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Liner Notes

Katie Cole Releases New Single, "River Flow"

Katie Cole
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Katie Cole

Katie Cole’s journey from Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles to Nashville has been fueled by perseverance, talent and definitely some sheer luck. Having posted a list of “dream producers” she’d love to work with on her website, one of her top three actually saw it, listened to her music and invited her out to Los Angeles to record. Katie’s been playing gigs since she was 16, she’s been writing and recording in Nashville for the last five years and when alt-rockers Smashing Pumpkins are out on the road, you’ll find Katie singing and playing keyboards and guitar in the band. She just released, “River Flow”, the first single from her forthcoming album Rivers and Roads.

AnaLee: My mother always used to say, there are no coincidences. If that’s the case, then it was meant to be when you posted your list of dream producers on your website, one of your top three sees it, and here you are. Tell us about that and how you ended up in Los Angeles, and eventually, Nashville.

Katie: My story is definitely the “this never happens” story. Look, I was an artist who had released local music in Australia, written for other artists in the pop and EDM genres and was still trying to get my music across. I was playing 4-7 gigs a week, but it just wasn’t enough. So being young, you just throw things out there and see what happens never thinking that something actually may come out of it. When one Producer/Mixer, Howard Willing (Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Kris Kristofferson), one of my ideal collaborators reached out to me I initially thought it was a joke. But after a few emails back and forth and a phone call or two I realized this was really him and I began planning my first trip to Los Angeles. That first trip to LA was very surreal. Being from Australia things like Hollywood and Sunset strip were just names. But now these iconic landmarks and studios like Henson, that I was recording in were suddenly real. I did one more trip to LA to continue recording before it became clear that I needed to be there in order to have the career I was now envisioning. So, I made a very big decision to up and leave my country, my family and the stability of regular income to chase a dream. With literally nothing to fall back on. A year or two after I moved to LA and started to build my career with shows and radio play, I was hearing more about “Music City” aka Nashville. And that this was where the real songwriters were. So, I started making trips out there every few months and felt a real connection to the city. There is something collaborative and inclusive about it. At the end of 2015 I moved across the country. Change was becoming very familiar to me :)

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AnaLee: You’ve said one of your earliest influences was your mother’s love of music and how you remember her reading the liner notes of the albums she’d play at home. Was there an artist or a type of music in particular you were drawn to that led you to singing and teaching yourself to play?

Katie: Can I say “all of them” ? haha. Like many musicians, I am not the product of one band, one album, one genre. I was very much force-fed this bizarre concoction of Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Billy Idol, Donovan, Stevie Ray Vaughan and all the classical trailblazers like Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and more. In fact, “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven was the first piano piece I taught myself to play by ear at age 12. My mum played piano too and had sheet music. There was a tricky part I couldn’t quite figure out, so I did the old Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit thing with the sheet music to work out the few notes I hadn’t mastered. I guess, nobody told me that I couldn’t play Beethoven, so I did. Musically, when I was a kid, I think all the blues, rock n roll, soul and jazz leaning artists really spoke to me like Stevie, Hendrix, CCR, Peggy Lee, Little Richard. As the attitude and character was very clear and present. In my teens this moved into Eurythmics, Aretha and people with voices that I could aspire to sound like vocally coupled with a lot of rock music as I was teenager. Hello. No one understood me hahahaha… Then came Pink Floyd, and Steve Miller Band and singer-songwriters like Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell & Carole King etc. Throughout my whole listening experience, The Beatles were there… like every album. Every song. Because… Beatles.

AnaLee: Billy Corgan initially brought you in around 2015 to play bass and sing in Smashing Pumpkins and you also play keys and guitar in the band now. I, too, am a liner notes reader and I recently discovered that you and Billy Corgan both appear on Glen Campbell’s 2011 album, Ghost on the Canvas. Was that your first introduction?

Katie: Actually I never really met him then. How funny haha. But we met as Howard Willing is a long-time collaborator and engineer with the Smashing Pumpkins. I think he’s worked with them for over 20 years now. But Billy had known who I was via that association. He has asked Howard if I wanted to open up a solo show for him in Chicago in 2014, and then asked if I wanted to open up for that 2015 In Plainsong tour. He knew me as an artist first. I agreed and was very excited about this idea. It then evolved into me playing bass with them during their show. Doing double-duty. That first tour was amazing as it introduced me on such a direct and personal level to the Smashing Pumpkins fans. They saw me as an artist AND as a musician. So, it was a very powerful start to this saga. The following year, we played a bigger leg of this tour covering Beacon theater in NYC and the Ryman here in Nashville. I thought that may be this was all I’d do with the band. But in 2018, I switched to playing keys and we performed in arenas all over including sold out Madison Square Garden and Wembley in UK. Bucket list checks all over the place. Then 2019 we played festivals and shows 17 different European countries. Including some opening spots too. I got to see what 50k, 75k and 100k people in a crowd looks like. I honestly never thought, I be this Aussie singer-songwriter playing these big rock shows. But I moved across the world and I used to drive on the other side of the car on the other side of the road... so anything can happen.

AnaLee: I love the arrangements and the easy feel of “River Flow”, it sounds like you’ve been in this part of the world your whole life. I also included another song that you released last year, “Time on My Hands”, I wasn’t sure if that will be on the album too but I really liked that track as well. Tell us about the inspiration for the songs and sounds on the new record, Rivers and Roads.

Katie: I think it took me decades and hundreds of songs that I’ve written to come back to stories that speak the truth. Whether it’s a breezy song like “River Flow” or a hard truth like “Time On My Hands”, I want to only be authentic. I used to write a lot of songs on music row. All fun, mostly party songs etc., and it just felt like I was editing together this version of humanity that didn’t really exist. Maybe on a Saturday night. Sure. But what about Sunday-Friday? The grind of life, the day-to-day struggles in work and relationships, quiet joy, and the choices we make and live with…. that is leaning closer to the type of songs I tend to gravitate towards listening to and writing. Maybe it’s because I’m not 20 anymore and I want everyone to get off my lawn hahaha. But I have less tolerance for inauthenticity. As for “Time On My Hands”, it came out on my 2018 EP “Things That Break pt1. The single and video just had a delayed release. That EP and subsequent singles from that album project were my previous crowdfunding efforts. I have to be smart about when I release music and how often as I’m independent. Recording is a long process and quite $$, so I want to make each LP, EP or single count. I don’t have the luxury to be flippant about the releases I have.

AnaLee: You launched a Kickstarter campaign for this new album. Can you tell us about making the album, who did you work with this time, did you record here in Nashville and do you have a release date yet?

Katie: It’s still in recording stages. I have begun working on the first few songs and “River Flow” is a result of this first round of sessions. I am still looking at which songs I want to record and have as part of Rivers & Roads and which I want to be stand-alone singles. It may end up being an EP and additional singles. I haven’t decided yet. As if the songs I have don’t all fit together as a cohesive body of work, I’d rather not cram them together. I love English black tea and La Croix. Both delicious individually, but I’m not mixing them together, haha. I am genuinely so excited about this whole process. This is my third time with crowdfunding and there is always a lot of work to do. But right now, I am spending my time doing pre-production, demos and working out the song arrangement, BGV’s and more. So, I love being I the studio where I get to take it to the next level. I can’t wait to share more with you soon. Thank you for sharing my new single AnaLee!!

"River Flow"

“Time on My Hands”

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