Sometimes, the best thing about falling apart is putting yourself back together and being better than ever before.
Such is the practice of “kintsukuroi”, and the premise of Kate Martin‘s new single of the same name. Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art for where shattered ceramics mended with a golden lacquer are perceived as being more beautiful for having been broken after the fact, and it stands for a pretty real metaphor for the human condition as well – and makes for an excellent song.
Having been a guitarist and singer for a number of years now, Kate Martin’s sound has undergone a lot of changes but from the sounds of this latest single, she may have finally found her feet. Her signature finger-plucked guitar sits right at home with the Eastern influences, lush electronica and Tabla percussion. Her voice is gentle but stirring, and demands your attention with her intimate lyrics. Taken from her forthcoming latest album, Set My Life To Fire, as far as debuts go this one is a winner!
To get to know Kate a little better, we asked her a few quick questions to coincide with this release. Check it out below and keep your eyes peeled and ears pricked for the release of Set My Life To Fire, out later this year.
You’ve already got two albums behind you, which were made when you were still living in Townsville. How has growing up in a small town helped shape you, and your sound over the years?
I feel fortunate to have grown up in Townsville. I was embraced and given every opportunity to play and grow, which is something I will always value. Coming from a smaller city means there’s less noise and distraction, less comparisons. Townsville made it safe for me to be myself.
Kintsukuroi is remarkably different to anything we have heard previously from you, which is to be expected over time. What have been some of the major influences of this change in sound to where you are now?
It’s been a long time since I last released music, I think the change was inevitable! Kintsukuroi (including a few other tracks on the album) were primarily written on a boomerang loop pedal. It’s funny but that pedal has played a key role in influencing my writing and live shows. My interest in production broadened throughout the making of the album. Going deep into every aspect of each track’s production is my favourite part of the process. I like to draw from all different kinds of inspiration and reference in the studio.
Some elements of your music have stayed the same, such as your finger-plucking and your intimate nature in your songs – how important is it to remain true to yourself despite external influences?
I think it’s critical. It’s also important to know when to draw the line. This is something I’ve been learning over the last few years. I want to feel connected to everything I write, so whilst finger-picked guitar and an intimate writing style have defined my sound to a degree, what also assures me that I’ve left my signature on a track are good lyrics that mean a lot to me, exciting production, and the knowing that I’ve really poured myself into the song. It’s okay to branch out and strive for new sounds too, I generally think if the intention is right, your identity will come through in the end no matter what.
Is the practice of Kinstukuroi a metaphor for this next step in your musical journey? Are these lyrics indicative of what you’ve been going through personally?
More so a personal metaphor, but also a representation of the human condition! I think brokenness is a part of life that defines and refines us. I was really drawn in by the idea that something or rather someone can be more beautiful for having been broken. It’s a concept about renewal and restoration, I think there’s hope in that.
You were just in LA, how was that experience for you?
It was and it wasn’t what I expected! LA is an exciting place. I went over there for three weeks to write. I was lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing writers and producers whose work I’ve admired for a long time. It was a busy trip, but it felt great to be consistently productive. When I wasn’t writing I was trying to fit in mini adventures to get a feel for my surroundings, would definitely recommend intelligentsia coffee in Silverlake!
You’ve worked with some prestigious people for your new music, what is a key lesson you’ve taken away from the likes of Eric J Dubowsky, Tim Shiel and Jon Hume?
I learn different things from everyone I work with, it’s a privilege to work with and learn from some of the best. The great thing about working with different people in music is that you soon realise no one’s method is the same, so every time I get the chance to work with someone different it’s a completely new experience, and something I always a lot out of.
Set My Life To Fire follows the same kind of theme of being broken down and starting over that Kinstukuroi has, can we expect more songs like this?
The album displays a fair bit of variation but without giving too much away, there are a few more tracks that follow this theme, yes.
What else can we expect to come from you this year?
I’m currently finalising my live show up in Sydney with my MD Ross James, So I’ll be playing shows again soon which is exciting for me. The record has just been finished and will be released later this year. There’s a lot waiting in the wings that I can’t wait to share with everyone!