Pop Singer and Songwriter
Katie: The pleasure is all mine, thank you for exposing unsigned talent like me on old.talentspotlightmagazine.net. 🙂
Jessica: Firstly, I know that you had dreams of being a classical ballerina, but then took the music path and got into singing and songwriting. What inspired you to get into music? And what was the first song you ever wrote?
Katie: I remember craving a larger and more active audience. The musicality from ballet definitely transferred into my singing and songwriting. I specifically remember how much I looked forward to warming up for a ballet class, because that’s when I’d get to sing along and harmonize to my newest music obsession.
The first song I ever wrote was with the help of a team of producers. They had me tell them a story about a relationship. My relationship was put into verses and a chorus, and before I knew it the song was created. The release of performing a true life experience was so therapeutic. Ever since then I pay careful attention to not only my life experiences but those of the people closest to me.
Jessica: What’s your process for writing lyrics? And where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Katie: I am first inspired by music and melody. Then I refer to a list of stories, personal experiences, or ideas I save in my phone (some which literally come to me in the middle of a conversation with a friend). I always tease my closest friends that their lives are going to become a song of mine someday, and to be careful what they dish. Story telling is the next process; songwriting is one of my favorite aspects of my career. It means the world to me to share an experience and have others reach out to tell me that my song encouraged them through a difficult time, or that it reminds them of the best night of their life.
Jessica: You performed all over the US, touring with Jessica Simpson and Rascal Flatts as a background vocalist. How did you end up as a background vocalist for them? What was it like touring with them? Did you have a favorite venue? Finally, what were the best and most memorable times touring?
Katie: Touring was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my career. I was called in to audition by Jessica Simpson’s drummer, Gorden Campbell, who happens to be managed by my manager. After almost two weeks, I received the call that I got the job. Four days passed, and thirty new songs were learned. My bags were packed and the tour started. The crazy thing was that I had literally graduated college a week before the audition. I was so grateful that my education was out of the way.
After touring all over the US promoting Jessica’s new album, we spent about two months opening for Rascal Flatts. Watching a group as successful as them just blew me away. Madison Square Gardens was my favorite venue. Standing on a stage where all of the greats had once performed really motivated me to continue pursuing my career in pop music. I want my picture to be in the hallways there one day.
The most memorable experience occurred one evening at the Flatts Shack (Rascal Flatts after show party). Gary Levox was playing his guitar and told me he wanted to hear me sing. I was so nervous but after he asked me twice, I finally got the courage to sing. I asked if he knew “More Than Anyone” by Gavin DeGraw. He texted Gavin to find out what key he should play it in. Before I knew it the whole room was quiet and Gary started playing the song on his guitar. By the time I got to the chorus, Gary; Jay Demarcus and Joe Don Rooney were harmonizing with me. It was surreal to say the least.
Jessica: You also appeared on various TV shows with Jessica Simpson, such as: The Late Show With David Letterman, Dancing With The Stars, The View, Good Morning America, The Early Show and Ellen DeGeneres. What would you say was your most memorable TV show experience?
Katie: Promo week was a whirlwind. We were in New York for a few days and visited each network, sometimes two in a day. Performing in Times Square for Good Morning America was my favorite; imagine that was my first trip to New York. 🙂 We also pranked the paparazzi walking into David Letterman; I was often confused for Jessica cause of the blonde hair. That was pretty funny!
Jessica: You’ve written and co-produced many songs. Your song “Run Away” hit the number one spot on MSN Music, and your music can be heard on Xbox players worldwide with a song on the Project Gotham Racing Two soundtrack. You have also placed music on various TV shows, such as: Making the Band 4 (MTV), America’s Next Top Model (CW) and Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane (E!). In addition, you wrote, co-produced and recorded a song for the film I See You with Rosanna Arquette and Beau Bridges. Your voice has also been heard on numerous national and international commercials for Barbie, MyScene and Lil’ Bratz Dolls. Tell us about your hit song “Run Away” and the song you did for the film I See You. When did you start doing commercials?
Katie: I would like to thank my friend and producer XL (Donald Robertson Jr.) for exposing me to the opportunities above. He was a mentor of mine very early in my career and continues to provide amazing opportunities for me. He produced “Run Away” and distributed it on MSN Music, an early competitor of Itunes. One morning he called me and told me to go online. My song was #1! I couldn’t believe it. It remained there for a couple of weeks. I felt empowered to have reached so many people without marketing. That moment made me realize my potential as an artist.
XL was working on the soundtrack of I See You, and he invited me to work with him and the director on the song “Leave My Man Alone.” That experience was unique because we wrote the song to fit a specific scene in the movie. XL allowed me to co-produce that song as well. My commercial jingle career started when I was about eighteen years old. XL was producing some tracks for Brian Banks at Ear to Ear. We had just finished a session and he invited me to go with him to the Jingle House because Brian was looking for some new voices. I ended up leaving a demo and was called in very soon after for my first commercial spot. It was a Bratz Babies commercial. Ever since then Brian calls me two to three times a year to perform commercials for Barbie, and MyScene dolls. I am getting ready to go back into the studio in April for the next batch.
Jessica: Who are some musicians/songwriters you admire and look up to?
Katie: I have always really looked up to Mariah Carey. As a fan, I identified with the stories she told in her music. I fell in love with her melodies and ad libs and her music creates a bit of nostalgia for me. I admire different aspects of other artists like Christina Aguilera, Adele, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Alicia Keys. I enjoy differentiating each artist for their gift and love how each of them has a unique road to success. My manager always reminds me how unique my story is, we call each opportunity a part of my True Hollywood Story. Artistry is expressing yourself as you and bringing your unique talent to the forefront. I admire artists who aren’t afraid to do that. Each one has something that makes them the only one of their kind.
Jessica: It’s great to know you have a huge heart too, as you use your voice to make a difference in the community. You’re involved with A.W.A.R.H.E. (Artists Wanting AIDS and HIV Related Education). You also performed at the Britticares “Give Life for Christmas” blood drive where you supported the foundation’s commitment to improving quality of life for children with cancer and serious diseases. You also perform annually at Magic Johnson’s Kid’s Mardi Gras, which is an event to provide underprivileged youth a fun-filled memorable day. Tell us a little more about this event. And what year did you begin your involvement with it? You have any other events coming up that you’re taking part in?
Katie: Philanthropy comes very naturally to me. I feel that I can make a big difference in people’s lives through my voice and truly enjoy being involved in groups that lift others up. Magic Johnson’s Kid’s Mardi Gras is a great event. It is set up like a carnival and we invite kids out to eat, play, and enjoy music. The foundation often brings Disney and Nickelodeon celebrities and professional athletes. One year I was especially touched while performing my song “I am Beautiful,” the kids were so excited when I let them sing into the mic. Hearing all the different boys and girls of varied ages sing “I am beautiful” melted my heart. I have recently become involved with the Black Card Circle Foundation (blackcardcirclefoundation.org). The foundation focuses on education, environment, health care, community development, and poverty relief. The last event I performed with them benefited Autism Speaks and I am hoping to be involved in their next fundraiser this summer.
Jessica: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Katie: I would like to continue to empower youth and be on a platform that allows that message to be heard worldwide. I believe that knowledge is power and that as an artist it is my responsibility to share positive messages to my fans. I hope one day to inspire many kids to be proud of who they are, and to never give up on their dreams.
Jessica: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Katie: “You will only have SIGNIFICANT success when you’re border line obsessed with your goals.” Rev Run twittered this a few days ago and nothing explains my passion for music like this quote does.
Jessica: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your music?
Katie: Readers can find more about me by visiting http://www.katiemarino.com and by following me on Twitter @katiemarino1.
Jessica: Thank you again for doing this interview and wish you the best of luck with everything in the future.
Katie: Thank you Jessica.