Kat Parsons was the runner-up in the 2003 DIY Music Festival with her album “No Will Power.” She’s just released a follow-up EP, “Talk to Me,” after a seven-year hiatus spent touring 24 countries.
The crowd-sourced EP was funded in part by over 8,000 fans who contributed $19,560 to its production, and is the first in a series of three that she will release this year.
The leading track from Talk to Me, “Fall For It,” was produced by Mike Flynn (The Fray, Sara Bareilles) and Warren Huart (James Blunt, Howie Day), after Parsons beat over 1,400 artists to win the OurStage.com contest “Get your song produced by head of A&R at Epic Records” in March 2010. The track is a pop anthem for all those who have been chased, and as soon as captured, left alone.
The DIY Convention caught up with the loquacious Kat to discuss her latest work.
DIY Convention: Tell me the story behind your new album. Why did it take seven years to make?
KAT PARSONS: This album is about transitions and yearning, about the dissonance between reality and fantasy, between expectation and disappointment, between “should be” and “is”. It is about shifts in perspective and the journey that brings that about. It took quite a while to make because I was on this journey. I traveled the world with my music and I was seeking purpose, how to make a difference in the world, how to make the most impact and to serve people with my music…..inspire confidence and connection. How to become the person I intend to be. During this time, I considered a career away from music….I even applied for, and was nominated to go to Jordan with the Peace Corps. At the same time, I was invited to perform in Tokyo. I walked through open doors and allowed life to carry me and ended up in Tokyo…..and then Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei (where I had to perform for the censorship board!), Malaysia, South Korea and India.
DIY: There’s already an answer record to “Talk to Me.” Your reaction?
KAT: Ha! It’s an answer song to “Talk to Me”. I think it is quite a funny story. One of the major benefits of being a singer-songwriter is your ability to tell YOUR side of every relationship….thus defining the relationship for all time! Ha! The only time this doesn’t work is if you are dating another singer-songwriter. This is the case with “Talk to Me” where I plaintively ask for communication….however, this was followed up with his song “Talking to YOU”, which was not as plaintive. Needless to say, I got the last word in with my song “Artificial Heart”, which put to rest the possibility that he had a real one.
DIY: You’ve performed a lot in overseas markets. How have you managed to stay connected to the fans you’ve made?
KAT: A lot of the contact is through my email list and through Facebook. And there are times/places where it is not possible to stay connected with everyone.
DIY: Biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
KAT: I think I’m still learning! I’ve learned that it’s all a process and that life is FULL of possibilities if you are open to them. Sometimes it’s easy to miss them if I am hyper-focused on a goal. I’ve learned, as my late friend Elissa said, “Love is the most important thing, always.”
DIY: You’ve performed with family on a number of occasions. Do you rehearse? Has there ever been a full recording of the family?
KAT: So funny you ask. Yes, we definitely rehearse. And we definitely argue during rehearsal! Who is speeding up? Who’s taking whose harmony? It’s a pretty funny situation. And, yes, we made a family Christmas album a few years ago with my grandparents and my dad’s three sisters and their families. It included my dad and aunts singing songs, my Grandpa playing “Amazing Grace” on the saw, and my Grandma & Grandpa singing a duet of “Have I told you Lately.” Everyone gave it to their friends and everyone at their churches….it was not for mass consumption!
DIY: Your songs are very personal. Will total happiness and success ruin your career?
KAT: No! I would never spurn total happiness!!! In my opinion, no matter what is anyone’s situation, there is always something about which to write. I am an emotional person and my heart is pretty open to life’s experiences which is why sometimes the joy is so great and the sorrow so deep. I am so interested in people and anthropological studies…I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t experience heartbreak, doubt and wonder, no matter how “happy”. And if anyone says differently about their life, I don’t trust them! So, please, bring on total happiness! And success is in the eye of the beholder….I think in many ways, we already have it without knowing. Though I wouldn’t mind what I think you have in mind when you say “success”!