Kat McDowell Interview

You may not have heard of Kat McDowell, but fear not … we’ve got you covered.  She’s been on the scene in 2009 but she really caught our eyes and ears with the dose of ebullient pop rock in her latest LP “Rise Above”.  We had fun recently quizzing her about her roots, music, top crushes and everything in between …

YA Mag: Hi Kat.  We understand that you had a very interesting childhood between … could you share it with us please?

Kat McDowell: My mother’s Japanese and my father is a New Zealander, I was born in Japan and moved to New Zealand when I was five. I couldn’t speak any English when I started elementary so it was really hard making friends and it took a long time to gain confidence in myself again.

YA: At what age did you start writing and performing music?

KM: The first song I wrote was when I was five.. I found the lyrics for it on a piece of paper and have kept it with me. It was about animals. I think I started performing when I was ten at School talent competitions.

YA: What was the inspiration behind the song “Hopeful”?  Was there a specific event that triggered it?

KM: Moving to LA, leaving Japan and starting from scratch in another town. Coming to LA has been so inspiring for me because I have met so many people who have come here with dreams. I love being around other dreamers.. and not just dreamers.. but doers!

YA: We really like the vibe of your music on Rise Above; it’s really uplifting and has a timeless feel to it.  Where did you record the album?

KM: I recorded half of it in New Zealand and half of it in LA.

YA: You’ve also played a phenomenal amount of gigs for somebody so young.  What were your standout performances/countries and why?

KM: One week was particularly memorable.

My friend Brad Corrigan who is the drummer for the band Dispatch invited me down to play music for children at a school inside a dump in Nicaragua.  Over 2000 people live and work there and many children are born there too. Meeting these kids and seeing the light in their eyes was an eye opening experience for me. Brad also took me to a Love Light and Melody home where some of these girls are living and I spent a week getting to know these precious little princesses and playing music for them. There was a little girl “Dianna” who melted my heart! You might notice there’s a song called Dianna on the album. 😉

4 days later I was back in Japan playing at an Embassy charity event for one of Japan’s princesses. The whole experience made me realise how it was even more of an honour to play for the little princesses in Nicaragua. I was humbled by the realization that we are all equally precious and important to God.

FYI Brad Corrigan is working on a film about this community called Ileana’s Smile and it will come out next year! https://www.facebook.com/IleanasSmile

YA: Do you speak any other languages?

KM: Japanese and English and 5 words in Maori!

YA: What are your passions apart from music?  What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t making music?

KM: I love the ocean and I like surfing! I like dancing, and I love people! So.. something people related.

YA: Who is your biggest famous crush, past or present?  

KM: I used to have a huge crush on Taylor Hanson in my teens.. and the actor Kip Pardue in my late teens!

YA: What items do you have in your purse right now?

KM: Phones, tissues, eye drops, lip gloss, pens, wallet and of course.. lots of guitar picks!

YA: Where and when can I catch you live?

KM: Sat Nov 8th at WitZend, Venice in LA. That’s my CD release party!  But I will be touring the US more in 2015! You can sign up for my mailing list from my website kat-mcdowell.com or follow me at bandsintown and I will keep you updated!

YA: Which five songs are playing on your digital music player?  

KM: A Sky full of stars – Coldplay

Hanamizuki (Japanese song) – Yui Aragaki

Burn – Ellie Goulding

Euriika (Japanese song) – Sakanaction

93 million miles – Jason Mraz

Find Kat at:

Website – katmusic.jp // Facebook – facebook.com/katmcdowellmusic // Youtube –youtube.com/katmcdowell // Twitter – @katmcdowell

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