Kate is best known as a poet, perhaps a performance poet or a spoken word artist.
From a little bit of online research we learned that you’ve been playing piano since you were four, self-taught up to age nine then got lessons. And wrote your first song at age 11. That’s incredible! What drew you to music at such a young age?
I was a bit of a weird kid, (I still am). I seemed always drawn to things that allowed me to be an individual. It always stemmed from creative outlets — like drawings, poems or songs. I never liked math and science much because it’s so black and white. Your answer is either right or wrong. I discovered art, music and writing had thousands of different shades of gray in an otherwise black and white world. There was no solid ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I realized that there’s more to learning than what you get out of right or wrong answers. The more I did my own thing, kids started to look at me differently. They’d notice me for the pictures that I drew and the songs that I’d play, and that was the best feeling in the world. I broke away from the norm, and since, I’ve never gone back.
Do you have any role models that you look up to that help you strengthen your craft as a musician?
There has been a number of adults that have really inspired; from my producer Scott Walsh to radio show host Katherine Dines to singing teacher Trina Langthorne to an endless lists of guitarists, drummers, producers, sound guys, singers, song writers, performers that I’ve met along the way. I have truly met the most amazing collection of people, but there’s one in particular that stands a little taller than the rest. If it weren’t for Leslie Rohonczy, I’m not sure where I’d be with music today. Not only is she a musical genius, she’s a very close friend of my Mom’s. Leslie is a musician, songwriter, artist. She’s amazing. My mom told me that in the early years of college she would follow Leslie all around town to all sorts of different gigs and that “maybe my ovaries were dancing to Leslie’s music, and that’s where you get it from.” Leslie has taught me so much over the past years. I’m so thankful to have her in my life!
How would you describe your sound? Who inspires you? Who are your musical influences?
Although it seems simple, this is one of the hardest questions for me to answer because I’m constantly changing it. At the moment, I’ve fallen deeply attached to 16-year-old singer/song writer Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor from New Zealand, better known by her stage name, Lorde. I have never been interested in an artist that was younger than me before, (even though it’s only a couple of months) but her entire style/view/lyric concept honestly astounds me and I’d love to meet her someday! Her maturity is far beyond her age and listening to her music almost makes me wish that the rest of the 16 to 17-year-olds would be that cool too. Another major one for me is Lianne La Havas, aged 24 from the United Kingdom (her birthday is a day after mine!) Lianne’s R&B kind of style tangos beautifully alongside her fabulous voice, and I always listen to her stuff when I’m stressed out because it really calms me down. I think she’s really underrated. More people should be discovering her! I could go on forever, but the last name I’m going to through out is Frank Ocean, aged 25. He’s quite big with my age group, but I personally think he holds so much more meaning than some of his audience will ever even understand. Listening to his songs over and over, not only do his solid vocals and stunning lyrics astonish me, but the whole production and sounds sewn together do as well; they build his songs up to be more of an experience than just a mere listen. His album “Channel Orange,” will forever be one of my favorite pieces of art. These three people are currently at the top of my pyramid, and if you haven’t heard of them, you should definitely look them up!
As the author and composer of your own music, what does it mean to you to be able to share your story and express yourself?
Expressing myself is the entire purpose of being an artist. Making a point, sharing opinions, shaking sense, primping feelings — it’s all part of it. The instruments paint the emotions and the lyrics paint the story. As a YouTube artist I can do my music the way I want. I like the luxury of this freedom.
Even though you’re just starting out, your music video production skills are top notch! We were so impressed in viewing some of your videos. They are fine tuned. For people who are interested in video production would you have any ‘in a nut shell’ tips and tricks that you could provide?
Videos are actually easier to produce than people think. Just look at how many YouTuber’s base a living off of the stuff they conjure with their lenses? The thing is, you need to be patient and accept the fact that it’s a very long process. Though it is easier than most think, it still takes a lot of work. I have a Canon Rebel for shooting the footage and use iMovie for editing. iMovie was designed to be one of the easiest video editing programs of all; even eight year olds could do it! But the quality of the production and the content is based on individual talent. I can show someone use iMovie, but I cannot show you how to be creative with it. It has to be in you, and I don't think it's something that can be taught. If you’re creative, you can make a masterpiece with anything from the most expensive editing program out there, to something as simple as iMovie. The equipment is just an aid; the person behind the lens and the editing is what makes it good or not.
Your beautiful song and music video Stronger has had over 100,000 views on Youtube and has been shared widely across the Internet. You’ve had the courage to share your story with so many young people and have made such a positive impact. Thank you! You’re such an inspiration! Do you feel sharing your story has contribute to a climate where young people can feel empowered to break the silence and get their voice heard?
Thank-you for the compliment, I appreciate it! I hope it empowers young people to speak out. That was my biggest mistake when going through all the bullying … I never told anyone. I get messages from all kinds of people from all around the world on this song. I was shocked at how much it inspired people to break their own silence.
You mention in the description of Stronger that it is based on something you went through. Has producing this song and music video changed how you view that experience? How?
It’s honestly something I don’t even think about anymore. It isn’t worth the brain cells, and neither are the people that caused me all the stress. I’m a changed person, and I’m changing more and more as time goes on. It was a dark chapter in my life, but I’m not going to let it taint the flavor for the rest of the book. It does get better.
What were some of the practical challenges you faced during the filming of Stronger?
It was freezing out! The wind kept blowing out the candles and my fingers were so cold I couldn't feel them. My Mom was the one helping me and she complained a lot that her feet and hands were cold too. It was actually shot over quite a few nights, and we had to go out at exactly the same time every night because we wanted the lighting to be dusk, not too bright, not too dark … but it would get dark so fast, and we'd have to wait for the next night. The 3 and a half minute long video doesn’t even do justice to the hours of footage we shot — just to get it right. At the time, I was 15-years-old, and self-image was a major road block for me, (and it still kind of is.) I was very hard on myself during the making of that video, and still to this day, I squirm while watching it because I distinctly trip over all the imperfections. On a lighter note, filming in Algonquin College with my friends was pretty cool. Coincidental I’m currently putting together a portfolio to attend the Media School of Design there next year!
What kind of advice would you give to young people who would like to get into music? How did you get to where you are now?
Before anything, it needs to be about the music. For some it's about the popularity they would like to get from music; like lots of views, friends, the ‘image,’ the title, and less about what actually matters — the art. I'd say do what you believe in when it comes to music. Don't write what you think is commercially viable, or think of making money or becoming famous. Very few become famous. Be an artist true to your values. Once you have content, a good recording, a decent video … market yourself. Share it with anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. That’s really all I did.
Is there a dominant message that you communicate through your music?
Not really. The stuff that I have on YouTube to me now is old. It doesn’t reflect who I am anymore. Mynew stuff that I’m now working on is really exciting. I’m almost bursting to be able to share it. I want to make a difference with music, like Stronger did, but even more impactful.
What do the words equity and inclusion mean to you?
For me equity and inclusion is about fairness, treating everyone the same way and including everyone — like group things. Respect others the way you’d like to be respected. I know that saying is one of the oldest in the book, but once you focus on it, its actual meaning, you’ll really start considering treating others differently.
What do you think are some of the challenges facing young people in today’s world?
The internet for sure. The on-line world is huge, it's always there and it's here to stay. You can't escape it. It's too much part of our daily lives to turn it off. We all need to learn how to manage it. The thing for my generation is that the bad guys aren’t easy to spot anymore; they disguise themselves as the good ones and there are too many anonymous ways to reach into people’s lives. It’s a never ending cycle, and there really isn’t any ‘proper’ way to deal with it. We all just have to deal with it on our own. Be careful is all I can say.
If you could send a message to teachers about what they could do to support young people, what would you say?
I don’t think I could possibly say anything that teachers haven’t heard already; they’re right in the center of this ego eco system. In the end it’s up to the individual teacher, and if they don’t think that bullying is an issue, then it won’t be managed as one. That being said, I am so grateful for the teachers that do go the extra mile to protect their students. You’re the ones that keep our heads above the water.
Do you think young people can make a difference in the world? How?
Of course we can, we are the difference in the world. We are the future; we are literally the next string of adults, it’s a crazy thought! The future is ours, and our kids and our kid's kids. It's about being aware and doing something, anything to make a difference any way we can. For bullying — that's easy, just be kind, it’s that simple. There are so many other issues. We need to recycle, plant trees, sign our organ donor cards.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in my last year of high school. Since grade twelve started this September, I’ve gotten myself a part-time job, a license and a car, a whole bunch of new responsibilities. I’m working on a college portfolio too which is super exciting! I'm hoping to get into media and graphic design (I’m pretty sure) but I’d love to continue photography and/or videography, and of course, continue making music. I hope 2014 is good to everyone.
Children's viewpoints and adults memories of what it was like to be bullied and how it affects them now form the basis of this unscripted, moving testimonial to the importance of preventing bullying.
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Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point... A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.
Animators and motion artists brought their unique styles to 20 second segments that will thread into one fluid voice. This collaborative volunteer effort demonstrates what a community of caring individuals are capable of when they come together.