Young folk artist, Katie Miller, who performs as Kate Dressed Up, started her journey only a year ago, but is firmly claiming a place in the folk music scene. She started singing since she first began to talk, and growing up in a musical family, it wasn’t hard for her to decide her future.
Behind all her layers, Katie is a self-taught, independent woman, who will teach you another way to consume political affairs and show how music can help feminism today with her latest EP.
BTRtoday (BTR): Hi Kate! Tell me how you became interested in music!
Kate Miller (KM): Music has always been a big part of my life. I grew up with my dad being a musician—music was always on in the house. I was encouraged to take piano lessons and stuff. By the time I became a teenager I started writing songs because I started having things to say.
The Kate Dressed Up project started about a year ago. I was actually in another band and relocated from Philadelphia to South Jersey to be in it, and my bandmate was supposed to join me, but some unexpected things happened and ended up not being able to. At the point I felt like I have to get started and started a solo project-–Kate Dressed Up.
BTR: What inspired you to start writing music?
KM: Music has always been something that isn’t optional for me. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s the one thing I could never see myself going without. In college I originally planned to do some type of grad school work and half way through college I really loved making music, and you only live once, so why not try it? That was the logic behind me making music as a serious pursuit.
I get my ideas from people, my interactions with people or sometimes other people interacting. When you are observant and you look around there’s a lot of interesting stories to tell. There’s a lot of different ways that people act, and when you look at the world in the right lens-–it all sort of comes to life for you.
BTR: What’s the most rewarding part about being a musician?
KM: Getting to meet all these great people, whether it’s other performers or employees at venues, or audience members that will talk to you after a performance. I’ve met a lot of good people through music, even though I didn’t expect to.
Back in May, first starting out and performing, I ended up playing a concert in Jersey through a Facebook Group post, I just messaged this stranger because they were looking for someone one to perform fast and I ended up getting on the bill. And now one of the other performers from that concert is a good friend of mine, Rebecca Emont, and I didn’t know her before that night. She came up to me and introduced herself after the show, and said “we have an idea to do this woman’s music event. Would you be interested in helping plan it?” And it was the craziest thing and I agreed!
We’re having this show Dec 3, Gurlzilla, In Flemington, New Jersey. All the bands on the bill are female fronted; we’re having women do live painting and collecting donations for a non-profit organization that distributes feminine products for women in need, Distributing Dignity. And we really wanted to do a feminist event, so it all tied together.
BTR: How does performing make you feel?
KM: The word that jumps to mind, which is absolutely corny, is “alive…” So corny [chuckles]. That’s my purest form of expression, that’s my most unfiltered self. It’s great to get up and sort of let things out that you can’t express in any normal conversation. It’s very freeing.
BTR: What do you want your audience to take home with you after a show?
KM: To give people something to relate to. A lot of my music has a somber tone, but notes of hopefulness and progress even in bad or difficult times. Right now I hope that people are able to connect with these ideas, remember that no matter how bad it feels right now-–you’ll be able to have a good life.
BTR: What do you think is the future of folk music in the age of digitalization?
KM: I wonder that myself all the time. Sometimes it feels really silly to see a folk artist when it’s 2016. At the same time, I really believe in folk music as a mode of expression, if you think about it as people singing songs, telling stories with an instrument has been a timeless art. I think it’s an immortal form, it will always have a place in the world and society. On an artistic level, there’s some electronic elements in the music I make, that’s just a matter of being open to these new sound palettes and incorporating them, rather than living in the past.
The other thing is, folk music and its essence becomes more important in a political climate that we are in right now. Everything going on in the world is material for artists, drawing attention to these important things.