Artist Spotlight: Katey Laurel

I recently had a chance to sit down with Katey Laurel, self-described “Colorado hippie cowgirl with a pocket of folk-pop songs,” and talk about her music. She’s an award-winning artist and folk music powerhouse in the Colorado scene. She’s also got some great out-of-the-box ideas that artists and music industry professionals can learn from! Here’s our interview:

LSB: Early in your career, you had received a prestigious music scholarship to Huntington University in Indiana. Were you already performing as an artist or did you begin your music career after completing your education?

KL: I was involved in plays and musicals through school and church as an actor and singer growing up but I don’t think that qualifies. 🙂 I was actually studying classical music and playing French horn in my college orchestra and wind ensemble, brass ensemble, and as a soloist at Huntington, not performing as an artist like now. When I was still in classical music school, I started co-writing songs, playing keys with and singing backups in a girl folk-rock trio initially, then started writing on my own in my early twenties. But I was always intrigued with songwriting as a young musician and I had a couple “experimental” songs when I was young because I wrote poetry from the time I was five. The first time I played a song that I wrote by myself on guitar was at a coffee place in Indianapolis called “The Abbey” and I was petrified! Thank goodness I made it through that time.
LSB: As an artist who has won numerous accolades for your work, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians as they enter in songwriting competitions or apply for opportunities to recognize their talents?

KL: Gosh, I think my first word of advice is to write, write and write some more! Your songs will get better and better. And then, when you’re ready, play out. Start at open mics and move into coffeehouses and eventually clubs and festivals. There is no substitute for checking songs against a real audience. The people who listen will tell you what your best songs are. When you feel like you have a song that is resonating with your audiences over and over, that is the song to enter into the contests. It’s sort of a pre-qualifying process. 🙂 Also, don’t forget that you will get a lot of “no’s”, several “maybe’s” and an occasional “yes.” It’s a numbers game and don’t give up!
LSB: What have been some of your favorite memories since starting your music career? What are some of the best moments you’ve had on stage?

KL:My favorite live shows have been opening for Matt Morris at the Walnut Room (what an AWESOME interactive crowd), playing a new song with a sing-along chorus with an entire club full of musicians and songwriters at Durango Songwriters Expo (THAT’s the time to do a singalong, they nailed it!!) and recently, a Susan G. Komen fundraiser I played at Hard Rock Cafe Denver. One of my favorite moments was looking out at an audience at the Winter Park Chocolate Festival and seeing, for the FIRST time, someone I didn’t know singing along to “Blue Sky’s Comin”! That was SUCH a cool moment…when you realize the music is out touching people’s lives in a real way and I’m not responsible for all of it.
LSB: Speaking of live shows, what are some of your favorite places to perform? Any cities that you look forward to seeing while on tour?

KL: I really enjoyed Room 5 in LA, The Bitter End in NYC and The Soiled Dove Underground in Denver. Cool rooms! I look forward to Hard Rock Cafe and The Bluebird next month in Nashville and I’d love to get to play Hotel Cafe in LA and anywhere in Austin in the near future. I can’t believe I haven’t been to Austin yet!

LSB: You have a cool new program for some of your most dedicated fans, the “LaurElites,” can you go into detail about the idea and how it’s working for you?

KL: Thanks for asking about that! That is my newest brainchild and I’m really excited about it. It’s my first fanclub offering and it’s a “Song of the Week Club”. I’m basically digging into my archives (I have hundreds of unreleased songs, live recordings, original lyric sheets and of course new worktapes for brand-new songs that no one has heard yet) to share ONE song every week, including the back story and original lyric sheet when possible. This is for the true song fanatic and I am looking forward to the discussions that arise from these songs that have been waiting years to be heard.

LSB: What can we expect from you in the next few years?

KL:I’m always trying to innovate ways to reach my listeners, so look forward to online shows soon for the folks spread around the country and world who have never had the opportunity to attend a show. I plan to continue to put out new songs every year (starting with the Periscope EP early next year) AND look for me to start posting more videos on Youtube. I’m planning to post a Christmas carol a day for the month before Christmas. Be sure to subscribe to my channel to be notified when I post new videos. Mostly live performances, but I’m sure there’s a new official music video in the near future. For now, check out my video for “Two Birds” at http://youtu.be/AUOh7C3_UzA.

LSB: Where can people go to get more information about you/your music?
KL: The best place to find me is at my site, http://www.kateylaurel.com (be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get a free download and my occasional musings on life, special offers and tour dates). Then, of course, I’m on Facebook (facebook.com/kateylaurelmusic) and Twitter @kateylaurel. Or send me an email at mail@kateylaurel.com if you have a question or comment. Thanks for listening and giving indie music a home in your ears and hearts!

Check out Katey’s music video for “Two Birds” below:

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