Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Kate Linné

I am sitting with a girl today that brings a whole new meaning to the word Indie rock. She matches an awesome sense of fashion with an a voice that will send chills down your spine. She has a certain look about her that sets her apart from most singer songwriters. Currently living in Nashville, Tennessee, she is slowly making her way to the top of the charts. I am proud to introduce to you Kate Linne.

Where are you originally from?

I grew up right outside of Louisville, Kentucky in Oldham Country, which was the ultimate ultra-vanilla white suburban experience. We were very sheltered; you can’t even buy beer inside county lines. It’s a nice town, but I spent the majority of my high school experience counting the days until I could get out of there and move someplace where something actually happens.

Do you like living in Nashville?

I love living here however, it’s a little bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to music. Everyone here is a musician, which is one of the best things about it, because it makes Nashville such a supportive and creative community. The flip side of that, though, is that it’s hard to find people who are simply fans. Nashville audiences always watch any performance with a critical eye; this is a bit disconcerting, but I think it ultimately makes you a better musician.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a performer?

When I was in kindergarten, there was a teacher named Mrs. Edwards who played the piano during all the school plays. I thought she was the hippest lady around, and I wanted to be like her. So, one day I came home, all serious and grown-up feeling, and was like, “Mom, I have made a decision about my life. I want to learn how to play the piano.” Of course, this only lasted for about 8 months, but it was a good start.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go?

One of my best friends is a dedicated world traveler, and she has always told me that London is my ultimate dream city. I’ve never been there, but I would love to go.

Describe your genre in one word.

“Smartpop.” Like Orville Redenbacher.

Do you write all your own lyrics?

Yes, I write all of my own music and lyrics. Lyrics are really important to me, so I’m a stickler for quality control as far as that’s is concerned. I think one of the biggest challenges that writers face is figuring out how to express the same emotions that all people have (and have been having for years) in fresh and unique ways that really grab the listener. I’m not saying I knock it out of the park every time, but I certainly always try.

Have you ever co-written with anyone?

Yes, I’ve done some co-writing, which is always a fun experience. It gives you the chance to see how other people approach the creative process, and how they work through the conceptual roadblocks that pop up during the writing process. This year, one of my goals is to really branch out in my writing and explore all kinds of new genres. The other day, I even wrote a country song, just to see if I could do it. There are certain words that you can add in there to make any song sound more country….like “ain’t,” “mama,” “truck,” and “Jesus.” And if you ever say “guitar,” you have to say, “GEE-tar.”

What is the largest crowd that you have played for?

Probably about 100 people.

The smallest?

30 people. But they were all close friends, so it was still a really fun show.

Do you have a favorite venue?

I really like the Mercy Lounge. It’s in an old warehouse close to downtown Nashville. The sound is good there, and the backstage area has all of these Christmas lights. It’s very vibe-y and cool. Plus, the drinks are cheap. Very important.

How do you pronounce your last name?

My last name is pronounced “Linn-Ae,” with two syllables. It’s a Swedish family name. Very few people EVER get that right, and I’ve just stopped correcting people. It’s gotten to the point where sound guys come up to me and say “Caitlin?” and I’m just like, “Yeah, yeah, just tell me where to plug in.”

Who does all of your graphic design work?

My artwork was done by Aaron Rayburn, one of my friends in Nashville. I think it’s actually still featured in the DiscMakers catalog. I’m the “eco-friendly packaging” girl, which makes me proud. I always try to do what I can to help out the planet, so it makes me feel good to know that when people rip my CD into iTunes, it’s OK if they throw the packaging away…it will biodegrade nicely without killing any small animals.

I am absolutely in love with your MySpace header image. Who came up with that design?

That was also a product of Aaron’s genius graphic designer brain. That image is actually a photo with a pencil drawing overlaid on top of it in Photoshop. I don’t really know how he did it, but I do know that it’s very cool.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

(Laughs) I can never answer this question in a short and concise way, so get ready for the long answer.

We’ll start with the lyrics. Usually, whether I mean to or not, I end up writing about my own life. I have noticed that I end up writing WAY too much about love…either being ecstatic and head over heels in it, or being depressed and hopelessly out of it. This past year has actually ended up being very dramatic for me in that department, so I have definitely had a ton of material. One of the best feelings in the world is when you can take a bad experience and turn it into a good song, so I feel very driven to write for that purpose. It’s completely involuntary…it’s the only way I know how to deal with the really hard times in my life. I just write.

As far as the music goes, I get a lot of inspiration from songs that I fall in love with that other people have written. Sometimes I’ll hear a chord progression or a riff that just really grabs me, and I’ll immediately sit down and figure out what it is and why I like it. Then, I usually get an idea for a melody while I’m playing through the progression, and all of a sudden it develops a life of its own, and turns into a song that is completely different than the one that inspired it.

Sometimes, also, things will just pop into your head and come out on paper without any effort. And from my experience, these are usually the best songs or the weirdest ones. You know, the ones that you write and you’re like, “Well, this is cool, but what the hell IS it?”

Do you ever forget the words to your own songs?

Actually, no. I usually go over my own lyrics about a million times before I feel like I have the final version, so those suckers are burned into my brain FOREVER.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever
happened to you?

Once, in the middle of a show, I was playing “Letting Go”…I got to the part where everything drops out and it’s only piano, and I looked down at my keyboard, and I was like, “Wait a minute…so…there are no lights on. Oh no.” So I hit a chord, and NOTHING happened, at which point I thought to myself, “Fuck.” Then, without being able to stop myself, I just started laughing hysterically. You know how you’re supposed to play it cool when stage emergencies happen and just keep going like nothing is wrong? I have discovered that I am apparently REALLY terrible at that, and instead I just laugh uncontrollably like a giant idiot. But, oh well…I guess there’s always one more thing you can work on, isn’t there?

What would you be doing if you were not performing?

I would probably still be working in the music business, somewhere. I have always had such an irrational obsession with music, and I can’t imagine ever getting to a point in my life where I’m not involved with it in any way. I mean, even if things really go south, I’ll still probably end up as a janitor in a recording studio, lovingly dusting all the racks of expensive gear with those special electrostatic cloths.

Where can I get some of your merchandise?

You can order the CD from CDBaby, and download all of the songs in iTunes. It’s also available on Rhapsody and a bunch of other download services.

Do you have any thoughts on a nation wide tour this year?

I just started working with Brian Waymire at Dreamscapers International ( for college booking. Hopefully I will get to do a lot more traveling in the Fall semester of 2009.

Tell me about the guys behind you?

Ryan, my guitar player, played on my record. I went to high school with Mike, the bass player, who got Jake, the drummer, on board. They’re really fun to travel with…we can spend hours in the van together without fighting, which is amazing.

Tell me about working with Dual Nature.

Dual Nature is my publishing company that I would love to turn into a multi-artist operation one day. But for now, I am entirely focused on my own career…trying to get my own music career off the ground is an endeavor that has taken more dedication, creativity, and business smarts than any other goal I have ever tried to accomplish. The prevailing stereotype of musicians as space cadets or irresponsible partiers is so funny to me, because if that’s who you are, the likelihood of finding success is probably very slim. In the short time I have been doing this, I have learned that you have to bring your “A” game strategy 100% of the time if you want to get some attention from the industry. You have to prove there’s a market out there for what you do.

What are your thoughts on MySpace?

I think MySpace is a good way to communicate with fans, but as far as social networking sites go, I think it’s on the way out. It seems like a lot more people use Facebook and Twitter.

Are you on Twitter?

I just signed up. Find me at

How do you think social networking has helped your career so far?

I think it’s a great way to get in touch with fans, and give people the opportunity to see you as more than just a musician. It’s a cool way to put more of yourself out there, and get to know people without having to be in the same state or even the same country. I fully support it.

What is Moda Boutique?

MODA is a great boutique in the 12th South district of Nashville…Meredith, the owner, is a riot. She uses me as the model in her ads around town, and sells my record in her store. Check out her website at

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wow, that’s a tough question to answer. If I’m lucky, I would get to wake up every day, grab a mocha, and spend the next 8 hours writing songs. I would also like to have produced a few records for other artists, and be in the beginning stages of expanding Dual Nature into a real publishing company that works with other pop songwriters. I’d love to sign the next Kara DioGuardi. Actually, I’d really like to just BE Kara DioGuardi. She’s had a cool career.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

I would like to be remembered as someone who writes pop music that ISN’T fluff…I would like to be the poster girl for entertaining music that is also meaningful. Pop doesn’t need to be a dirty word.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

I was going to try and think of something funny to say here, but I think I’m going to go with something serious instead. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how navigating the unpredictability of the music business has definitely been an exercise in optimism and perseverance…so, I would like to share a quote that might resonate with the rest of America, now that even those of us who took the safe road are currently facing a future that is equally uncertain:

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

It’s a good quote. Stick that on a post-it in your car. I guarantee you’ll have a better day.