Katie’s Chemical Reaction
Eighteen-year-old Katie Nicholas from Liverpool is a musician who pretty much does it all. A singer-songwriter who experiments with different genres, Katie also spends time working as a designer in a major advertising agency in London. Last summer she was awarded the Michael Molloy Youth Music Award at the Liverpool Music Awards and she’s just getting started.
How did your passion for music develop?
I’m not sure exactly when but I’ve always followed in the steps of my musical dad. He used to run local karaoke’s around Liverpool when I was very young so grew up belting Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” on a regular basis, then ventured on to picking up my Dad’s guitar from time to time as I was obsessed with Avril Lavigne and wanted to be a rebellious rock chick – that never really panned out too well! I fully started playing and writing when I was 14, and performed weekly at my Dad’s local open mic nights where I was constantly inspired and growing as a musician.
Do you have any major influences?
Musically, I don’t actually think I do. I mainly write songs with nothing but my own feelings in mind, yet subconsciously I think influences from other songs I like creep in. In terms of people I am interested and inspired by, I’ve always been drawn to Dolly Parton. Not only loving the expression and feeling she captures with her sweet voice, her fair yet logical and strong personality really are elements in my own personality I’d love to push – especially her tenacity and intelligence! I also love John Mayer, Katy Perry and have recently stumbled across Kacey Musgraves, who’s song writing style is something I’ve always strived to create in my own songs.
What is your process as a songwriter? Are there any themes your music is particularly focused on?
I could never write a full song with no guitar in hand as I wouldn’t know exactly how the sentences would sound rhythmically, so I often come up with the concept/story first or sometimes I pick out a sweet sounding motif on the guitar and the lyrics evolve around that. I love detail and adding small intricacies that people may often not pick out, so I do work a lot with creating a theme or introducing lots of metaphors. For example, my song ‘Chemistry’ is about love. But it’s also technically about science. So I combine equations, stars, radioactivity, explosions and even mention ‘Big Bang Theory’ – a personal touch as my boyfriend and I love it! I’m fascinated with how words can be crafted in a way that has so many levels and meanings and how they can connect with others. I’m such a nerd, haha!
How has your love of design contributed to your career as a singer/songwriter?
I always thought: I don’t know what I’d like to do in life – be a designer with a stable and interesting career or a musician living on the edge yet doing what connects with me emotionally. And now I think, why should I pick one? I guess it’s a unique element that I produce all my music videos, photography, graphics and designs as well as write and perform my songs. I guess this has been truly beneficial as I have full creative control of what I do, and if I envision how something will look, I can determine it will be that way.
It also allows me to explore new things. My last music video was an animation (Boots), and this is something I had never ever done… at times I was questioning why I had ever thought of taking on such a big task – especially as it took me 3 months to make and I ended up stayed up till 4am on Christmas begrudgingly wanting it to be out by Boxing day at the latest!
What has been your favourite experience so far?
Ah there’s been many great experiences! In terms of a gig, I couldn’t specifically pick out one but the best are where you completely drop your worries and are totally immersed in a song and it’s great when you can feel an audience is connected with you too. This doesn’t always happen, as it may be a busy pub full of drinkers, but those special moments really make everything worthwhile! In terms of best experience of a music related situation, it has to be when I won a LMA music award in Summer 2013. I turned up expecting absolutely nothing, and was completely convinced it couldn’t be me in a million years and was happy I had even been nominated. Anyway, when they said my name, I can’t actually remember what happened! I watched some embarrassing video of my awful speech on my Dad’s phone afterwards… but we won’t go there haha! Anyway, I had never felt so much joy before and was totally overwhelmed. It was such a special award, dedicated to a talented young musician called Michael Molloy whose life was taken in a crash. The Liverpool community have strived to shine a light on what happened and have celebrated this great young man throughout the awards and other music events. It was nice to be a part of that.
What advice would you give to other young aspiring musicians?
Hmm, I would say don’t let other people’s restrict you from doing the things that you love. If you want to sing and shout about something you love do not listen to those who don’t have the confidence – or talent – to do such things themselves. People deserve respect when they expose themselves in such ways, and the majority of people will respect you and encourage you. I used to handle negativity badly, probably because I was completely negative about myself, so one bad comment out of 100 nice ones could knock me off my feet so easily though it was one person who isn’t happy with themselves obviously and feels the need to bring others down.
I’d also say, being jealousy-free is the best thing too. You need to be secure in yourself and accept others can do the same things as you or can do it better, and there’s no need for competition when the world’s full of talent worth appreciating – not hating. Who’s jealous of the likes of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga? No one, because you don’t know them personally. But if you know someone who is talented, shouldn’t you celebrate that and stop comparing yourself to them? I’d prefer to feel secure in myself and appreciate people, than feel guilty for being mean against someone who doesn’t deserve that! Hippy rant OVER.
Where do you hope to be in the future and how will you get there?
Like any aspiring performer, I’d love to pour my heart out into a full album and sing to attentive crowds who understand what I’m writing and feeling. Not sure how far off that is, probably a while, whilst I find my feet in my design career for now, but I try to use all of my spare time on pushing my music and producing videos and new songs when I can. I will get there though! And if I don’t, at least I know I always tried my best.