Latest Conversation With Singer & Songwriter Katie Garibaldi
San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Katie Garibaldi, whose music Elmore Magazine calls, “sweet, smooth music that is equal parts old‐school pop princess and folk songstress,” returns to her folk‐driven roots on her 10th release, Rooted Clarity, presenting all new original songs that focus on self‐discovery and faith. The five-song EP brings a mix of classical and country strings together to bring an effective and effortless sound that perfectly highlights Garibaldi’s trademark, soulful voice. The Daily Country says, “Garibaldi’s light as a feather vocals exude a strength that makes you want to believe in yourself and pursue your dreams and most importantly, gives you the courage, and clarity, to be yourself, trust yourself and allow yourself to fly.” The sweet soprano weaves between airy and operatic delving into the emotional depths of the stories behind these five brand new original songs, one of which, “I Am”, premiered on The Boot, the top source for the latest in country music. No Depression, accomplished journal of roots music has praised Rooted Clarity, saying, “Katie sings with vibrancy, hitting high notes even Joni Mitchell would appreciate. Katie packs a wonderful folky extravagance. She almost makes folk music worth listening to again. Her voice soars at times and what is remarkable is that it doesn’t sound like showboating or diva-ship. This woman doesn’t have to prove a thing to anyone – she is a powerhouse driven by an intoxicating vocal tone. It reaches heights that are so easy on the ear that it’s a treat, a pleasure to listen to. The voice – free of bombastic notes – is just pure musicality.” Rooted Clarity is now available on CD, vinyl, and digital. www.katiegaribaldi.com
Q:When you decide it’s time to make a new record, is that more exciting or stressful?
Ans: It’s definitely very exciting. When I feel inspired to create something new and work on a new project, I’m in my happy place. To dream up the concept of the look, feel, the songs, the vibe of a new record is pure joy for me and I love taking the steps to making it happen; seeing the pictures and hearing the sounds I have in my mind come to fruition. There’s nothing else really like it.
Q: How easily do songs tend to come to you?
Ans: Melodies come to me all the time, I’d say almost on a daily basis. But it takes some sort of emotional response from me, or the melody to be strong enough to keep repeating itself to me, to actually pull out my voice recorder and capture it or grab my guitar and work on it. In those instances, when a melody has already stolen a piece of my heart, the lyrics will usually start to form pretty naturally just from the flow of the melody. When I get that far, the emotionally responsive songs will somewhat “write themselves,” or I’ll get the verses and chorus in one sitting, and then come back to it before I’ll get the bridge and glue it together. Many melodies come and go though without finding a home in a song.
Q: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?
Ans: A couple years back I released an album called Follow Your Heart, which is named after a song on the record. When I wrote “Follow Your Heart,” I think it was more of a lullaby to myself, reminding me to hang in there and keep following where my heart guided me, no matter how hard it might get. After performing the song, it’s sort of become an anthem to all the dreamers out there, and not just the dreamers but the ones who are living their dreams and giving it everything they’ve got. When I followed the advice in the song while actually making the album, it was a turning point in becoming who I am and really changed my life. Now “follow your heart” is my answer to everything, to my own and other’s uncertainties. When you are brave enough to follow through on walking the path that your inner compass is pointing you on, you are living your life the way it’s meant to be lived and that is golden.
Q: You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?
ANS: I feel most inspired to write after coming back home from a trip or tour, I think because I’ve just absorbed so many new things and experiences so my creativity feels renewed. I draw inspiration from love and life and whatever might catch my attention on an emotional level. I do always feel a bit strange calling my songs “my songs” though since I know they also come from a higher power and something bigger than me. God is my forever co-writer. My favorite part about the songwriting process is that very first emotional response, whether it’s goosebumps on my arms, tears in my eyes, or just a sudden swell of excitement and my heart beats faster when I know whatever idea or melody I was playing around with just sparked something inside to send me the message: this is worthy to write and this seed will grow into a song!
Q:Do you have any events coming up or recording going on right now?
Ans: I just returned from a crazy exciting week. I spent a few days in Toronto where my music video “Delightful” screened at the Toronto Short Film Fest and then I played during SXSW in Austin, Texas. Next month, “Delightful” will be screening at the FirstGlance Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA, which I’m really looking forward to. After that, I’m headed to Nashville, TN for some shows. I’m also working on a couple new music projects and will be getting back into the studio in the coming months. New releases will be born before the end of the year!
Q:Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to sing as a career or just advice about careers in general?
Ans: Don’t do it! Just kidding. If you’re passionate about anything and you can’t not do it, go for it. Go for it, go for it, go for it. Know your strengths and don’t try to fit in with what anyone else is doing, no matter what success they’re having. That path is for them. If you try to copy it, you’ll just get stuck. You have a one of a kind journey that’s meant just for you. Showcase what you can do, what you’re good at, and who you are and the success will follow according to your unique voice. The thing is, you can’t half-do anything and expect to accomplish much if you want to be successful in any business, especially I think in the music industry. Everyone has fears and steps they’re unsure about. But you won’t move forward if you hold yourself back out of fear or hoping to just skate by. Once you commit to doing something, don’t just follow everyone else and try to take what looks like the easy road. You have to do the work, experience everything hands-on and head/heart first. It will wreck you so much because your voice is vulnerable to the world and you’ll be exposed, but that is par for the course. But if you take the risks and work, work, work, work, it will bless you so much in return. So yeah, if it’s wrecking you and blessing you simultaneously, I’d say you’re doing it right. You’re giving 100 percent of yourself to your purpose, come what may. Don’t focus on what anyone else is doing or saying, just follow your heart! It will tell you what you need to know.
Q:When and why did you start playing?
ANS: I was always a melody-maker ever since I can remember, and singing was as natural for me as talking. It was a part of my expression since I was a little kid. I wanted to learn the guitar when I was in elementary school because both my chorus teacher and my classroom teacher played acoustic guitars. I was mesmerized by the instrument and it was magical for me to see them play it and sing songs with it. My mom had already been teaching me piano, and though a beautiful instrument, it didn’t pull me magnetically like the guitar did. When I learned to play the guitar, I felt like my melodies finally had a place where they belonged. They weren’t just floating around in the air. The chords gave them structure in becoming songs and I fell in love with it as a tool for everything I wanted to say, but couldn’t say before I had the guitar in my hands. Once I was hooked, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It was just who I was meant to be—a singer, a songwriter and guitar player. Playing the guitar feels like coming home to me.
Q: Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
Ans: My music video “Delightful” has picked up some momentum at film festivals around the world and recently won it’s twelfth award (Best Music Video in the 2017 Top Indie Film Awards). Its other wins include the California International Shorts Festival (Best Music Video), which screened the video in Los Angeles, CA at their December 2016 festival, the Best Shorts Competition (Music Video Award of Merit 2016), the London Independent Film Awards (Best Music Video 2016), the International Independent Film Awards (Music Video Platinum Winner 2017), the Los Angeles Mindfield Film Festival (Best Music Video Gold Award 2017), the Global Independent Film Awards (Best Music Video Silver Winner 2017), and more. You can watch “Delightful” on my YouTube page at www.youtube.com/katiegaribaldi. Some other awards I’ve received are Songwriter Of The Year from Songsalive! (2012), Emerging Artist Of The Year from the Indie Music Channel (2015), Artist Of The Month from the Deli Magazine San Francisco (2015), Best Folk/Singer-Songwriter Song for my song “Tomorrow is Christmas Morning” from the Academia Music Awards (2016), and Best Independent Artist with my song “In My Wildest Dreams” from the American Tracks Music Awards (2017).
Q: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Ans: If a mistake is really minor, like I play the wrong chord or something, I just keep going and continue with the wrong chord until I pick up the rest with the right one. If it’s something more noticeable to the audience like I really blank out or screw up lyrics, usually I just talk to people and joke about it. It doesn’t bother me at all because it’s just part of a live performance and as long as I’m real with the listeners, we have a good time. Sometimes a mistake even breaks the ice between me and the audience and we feel more comfortable during the rest of the show. It’s a shared experience and that’s the power of music and having that relationship with others through a song and performance.
Q: How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
Ans: First off, I think I just got really lucky in that I have a genuinely extremely supportive family and husband. They understand that my career is not a 9-5 job and that means I could be working at 3:00 in the morning or 3:00 in the afternoon. I never really clock in or clock out. It means I’m unavailable to talk sometimes at all because I’m in the headspace of writing a song. And since I’m an independent artist, it means I’m wearing a million hats and those job duties don’t leave much time for other things. It also means I travel a lot and sometimes I’m not home for occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. But my family respects my work and are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters. I couldn’t do it without their blessings. The lines can also get blurred for me between work and fun because I enjoy what I do so much that I don’t mind the hard work and it doesn’t feel like I ever need a vacation from it, though down time is always important. Having said that, a certain degree of balance is absolutely essential to nurture the relationships that I value and also give myself peace of mind. I think the key element that I’ve learned to balancing my career with my personal life is gratitude. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed, I’ve realized that if I just take a moment to count my blessings, my stress turns into appreciation. This is a simple and fast way to balance my inner chaos and keep myself in check to make sure I’m not taking anyone for granted who is important to me. Sometimes it will direct me to take a break from the computer and just watch a movie with my husband or go grab a drink with friends. Also, you can’t please everyone and you also can’t expect everyone to understand your journey. You have to “trim the fat” out of your life and spend your valuable time with people who you have genuine and positive relationships with, the people that are there for you in the peaks and the valleys. Even if it’s a quick text message to keep in touch in between seeing them, those are the people you want to give your non-work-time to. Only say yes to the situations and people who give your soul joy. If they don’t, skip it.
Website + Social Media: www.katiegaribaldi.com, www.facebook.com/katiegaribaldimusic, www.twitter.com/katiegaribaldi, www.youtube.com/katiegaribaldi, www.instagram.com/katiegaribaldi
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