Kate Gratson – 9 tracks about self-acceptance (Interview)
Not scared of a little mistake“Her” by Kate Gratson
Never saw her playing safe
Never saw her run away
Can’t put the blame on gravity
Right left she moved so naturally…
Life gets us struggling to know who we are. We’re also told to be confident in any situation, but that’s way easier to say. However, time and experiences give us some hints to know which path is the best for us. We succeed, and we fail as we learn along the way, and that’s perfectly okay. Kate Gratson learned to know herself through time and the power of music.
She dropped her debut album on Wednesday, November 5th. The Girl You Knew and its 9 tracks are about self-discovery, self-acceptance, and personal growth that are camouflaged as an album written to a romantic partner.
She’s singing to past, present, and future versions of herself. Kate Gratson is now getting closer and closer to the woman she always wanted to be.
She wrote some songs several years ago. Others are only a few months old. The Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, producer, and cellist collected small pieces of her life. They turned out to be what define her today. This soul-searching quest has also helped her produce an authentic sound that is true to who she is/was. It’s unique and enriched with many identities, such as R&B, indie, and electronic.
Her classical and jazz training allows her to navigate between these different music worlds. When she’s asked about her inspirations, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, and a diverse range of composers such as Debussy and James Blake are the first ones to come to her mind.
That’s also the first time she produced records on her own, in her bedroom. This process made her more confident. Sounds So Beautiful already told you about Kate Gratson. We had the pleasure to present you the video premiere for her song “Next To Me”, which is on the album too.
Kate Gratson’s love for music first began at the age of 5, with the violin. The cello came second. She was singing by 9, and she started to write and compose once she was in high school. As the years went by, the discovery of modern artists definitely impacted her creativity. Once she graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia, she came back to New York City and released singles.
The Girl You Knew self-reflection is powerful and relatable to many other young girls. It’s easy to feel small in a big city such as New York City, but Kate Gratson managed to turn those different strands of her identity into one complete, more self-assured person. She’s now ready to share her full-length album and connect with people.
In the following interview, Kate Gratson talks about her newfound confidence and her journey while writing the album. Thanks to The Girl You Knew, she doesn’t fear any challenges anymore. She feels ready for any big step. An inspirational message for every girl who could recognize herself in her lyrics.
SSB: What are the differences between the girl you knew four years ago and the one you are today?
Kate Gratson: The main difference between the girl I knew four years ago and the one I am today is confidence. At every stage of life, I always thought I was confident, but looking back I can see clouds of uncertainty. Like so many young women, I was too concerned with how I was perceived and fearful of making a mistake.
These days I’m far more sure of myself, my music, and my writing. I’m no longer timid about speaking up for my ideas in collaborative situations, and when I love a song, I have no reservations about releasing it off into the world and exposing myself. With my improved confidence, I can take myself a little less seriously, and because of this, I am able to move forward instead of simply moving in place. My confidence grew from making mistakes and learning from them, but it took time and a lot of self-evaluation. Writing songs expeditiously gets me to the root of an issue.
Almost all my songs begin with improvised lyrics, so issues I’m dealing with will subconsciously come to the surface, and by the time I’m in the production stage I have a much better grip on solving the dilemma.
SSB: Your debut album is autobiographical. We see you evolving through the nine tracks. Was it therapeutic, or did you release it as a personal diary to guide young girls who might experience the same things?
Kate Gratson: When I started writing The Girl You Knew, I was writing the songs for myself. I started writing the album once I moved back to Brooklyn after graduating college, and just had so much to say but no one to say it to. I was in search of a writing and production style that felt exclusively my own so I was writing a lot of songs at the time. Some of the songs, like the title track, took an afternoon to write, while others, such as “Restart” took months and many revisions.
Once the songs transitioned from sketches to partially produced tracks, images of the song resonating with listeners began to kick in. The core meaning behind the album is one that is universal, but especially for young women. Initially, writing the album was for me, but by the completion of the album, it was particularly prescient for anyone experiencing issues of self-doubt and acceptance.
SSB: Love (whether it’s self-love or not), identity, and time are recurrent themes in your work. How do they find their place in your writing process?
Kate Gratson: Love, self-identity and the passage of time are themes that are frequently playing through my mind. Love is a theme that continues to interest me and will most likely be a consistent theme in my writing while time and growth are themes that will be revisited as I grow. There’s a lifetime’s worth of material when it comes to love and love lost and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
Whether it’s love between friends, partners, or yourself, I have a feeling I’ll be exploring the subject of love for many years to come. I delve into the concept of time and failure in “Clockwork” and “Her”, both songs were written at varying moments of self-realization, but I have a feeling these topics will also find a way into future songs because they are so present in my life.
SSB: You say the song “The Girl You Knew” is the closest you have come to find your voice. How would you describe it now?
Kate Gratson: My voice as a songwriter is constantly changing, as are my experiences and my outlook on life. Each song off The Girl You Knew felt instinctive to write. Authenticity played a huge role when writing the album and has remained the most important factor in finding and maintaining my voice. I’m continuing to write these days, in an even more raw, and open way, continuing to shade the lyrics with some ambiguity as well, but with a newfound comfort in exposing myself and my deepest thoughts.
SSB: How do you think this debut album will influence what’s to come for your music?
Kate Gratson: This album has allowed me to establish myself as a composer as well as a songwriter and producer. Releasing it has also given me the technical knowledge to explore and expand on my production style. In future projects, I see myself taking on a larger role as the sole or primary producer and continuing to explore the role as director with future music videos.
While working on The Girl You Knew, I was fascinated by every stage of the music-making process and surprised myself with a newfound interest in creating visuals for the songs. Once I allowed myself creative freedom, the visual ideas came effortlessly. Similar to taking on the role as producer, once I stepped out of my comfort zone and found confidence in my intuition, there was so much available to explore visually.
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