Kate Martin, from Townsville to Melbourne, this intelligent, moving artist talks about her much loved long, winding, and sometimes lonely, musical road
Any successful artist will tell you the journey is not always straightforward and that things don't always come easily. Songwriter and guitarist Kate Martin has given into the hard times with her new single Set My Life To Fire. The songstress, who hails from Townsville, says that fire burns, but also that it purifies. The challenges that are associated with the life of an artist - most notably for Kate, her somewhat lonely move to Melbourne five years ago - have made her who she is today. "This is gonna shake me, gonna cost me.... I need the northern air on my southern skin... the middle of my compass always points to north, give me the water, give me the water," she sings. Inspiring stuff. But not the "You lift me up, I am a brave tiger" brand of inspiration. Kate brutally confronts hard realities and chooses to embrace them. Kate's previous single Kintsukuroi explored similar themes. The word kintsukuroi comes from a Japanese ancient art form where shattered ceramics are repaired with gold and end up making something more beautiful, but this beauty would not have occurred should the vessel had never been broken. Such wisdom bursts from Kate who has supported many Australian acts, including The Waifs and fellow Townsville friends The Middle East, performed relentlessly, had songs on television, and is just about to release her brand new album. Kate is a killer guitarist with luscious vocal tones who has been making and releasing music since 2011. The title track of her next album Set My Life To Fire was produced by Jon Hume of Evermore, and is a moving song that arrests your attention with its compelling lyrics. Her album is set for release in June this year. Meanwhile, Kate gave Music Love this insightful interview where she talked about her musical pathway so far, her life in Melbourne, what she misses about Townsville, and, of course, her brand new song.
What does music mean to you?
Music is essential to wellbeing, it accompanies every season of life. It can elevate and transform my state of mind whether I’m listening to it or creating it.
Tell us about your new single Set My Life To Fire?
Set My Life To Fire is a metaphor for the way fire burns but also purifies at the same time. When I wrote this song I had been living in Melbourne for just over a year and I was finding it difficult to embrace the changes and constant transitions of life. I decided to write Set My Life To Fire as a way of channelling my thoughts and turning them into a creative outpouring... the central theme being the acceptance of things outside of my control.
What has your musical pathway been like so far?
Long and winding, over the years I’ve been given some great opportunities that have challenged and pushed me as an artist. It began for me when I recorded my first album in Sydney at age 17 (the album took a total of ten days to start and finish) and with each song and each album I release I’m capturing freeze frames and portraits of life at that moment in time, at least that’s how it feels when I look back on my music journey so far.
How was it moving to Melbourne from Townsville?
Mostly exciting, maybe a little daunting at times. I didn’t know anyone here for a long time so it really was like starting a new life. This August I’ll have been a Melbourne girl for five years and I love it so much.
What was it like working with Jon Hume?
I did two songs on the record with Jon, he is a great collaborator. I think the really good thing about collaboration in general is that you get the benefit of two different creative perspectives, two minds coming together and moving in sync, when it works out it really is a beautiful thing. Jon comes from more of a pop background than myself so when we got together it became a fusion of our own unique styles and sounds blending together. I took a lot away from my sessions with him. We worked together on Set My Life To Fire in his beautiful studio out in the Victorian country side, I really enjoyed working with Jon, he’s a very easy going guy, I felt comfortable to be myself with him which in a studio setting is key to being creative.
How do you take care of your voice?
Sleep and water mainly. Managing stress is a big one, it can tense the muscles which inhibits performance! I’m also realising with this album, even more so the new music I’m writing at the moment that I’m reaching for new heights vocally so I’m learning the importance of working hard to maintain vocal strength with exercises and warm ups.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
There are so many amazing women in music. Vocally, an iconic one for me is Tina Arena. She is a total power house. My favourite vocal moment of her’s is in Only Women Bleed at 3:54. Seriously check it out. Ainslie Wills is an incredible Melbourne talent who’s innovative music I’ve always looked up to and been inspired by. Alex Hope is an Australian producer and writer doing amazing things, I really like her work and it’s cool to see her paving the way.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
There is so much that am I still yet to discover but based on my adventures so far I would have to say The Great Ocean Road! It’s such a magical drive with so many breathtaking lookouts and beaches. It’s so beautiful that it almost feels otherworldly.
When you go back to Townsville, what's the first thing you do?
Soak up all that Northern humidity, hang out with my grumpy cat, Frankie and then maybe eat gelato at The Strand.
What is the last thing that blew your mind, artistically?
My favourite song of late is Girlfriend by NAO. When I first heard that song I was floored. It’s so dynamic. I love the grit and power of that soaring chorus and the way it hits you right in the Sternum. There were some amazing visual installations at White Night in Melbourne last month. I was basically just standing there gawking for hours.
I’m releasing my third album mid 2017, which will be followed up by an EP I’ve been making on the side. I’m very excited for this year to be the year I finally get to share everything I’ve been working on. Beyond that, who knows!