A few weeks ago I got an email from Steve Katz. I wasn’t familiar with the name, but he is a singer/songwriter trying to get exposure for his work. I went to his website, and was beyond impressed with his work. I love his voice, his songwriting is incredible, and every song I have heard gets better and better. There is SO much passion in his work, and for a guy living and trying to make it in the Big Apple, there is a big future ahead of this guy. If you do a Google search for “Steve Katz” you will find a Wikipedia article for another musician with the same name… but this Steve isn’t 67 years old! Bands don’t usually reach out to me for an interview, but I am glad that Steve did. I dare you to listen to his work and not enjoy what you hear. It’s good. It’s really good. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Steve Katz.
I am usually the one asking for the interview… but you found me. I appreciate you reaching out. Where did you find my blog?
You website was recommended by another blogger.
You are currently living in New York City, but you aren’t from the United States. Where are you originally from?
I’m from Brussels, Belgium and moved to the United States almost three years ago.
You are a singer/songwriter. Do you prefer one to the other?
It goes together. I enjoy the composition of the music and I enjoy performing. I’m lucky to have a voice that people like.
What was the first song you ever wrote and recorded?
The first song dates back to the first two chords I played. I was a toddler who just learned how to walk or a kid who just learned how to read. I was so excited. I recorded it on a 4-track. I would record a song almost every day. I couldn’t wait to be back home from school. I’d rush to my room and jump on my guitar. Of course the song sucked but I had to start somewhere.
Cover bands are really popular over here. Do you ever play cover songs?
I think that cover bands are popular everywhere. Many venues will rather have a cover band on Friday and Saturday nights than a band that performs original material. I don’t blame them, they run a business and they can’t take unnecessary risks. As a result, many artists will sing covers to make ends meet but without necessarily feeling fulfilled. I usually include one cover in my set: A Whiter Shade Of Pale.
You are on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. How does social media help spread the word about what you are doing?
Yes, today musicians have to be experts in social media. It’s a great way to spread the word about new songs, shows, articles and interviews I’ve been featured in. On the one hand social media enables artists to generate great exposure for themselves. However, there are thousands of other musicians trying to do the same and get their music heard. You just have to be persistent with your postings. Social media lets people find me easily online and connect with me.
Do you have a job outside of music?
I have written several songs, but have no musical talent. How does a guy that writes songs get them in the hands of someone that can play guitar and… sing?
In a city like New York it’s easy. With hundreds of daily shows and countless open mics, all you have to do is get out there and talk to the artists you like and ask them if they would like to collaborate. If they are not self-absorbed there’s no reason they wouldn’t agree to give it a shot.
In more remote locations, platforms for musicians, such as ReverbNation, can help people narrow their searches for specific music genres and contact singers and bands. Groups on LinkedIn are also an option to find new collaborations. First of all, copyright your lyrics!
What is the best concert you have ever been to?
Pink Floyd, in Belgium.
Beer. Wine. Spirits. What’s your poison?
Beers, of course.
Why did you decide to move over here?
I sing in English, my music sounds American, and Obama said, “Yes we can.”
There are a lot of great bands out there… but who are some of your favorite bands?
The artist who really got my attention lately is Eddie Vedder in his solo career.
I could totally sit in a coffee shop and listen to you sing while sipping on a latte. Do you ever play coffee shops?
Yes, I play coffee shops. There are great coffee shops here in NYC .
Do you ever play outside of New York?
I play at The Boston Green Festival on August 17.
You are a world traveler. Where is the coolest place you have ever been?
I love India. I travelled there twice. I fell immediately in love. The people, the rich and various cultures, the food, the breathtaking landscapes of Kashmir and Laddak in the north, the tea plantations, the backwaters and shores in the south, the 30 hour long train trips, the smells, the closeness to nature.
Tell me about “Barricades”.
“Barricades” is my first EP that includes five songs of five different styles that represent me well. I released it in May 2012.
About the songs: Thrive is a modern pop/rock song, Today I Saw Hope is folky, Barricades is adult contemporary, Fair is a soft rocker and A Modern Tale is a singer/songwriter ballad.
About the title: As I wrote on the CD cover. “Barricades can scare, challenge and stop us from achieving goals. They are everywhere and often invisible. I’ve gone through many barricades in my time-physical and emotional ones that stood between me and my goals. Had I failed to go through any of them, this cd would never have been made.”
Jonathan Klein wrote the lyrics to song Thrive. Jeannie Reed wrote the lyrics to Today I Saw Hope. When someone else writes lyrics for a song you record, do you work with them to produce the best lyric to fit your talents?
Sometimes the music comes first and sometimes the lyrics. My lyricists know me well. They won’t just send me random lyrics. When the music comes first, we always sit together, I play it, we discuss it and agree on a subject then the lyricist takes it from there. They will send me the first verse and chorus . If it matches the music and I feel a connection we’ll go further .
There are a lot of great venues in NYC. Do you have a favorite?
It’s hard to choose a favorite but I’ll always love The Bitter End where artists like Bob Dylan started their career.
It works both ways. Sitting back and simply hoping something good happens usually doesn’t produce good results. To succeed, especially in this business, it requires knocking on a lot of doors. So sure, I seek out coverage in outlets that seem appropriate. Yet, there have been several instances when writers have contacted me, which is especially exciting because it means I’m slowly being picked up on people’s musical radar. It feels good to be noticed.
Belgium is known for beer. What is your favorite beer?
I love Duvel.
Why did you decide to record an EP rather than a full-length album?
An EP felt like the right thing to do to introduce my music. I’m a new artist, people don’t know my music yet. It’s like a first date. You introduce yourself but you don’t show everything you have to offer. Five songs definitely give an idea of who I am and the rest will follow.
They are also known for chocolate… is it possible to live in Belgium and not drink beer or eat chocolate?
It is. If you are allergic to gluten and chocolate gives you pimples!
Do you play any other instruments?
A little bit of piano.
I know you have the EP, but do you have any merchandise? I would love a Steve Katz shirt!
(Laughs.) Not yet, but hopefully soon. Small, medium or large? In the meantime, there’s a famous Steve Katz from the Blues Project and Blood Sweat and Tears… maybe he has some shirts left. (He’s from the sixties so it might be moth-eaten though.)
Why is it always “exit stage left”? Do they ever exit the stage on the right side? By the way, that’s my favorite song.
Thank you, I appreciate that. Jane Jacobs wrote the lyrics of Fair and she’s Brittish. As you know, the Brits always do things differently than the rest of the world. Even though thy think that the rest of the world is the one that acts differently.
What would you be doing if you were not singing and writing tunes?
Probably working odd jobs and travelling to distant lands.
When you are not listening to your own work ,what do you like to listen to?
The only time I have to listen to music is when I’m outside in the street. I love TuneIn and Pandora Internet Radio. I choose in general adult contemporary stations. There’s so much good music out there. There are so many great bands I’ve never heard of.
According to Klout, you are influential about cats. Is that because your last name is Katz?
Believe me, I saw that too and I have no idea how I turned out to be influential about cats.
Where do you get inspiration for new material?
No rules. You never know when inspiration comes to say hello. But when it comes, don’t let it go. Take the time to listen to what it has to say.
What’s next for Steve Katz?
I’d love to buy a car and tour across the U.S.
Steve, thank you so much for doing this. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity, I really appreciate it. I invite your readers to check out my music and to come to my shows. I’ll let you know when the shirts are ready!