PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Polonsky
A few days ago, Nashville-based Indie-Folk artist Katie Buxton…
PHOTO CREDIT: Liz Burley
released the video for her latest track, You Flew. The song’s gorgeous vocals and heartbreaking lyrics make it one of her very finest tracks. Written on a snowy January day in Nashville: a wonderful, hugely evocative song that takes you away with it. I have been a fan of Buxton for a little while and am excited to see just how far she can go. Eager to find out whether she has future plans (for new music) and how Nashville is treating her: I caught up to discuss her childhood influences and whether we can expect her in the U.K. any time soon.
Hey Katie. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m doing great. my week has been crazy but the good kind.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself please?
Of course! I’m a twenty-year-old Indie-Folk singer/songwriter living in Tennessee. My songs are pretty mellow with intentional and reflective lyrics - everything I write has some sort of conscious intention behind it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Linda James Parrott
You are based out of Nashville. What prompted the move from Philadelphia to Nashville?
I moved to Nashville a little over two years ago to start college there. I study songwriting at Belmont University, and when I was looking at different universities to apply to, Belmont was one of only a few in the States that had a commercial songwriting program. I also had been to Nashville a few times before and loved the laid-back but lively feel of the city, and just how central music is there.
In terms of comparative music scenes: are there more opportunities and a richer music culture in Nashville?
I’d say definitely - the really cool thing about Nashville is that everyone assumes it’s mostly Country when in reality there is a little bit of everything. There’s a huge Indie scene, as well as Pop, Rock, and even Reggae.
Since the town is made up of mostly people working in the music industry, it’s so much easier to make connections here than it is almost anywhere else - especially since most are pretty open to helping up and coming musicians.
Your first songwriting experience was at the age of 12. Did you grow up in a musical household and when was the moment you realised you wanted to become a musician?
The funny thing about my background is that the only person I shared a household with growing up was my mother and she’s absolutely tone deaf (sorry mom)! Besides an uncle who plays guitar, the rest of my family has never been musical; I grew up in a school that placed a lot of importance on their music classes and training us vocally from the time we were four-years-old. I think that was a huge part of it. I’ve sort of always known that music is meant to be a part of my life, but I never knew in what capacity until around a year ago when I had a pretty sudden and intense realisation that being an artist is something I want more than I’ve ever wanted anything.
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Who were the artists and bands you fell in love with as a child?
Oh man! This is going to be embarrassing. When I was super-young I was really into Play, Hilary Duff, Aly &AJ; Evanescence, artists like that. Aly & AJ were actually the reason I started playing guitar! It’s so funny to me. As I got a little older I went to my first concert when I was nine, which was the Country duo Big & Rich (I know...I know). It was so random and unexpected but for some reason, I just loved them from that moment on, probably for way too long.
What was it like being selected as a finalist for the 2016 American Songwriting Awards? What was the inspiration behind Painted Hearts (the song that got you there)?
The funny part about this was I didn’t even realise I had submitted a song to be considered until I was told I was a finalist. I just had totally forgotten but it was an awesome surprise!
The song I submitted, Painted Hearts, is written from the perspective of a Native American chief. A few years ago I was attending a summer music program in Boston, Massachusetts when I heard a Native American chant performed live. I’ve always had a really deep and unexplainable connection to the culture, so it immediately resonated with me (and just stuck with me).
About a year-and-a-half later I was sitting in my room and for whatever reason, that chant was just playing over and over in my head when I thought: “what if I write a song around this chant?” I think the whole song came out in ten minutes. It felt effortless and like it came from a very special and sacred place. It’s a really important song for me and has opened so many doors.
Your debut E.P. From Songbirds was released in March. What has the reaction been like from critics and social media? What sort of events and experiences defined the E.P. for you?
Since releasing From Songbirds, the response I’ve gotten has been really encouraging and heartfelt. To hear from people that my E.P. is what’s playing when they turn on their car is the most special thing. When I was putting those songs together I wanted to focus on creating a project that had a purpose, songs that were reflective and would bring light to others. Each song focuses on something totally different, from sending love to those who hurt you, to letting go of control and embracing wherever it is life is taking you.
You Flew, the current single, is about caring for someone who is not ready to love. Did the song arrive from a fictional viewpoint or was there a particular inspiration?
There was definitely real inspiration for this song. It’s actually not about one person in particular but came from a couple very similar experiences I’ve had with different people: most recently right before I wrote the song. I think the fact that I’ve experienced this more than once honestly allowed me to put more emotion behind the lyrics because it was such a familiar feeling.
The song has a very gentle sound; your voice beautiful and aching. Was that sound/dynamic enforced by the strong Country scene in Nashville? Any particular singers helped to shape your vocal style
Thank you so much! I didn’t consciously take any influence from the Country sound - Country is not something I ever listen to, even here in Nashville. But as far as influence from other singers go I really love Liz Longley - her vocals are always so emotive and strong but delicate. I also really love more soulful singers like Lianne La Havas and Matt Corby and the way they use dynamics to add feeling to their lyrics. I really try to emulate this kind of style, because I think the way in which the vocals in a song are delivered is one of the most important things, and it’s what really allows the listener to connect to the lyrics.
PHOTO CREDIT: Linda James Parrott
Can fans here in the U.K. expect to see you soon? Any plans to tour Europe and the U.K.?
I would absolutely love to tour Europe and the U.K.! It’s something I’ve been talking about lately and I’m hoping to start planning a leg for next summer. So yes, hopefully very soon!
You often write messages to your fans and motivational messages. They, in turn, throw a lot of love your way. How important are your followers on social media and how important with regards to your energy and passion for music?
I truly appreciate every single person that follows me and shows even the smallest amount of support, so much more than I can say. It is such a gift when someone chooses to follow my journey and take the time to listen to what I have to say. It’s something I don’t take for granted and knowing I have the ability to positively influence even just one person gives me purpose and drive.
I know you have just released an E.P. but are there any plans for more music this year? How does the rest of 2016 pan out so far
Looking forward to the remainder of 2016 I don’t have any releases planned yet but I’m hoping to get back in the studio really soon. I would love to have another single out by November. Right now I’m in the process of getting a band together so that I can start playing full band shows, and I’m looking forward to a couple festivals I’m playing in September, one of which my favorite artist, Trevor Hall is headlining, so it’s very exciting and pretty surreal.
You must see a lot of great local artists around Nashville. Are there any you would recommend to people? Which mainstream artists have excited you this year?
So many! I have a ton of favorites because there is so much talent here but a few of them are Suzy Jones, Addison Mills, and Stephen Day. As far as mainstream artists go, this year I’ve really gotten into Allen Stone, as well as Jon Bellion after his newest release this May. I think the way he writes is genius and his songs are the kind that makes me wish I wrote them.
Having had such a varied and busy career so far: which times and moments have been the most precious and important?
The moments that have stuck with me the most are the ones where people have told me how much of an impact my music has had on them.
To hear that what I create and put out there is leaving a significant and lasting impression on someone is so surreal to me because that’s always my goal, but to know it’s actually happening is the most encouraging and humbling thing.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
I think one of the most important things as an artist is to find what makes you different than everyone else and really use it to your advantage. It’s something that’s allowed me to really connect with listeners, like with Painted Hearts for example - the song is really unique (and possibly pretty out there to some) but it’s made people pay attention because it doesn’t sound like anything they’ve heard before, including the concept itself. I think it’s easy for artists to fall into the trap of trying to sound like other musicians they look up to - I’m guilty of this too - because they figure it must mean success. In reality, though, all of the greatest artists got to where they are because they were the ones who did what everyone else wasn’t.
Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…
Does You Flew count? :)
Follow Katie Buxton
PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Polonsky