Great to get a chance to know more about you and congrats again on winning the RightOutTV Award for Best Folk/Country/or Jazz Video for "Dear Emmi!"
Where were you when you found out you won and how did you feel about it?
I was at home with my girlfriend and a couple friends when I watched the announcements. We toasted and celebrated … there may have been jumping. In fact, I’m quite sure there was jumping!
Many artists from the U.S. tend to gravitate towards living in New York, LA or Nashville to be in the heart of larger music scenes. What made you decide to move from New York to Santa Barbara, California?...and how has that move been for you?
I was living in Brooklyn, before moving to Santa Barbara. And I loved it. After I had been there two years, my partner and I decided to make the cross country move so she could pursue a PhD at University of California Santa Barbara … and it’s been fantastic, both personally and musically. The second week we lived here, I went to check out an open mic and met the very talented and generally amazing Owen Plant. He and his girlfriend became our first friends (and remain two of our closest friends). And, he showed me the Santa Barbara musical ropes. Through Owen, I met Bear Erickson, an incredible producer, engineer and master of all musical things with strings, who I worked with to make my two studio albums. I feared that the move to far westward might take the momentum out of my music, but it has done just the opposite.
Tell us about your idea of writing and releasing a song every month and what you learned from that process.
So, I had this crazy idea to release a song each month of 2012…so, 12 squared…which became the “Twelve Squares” record. I wanted, in part, to have a regular connection with fans, to give folks near and far a little monthly dose of Kat Devlin. Some of the tunes that I released during the year were never-recorded songs from long ago, and it was fantastic to revisit and re-form those songs. And the rest were songs that I wrote throughout the year.
“Twelve Squares” was definitely a learning experience. Despite all my good intentions, I am a procrastinator to the bone. I know I released a few tunes at about 11:58 p.m. on the eve of the first of the month. The album was much more DIY than my previous records—all but one of the tunes were recorded in a home studio space. So, my production and engineering chops came a long way throughout the year.
You only started making albums in 2010, what were doing with
your truckload of talent before that?
Wow. Thank you! I was singing and songwriting, just not quite recording. When I was in high school, I started doing open mic nights in Minneapolis, near where I grew up. But, I think I needed
to do a bit of growing up and living … growing up musically andpersonally. And I needed to learn that people don’t necessarily love nine minute cryptic songs that turn out to be about nothing
You seem to do a mixture of solo and band gigs. How are you finding the live music scene to be at this time?
I find it’s easy to be busy musician out here, particularly as a solo artist. The Central Coast of California has so many gorgeous wineries, tasting rooms, and similar venues that are always looking for acoustic acts. However, I love the listening room and club shows. Those are the gigs where I really like to play with additional sounds and collaborate with other musicians.
Time to get personal, do you have a partner? ...and if so, can you tell us a bit about her and how you two met?
I do. Shannon and I actually met in college in Maryland. I was 19 and fell hard for her best friend, who, I soon discovered, was not falling along with me. However, Shannon and I became fast and fantastic friends during that bizarre and occasionally awkward time. She moved to New York after college … and I would visit often … and I fell in love with Brooklyn, right as I fell in love with her (though I’m not sure I knew it at the time). I moved to New York after I graduated, and she and I got together within a month.
That’s the how. Now the who. Shannon is nearing completion of a PhD in English literature. She’s absolutely brilliant, and passionate, and certainly makes me smarter! But she’s brilliant in this perfect non-pretentious way…I’m glancing at our bookshelves, and there’s “Beowulf” right alongside “Harry Potter.” She is also a beautiful lyricist—she has written the lyrics to a number of my tunes, including “Dear Emmi. And, I finally was able to get her behind the mic to lend her gorgeous alto voice to two songs on the “Twelve Squares” record.
How do you know when you are in a relationship that will last?
Wow … this is a challenging question. I’ve actually been skipping over it for about three days, as I complete the other questions … But, I’ll give it a shot.
I’m in a relationship that I *want* to last, but I’m not sure if I *know* it will last. I don’t ever want to feel too comfortable (I worry that getting comfortable might lead to getting lazy). My relationship with Shannon isn’t work, but I do work at it every day. I worry that if I decide that I *know* this is it, then I might not put in that work … that I might get lazy.
If I were to ask your best friend to tell me about who Kat Devlin really is what might he or she say?
Hmm … Stephanie would probably tell you my deep dark secrets … such as my love for all things Joss Whedon. She was visiting from New York last month, and I think we burned through a season of “Buffy” in about 4 days. Genius, I tell you. She might tell you about the time we road tripped up and down California (while we were still East Coasters), and listed to Missy Higgins and Tegan and Sara on loop for a week. Or, she might tell you that I’m a fair weather Maryland sports fan; that I’m just mediocre at karaoke; and I’m a wicked quesadilla chef.
Is there anything else that brings you almost as much,or even more,joy as music?
I don’t think anything brings me the same sort of satisfaction as creating and performing music. But joy … I think the most joyous times are when I’m relaxed and surrounded by people I love. Dinner parties, camp fires, super intense rounds of Frisbee on the beach… all of that can just turn everything around for me.
What is coming up for you musically and what projects do you have brewing in your head that you hope accomplish to make sure the world hears more from Kat Devlin?
More music! I’ve been busy writing. I’d like to record a follow up to the “REM Cycle” record perhaps before the end of the year. I also have a few music videos that will hopefully come to fruition before the year’s end as well.