MANY would assume there is not much of a…
music scene in Austria. As KTEE proves; there are some fantastic artists performing over there right now. She talks to me about her latest track, So What, and whether there is more material later this year. I ask whether she feels she’s developed and grown since her teenage years; which artists/sounds influence her sound; why she moved from Vienna to Ireland – and whether it was hard rebelling against parents who did not want her to follow a path into music.
KTEE discusses tour plans and prized musical moments; whether there are plans regarding playing in the U.K.; advice she would offer new artists of the moment; a new artist we need to check out – how the talented songwriter unwinds away from her music career.
Hi, KTEE. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. Good, so far. A lot of work: promoting a single is BUMM (smiles).
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am KTEE: a Pop artist from Austria. I totally love what I do and I am living my dream by writing songs, playing gigs; promoting my singles, giving interviews and being who I am (which is fun, sarcastic; ambitious, loving; hard-working, energetic…).
Your new track, So What, is out. Can you reveal the story to that one? What inspired the track?
So What is a very special song for me since the message behind it is one that is so important for me, personally - and I also think for many other young people: to do what you love, even if other people make fun of you or say that your dreams are stupid - or that you are not gonna be able to fulfil them.
Time is so limited here and that’s why it is so important to not waste your life by playing by the rules of others. The song also says that it is, of course, not always easy to ‘do what you love’ because we live in a world ruled by pressure; by people or a society telling you what is ‘cool’, ‘good’; ‘preferable’, ‘perfect’ and ‘desirable’.
Nobody is perfect and there will be obstacles in your way and you will make mistakes - but those mistakes make help you grow. As long as you always try to live your life by your own rules and know what is good for you and what’s not, you are on the right track.
It seems there is that defiance and sense of growth. Do you feel you have come a long way since your teenage years? Is music the way you make sense of all those hard times?
Oh yes; I have definitely grown a lot and I have come a very long way since my teenage years. Of course, music helped a lot! There was a time in my life where writing songs has kind of saved my life. It was my only form of expression.
Kind of self-therapy you could say…
Can we expect an E.P. or more material later in the year?
Of course: there is more music to come this year. You can expect a new song in May. We are already working on it (smiles). An E.P. is planned as well (end of the year).
I believe you used to record songs on a bulky red cassette player your mum gave you! How treasured are those early moments? Do you have any of those songs left/safe?
Haha. Oh yes; I love those tapes! I still have some of them, yes. So cute - my eight-year-old self practicing Celine Dion songs, trying to sound like her (smiles). If I could, I would go back in time and tell little KTEE that her dreams of becoming a singer and releasing her own songs will come true one day.
This cassette player was my favourite thing ever! I didn’t need a T.V., computer games…I spent so many hours with it in my tiny room. Thanks to my mum, I could listen to my own voice, analyse it and become better. Thanks, mummy!
Maria Neustift was where you grew up. Is there a big music scene in Austria at all? How does music differ there to, say, the U.K.?
Maria Neustift is veeeeeery very small; a very nice village in Upper-Austria. There is a music scene in Austria but not a very big one - and definitely not for English-speaking Pop music (smiles).
How it differs? Well; in the U.K., the live music scene is biiiig compared to Austria. When I was in London a few weeks ago, I played every evening. You can play there every day, which is amazing. Now that I am back in Austria, I miss this. We don’t really have that here.
I know you were keen to follow music but faced some competition and resistance from your parents. Was it hard convincing them you should study in Vienna and do things your way?
They wanted me to study, but not music (smiles). That’s why I didn’t study music. They said they would not support me if I decided to study music. So, in a way, I satisfied them by studying something ‘that made sense’ in their eyes but, at the same time, I was following my dream of becoming a singer/artist/songwriter. In the mornings, I went to university; in the afternoon, I studied and, in the evenings and at the weekends I wrote songs, connected with other musicians; played live and took part in competitions…
Now, my parents are very proud of me – at least I think they are (smiles).
After Vienna, you spend some time in Ireland. Is that when you decided music was your vocation? Was there a single moment that compelled that decision?
Yes. I spent some time in Ireland but that was before I went to Vienna - I was nineteen-years-old when I went there. No, actually: I’ve known that music is my vocation since I was eight-years-old.
However, in Ireland, I started to write my own songs and I discovered my love for experimenting with sounds, lyrics...
You successfully qualified in The Voice. How important was the time on that show in terms of your career and direction of sound?
It was not The Voice that is on T.V. but it was another competition called The Voice that we have here in Austria. However, I took part in a T.V. talent-show called Heroes of Tomorrow and was one of the greatest and most-important experiences I have made so far. I learned so, so much. I had voice training there (my singing technique improved); I got a lot of self-esteem and I overcame my self-doubts. I got a lot of great feedback and that pushed me in a way.
I am so happy that I was part of that show!
Which artists were most important when you were growing up? Did you have idols and heroes?
As I mentioned before; Celine Dion was my hero when I was very young – and, also, Whitney Houston. When I got older, I started to love Pink, Jessie J and Beyoncé. I still love Jessie J’s voice and her attitude! She is a goddess, she is a queen (smiles)!
IN THIS PHOTO: AIVI
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Check out AIVI. She is a newcomer from Austria!
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I have some gigs in New York in March - and I hope I’ll be in the U.K. again in May!
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
I wanna play a lot more gigs than I did in 2017. I wanna release my E.P. by the end of the year and I wanna reach as many people as possible with my song (that’s why I hope radios will play my song: for playlist curators to put it on their playlists...).
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
My first radio interview (thank you, Liferadio!),
The moment when we finished writing So What and realised it is an awesome song (smiles).
The London tour.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Never give up! Keep fighting and keep dreaming! Do what you love; no matter what it takes! You will fall on your face; you will fail and you will cry and be disappointed. People will judge you - haters gonna hate - and it is a tough business! But, if this is what you love, stand up; shake off the dust keep fighting!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I have to admit that, sadly, I don’t have any free time. I work every free minute. Sometimes, in the evenings I watch T.V. - that’s relaxing (smiles).
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
AIVI – Shooting Star