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Katie Nicholas // Interview

KNIt’s always exciting to catch established bands and artists play your favourite venues – even if sometimes amidst a wave of hype and highly priced drinks. However, it’s hard to beat the thrill of discovering new acts on the rise through their music online and catching them in various cool festivals for emerging talent. It is in this realm that we find the flourishing young musical career of Katie Nicholas, a rising star from Liverpool who in the last 18 months alone has released several online singles, hit the top spot of the British & Irish Hot Disc Country chart, won the coveted 2013 Liverpool Youth Music Award and gained the attention of producers at Sony and those in Nashville. Her musical talent speaks for itself, but in addition, she has the unique ability to produce, direct and edit all her own music videos. Taking a breather from her beloved recording studio, Katie settled down to have a chat with Rhythm Circus about her career to date;

Thanks for taking some time out of the studio to chat with Rhythm circus. What are you currently working on?Thanks for having me. I’m currently working on my first EP/Album… and it’s about time! I’ve been releasing my music for a while now, and a lot of people seem shocked that I haven’t got a collective album to show for it – so now I’m working on finishing touches and will be releasing it by the end of Summer 2014. It’s an amazing feeling to know your ideas are actually coming together and working.

How did you get into writing and performing? I have always followed in the steps of my musical Dad. Writing songs came much later than my early days of singing Shania Twain’s ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ on my Dad’s old karaoke discs in the shed. But I soon advanced from ‘shed-singing’ at the age of 9 to running local open mic nights around Liverpool with my musical siblings and Dad at the age of 13, which went down very well, and are still going even after my departure to London. Once I hit the age of 14, I decided to try writing my own songs. Obviously to begin with they were pretty basic, but I guess you have to start somewhere. I think with time I’ve come into my element though I find writing the most creative part and it’s truly an expressive outlet for me and the crazy concepts that run through my mind.

Your track Chemistry has been a huge success in online charts – especially impressive as you put it out without the assistance of a promoter. How did you manage to get it the exposure it deserves? I was very unassuming when I released Chemistry. It was simply a very cheesy love song I wrote for my boyfriend which I released on Valentine’s Day. He loves the American sitcom ‘Big Bang Theory’ and I have a fascination with the stars so it was a great fusion of our own ‘Chemistry’ as well as the scientific subject. I hadn’t really done anything like it before, and the video soon picked up some pace. I didn’t think a simple little video a college student did in her bedroom would pick up 100,000 views in a few days. It was a bizarre chain of events. It snowballed and reached a young Swedish Sony producer in Belgrade called Daniel Vujevic, who then went off to share it. Then it really took off! From that, my parents and I bagged a free trip to Belgrade to co-write and record some songs with Daniel. Madness!

Congratulations on winning the Liverpool Music Awards 2013 Youth Music Award last year, which had some well-established musical names in competition. How did you feel when you won? 2013 was a good year for me, and this was one of the highlights. I didn’t think my name would be along side the likes of Rebecca Ferguson, Miles Kane and members of
KN bootsthe Sugarbabes. I had turned up, again totally unassuming and thrilled to be even nominated, and had convinced myself it wouldn’t possibly be me. I couldn’t describe how I felt, and I can’t remember anything after they announced my name – all I know is my reaction was ‘funny’. But aside from being typically embarrassing I was completely overwhelmed, surprised and ecstatic! It’s a great feeling when your hard work and efforts have been recognised and appreciated.

The award is very special too, sponsored by the Mayor of Liverpool and in memory of the young and talented Michael Molloy who’s life was tragically taken in a crash while on his way to a festival the previous year.  The Liverpool community has strived to shine a light on what happened and have celebrated this great young man throughout the awards and other large events. I was flattered to be a part of that.

You design, direct and edit your own music videos and in the case of that for ‘Boots’, even turned your hand to computer animation. As you also work as a designer for a top London advertising agency do you enjoy the creative process of making your own videos? Though it’s often stressful – of course I enjoy it! I had always thought; ‘I don’t know what I’d like to do in life – be a designer with a stable and interesting career or a musician living on the edge yet doing what connects me emotionally’. And now I think; ‘why should I pick one?’ I guess it’s a unique element that I produce all my music videos, illustrations, graphics etc as well as write and perform my songs. I find it’s very beneficial as I have full creative control of what I do and if I envision how something will look, I can determine to make it look that way. Boots was a bit ambitious I do admit. For something I had never done before, I thought an animation couldn’t be too difficult, but then at times I questioned why I had ever thought of taking on such a big task – especially as it took me three months to make and I ended up begrudgingly pulling an all-nighter on Christmas Day last year as I wanted it to be out the next day. But hey, at least I have learnt a new skill and it was nice seeing the hard work pay off with a finished piece.

You’ve recently played gigs at various venues around London. Where can we catch you next? I’ve been in London for nearly ten months and finally plucked up the courage to perform again after my move from Liverpool. I played the scarily large Venue 229 last month and am due to be playing the 100 Club on the 27th June. I have a few festivals going on here and there, so if you’d like to see what I’m up to, you can catch up with everything on KATIE NICHOLAS MUSIC

 Words > Roy Swansborough

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