Hailing from Sydney, Katie Whyte blends old-world songwriting techniques with modern-day anxieties, all couched in interesting arrangements, which manage to compliment the vocal melodies without swamping them. The term ‘songstress’ is often used pejoratively to describe any female singer-songwriter who writes songs high on musical whimsy and low on insight. Joni Mitchell, for example, is not a ‘songstress’ and likewise, Katie Whyte shouldn’t have this lazy term affixed to her name – at least as long as it suggests one who strums wistfully while saying very little. Whyte writes songs of lost love, of no longer feeling sure-footed, of feeling ill at ease. Hitting the studio recently with ARIA-award winning producer Robert F Cranny (Sarah Blasko) to record her debut EP Where The Ocean Starts, the results of these sessions cover a lot of ground musically while hanging in the same sonic universe. (Blurb written by Nathan Jolly for TMC)
Describe Katie Whyte in just 3 words.
Pop | Indie | Folk
What first drew you to becoming a musician?
I’ve always enjoyed doing something creative. I learnt piano and guitar when I was younger; I think music lent itself to being the next step of pursuing something creative. That and I stumbled across a Joni Mitchell record in my teenage years and the world simply began to make sense!
What have you been up to over the last year?
We recorded my debut EP early this year, and we also established and played many live shows as our live act Katie Whyte & The Pales. Hence I could say that this year has really been about bringing the songs to life in a live setting.
That and also we’ve had some exciting opportunities such as being featured on a compilation CD by Yen Magazine along side other local acts we adore including Melodie Nelson (on shelves now until early Jan).
What can we expect from a Katie Whyte live show?
This is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to note this link: The Pales and I just recorded a live performance at the Hong Kong Rock Club Sessions which we’ve had some positive feedback about. The recordings always visually look fantastic, Sam the brains behind the project is very creative and has a great eye.
Click this link to view the footage: http://vimeo.com/55703479
What is your favourite Sydney venue to play at and why?
That would be FBI Social. I greatly appreciate the interconnection with FBI Radio, which of course isn’t only a radio station but a community of music lovers really. And FBI Social being a natural extension of that community is evident I believe in endless positive ways.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Australian music scene at the moment and how has it affected your work as an artist?
To speak more about Sydney specifically, I remember when I first moved to Syd in 2006 reading about the music lobbyist group led by John Wardle. John said the late nineties and the early 2000s were such an arid time for Sydney’s live music scene. For those of you who don’t know, John Wardle and the music lobbyist group removed a lot of the red tape surrounding licenses allowing venues to hold live music.
But to answer your question, since their success with legislation in 2008 the positive effects have had a clear flow on effect on since, and over the last year or two especially my friends and I have commented on the increasing number of small venues holding live music. Thankfully it seems we are well on the way to recovery from this hurdle, which has been a positive thing for me as both a music fan and a musician.
What other Australian female artists are inspiring you these days?
For a long time I’ve been a big fan of Sarah Blasko and Lisa Mitchell. It was my collaborator/ producer’s work with Sarah Blasko as to why I first met him actually! That is Robert F. Cranny. After seeing his name on a lot of records I liked, I saw he was doing a solo show and I insisted on buying him a beer after the show.
I’m also from Albury- Wodonga where Lisa Mitchell is from, and I’vebeen going to her live shows since she was 16 or so. What a talent. For both SB and LM it’s been so interesting as a music fan to watch them develop as artists in their careers over the years, and it was exciting to hear both of their new releases over recent months!
If you could collaborate with any Sydney based artist or band, who would you pick?
The answer to that question would be my current collaborator/ producer Robert F. Cranny. We’ve written together for a few years now, and I’m interested to see where our next project will take us now that I’m becoming more confident with my song writing and ideas about music. I’ve really treasured the experience of working with Rob.
What’s on the horizon for you in the new year?
I’m eager to do lots of writing, and am also very keen to continue playing shows around the Sydney circuit.
Any shows coming up?
Our Launch for the EP will be at The Standard JAN 10. An exciting evening for us as we will have an extended lineup for our band, and we were able to ask some of our favourite Sydney acts to join us: The Wednesday Night Music Club, Maxine Kauter Band and Charles Buddy Daabhoul. Do come along, and embrace the $5 theme entitling you to entry, drinks and copies of the EP.