Kate McGill

KATE McGILL

► Fair enough. Since we’re already talking about Meadowlark, how does the band life compare to your solo work in general?
It differs quite a lot. Dan and I are very much on the same page. For example, when we write a song, it feels very natural. But that is also the first difference. It is so nice to have someone there to bounce your ideas off. When I am stuck on an idea, he can chip in, and when he is stuck, I can come in with an idea. If I’m writing music on my own and I can’t think of anything, I’m forced to take a break. Now, with Meadowlark, it’s a much nicer flow and it feels very natural and organic to write songs. Of course it’s not all a bed of roses. Sometimes we can have quite different views, but that’s just any human relationship.

► Aside from writing music, what about building a new audience for Meadowlark?
It’s fascinating. I’ve really enjoyed building something from scratch. Well, almost from scratch. It’s not like I don’t have anyone listening anymore from my time before Meadowlark. The interesting thing is that I am, of course, still on Twitter as Kate McGill, but now it feels more personal and maybe even more honest to me. For the first time I have kind of separated the person and the artist on Twitter. On my own Twitter I post a lot more, and it is more spontaneous and more me than before. At the same time, the Meadowlark Twitter is cooler and more mysterious because we don’t post that often. And it is really cool to watch the different reactions.

► Something we will surely be seeing a lot (or a lot more) in both Twitter feeds is the new Dual EP. Which, unlike I thought initially, is not a dual EP – it’s a regular 4-track EP that is called Dual.
Oh, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Yes, it is called Dual and it is a normal EP, which we wrote over the course of about a year. Which is kind of a long time, come to think of it.

Meadowlark Dual EP cover
Meadowlark Dual EP cover

► I have also asked this question in the interview with The Greasy Slicks: Do you subscribe to what appears to be a trend of releasing EP after EP, rather than building up to an album?
I can definitely identify with that. It certainly seems that these days people have a much shorter attention span. If you put out EP after EP and single after single, your audience will get new content – I don’t know – every three months or so? It’s definitely easy to digest. With Meadowlark specifically, an album is definitely in our future. I think Dual gives you a very good impression of how Dan and I work together. It’s more conceptual, rather than songs that are completely different entities and are interchangeable – you know, trying to write hit after hit. The next thing after Dual might be another EP, but we will get to an album eventually. Also, if you know our first EP, you’ll hear that it was much, much different than the songs on Dual are. It was much more of a full-band sound, whereas now we have something that we can actually perform live as a duo the same way you hear it on the EP. We’re much happier with that.

► Is that something that makes you nervous as an artist – knowing that the sound of the new EP is so much different from the previous one?
It does when it comes to the live shows because we now sound so different. We’re not that folky anymore. For instance, a song like I’ve Got You, off the Three Six Five EP, is very happy and folky, but the songs we naturally tend to write are a lot more mid-tempo, slow, melancholic. That’s what you hear on Dual. When it comes to the EP release, it doesn’t make me nervous, simply because Dan and I are so much happier with what we got now. If anything, we’re excited about the new music, rather than be scared of the comparison to what we’ve done before.

► Any special videos or maybe live sessions we can look forward to, in support of Dual?
Yeah, we’ve actually been discussing doing a really stripped back piano acoustic version for each song. Hopefully we’ll get strings involved, which would be amazing. Later in the year, we’re planning a headline tour. That’ll be September/October-ish. We haven’t discussed this yet, but the whole online thing is something we definitely don’t want to neglect either, so a live stream session is a possibility. We’d just have to make sure that it doesn’t feel gimmicky in any way.

► You, of course, have the respective background. How is Dan when it comes to the whole YouTube or online thing?
When we first met, he hadn’t done anything in terms of YouTube. He was aware of what I was doing on there, but he didn’t have any personal experiences with it. But he is very open to things that we, as Meadowlark, can do on YouTube in the future, as long as they feel natural, which is exactly what I want to do as well. We already have filmed a show and some behind-the-scenes stuff. I don’t think we’ll ever be the vlogging type of band, but we’ll be filming more and make that available to our audience. But that will just be an occasional bonus. When it comes to social media, what we are most keen on is the one-on-one communication with the audience, like on Twitter. For the music, we are definitely concentrating more on the live sets than on YouTube videos.

► Which may sound like bad news for your international fans, who you might not be able to play live for anytime soon. But there is good news – and an interesting concept – in the form of Kate’s Monthly Mystery Package
Kate’s Mysterious Monthly Musical Parcel.

► That one.
It’s a long name, and I don’t always get it right either, so don’t worry. (laughs)

► Explain where the idea came from, please.
I was in the shower on the day before New Year’s Eve and I knew that after New Year’s I would go back to Bristol and that I would either have to get a part-time job or have to find a way in which I could set myself up, at least for a little while, with the music. Then I saw a TED Talk by Amanda Palmer, talking about being vulnerable and being honest and how it is a good thing to ask your supporters for help.

I was just very upfront and honest about my dream and how I can’t afford to have a part-time job if I really want to concentrate on creating music.

The Art Of Asking, which I talked about with Amanda Palmer for the first issue of XCENTS…
Yes, that’s the one. It really inspired me. Instead of using Pledge or Kickstarter, I wanted to do it a lot more in-house, so I thought of this subscription idea. I guess that brings us back to me being very whimsical. I came up with the idea, acted on it and made a website in about an hour. I was just very upfront and honest about my dream and how I can’t afford to have a part-time job if I really want to concentrate on creating music. To my amazement so many people have gotten on board and have supported me.

► That would have been my next question. The reactions to something like this can be very different…
To be honest, there was only one person who was really nasty about it on Twitter, calling me lazy and questioning how I could ask people for that. But that was the only one. I really wasn’t expecting this overwhelmingly positive reaction and all the support. It’s really amazing.

► And what is it that people actually get in Kate’s Monthly Magical Music Box?
I want to give as much as I possibly can. I don’t even want it to be monthly either. In my head, I want it to be bi-weekly. Either way, I’ll do covers of anything I like, not just charts stuff. So it’s kind of a mix of the two old channels. There will be videos and Meadowlark songs, as well as songs that I write on my own. In the future, I want to do live shows, kind of like StageIt, but only for the subscribers. I’m still building it, to be honest. I want it to be something that grows over time.

► So you aren’t completely disenfranchised from the whole cover thing, just because it felt stale to you at one point?
Absolutely not. It is always amazing to interpret someone’s song and turn it into your own thing. I love doing that. Like I said, I just didn’t want to be known for just that. But because people who subscribe to the Music Parcel know that I am in it for Meadowlark, doing the covers for them doesn’t feel as wrong as doing those covers on YouTube felt to me at the time.

► A someone whose desire to be a musician has come out of YouTube and who has gone through the different stages we have talked about, would you say it is more a weird time to be a young musician, because there is no longer a blueprint that does apply to getting a career in music, or more an exciting time, because there are all these different ways of doing it?
It is definitely an odd time, but to me it’s all I’ve ever known. I count myself as one of the luckiest people in the world. I know how many people would love to be doing what I’m doing right now, and I am grateful every single day. I see the fact that there isn’t this one applicable blueprint anymore as a positive. Today, anyone has at least the chance to make it, in any number of ways. However saturated the world is with everyone trying to get attention, I think it is still easier than it used to be, because you don’t depend on labels anymore and the right song or the right video at the right time can be the key for you.

► Out of the many different ways of doing it, what is your perfect vision of your life as a musician?
Oh, wow, that’s a great question. On the one hand, I am an ambitious person. On the other hand, I won’t feel I’ve failed because I don’t get to play Wembley with Meadowlark. I think the perfect vision comes down to being able to make a living with my music, being able to create and being able to share it. Which is what I’m doing it now. I am living my dream. :x:

Interview by Ewan McGee.

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