EVERY day brings something different to my thoughts...
Today…I have been getting to know more about Austrian-born singer-songwriter, KTEE. She is based in Dublin now but has had quite a packed and adventurous life thus far. I ask about her early music memories and the artists that she holds dearest. KTEE talks about her new single, Rollercoaster, and what it was like shooting the video. She discusses future music and whether there are any tour dates coming up.
I was eager to learn about her brand of Pop and what compels her process; the inspiration behind her latest track and when she knew music was the career for her – that one moment where everything slots into place.
Hi, KTEE. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, you! My week has been good so far...
I have been working on the lyrics for my next single: I won’t tell you yet what it is about, sorry (still a work-in-progress). Unfortunately, I got a bad ear infection today so - today has been quite painful.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi. I am KTEE. I am a Pop-singer from Austria and I just released my newest single, Rollercoaster - which compares a rollercoaster ride with the ups-and-downs a couple can experience in a romantic relationship.
The video for Rollercoaster has been released. It seems like it was a blast to film. Was it as fun as it looks?
It was really great fun, although, it was really cold most of the time. We expected it to be a bit warmer in Spain in April - but it wasn’t. So, driving around in the convertible and experiencing a very cold wind was not that cool - but everything else was really super-fun. It took us two whole days and (actually also) a pool scene was planned - in which the male model and I were supposed to jump into. I think that would have been a great scene. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time left, so we had to cancel that scene. Secretly, I was relieved since it was soooo freakin’ cold.
The whole team was just so relaxed and nice. We all enjoyed those days in Barcelona.
Where did you film the video and what was the fondest memory from the shoot?
Since we wanted something to represent the ‘speed’ of a roller coaster - and some movement in the video - we found the idea of filming in an actual roller coaster too cheesy. We came up with the idea of including a road-trip into the video. Since it was, firstly, very cold in April (in Austria) - and we wanted a city that could offer both beach and city - we chose Barcelona as a film setting.
The fondest memory from the shoot was when we were filming the beach scenes. Despite the coldness, it was really cool to shoot there. We were fooling around, having fun - and I even fell into the water. This was really, really cold (I even caught a cold from this) but it was worth it, because we had a blast. One funny moment was when we parked the car in a no-parking zone at the beach to film the last scene (when we say goodbye to the car and leave at the end of the video) and, while we were filming, we saw a police car coming towards us. We really wanted to finish filming the scene because the place was perfect - so we didn’t move until the police stood right in front of us to call us off. The cool thing is, the police car is actually in the music video (you can see it in the last scene).
Afterwards, we actually regretted the fact we didn’t run away from the policemen - just for the sake of the scene (you know, stealing a car - and being caught by the police in the end and running away from them - would have been the perfect ending for the music video, don’t you think?).
Was Rollercoaster easy to put together - and will it lead to an E.P./album?
Well. My co-writer and I were in Croatia/Rovinj to write some good songs. It was our last day there and we had the feeling that nothing creative was going to come anymore. So, we were about to give up when my co-writer played that cool riff on the guitar - and my creativity came to life. I immediately found the melody to the verse – and, also the bridge and chorus line was (just) there hidden in my brain somewhere waiting to come out. So, the melody was quickly found but the lyrics were quite hard to find. I think there are three versions of Rollercoaster’s lyrics now; so it took me/us quite a long time to write the lyrics. I wanted something easy and catchy but also something that is kind of cool and metaphoric.
One day, I was sitting on the sofa watching T.V. when I suddenly, out-of-the-blue, sang the chorus line “Love is a rollercoaster ride/It goes up, up, up, and down” – and, from then on, it was easy to find the rest of the words. When you know the topic and you have a great hook-line the rest isn’t that difficult anymore.
Of course, we are working on some more songs and we are planning to release an album.
Life, for you, began in the small town of Maria Neustift, Austria. It seems like you spent hours signing and practicing music. Was that because there was little else to do or did the lack of distractions mean you could focus on performance?
Well. I would say both are true.
Maria Neustift is really, really small and I didn’t even live in the ‘center’ of the town. Basically, you can say I lived in the woods, about fifteen minutes away from civilization (by car). I was surrounded by nature and animals (we had deer in front of our house!).
There weren’t many kids my age so there was a lot of time to spend alone in my room. Of course, I played with my siblings (I have one brother and one sister) but I really focused on practicing singing from early on. My mum gave me her old bulky radio and some cassettes - and I recorded myself again and again and tried to sound like Celine Dion (she was my first favourite singer). I also practiced with the songs of the musical, Dance of the Vampires. I still know all the songs by heart.
I didn’t have the chance to receive professional voice training because there were no singing coaches. So, I HAD to teach myself - which was a hard journey (I made a lot of technique mistakes; ruined my voice once....) but it all led to the way I sing now - so I am kind of proud of myself. Of course, later, when I moved to Vienna, I had an amazing vocal coach and she helped me a lot!
What was the reason for packing your bags and moving to Dublin? What differences did you notice between Austria and E.I.R.E. in terms of music and people?
After school, I wanted to see the world after being stuck in Maria Neustift - that’s the reason why I went away. I don’t know why I chose Dublin: I guess I saw some nice pics on the Internet.
I love Pop music and mainstream: so neither the traditional Austrian nor the traditional Irish music made (and make) me wanna dance and cheer. I am not the biggest fan of the sound of the accordion, the Irish flute and fiddle.
So, actually, maybe this was the reason why I locked myself in my room in Dublin - to write my own songs.
Can you take me back to those early years in Austria? What music were you typically listening to and learning from? Were your family quite musical?
When I was a very small child, I experienced the effects of the so-called ‘mere-exposure effect' so, since my parents listened to Schlager music (difficult to describe what that is but it is a music genre that many Germans and Austrians like), I liked those songs as well (just because I didn’t know that there was something else out there). I have to admit that, today, I kind of hate this music genre.
Later, I became a huge fan of Céline Dion: my first C.D. was a Céline Dion album. I always recorded myself singing those songs and analysed my singing skills.
I also practiced with the songs by Beyoncé (she was my heroine when I was about eighteen-years-old) and I always wanted to sing like her.
And, of course, Jessie J - she has been very inspirational for me.
Was there a moment you knew you wanted to be a songwriter – or was there a single artist that motivated that desire?
No. It wasn’t really an artist that motivated that desire. It was lovesickness. I wrote my first songs when my heart was broken. I just grabbed a guitar and started to sing....those weren’t very good songs but they helped my soul to heal.
Since then, I haven’t stopped writing.
Comparisons have been made between you and modern chart successes like Dua Lipa and Zara Larsson. Is it quite flattering getting those comparisons or are you keen to forge your own identity and be recognised on your own terms?
Of course. It is flattering to be compared to those great artists/singers but, in the long-run, I am very keen to forge my own identity - and the actual goal is that, one day, other artists are compared to me (instead of the other way round).
What tour dates are coming up? Where can we see you play?
Since we are currently working in the studio - writing and producing new songs - there are no upcoming dates at the moment - except for some small, unplugged gigs in Vienna.
But, follow me on Facebook or Instagram - or visit my web page regularly - and I’ll keep you posted.
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
Oh, yeah. Have you heard about this Austrian singer KTEE? She is great.
Jokes apart: I am such a mainstream-lady, so I guess, whatever artist or act I would name here, you’ll know them already.
PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Jiang
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Sweet Talker - Jessie J
I am a huge Jessie J fan: she inspires me in so many ways and this album is simply fantastic. I, basically, listen to it every day.
4 – Beyoncé
It’s not her newest album, but this album just means a lot to me - because, all of her songs and the power of her voice. It (just) gives me goosebumps.
Grace - Jeff Buckley
His music is not comparable to the music I usually listen to - and I haven’t listened to this album for a long time now - but it was very important to me when I was younger. There was a time in my life I wasn’t that happy, and my heart was broken, and, you know...just not the best months in my life...
Jeff Buckley’s Grace gave me some kind of comfort (although; many songs are very sad...).
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Find your sound; stay true to yourself; be critical with yourself and your music (at first, it always seems as if the song you have just written is the song the world was waiting for – but, from a distance, it might look different) - so be critical and be ready to learn (and to improve and develop).
Most important: never give up. It can be a very long and hard road and there will probably be times in which you’ll be devastated, sad and desperate, because you only get ‘nos’, or you aren’t even heard or taken seriously.
But, if this is your dream: DO NOT GIVE UP - no matter what.
Finally, and for a being good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato (I love that song).
Thank you for the interview!