Making it Work: How Kate Bollinger APPROACHES HER MUSIC CAREER

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Kate Bollinger is currently in college studying film, but is actively pursuing a music career at the same time. She goes on tour with Wild Nothing, starting tomorrow in Washington D.C. and you can catch her in Philly this weekend at Johnny Brenda’s both Saturday (sold out) and Sunday. We talked to her about her musical origins, art direction, and school-work balance. Kate tells us that it’s not always easy trying to live out her college experience while also working and traveling, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She should be an inspiration to artists in similar situations who are trying to find success while pursuing higher education. Listen to Kate’s latest single “No Other Like You” below and read our interview that follows.

What was your first ever song about and how does it compare to your current material?

The first song that I can remember writing actually was when I was like eight. I was with my mom and we were on our way to visit my brother in New York City and I wrote this song – it was just like a fictional song about a girl who could time travel [laughs]. Obviously now I have more things to write about and I tend to write about things that I feel strongly about, as well as my life experiences, rather than fictional stories.

Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

Yeah, recently I’ve been liking to perform the new one we have out, “No Other Like You.” I really like it because this song shows that myself and the band are a bit more established, whereas with the past material we were still kind of getting to know each other. It’s also a result of us all contributing ideas as well.

Now, a lot of your songs have a “dreamy” effect to them, and I’ve heard that you used to record songs in your bathroom to create that effect. Can you tell us where your affinity for reverb comes from?

I mean growing up I liked Fiest a lot, and she records in a lot of interesting places. One of her albums was recorded in this mansion in Paris. I think she records guitar and vocals at the same time and has stereo mics to get room sounds, which I really liked from a young age, so I wanted to make sure I had some of that ‘natural’ sound to the recordings. At the beginning it was kind of hard to get there – like when I was recording alone it was easier to get that sound, just because I didn’t know how to produce, and so it was by accident that I was picking up all those room sounds. But now that I’m working with a producer it’s a little more controlled and we know how to get the sound we want. We’re hoping to release some more material that has more of that natural reverb.

I’d say your music is very decorative, and I heard that you’re currently studying film. So, if you had a chance to score any film, what would it be?

Oh, gosh, let me think… I wouldn’t say this is my ultimate answer, this is just what first came to mind. I was talking to a friend the other day about Juno and how much we love the score, and I think I’d like to score something like that. All of the scenes are really well-shot, but it’s also super mundane, which I really like in a movie. And I think the score is really awesome, so I’d love to score something like that.

What advice would you give to aspiring young songwriters who want to get their music out into the world?

Just to write as much as they can, get material out there, and show people their songs. In high school I would always start writing a song and just put it out, but then come up with a good ending for the song and would think “maybe I should have waited” – but it’s good to share works of progress, especially early on. 

You’re about to start a tour in support of Wild Nothing – how does it feel to be given this opportunity and how do you prepare yourself for what may be your biggest shows yet?

We’re all just really excited that we get to do it. I think we’re just trying to prepare like we normally do and just trying to get the set sounding really tight. I think going in expecting too much is never good, so we’re just trying to keep our heads down.

So, I was looking through your Instagram earlier and I noticed whenever you post your single or EP cover art, you’re always sure to tag the artists who worked on it and tag everyone who’s involved, which I think is really important. What would you say inspires your artistic direction for your projects and how do you find people that you want to do the artwork?

I guess I’m just always looking for art that I would want and just looking for artists online. A lot of the artists that I work with are from my town or go to my school. I don’t feel like I necessarily have a set style, I just like a lot of things – and that’s how my music is too. I like making a lot of different kinds of music, so I feel like it’s hard to say what informs the art that I choose. If I see something I like I usually just reach out to the artist to see if I could commission art or if I could use something they already made. 

Since you’re currently pursuing music, but also studying film, where do you see your life heading, say five to ten years from now? Do you see it more music-focused or film-focused?

I definitely want to focus on music for now and just keep doing that for a long time. Right now I’m in a new media class and we’re learning how to animate, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to use that skill to either make animations for my music, or work with other animators to make something to go along with it.

How is it balancing your school work and your blossoming music career?

It’s hard, I’m tired a lot of the time and sometimes I’ll miss out on spending time with my friends at school, because I’m always kind of here and there. But, it’s what I want to do so I’m just gonna make it work as best as I can.


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