Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs and incredible people behind the DC region's music scene. Let's get to know our star here, Katie. This young, blue eyed, soul singer is a sultry our kind of pop star. She describes her latest EP as, "Everything I have rolled into a few bars." It's real, it's painful, it's empowering, and it's true. Music was always an important part of Katie's youth. Growing up in Knoxville, TN, she began performing at age 10. She was classically trained and competed nationally in piano. Really, piano?
Katie: I did.
Brian: I'm impressed. She's a piano player, but began to favor the guitar once she hit her teens. Her early influences were Carol King, Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, and Tupac, which is an amazing collection of influences there. She continued to sing and write songs through high school and college, and after graduating from the University of Florida, which by the way I went to Florida State.
Brian: We'll talk about that off the air later. She moved to Washington DC where she now calls home, and her music embodies the new generation of strong, outspoken female pop singers, and there is an amazing generation of those. I first came across her music when I was listening to that track, Be My Baby on the Metro, and it connected with me. Now, listeners, it is such a treat to now have her here in the studio to share her with you. It's with great pleasure that I formally introduce Katie Hargrove.
Brian: It is such a treat to have you here. Tell folks, the evolution of music in your life now. I brought up piano, I brought up guitar, go back for us, kind of run us through the progression of how you go to being the recording artist you are today.
Katie: Wow, I mean, how much time do we have?
Brian: The shorter version is good.
Katie: Yeah, my dad played guitar, and he was a singer-songwriter growing up. I think I always heard music. I started picking it up and it was never a quiet day at our house, because someone was always playing music. Whether it was my dad and I playing music together, or us going to a show, or listening to a new album, we always picked albums and we would listen to them at dinner. If it was your night, you would play music. I think a little by little it just started to become my life. Around 10, 12, is when I switched to guitar and I started writing my own music. It just blossomed into a thing that I kept up with. Then I started performing in little talent shows, and things at school, and doing drama, and things like that. I think little by little I was like, "I like this. This is good," so I just kind of stuck with it.
Brian: Wow, and now you moved up to DC, and you recorded this album now. The name of the album is ...
Katie: It's self-titled, Katie Hargrove.
Brian: Self-titled, Katie Hargrove. At what point did you decide, okay, I'm going to record this album? How did that happen?
Katie: That's kind of a long story. Short Cliff Notes version.
Brian: I've been asking the long story questions, I love it, it's like hitting home runs. Okay, talk to us.
Katie: I performed for a family friend of mine, who I was introduced to on a back porch. I played Lost Our War, and Save Me, and she cried. She loved the songs, she loved them acoustic, and she has a friend, and he has a studio, and she introduced me to him, and she told me off the bat, "He a tough cookie, and if he doesn't like your music he's not going to be afraid to say that." I was terrified, and I met with him, and of course I was sick, and my voice sounded terrible, and I played, I think I played Lost Our War and The Last, which are both on the album. I remember him just shaking his head, and Jock, he's one of the producers on the album, he was like, "Yeah, okay. Well, send me all of your music and we'll start talking about this." I was like, "Nothing is ever going to happen. He hated it." At the time I was working at ...
Brian: This is how he lets you down easy.
Katie: Yeah I was like ...
Brian: He's just like, "Oh yeah, yeah it's good. Yeah, we can go out on it."
Katie: I was working at Vans, the shoe store, at the time. I was like, "I have to get to my shift, I don't know what I'm doing here." Little by little we started cultivating through email, and he was like, "I have this studio up in Philly, and you should come up," and blah, blah, blah. It just became a thing. Then it was like, "Okay, I should probably accept this is happening, that we're going to go to a studio and record this." The best part is I had never been in a studio, ever, I had never toured a studio.
Katie: I had never done any of that. To walk in and be surrounded by these incredible musicians, I mean, one of the other producers, Glenn Barratt, he worked with Diana Ross, and Melody Gardot, and I mean it was just intense. You know? I'm sitting here, like little girl who wrote all of these songs in her bedroom, and then, "Oh there's Matt Cappy, Michael Jackson's trumpet player, it was just ... It was insane.
Brian: Now so you worked with all of them then. Well let me back up, so when I went and saw you, I caught you at the Ellipse Rooftop Bar, one of the gigs you had. Now it's just you and your guitar sometimes, you're doing the singer-songwriter thing.
Brian: On the album there's a lot, all kinds of strings, and amazing sounds. Talk about how did your guitar singing turn into all of that.
Katie: I sent them hundreds of songs and they chose a select handful of songs.
Brian: Wait, wait, hundreds?
Katie: I sent them a lot of songs.
Katie: All recorded on my phone.
Brian: On your iPhone. Okay.
Katie: Yeah. They picked out the ones that they thought were the punchiest, most ear catching tunes that they could make into something that would be radio worthy, you know, I had never been on the radio, I had never really promoted myself in that way. I sent them all to them and I guess John Conahan, he was the arranger on the album, and he wrote out everybody's music, and everything. I think Jock, John, and Glenn, all kind of got together and created this musical piece. Before we would sit to record every song, they would kind of give me what they thought was going to happen. Like, "This is kind of what we've arranged. What do you think about it?" We'd kind of bounce ideas around, and come up with something we were all comfortable with. I was very comfortable in the studio, and I think they really made it a place where it wasn't just like, "Well, this is what we've figured out is going to be your song, and that's it, and here you go." It was beautiful. It was the chance to really cultivate something as a group, and it was all in like four days.
Brian: What an epic weekend and what a great result. My compliments to John, and Jock, and ...
Brian: ... and Glenn, for the amazing arranging.
Brian: Just amazing, I love the result that came from that. Now talk about you on the personal side. Outside of the music thing, what is life like for you? Hobbies, what's outside of music?
Katie: I love working out. I do solid core, which is like a Pilates class. I like to think it's like a much harder version of a class I've ever done before. It's on like a reformer, and it kicks your butt hard, and I love it.
Katie: Let's think, what else? Sadly, I'm really into reality TV.
Brian: Stop, really?
Katie: If we're being honest.
Brian: Okay, all right.
Katie: If we're being honest and this is the honest me, then yes.
Brian: Okay. Now tell me more. What does that mean? What do you watch? What is that?
Katie: I'm just intrigued by people's lives. I feel like there's no need to even watch fiction shows, because people are crazy, and they're so interesting. I don't know.
Brian: It seems like fiction when you're watching reality TV.
Katie: Yeah, like Real Housewives, and all these new shows, it's just ... No hate, I love it. Keep it up, you know?
Brian: What's the latest one that you've been watching?
Katie: Probably just some version of Real Housewives, or who knows? Yeah, probably Real Housewives.
Brian: Real Housewives?
Katie: Or Below Deck, the one about the deck crew.
Katie: I'm into it, yeah.
Brian: That's awesome.
Katie: So lame.
Katie: It's so lame.
Brian: All right, now what about ... What's something in your music collection that might surprise us?
Katie: Like album wise?
Brian: Yeah, or like song, or artists, or ...
Katie: I don't know, I've always been into 80s music, I'm a big 80s person. I'm always ...
Brian: Okay, what does that mean?
Katie: I love Foreigner, and Been Waiting for a Girl Like You, that's like one of my favorite songs ever. Play it at gigs, and I don't think people realize how much I'm putting in to it. You know what I mean? I'm like, "Okay, you all have to clap, I'm clapping on the inside." I don't know.
Brian: I think every musician has been through them clapping on the inside too, actually, that's a ... You're there, and you're playing music, and everybody is paying attention to what they're doing, and you are ... Yes.
Katie: Yeah, you're giving it your all. That's all you can give it, right?
Brian: That is wonderful.
Brian: I love it. Now you had mentioned your earliest memory with music, you had mentioned your parents, and playing music for the dinner table? Go back to that. Early memories of music.
Katie: Early memories, we always listened to music at dinner. If it was your night, like if it was your turn, you would play a recent album, or recent song you'd heard. It was your chance to kind of be like, "Oh do you like it? Here it is," like a little indie band you found, my parents kind of just let me have free reign of the computer, which probably could have been a bad thing, but I just searched songs, and I just found all of these different musicians, and I just feel in love with music and kind of cultivated my own style from that.
Brian: Is there a song that comes to mind that you played for them that was a home run, or something, that comes to mind?
Katie: I don't know. I think often times I would play them songs thinking I was like the finder, like I would play Carol King, or something, and they would be like, "Yeah, sweetie. Mm-hmm (affirmative), yep, we've heard of her."
Brian: We've been listening to that for years, yeah.
Katie: Yeah, so I think I tried really hard to be cool, and my parents were like, "You're great."
Brian: Excellent, excellent. Now, one of the last questions that I always love to ask on this show is if you could offer one piece of advice what would it be?
Katie: I would say if music, and being an artist, is really what you want to do, just give it your all. Give it everything you have and even during the days when you think, "This is never going to be anything, and I'm never going to amount to anything as a musician," those are the days you really need to be your number one fan. If I hadn't been that, then I never would have had the chance to even step into a studio and create the masterpiece that I consider my album. No matter what comes of it, I'm proud of it, and that's ... You have to be proud of your work and kind of give it your all.
Brian: That's hard, how do you get through those days where you just, "God, why am I doing this?" How do you do it? How do you deal with it?
Katie: I write music, I write songs, I mean Save Me definitely didn't come from a place when I was having a great day. You know what I mean?
Brian: True, okay.
Katie: I think those are the times where you have to harness that energy, and that feeling, and emotion, and realize that you're probably not alone in feeling that. There's probably a ton of people who would really love to feel that with you, and be supported in the process.
Brian: All right cool, and if folks want to find out more about you, and follow you, where do they go?
Katie: I would say best site would be my website, KatieHargrove.com.
Brian: Got it, KatieHargove.com. Social media?
Katie: I'm on Instagram.
Brian: I always like to ask, what's your favorite one? Because everybody has a favorite one that they always stick to.
Katie: I mean, for the longest time it's been Instagram. I love Instagram, but recently it's been Twitter. I tweet a lot.
Brian: A lot of tweeting.
Katie: Yeah, a lot of tweeting.
Brian: All right, she's a tweeter guys, look out.