I had the distinct pleasure of getting to circle back around and talk to Katie Thompson about her new album "Private Page." It has been 5 years since Katie's last album "KT Live" and let me just say the wait is SO WORTH IT! (click here for my extended review of "Private Page") Katie Thompson is an incomparable singer/songwriter. She writes and sings fierce, fabulous, and fantastically identifiable songs that come from the heart! To hear her sing is an experience one never forgets...In addition to writing and performing her own music, Katie is also a musical theatre performer who has been seen in "Spidermusical" (Mint Theater), "Bloodties" (NYMF), "Giant" (Signature Theatre), "Ripper" (NAMT), "R.R.R.E.D...A Secret Musical" (NYMF & The Grove Theater in LA), "The Lighthouse Project," and "Piece" (NAMT). She is also in high demand for concerts and events such as "Broadway in South Africa" (Gershwin), "Defying Inequality" (Gershwin), "Katie & Friends" (Birdland), Eden Espinosa "ME" (Joe's Pub), and "Broadway Loves Country" (Joe's Pub). For much more on Katie be sure to visit http://www.katiethompson.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy Katie talking about "Private Page," "So You Think You Can Dance," and other details of her life and career as only Katie can...in her own words!
1. How did you decide to come up with the title and concept for "Private Page"? I wanted an album that reflected stuff that I actually write from my notebook. I did this song called "Private Page" that is on both this album and my live album, K.T. Live and I thought it was appropriate, plus there are a lot of songs on "K.T. Live" that have never been produced, they are just live tracks, so I decided to pool them together. Originally I was supposed to release 2 tracks a month over a year period because I had so much, but then I sidelined by my back surgery and that didn't happen, so that's why there are only 12 tracks + the bonus version of "Heaven Is A Place On Earth."
2. This is your 3rd album, how do you think you've grown as a singer/songwriter since your debut album? Well, what I've done right is me and lot more people who have helped. A friend of mine put all the money into it and hired a producer to produce the album because at the time I wasn't writing my own charts and all of that, so I basically borrowed money to make my first album and let somebody have most of the creative input into making it. On this one, "Private Page," we didn't have any money to pay a bunch of people. When you cut an album, a producer will work on a song from the beginning to the end, but on this album, I was the producer from the beginning to the end, so I had a lot more to do with the album this time around. I wrote the cello charts and Shea would try to find people for me to collaborate with, if they weren't too expensive, but most of the time they were too expensive, so I did a lot of it myself.
3. One of the tracks from "Private Page" is "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" and that song was featured on "So You Think You Can Dance." How did that come about and how did you decide that would be the song to be featured? That was at the time when I was still trying to do two songs a month. "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" and "Slow" were released at the same time. Stacey Tookey had done one of my songs, "It Doesn't Hurt," on the Canadian version of "So You Think You Can Dance" and she got a hold of "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" and the producers sent me and my manager an e-mail asking for permission for the sync writes and I gave it to them whole heartedly. Stacey knows so much of my work. We are mutual admirers of our work. What did having "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" featured on "So You Think You Can Dance" do for you both personally and professionally? Every part of it is satisfying. Personally, as a person who writes, it's very exciting. Everything comes in phases. You create something and the day you create it you're like okay I just created this thing and wonder what's going to happen with it. From then on there is a lot of in between time from actually putting it on an album or seeing it in a show. My songs have very specific stories to me, but like Stacey did "It Doesn't Hurt" in Canada and she had this story that was about mental illness and it was so amazing and with "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" the story was about a soldier going off to war and eventually his girlfriend following, which was also so amazing and emotional. The most satisfying thing personally too is that the art begat art...you know when you create something that then creates inspiration for someone else, it's awesome! On a professional level it's a little easier to have people take me seriously without having to prove myself all the time because, it's the tiniest, tiniest bit of fame I could have as singer/songwriter. It doesn't get me parts in shows, but I don't have to try so bohemianlly. I used to have to go to open mic nights every night in the city, so I don't have to do that as much anymore.
4. What do you get from performing in a theatrical show that you don't get from your own music? There's not much difference for me except that my songs are my stories to tell, but when I step on the stage in a theatrical show, it feels like the songs I'm singing are my own, even though they are the character's songs. The commitment artistically is the same for me though whether I'm telling a story with my music or telling a story within a theatrical show. This is probably why I do covers the way I do them because until it feels like it came from me, I would never do them.
5. How do you decide which cover songs you like to Katie Thompsonize? I don't decide. I usually just sit at my piano and open sheet music books and start playing the book. "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" was in a book and I didn't know what it was and just fell in love with the lyrics first. I didn't recognize it until I got to the chorus and I was like oh I know this and then I was like, well if I were a musician seeing these lyrics, I wouldn't have written the song the way most people know it, I would have written it as I did for the album. I don't really choose the songs I cover, I just start playing the book and then one usually pops out at me that says what I want to say at that time in my life that I want to say it. At the time I found "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" I was really searching for love and hope and I was far away from home in NYC, I'm from Utah, so it just really spoke to that part of my life that I have left behind. It had really good imagery and it felt like I was flying when I sang it, so that was a definite green light for me to move forward and record it. We put "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" on the album because it's my new favorite cover and I put that as the first track so people who don't know anything about me and want to hear a recognizable tune, they could hear that one first. I thought that was smart. Me: I think it was smart because it is recognizeable, but you make it your own...you slowed it down and did what I like to call Katie Thompsonized it. It's one of my favorite tracks on the album.
6. Where do you get inspiration to write your songs? It's usually from something that happens in my life. It's like therapy for me. I write a lot to get stuff out from me.
7. If you record a duet with anyone, who would you choose? There are a lot of people in town I'd love to work with. I always thought if I made enough money, Eden Espinosa and I could record our duet version of my song "Stay." I've also wanted to record the Natalie Imbruglia cover I do with Marty Thomas. If I could duet with any pop superstar it would Tina Turner for sure and Queen Latifah and I would record Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted Snake." I rewrote "Cold Hearted Snake" with Queen Latifah doing the rap part.
8. Favorite place to rehearse or practice on your own? My room, though I used to like to break into churches and play in the chapel because the spaces were just so beautiful. I don't do that anymore.
9. Favorite way to spend your day off? Playing the piano, playing X-box, I like to stay outdoors if it's nice outside, or watch DVD on TV.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? "All you gotta do is sing" and "When you can sing like that, who cares/don't worry about your weight."
11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I don't know who I would dream about.