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| 9 September 2016 | Reply

New comer Kathryn Dean has released an EP, a full-length CD Hit The Lights, and is currently out on tour with Tiffany.  While promoting the last release, Kathryn is also road testing songs for her next disc with an acoustic set that is fun and engaging, as well as full of great songs sung with a rich voice.  I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kathryn when she played the Lexington Village Theatre in Lexington, MI and again on the phone a couple days later to continue our discussion…


Toddstar: Kathryn, how are you?

Kathryn: I’m doing well. How are you?

Toddstar: Good. Thank you so much for doing this.

Kathryn: No problem.

Toddstar: Again, let me thank you so much for your time both Sunday night at the show and then again, today. I know you’re super busy right now.

Kathryn: Or course.

Toddstar: Well, let’s talk about last Sunday. Let’s start with the show in Lexington. What did you think of the show itself and the venue and the crowd?

Kathryn: That was an awesome crowd definitely. It was a great show on Tiffany’s part too.  The venue is just beautiful. I think it’s definitely one of our favorites. It was just a really awesome show and to be able to go out and meet the fans, it was a great set up in terms of being able to meet the fans after the show. Some venues you have to sell merch, do meet and greets out in the lobby, and people are afraid they’re going to lose their seat or that they’re not going to know when the show is starting. It’s nice when it’s just right in there and you can meet with people after the show.

Toddstar: Very cool. How do you feel your music was received? You went in there and some of the people knew who you were, but you were kind of winning over a whole new crowd. How do you feel that went for you?

Kathryn: Hopefully it went well. It’s hard to tell sometimes. You know a lot of times we base it on merch sales and from that standpoint I think we did really well. I think we matched up really well with Tiffany musically as well, so that’s kind of that’s the deal when you’re opening for an established act. You know you’re going on and some people are like “I didn’t want an opening act. I just want to see her. I don’t want to sit through a show.” It’s kind of fun to watch people be won over and are okay with it. I think it’s all about acquiring fans from similar artists. What’s great is that my fan base from an age perspective and demographics in general, I have a pretty wide variety of fans and so that’s really nice to kind of be able to interact with fans because a lot of times with social media you get to talk to and interact with a younger audience, but you actually go out to shows, it tends to be more adults so that’s kind of fun to be able to interact with them as well.

Toddstar: The opening line in my review about your portion of the show references how you opened the show and immediately let the small town know that a big voice is in the area.

Kathryn: Oh, thank you.

Toddstar: When it came to vocal training, how much of this is just natural and how much of this is years and years of training, cultivating the strong, rich voice you have?

Kathryn: You know I think tone in terms of my voice, there’s a warmth to my voice and I think that kind of thing is natural and that’s something that you’re born with. I think in terms of strengthening the voice and kind of having a voice that can really carry these notes, that’s definitely training so it’s definitely a bit of both. Again, you start out with something that’s potential and then you kind of work on it and develop your craft until it’s good to go.


Toddstar: You’re definitely developing a craft. Even your banter between songs with the crowd seemed to go over really well and it showed how well you control the flow of your portion of the show and the interaction with the audience.

Kathryn: That’s definitely an acquired skill or talent or whatever you want to call it. Especially as an up and coming artist, my fear always seems to be that they don’t care what I have to say; just sing and then they’ll like the songs or they won’t, or just win them over with the voice and then move on to the next song as soon as possible. But you know touring has kind of taught me that people want to get to know you. It’s something that Tiffany has been telling me too. Don’t be afraid to talk to the audience because they want to feel like they are friends with you and they want to have that connection. Don’t worry about speaking in front of people, just kind of be yourself and show off your personality because that’s what wins people over as well.

Toddstar: What also won them over and you mentioned earlier about the merch booth, it was cool to see people buy the CD, say hello, and get an autograph. To a lot of people that’s a really big deal. How important is that to you to make that one on one connection?

Kathryn: I think it’s huge. I think from a business stand point, when you’re out there meeting the fans, they definitely are more inclined to come check out your merchandise because they want to tell you they liked the show and then you can say, “if you really liked it, you know we are selling CD’s and flash lights and stuff.” Then you know from a personal or performer’s stand point, I think it’s huge. I think it’s because I can’t be doing what I want to be doing and living my dream without supportive fans and they’re always there for me so I should be there for them too.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you’re selling CD’s – the EP and Hit The Lights, which came out in 2015, but is still pretty new to a lot of people.

Kathryn: Yeah.

Toddstar: I like that you showcased quite a few of the songs on the disc, especially my favorite “Rhythm and Booze.” You’re also playing some new stuff that isn’t out there yet. How do you feel those are coming across, being road tested kind of for the first time?

Kathryn: I think we started doing those two on the last tour we did and it’s great to see how they are perceived, because you work on them in the studio and there all these different elements and layers of the tracks and different instruments. But then when you go out and it’s just guitar and vocal with some foot percussion, it really separates the men from the boys I guess is the best way to describe it. It kind of shows you whether or not the song is really solid, because I think if it doesn’t do well in that acoustic environment then you know the song isn’t strong enough.

Toddstar: We spoke about that the other night; we spoke about your songs, and we spoke about your limited catalog so far. You do have a new one coming with the new songs, you’ve done the EP, and you’ve done Hit The Lights. What’s it’s like for you to know that someone came up and handed you some money after enjoying your show enough that they wanted to take it home with them. What’s it like for you to know that they’re taking that piece of plastic home and they’re going to listen to you over and over?

Kathryn: That’s always so cool and so humbling. My manager, until I told him to stop, used to say “For ten dollars you can take Kathryn Dean home with you” and I kept telling him “No, that sends a bad message. Kathryn Dean is not going home with you for only ten dollars. Got to wine and dine me.” [laughs] I’m kidding. It’s just so cool, it’s because I think not everyone gets to live their dream and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that. It hasn’t really hit me that much yet. It’s really cool when people are say they want your autograph or want to take a picture with you. It’s always just such a kind of weird, humbling, and just awesome experience.


Toddstar: You’re touring with Tiffany as we discussed, but you have toured with John Waite, Howie Day, and other male performers. What’s it like being out this time on the girl power tour so to speak?

Kathryn: It’s definitely very different. As we talked about, you do have to step up your game because you know when there’s a guy, there’s no direct comparison versus when you’re with another woman. There is that extra pressure to nail your performance, which I love because I think competition breeds improvement. Given Tiffany’s been so unbelievably supportive and showing me the ropes of what it’s like to be a woman in the industry, I’m so honored that I’m one of the people that is allowed to have that.

Toddstar: Another thing you do and anybody who follows you on Twitter or Facebook see that you’re always putting videos up of different covers. We talked about the Mumford and Sons cover which is one of my favorites that you’ve done. You’ve had a couple of days to think about it now, what song is still out there that you’re waiting to do?

Kathryn: I think it is hard to pick one, because I think people have a limited attention span, so there are some mash ups that we do. I’d love for people to be able to hear those. I don’t know if Instagram is kind of the place for that or that’s more of a live show kind of thing, but some of our cool mash ups – I’d love for people to be able to hear. It will be interesting to see how those work out. We’re posting longer covers right now because some you just want to do the hook and then it’s done.

Toddstar: How was the performance at Billboard this morning? You went and did some stuff for Billboard.

Kathryn: Awesome. It was so much fun. It was such an honor to be there. I think it’s every artist’s dream to be able to be in the room with the people at Billboard. It’s so crazy and it’s very humbling. I feel like this whole thing feels like a dream to me right now and it hasn’t really hit me, but I think that’s almost better because it keeps the competitive edge in it. I think when you get comfortable with where you are that’s when you fail because I think you should always be striving for self-improvement and trying to get to that next level.

Toddstar: You speak of the next level. You’re fairly new at the game – again, you’ve got an EP, you’ve had some singles out, and you’ve had some songs out in teen soap operas in Brazil.  You’re a twenty-year-old out of San Diego, California. When you first printed that first EP or when you first saw a copy of Hit The Lights printed with liner notes and everything else, did you ever think you’d actually get there?

Kathryn: I don’t know, it’s weird because I think the first time that I ever had that experience in terms of singing, I did talent development when I was like thirteen and stood out a little bit there amongst my peers. But then I started writing songs at sixteen and I did this, it’s called like Taxi Road Rally before I was published. Basically they pair up song writers with music supervisors and you basically submit your song. They’ll say “okay we’re looking for a song that’s like this for this for this scene” and everyone will submit their songs then they choose them and go from there. They have probably two thousand people come to this annual conference that they have and I remember it was my first year at this conference and there’s like this little pot where you can just put a mixed tape CD in and this whole panel which had Universal Music Group, all these different A&R people, and all these big names of different publishing companies would all judge it in front of a room of like two thousand people. Basically, my name ended up getting called, so I was super nervous because they had destroyed every single person that had come before me. So they played one of my songs and then the room just goes quiet, like completely silent. My parents and I were sitting there thinking “Oh my God” and my mom was telling me she was so prepared to give me a whole speech about how I just started. They play it and then all the sudden someone asks about the song writer, is the girl here? I stood in the back of this room with two thousand people and I stood up. All these people turn around and give me a standing ovation for this song that was the fourth song I’d ever written and I feel that in that moment, I realized “Holy shit – I could actually do this. People like what I’m putting out there, my songs are worthwhile. I’m not just another teenage girl writing songs in her bedroom.” Then when my first check came in, I was like “I’m officially a professional song writer.” All those kind of cool moments.


Toddstar: That’s awesome. I know you’re busy in New York, but I want to thank you so much for your time. I wish you well on the rest of this Tiffany tour and when you head out with Howie Day in October.  I can’t wait to see you hit Michigan once again.

Kathryn: Sounds like a plan. Thank you so much.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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