KAT EDMONSON INTERVIEW, Austin, Texas, FEB 11, 2015
How are you liking this great winter weather in the 80’s we have for you?
I love it. It’s a nice respite from all the plummeting snow in New York. Was it planned for you to be gone from NY during the winter? No we just extended the first part of our winter tour. We started touring at the end of the year to promote “The Big Picture” so it’s one of the perks of the tour.
What do you think about all this crazy Austin change?
I do see the changes–new buildings and how places I use to go to are not there anymore. There are tons of new places I have never been to-I can’t believe it. It was changing when I lived here but when I come back from NY I see more. I don’t even know what’s popular anymore. Do you know Rainy Street? It’s under construction-the iconic Luster Pearl is gone and there is construction and new hotels. I have no doubt Austin will transcend into another area of town that’s cool, hip.
Let’s talk about the LOVE LETTER. What inspired it and how did people respond? Was there an outpouring of love and support?
Yes at the time there was. Just as in the letter, it just happened. It struck me that wherever I go, when I’m sitting down talking to people- everyone is talking about Austin and I felt territorial and it happens a lot. There’s buzzing even in other countries too when you mention Austin and it’s instantly cool and you are in the club. I began to write down my feelings about leaving. I have a lot of great memories about growing here as an artist and all the support I had along the way.
Do you try to stop by the old venues where you played like the Elephant Room while you’re here?
I never have the time frankly. My schedule is such that I am pulling into the venue and leaving the next morning for something else. If I get the time I will definitely visit places. It’s also nostalgic and sentimental and I need to be prepared to return to some of those places. So now I am relishing exploring the new venues in Austin. I take pause each time I come back and play a new venue and large places that I aspired to play while I was playing restaurants and bars. I was imagining an audience and that I could sell tickets and sell out a theater and now it’s a dream come true that I can do this and also a reminder when I am here where I’ve come from and where I’m going. It sounds like you have a lot of mixed feelings today being here. Definitely.
What were some of the clubs you played?
I played at Eddie V’s Restaurant every Wednesday and Saturday. Also at Vino Vino- a great wine bar with great food on Guadalupe. Also, I played at Botticelli’s and every iteration of what it was before it was Botticelli’s, and also at Z’Tejas on 6th st-the original one. I played there with the Cat’s Meow-that was my first band in Austin. When was that? 2005. We played until 2009 and then I started focusing on my solo record then I moved away to NY a year later in 2010. After that I was actually spending half my time here in Austin and half-time in NY. Then by 2012 I was full-time into NY.
I’m surprised you aren’t here longer. There’s no time to catch up with all your friends here.
It’s really hard and it’s the hardest part about coming back. I’m never satisfied with the amount of time when I come here and I get very little quality time with the people I love. It’s kinda heartbreaking now when I’m in Austin for an event. I just don’t have a lot of downtime. Do you leave tomorrow morning? Yes. Are you traveling by bus? We’re all traveling in a van together.
Are you staying longer in Houston and is your mom still there?
Yes, my mom is there but unfortunately we only had one night there so there was no time there either. That was hard but wonderful. There were people who had known me from when I was a baby and watched me grow up and watched me play music. It must have been awesome, a great show. Yes it was pretty intense. You’re staring out into the audience at people you know. I can’t describe that feeling. It’s emotional to say the least. It’s very different from playing for a crowd of strangers. Exactly. It’s easier with strangers but you’re not as aware of them as individuals or thinking of them. I think putting on a show is like hosting a party. If you know the people you want them to be comfortable and to have a good time. When I’m singing I’m aware of a song that someone would like me to perform in the show so that influences things.
How are you liking being on tour? It’s your second U.S. Tour?
Yes, it’s the second tour for this album. I love it. It’s fantastic. The people I’m touring with that are in my band, we all get along, we have really nice rapport. It’s remarkable. We’re having a great time together. It’s important to like the people who you work with. Especially when you’re in small spaces. I like hanging with them, we always have fun. Is it with the other bands too or just your band? I hang with my band but we see Robert (Ellis) and his crew at each city. Then sometimes we take different routes based on different promotions or certain towns to do an interview or to see friends somewhere along the way.
What’s NY like? Are you building a similar following there playing local clubs? Which ones? Brooklyn? The Village?
I’m not doing any of that actually. The scene in Austin took me to a national level so all the playing I’m doing is all around the U.S. and Europe and we’re branching out and hoping to explore other countries too. I don’t actually have much time playing around NYC. But occasionally when I do play I’ve played venues such as City Winery, Joe’s Pub,and Carnegie Hall where I was part of “The Music of Prince” Tribute.
You’re achieving your dreams in your letter, what is the next one? Also, are you a big Audrey Hepburn fan? Sex and the City? The classic movies with Cary Grant? I hear you want to make films and you just starred in your own! Love the video – it’s so old movies and Audrey Hepburn. How did this come together?
Yes I love classic movies and I’ve seen all of Audrey Hepburn’s movies and Cary Grant too. I’m a big fan of old cinema and I write a lot of my music envisioning themes from films some of which are things I made up and I imagine I made it up like an old movie. New York is a place where I went to see all of what I thought I saw in those films and all of it and the culture is there. You can feel it when you walk down the street, in central park, in the old buildings. Recently I was on Prairie Home Companion (PHC) with Garrison Keillor for a second time. We were at Town Hall Theater in NY. Doing the show is really fun- it’s such an old school radio format. He keeps it going and the cast and crew are wonderful. It’s a unique thing. They write so much of the show the day of the show and a lot is spur of the moment doing skits and not just performing songs. Anything can happen and that spirit is fun and unique. I’ve not been on another radio show or tv show that worked that way. Usually everything is planned out in advance. Even American Idol is planned, premeditated, but not so much at PHC. You asked about my future goals and dreams. I want to do more of that. Incorporating more of my acting into what I do like in the music videos. They are made in a short film style. I want more and more of that.
Are you a photographer in real life?
No, not really. Not any more than others are today. I like how you incorporated the camera/photography on the album cover into the music video for Rainy Day Woman- which is amazing btw. Yeah, my video producer was also my photographer for the album cover for “The Big Picture” which we shot before we made the music video. For the cover he brought out his old cameras and I started playing around with them and that’s what inspired the creation of the video. He was thinking of the classic 1966 movie “Blowup” for our music video- it’s about a photographer who thinks they captured a murder on camera. I was thinking of the movie Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant for the music video. I also noticed a little Bewitched moment too with the nose crinkle. (laughs). Yes I was on set fooling around with my friend who came and brought her dog. We had so much fun and I was delighted with the editing.
Who did you listen to growing up- you talk about bygone eras? What were your mom’s albums you played over and over? Do you know the band Pink Martini?
I do. I like them. I like their presentation. The artists I listened to growing up? There were so many. Specifically the albums in my moms collection were Peggy Lee, Haley Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra.
It’s so cool that you partnered with Lyle Lovett. How did the duet come together?
Lyle and his girlfriend heard me singing at Vino Vino one night and he really took a liking to my music. We stayed in touch. Not not long after he saw me he got in touch with me and he really liked my album. He asked me to sit in with him at his show at UT’s Bass Concert Hall and then he asked me to go on the road with him around the U.S. all summer and I did!. I opened for him and also joined him singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. We recorded it for his album and then I asked him to perform it on my record and we also performed on The Tonight Show. It’s wonderful to have him as a friend and mentor and I learned a lot from him.
See the complete concert photo gallery from Austin City Limits here http://wp.me/p2IHPh-vz