By: Casey Winters
I have a new favorite singer/songwriter, and her name is Kat Jones. Her soulful voice and very personal lyrics stir my heart. She’s on a nationwide tour right now, and on her way to South by Southwest in Austin, she is actually stopping by our little town of Lubbock. I caught up with Jones to get a taste of what she is bringing. You don’t want to miss it. Jones is a delightful lady who takes you through an intimate journey with her songs. Here, she gives us a personal look at her life, songwriting, and all about her unique path to being a full-time musician.
Jones will be playing a house show on Thursday, March 8 with singer-songwriter Gayle Skidmore and alt.-country folkers Westerner. For more details, click here. Like Jones on Facebook here, follow her on Twitter here, and listen/buy some of her music on her BandCamp here.
New Slang: Where are you from originally? And when did you start playing/writing music?
Kat Jones: I am from Fresno, Calif. originally. It’s one of my favorite cities in the US. I always wanted to be a singer and songwriter, but I wasn’t really given a gift for it until I was about 17. People used to tell me not to quit my day job when I sang and so, because I loved music so much, I started working at a recording studio full-time. It was sometime around then that people started to compliment my voice and encourage me toward playing music. When that happened I hit the ground running and never looked back.
NS:How long have you been a full-time musician, and what has the experience been like for you?
KJ: I have been doing music full-time on and off for 12 years. It mostly depends on the season I am in and whether or not I am doing a lot of touring. When I am not on the road, I pretty much have to work to pay the bills. But I actually like it that way. It keeps you grounded. When you’re touring a ton (I was on the road for three straight years at one point) because you’re so reliant on the people around you to help with day-to-day things that it can change your habits in a bit of a selfish way. I also love meeting my favorite musicians when they have side jobs. There’s just such a realist’s sensibility about them. It makes me smile.
NS: Tell us about your new album, “I Am Warm, Young, Blood.” How did this title come about? And when does it come out?
KJ: I am really excited about this record. I have been writing it for six years and it mostly comes from experiences I had while I was living in Nashville. My dad passed away a month after I moved there. So I spent the bulk of my time living there walking through the grieving process. When it was done, I recorded the album and then moved to Portland. I am basically calling it an album to guide you through the apocalypse.
NS: How has your music evolved since the first album?
KJ: Wow. I am way more of a storyteller now. All the songs on the new record are extremely auto-biographical, but they’re written from the characters of other people in fictitious circumstances. Something about it makes the songs way more true for me than if I had drawn a straight line and probably boring narrative of my emotional landscape at the time.
NS: What kind of vibe do you like to leave with your audience?
KJ: I am told frequently that people come out to shows to process through their lives. That their lives make sense when they’re hearing me play. I don’t know how that works but it’s a wonderful compliment.
NS: Have you played in Lubbock before? If so, what was that experience like for you?
KJ: I think I played a Starbucks with Bradley Hathaway last time I played in Lubbock. It was a really fun show and we went camping on the sand dunes afterward and were almost gored by a bull. Exciting.
NS: What is your favorite part about being a musician?
KJ: My favorite part about being a musician is that I get to play music. It’s such a gift and I feel broken without it.
NS: What does this year look like for you?
KJ: Well, the new album comes out in July hopefully. I have a KickStarter campaign coming up around May. Hopefully there will be a lot more touring. I will be getting my band in Portland, Ore. familiar with the sons on the album, and then hopefully start working on the next record or EP.
NS: Who are three artists/bands that inspire you today?
KJ: I love My Brightest Diamond’s last record. Beautiful, I still can’t stop listening to “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire, and Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s work together is always on my mind.
NS: And one more question that I like to ask everyone… What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
KJ: I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t think I can do anything else. I have been working on a couple of books, I write every day, and I do some visual art sometimes, but when music is not in the picture, my life is just not working right. I feel like my heart is always crying out for song.