has been?
The toilet! I can’t imagine what people did in medieval times!
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
The internet has made music more accessible to people, but at the same time, it has watered down the monetary value we place on recorded music. Spotify for example pays $0.00437 per stream, so an indie artist without the promotional support of a major label can’t make a sustainable income from streaming services alone. Indie artists depend on the support of “Superfans” or dedicated patrons. These people support the ongoing making of original music and all the behind the scenes work that goes into developing music videos, CDs, merch, live shows etc.
In some ways, I like that I am in full control of my career as an independent artist. I rely a lot on social media to build my fanbase and that requires me to put in a lot of time doing outreach-livestreaming, posting everyday, watching other artists, finding communities to engage in etc. I like that I can make a very unique brand of music and not rely on a record label to discover me, or change who I am.
The downside to this golden age for indie artists is that we are responsible for the bulk of the work that goes into the business side of music and that can sometimes interfere with being creative. Yes, we have a free market on the internet where anyone with a laptop computer and a cheap home studio can call themselves a “producer” and pump out tracks to streaming services. Anything is possible, but if you don’t plan, have time-management skills, or have a creative team around you to build a brand, your music will be lost in all the noise that’s created by a cloud of self-promoting artists. To sum things up, the internet is a double-edged sword.
Have you got a ritual of sorts when writing and thinking about your music?
I always have tea or coffee, light incense and candles. I’m all about vibes.
Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?
The pandemic hasn’t really hindered my writing-if anything it’s made me think about topics outside of “unrequited love”. I still write about relationships, but I also think about global issues, equality, spirituality, being positive, and helping others. I actually really love isolation. I joke around with people that quarantine is like an introvert’s paradise. You now have time to read books and be with your thoughts!
What is your creative process like?
When I write a song, there are many different ways I tap into my creativity.
The first way I write a song is by tapping into my sub-conscious mind or the part of me that’s on autopilot. The best way for me to do this is to go for a drive. For some reason, melodies come to me when I’m moving. I always have my phone near me so I can record voice-memos of melodies I come up with. Later when I get home, I flush out a chord progression and make a verse and chorus. Being near water at the beach or at a lake, taking a shower or a bath also helps me tap into a different state of mind and I use the same process.
The second way I write a song is by brain-dumping. l When I’m feeling really emotional and thoughts are running through my head, I take out a pen and start writing in my journal anything that comes to mind or I’ll just talk into my phone until I say something that’s my truth. It could be something I realized about myself or other people. I circle these phrases on a sheet of paper and use them as building blocks to a song.
The third way I tap into my creativity is by jamming or writing with other people. I’ll sing random words and melodies on top of other people’s chord progressions, jam with my loop pedal, or improvise on the spot to my guitar or piano. If I’m writing with other people, we both collectively may brainstorm song titles together or share little bits and pieces of lyrics as a starting point to a song.
The last way I am creative is actually by just living my life, disconnecting from the internet and seeking out things to fill my brain that I’m truly interested in. This could be a book I’ve always wanted to read or a movie that intrigues me, or I may learn to cook a new recipe, or I experience nature. Consuming works of art feeds a creative mind when you are empty and are looking for inspiration.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
The music I make is very structured and as a definable verse and chorus. I like to write bridges and my songs can be played in many different ways. I tend to dip into both pop and folk genres. My melodies are very catchy and memorable, and the lyrics are “cerebral”. I can get deep at times, but not too introverted. It’s music that’s very charming, makes you smile, and relax and think.
What are your ambitions as a songwriter and musician from here?
I want to produce my own music in the long run and put out a couple more albums in different genres. I would also like to write with an established artist and maybe even try signing with a major label. Fame is not that important to me, but if a song takes off then I’m all for it! Brandie Carlile is currently a big inspiration for me because she’s so humble, but most importantly she’s all about writing a good song. I was so happy when she sung at the Grammys this year-it made me think that maybe one day that would be me. I mostly want monetary support to keep creating music for the rest of my life. I would like to buy a house one day and maybe even start my own label with a partner.
What has been most challenging aspect of your current releases?
The most challenging aspect of my current releases is finding the promotional support needed to reach the right people. As I mentioned before, the internet is a great tool that indie artists can use to share their music. You don’t need a major label anymore, but it’s a lot of work for just one person to get the music heard. Having the monetary support from fans for my next releases would help me create music videos and hire a bigger team to do promo for me.
Would you have any advice for would-be artists or songwriters wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Think of yourself as a business and try to find one thing in music that you are good at which brings in a steady income. This could be production, songwriting for TV and film, playing live, live streaming, booking other artists, live show photography, etc. If you don’t want to do music full time, consider a day job. Once you are able to support yourself doing that, then you can focus on making your own art. Being financially stable is most important when being an artist. I think many young people waste a lot of time trying to fit in and network or take on more they can chew because they are trying to survive in the city. There are too many young people trying to win external validation from the wrong people in this industry. All you really need is to be yourself, have a great product to share and the fans will come.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Internet Brands produced “On Her Path,” a music video inspired by the work of Water.org performed by Katie Ferrara to draw attention to the health challenges faced by the millions of women around the world who lack access to safe water and sanitation.
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