If you don’t know Katie Kittermaster yet, now is a great time to get familiar.
With haunting vocals and lyrics based on her real-life relationships, this British singer-songwriter knows how to craft songs that resonate with listeners all over. Her music is sure to win audiences over, especially when combined with her quirky personality and personal anecdotes.
Though only 19 years old, she has already achieved a lot: she has performed for over 10,000 people, opened for the likes of Jools Holland and Olly Murs, and now she’s getting ready to release her first EP, Coming Home at Dawn. Ahead of its release, the young songstress discussed the EP, her previous life in Dubai, and what the rest of the year has in store.
What can you tell us about Coming Home at Dawn? What was it like recording?
Due to just finishing school, I had been waiting quite a while to record my EP. Some of the songs were written a couple of years ago. I have written over 40 songs and am very keen to get back into the studio. We recorded most of Coming Home At Dawn (EP) at Metropolis Studios in London. For ‘Sunday Afternoon’, the direction and process was relatively straight-forward. Having played this track on so many occasions live, I knew I wanted something that was quite stripped back and acoustic yet suitable for radio. Getting this balance was key as I didn’t want anything too pop or over produced. The storytelling and vocals needed to remain central to the overall track.
Your singles, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and ‘T-Shirt,’ contain lyrics that are very relatable. What inspired them?
I don’t have a set formula to write, but the lyrics generally come first. Lyrics are key for me. Once I get started the lyrics and music tend to go hand in hand. ‘Sunday Afternoon’ and ‘T-Shirt’ are very personal tracks for me. ‘Sunday Afternoon’ totally summed up the stage of my relationship at that time. We were in a very happy and relaxed place at that time. ‘T-Shirt’ was inspired by one of my first boyfriends; I had always worn his t-shirts, sweatshirts and other clothes…and when we broke up, I guess I carried on wearing them…until I got the text to return them all! Writing is normally a very quick process for me once I get going! I wrote with a team of writers in Berlin earlier this year, as I had been invited by a publisher; I was a little anxious as I had never written ‘on demand’ before, however the process was great and we wrote 5 tracks in 4 days!
Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?
Music has always been my passion; from a young age I remember always wanting to be a singer! My first public performance was at my school nativity play aged 13, singing ‘Away in a Manger’!!!! I didn’t start writing until I was about 15; it was at this point I started to teach myself the piano and guitar. I think a big turning point for me was when we were living in Dubai (my dad was a headmaster out there), and I was asked to open an event for the Global Gift Foundation. This evening was hosted by Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin, and superstar writer Maxwell and 50 Cent were in attendance! I was just 13 at the time, and I just remember loving every minute of performing and knew that this was what I want to do! I feel lucky that, for now, this is my job!
What inspired you to just do it?
I think the event mentioned above as well as another event for Help For Heroes at The British Embassy in Dubai probably gave me the kickstart and confidence to just go for it. In the summer of 2017 (by which time I had come back to live in the UK), I was lucky to get a last minute call-up for an event with Louisa Johnson. This was my first ever public performance of my own tracks – I had never even done a pub open-mic! I didn’t realise the enormity of the event until I got there. The stage was massive. There were over 10,000 people there! 30 minutes later, I came off the stage and knew that this is where I wanted to be!!! This event definitely was a game changer.
You’re originally from Kent but lived in Dubai for a few years – what was that like?
Dubai was fun. My dad was working there, so we moved out there as a family. The people working out there are just like people here. The main difference is the sun shines most days and you are at school with over 50 nationalities. I loved having friends from all cultures and backgrounds. Yes, there were the crazy moments and experiences as there is some extraordinary wealth out there, but most of my friends were just ‘normal’ and we’d do ‘normal’ things, like go camping in the desert and hang out.
Did it influence your music or songwriting process at all?
When I was in Dubai, I was lucky enough to meet a great DJ called Dany Neville. He took me under his wing and gave me enormous confidence. He introduced me to Jay Abo, who is a great songwriter and we had a few sessions together. It was definitely an important piece in the jigsaw.
At a very young age, you sang live on Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), Dubai’s largest TV channel. That must have been both exciting and probably pretty scary. Can you tell us about that experience?
It was something that the school had organised – about 5 of us were invited to sing live. I’m lucky to not really suffer from nerves, but there was a fair but of adrenaline running around my body! I think I was about 13 at the time – the youngest of the students. I was asked to go 2nd, which I think helped as sitting and waiting your turn may have increased the anxiety levels! Everyone was very friendly, and it was a really positive experience for all of us.
Your first song ‘Mine’ was written when you were just 15, which is amazing, but you’ve written at least 20 more songs since then. Has your songwriting process changed?
I think I’ve written about 40 now!!! I think each time I write, it is a little bit different. The lyrics normally lead, but the music comes pretty quickly. ‘T-Shirt’ was very quick to write. I think I wrote it in under 20 minutes. I have some that I have started but are still not finished as things have been quite busy. I use my guitar and keyboard for writing (I am fortunate to be sponsored by Taylor Guitars and Roland UK). I was invited to Berlin a few months ago to write with a couple of teams. I was a bit worried as I had never written on demand before. My writing up to them had always been very organic and in my own time. However, the 4 day session was very productive and we wrote 5 songs in that time-frame. I am hoping to go and record a couple of these songs in the US at the start of 2020.
You’re only 19 and have been touring with big names, such as Jools Holland, for a few years now. Was it difficult having to balance your music life with your school life? How did you manage it?
My first tour with Boyzlife came just after my final A Level exams, so this was great timing, to be honest. Prior to that, I have been lucky to support some high profile artists, including Ronan Keating and Olly Murs. But these have just been individual events so they haven’t require me staying away. At the time of my A Levels, it was pretty busy, so I just had to make sure that when I wasn’t writing, recording, or practicing, I kept an eye on my school books. I was also one of the lead parts in our school production of Hairspray, so I was kept very busy! I loved this first foray in to musical theatre.
Who are your musical influences? How do they impact your own sounds?
This is hard as I listen to a lot of music. Ed Sheeran is a huge influence and inspiration. His back story is so motivational. Maisie Peters and Gabrielle Aplin are two other singer-songwriters that have definitely influenced my style. I love Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Joni Mitchell. I have played a lot live now, so I feel I am clear about the direction that I’d like to take my recorded music.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2019?
Well, it’s pretty busy as I head off on tour with Lucy Spraggan tomorrow! The tour is over 55 nights (37 gigs in total) and takes me through to mid December. But we have a few days off during the tour, and I have some more recording sessions booked as well as some possible collaborations with other writers and artists.
Do you have any final shoutouts or plugs?
My EP is due out on November 1 on all platforms – of course I would love everyone’s support on this!