Kate Magdalena - 10 Questions Music Interview
Kate Magdalena is an emerging independent artist out of the San Francisco Bay Area. She calls her genre “Timely Americana,” as she is inspired to write for the present, which has its unique critical challenges. Kate sees the world in robust transformation as the ripest subject for her songwriting, and her songs address such issues as the preservation of the natural world, homelessness, the political landscape, friendship and loss, and love of country.
This past November, Kate released her second album of original music, A Larger Dance, with Grammy nominated producer Billy Smiley (Johnny Cash, WhiteHeart, Clay Aiken). Her first single from this collection, “Take Me To Church,” was released in March, followed by “Be the Lark,” “Streets of Any Town,” and “New Earth.” She also includes songs by Leonard Cohen, Sinead O’Connor, and Crosby, Stills & Nash on the album.
A Larger Dance features some of Nashville's finest musicians – Fred Eltringham (The Wallflowers and Sheryl Crow), Byron House (Robert Plant and the Band of Joy), Blair Masters (Garth Brooks) and Brennan Smiley (The Technicolors).
Kate’s first album Acquainted With the Night was released in 2018 and contains the song “United (to Save the World)” which was featured in On Peace Street by BWH Music Group. She is planning to release her third album Canyonlands in early summer 2020.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
There were two things. Twenty years ago I had a band and we played mostly other people's songs. I quickly grew tired of it. I had been deeply inspired by the songs of Irish-Canadian singer songwriter Loreena McKennitt. Once I began to study how she wrote, I started to write my own songs, beginning with setting some beautiful classic poems to music, as she had done. More recently, I became aware that weather is being manipulated. When I discovered this, I was hopeless and distraught so I began to communicate that through songs. I found that music can be a great tool for activism, just as so many singer-songwriters of the 1960's.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I really can't think of anything too crazy! Not yet anyway, except for the fact that I spent most of my sixty years avoiding what I truly was called to do, and that is to sing and compose songs professionally.
What has been the high point of your music path?
My work with producer Billy Smiley has been the high-point of my musical career to date. To be able to work closely with a great producer is an incredibly wonderful thing for a singer. He inspired me to go further than I have gone before, and to work toward realizing my dream of putting out beautiful and life-changing music. Billy produced both my recent releases "A Larger Dance"and my upcoming album out in spring of 2020 "Canyonlands".
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I open to the mystery of creating with my higher power.....I listen...and stay as receptive as I can. I also begin to fish for subjects, and get very awake and attentive to source material as it presents itself through my life experience.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The field is so open that it is beyond full of musical offerings. The artist is in the position of figuring it out herself, and with so many options that can be very confusing. It is very difficult to be successful, but it is not impossible, and more is possible today for independent artists than at any other time in history! If I could change anything it would be to eliminate free music downloads and streaming through platforms like Spotify.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
It would be with Loreena McKennitt, the inspiration for my present musical journey. Her music really paved the way for me because my voice and orientation are similar to hers. She inspired me to take up harp as an accompanying instrument. I would love to perform with her one day.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
During rehearsals we run through the numbers as if it were a live show, moving through the material first as in performance, and then going back to fix things later. Preparations for live show involve designing set lists, figuring out what to say, and when I will move to a given location. Shows are relatively new for me, and I have much to learn as I go forwards. Would love to come back to this question in a year's time.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I'd have to say "Streets of Any Town" which is on BWH's country collection, "Keepin' It Country." The song kept me up for three days and nights! It was the most exciting time I've had writing. It wasn't difficult so much as thrilling. I was writing about homelessness, and I wanted it to sound alive, as if encountering the situation of the homeless was immediately before us, because it is. I wanted it to sound fresh and unsentimental while it evoked concern and compassion.
What's coming up in the future? I'm going to begin working with some new management that will help me land some wonderful opportunities to bring my music forwards in performance. Stay tuned for details soon!
Tell us where fans can access your music?