"Gravity Happens" to Kate Voegele
You know her as both the emotional powerhouse musician Mia on “One Tree Hill” and as an artist and musician in real life.Kate Voegele has been playing music since she was a 15-year-old and later she became an art major in college with a style all her own. This small town girl from Ohio is now living on her own in California and making appearances on shows like “Conan O’Brien” and the “Today Show”.TeenMusic caught up with Kate on a sunny Monday afternoon.
TeenMusic:Kate, it’s so great to catch up with you again. We talked to you a little while ago and wow, you’ve got so much going on right now. Congratulations on your new album.So what’s the story behind “Gravity Happens”?It’s really powerful.
Kate: Yes! There’s so much going on now.“Gravity Happens” is definitely one of the best songs on the album. There’s a pretty significant story behind it for me, personally. It’s about finding the courage and strength to push through when, well, when gravity happens. You know, when bad stuff happens. In the last two years a lot has happened in my life, like growing up.As you grow up you come across certain things and you realize that wow, the world can be a scary place. I’ve been super blessed and I can see that when things happen to you, big or small, you really learn that you’re not always sin control. There’s a line in my song that goes “If gravity happens I’ll fasten wings to my shoes.” It’s all about picking yourself up.
TeenMusic: We heard your aunt went through some tough times and was really an inspiration to you as well. How is she doing?
Kate: Oh wow, yeah. That was one of the things that really inspired my songs. We have a super close family. We grew up in a small town and everyone lived next to each other. When she was diagnosed it was suddenly like “Oh, man!”Everyone in the world has had someone close to them become ill and gosh, everyone has to fight really hard. And with everything going on in the world today, it taught me a lot. Her strength is amazing and I learned so much. She’s doing great now.
(NOTE: All of Kate's "One Tree Hill" performances are her own originals, but the songs on the new album 'Gravity Happens' embody a year of travel and personal growth not reflected on the show - like her aunt's battle with cancer and a friend's paralysis after a car accident - that's brought a renewed focus and direction to her work.She's premiering a song from 'Gravity Happens' ("Heart in Chains") live on the season finale of "One Tree Hill," May 17th.)
TeenMusic:Who would you say is your biggest musical inspiration?
Kate: First and foremost, I’d have to say my dad.He taught me to play the guitar and write songs. We both share so much and he’s an amazing writer and musician.Aside from that, from an actual musical standpoint I’d have to say Patty Griffin. She has this huge voice and she’s this tiny little thing with this big attitude. I got her CD when I was 15 and was blown away.
TeenMusic:Have you met her?
Kate:No. I haven’t met her but I respect her so much. That’s the one person I’d like to be like. If I met her I’m sure I would totally nerd out!
TeenMusic: So what’s it like hearing your own music on “One Tree Hill”?
Kate: It’s nothing but amazing. The way the stories are written allows people to hear the music in the context I would want them to. Apart from the show and everything else, my music is something I want to be like someone’ favorite pair of old blue jeans. That comfy feeling and that record everyone puts on becauseit’s the end of the day and they want that comfortable music they know. That’s one way “One Tree Hill” has framed Mia. She’s very much shares a kind of casual informality with me. It helps fans relate to Mia and to me, too.
TeenMusic:Did you write the song “Heart in Chains” specifically for the season finale of “One Tree Hill” or did it just work out that way?
Kate: I wrote the song first. We wanted something upbeat and this is a really explosive song. I wrote all the material first.The record was already done and then “One Tree Hill” called and said “Hey, we’d like you to come back and play a song.”We talked and Mark, the creator, said this would be the perfect song. I hope people like t.
TeenMusic: You have great style, Kate.How would you describe your look?
Kate:Style is a big part of what I do and what I love. It’s such a cool way to express who you are. I think my style is eclectic and it can be very relaxed like jeans and a t-shirt. I’m an Ohio girl, after all.But there’s another side of me that has the most presence on stage because I’m an artist and that’s a mix of rock and roll and bohemia with a bit of edge to it. More than anything, I like to sort of mix it up. I love color and mixing things like vintage, like something that was $15.00, with something totally designer. No rules.
TeenMusic:Mixing it up is great!So what about Mia? Her look has really evolved. Do you get to have any say in your character’s style?
Kate: The wardrobe people really pull clothes together that fit the characters on the show, but they’re cool about tailoring the clothes to what we’re comfortable in. I think Mia’s style is different. At the beginning she was into goth and punk and she’s always had a style that’s her own.As she grew up she got out of the goth and leggings and stuff. That was fun because it was different for me. She takes fewer risks with her style than I do. She’s younger and she’s kind of a small town girl.
TeenMusic:I love how you talk about Mia as if she’s your sister or a good friend.How would you describe your relationship with Mia?
Kate: That’s such a good question. At first I didn’t know what my relationship with her would be. It’s definitely turned into a kind of protective thing. You really feel like she’s a real person. I think for me to be Mia I had to become Mia on some level.I don’t know if that sounds ridiculous or anything, but I feel like you have to lose yourself in their world.
In terms of how we’re alike or different, Mia is a little more immature than I am, but she’s matured a lot lately. When she first started out she was shy and nervous, and she’d get anxious and freak out. I, on the other hand, have definitely learned to deal with things as more of a grown-up. Mia still has all this energy of a young person trying find herself.She’s more of a wise guy.
TeenMusic:Kate, some artists talk about their creative process as very mysterious and quiet. They like to hide away and write and then come out with all this great material.Others like to write in a coffee shop.What about you? How do you write your songs?
Kate:For me it’s all over the place. I haven’t found that magic formula for getting great songs out yet. For me my song writing is a way for me to make sense of the world around me and what’s happening in my world. I don’t do well when I just sit with my guitar and a notebook in front of a computer and say “Ok, today I’m going to wrote in silence.” I have to get out, meet people, see some weird people, see something interesting.
This past year I moved out to California and wrote all my music since that move. This move was big for me. I’m from a small town and I thought I already had a lot of experiences, but moving out on your own for the first time is so different! It’s inspiring! It’s a way to find myself and my artistic process while I’m living my life and immersing myself into a new life and culture.
TeenMusic:Do you get to see your family very much?
Kate: Oh yeah, I see my family a lot. They’re constantly coming out and I have a lot of great friends. I go back to Ohio and see them. I also travel a lot for my job so I don’t feel like I’m on a deserted island. I can still be close to everyone back home.
TeenMusic:How do you like performing live?
Kate:I love to perform live. I think it’s really the essence of being a musician and it’s the best part of my job. You can be in a studio all day long and tweak things and tweak the sound and sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, but for me my music is pretty organic.Taking that music to the fans and playing it live, that’s where the songs really are. I love my relationship with the audience. I like to hang out with them and I think that’s why I like performing live. I feel like if you can be there and talk to them, they’re like your best buddies and that lets people into the vulnerability in my music.
TeenMusic:How about after the shows? Do you get to meet your fans?
Kate: You have to, you know. I think that we end up hanging out an stuff because it’s a big part the music. It’s a reason people relate to my music. It speaks to them and it’s like saying “hey” to my fans. The songs are relatable.
TeenMusic:Okay, Kate, the fans hear your music and they see you on TV, but what do you think the teenagers out there still don’t really know about you yet?
Kate:Good question.I think the fans might not really know right away that I’m really very much like them. It’s so funny when someone is nervous about talking to me after a show. I’m like “dude! I was you six years ago in high school and I still am you!”I’m still very much someone who simply loves her friends and family, and I am so grateful to be where I am. I think once you lose the core of who you really are, you become inaccessible. I want to be someone who is always relatable and writing music that people can relate to.Some people think “wow, she’s on TV, she must be so cool,” but there was one time when I was Tweeting and just said I went to the Laundromat.Some people responded like ”What? You do your own laundry?” (laughter) I’m totally normal!
TeenMusic:Ok, to time to dish a little. Can you tell us what’s going to happen to Mia next season?
Kate: Well, I think that Mia, when you see her in the season finale, had left for a while because she was doing things she wasn’t happy with. She was fighting with Alex and there was all that drama.I think you’ll see her come back in the season finale with a better perspective on things. She’ll take the next step growing up and learning to avoid the drama and take the high road and be content with where she’s at.Mia’s taking the time to figure out what’s most important in her life.
TeenMusic: What about your life? What’s most important to you right now?
Kate: For me it’s similar. At the end of the day I want to feel like what I’m doing with my music has purpose. For me it’s more like I need to know I’m helping someone in some way. Not that I want to say I’m saving the world or something like that, but it’s about when all crazy stuff happens, maybe my music can take a little bit of that off your shoulders.
TeenMusic:What’s happening with you this summer?
Kate: This summer is going to be really fun! I’m announcing tour dates soon and we’ll tour a lot with this record. I’m also releasing a signature pair of sunglasses with my partner Oakley. It’s a really summery record and I was an art major in college. I was the “art kid”. When I’m on the bus I paint and it’s how I draw inspiration when I have writer’s block. Oakley has been amazing. It’s really cool because they tie in with the record and the artwork on the sunglasses is the same as on the record cover.We’ll release some exclusive tracks, too.
TeenMusic:You’ve got so much going on, Kate. What’s your ultimate dream?
Kate: Gosh, I can’t completely answer that because if you asked me that question five years ago I’d never have had an inkling that I’d be on my third album and be on TV and playing my music as a character on a show and designing sunglasses! It’s crazy what opportunities are out there. I don’t want to ever limit myself to one goal. I do want to make records and write music that’s inspiring to people and keep doing what I’m doing.
Even if I never become more famous than right now and I just get to keep on doing what I’m doing, Id’ be happy.I’m really driven and I’m someone who wants to keep evolving as an artist. I’d like to become an even better musician and learn more about the production side of music, too. Maybe pick up an instrument like the cello and learn how to play it, even if I’m never fantastic at it.I’d also love to do some more things in the designing realm. Something visual.I think at the end of the day, I just want to be an artist and have the art that I create make a positive difference in people’s lives.