Katie O'Malley

Katie O'Malley
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Katie O’ Malley is a Soul/Folk singer who has been described as having a voice that pours with emotion and can fill any venue. She is very well known on the Manchester circuit and it has been said that she comes across as ‘an intriguing cocktail of First Aid Kit crossed with The Black Keys with a husky yet powerful vocal sprinkled on top.’ IMS caught up with her for a chat.

One of the first things we wanted to know was when the music bug first took hold and led to the decision to become a performer.

“I have been performing since I was 3 years old as a classically trained dancer and always loved music being brought up with my dad playing soul music around the house all the time. I actually remember having a toy microphone he bought me for one Christmas and I could record myself singing, it had 2-foot pedals at the bottom of the mic stand one was for a recording of an audience to clap and the other was for them to boo ha-ha!”

“I didn't sing through the years though as I didn't believe I could un till much later. I loved drama at school and decided to audition for my high schools yearly musical I really wanted the part but didn't think I would get it as it was a musical and I couldn't sing! I had to audition with a song which I was terrified of doing but somehow I managed to get the main part I was so over the moon and that gave me the confidence to start to singing more often and it was a slow gradual build up from there.”

One of the things that is most recognisable about Katie is the wonderful warmth and tone of her voice so finding out if it was all-natural or not was a must.

I had classical lessons when I was 13 after I got the main part for the audition as I remembered thinking oh god now I actually have to sing in front of the whole school, I need to be good! ha-ha. This was probably the worst thing I ever did. Might sound odd but now I know everyone's voice is different so what works for one singer won't necessarily work for another singer.”

“I wanted to sing out, but my vocal coach said I should only sing in falsetto so as not to my damage my voice, so I didn't sing out, but this didn't last very for long! When it comes to singing, I think it's just a combination of confidence, training your ear and just finding the style that suits you. I think the tone has just come over a period of time of singing a lotta lot!”

In 2017, Katie released her ep ‘Dawn Chorus’ and this was followed in 2018 by ‘Heart of Gold’ and a further two singles early in 2019 so we enquired about the possibility of an album.

“Yes, we released ‘Heart of Gold,’ then ‘Got A Love’ both taken from my latest E.P ‘Never Be the Same.’ I released at the end of May! We've recently been back in the studio; we've recorded a few songs that we're still working on, but I think it will a single we release next. 

Never one to be satisfied with the genre associated with an artist or band, looking deeper there are always other elements within. In the case of Katie, I felt that there were also some Country elements present and wondered what she thought about this.

“Definitely! The sound is constantly evolving. I grew up listening to soul and blues singers but as I got older, I started listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and more modern artists like Laura Marling & First Aid Kit. I loved all their writing and naturally gravitated to writing folky songs like theirs, but I was always torn between writing these airy sweet melodies and wanting more of the guts in my voice to come out. I've always liked the Americana, Creedence Clearwater/ Allman Brothers kind of sound and felt that was just more a natural progression for my voice to lend itself to.” 

As a little bit of fun, I asked Katie if she had ever thought about a rock album as her voice would lend itself very well to a project like that.

“Ha-ha, the music is actually starting to lean in that direction! I wouldn't say its rock but it has elements of it in there! It's sweetness with fire.”

Katie's band have recently played at Gulliver’s in Manchester and are also on the bill for Little Glastonboro so we asked if there was anything else lined up.

“We are playing Gulliver’s this Friday 12th July, FoxyFest 3rd August in Clitheroe, The Great Northern Festival 4th August & Goosfest in Cheshire 6th October which I'm really looking forward too.”

Katie herself is quite fearless when it comes to performing and has recently been busking in Germany and Belgium, so we wanted to know how it went. 

“Yes, it was amazing! I was so glad I plucked up the courage to do this. It might sound weird cos I'm used to performing in front of people but busking is different, when you're playing a gig people are there because they want to see live music when you’re on the street you're just throwing sounds at them then put on top being in another country at not knowing the rules it can be a bit scary.”

“I’m not naturally a confident person but I think the best thing to do is just do it and whatever happens happens. I met some lovely people and everyone in Germany was so appreciative of the music & song-writing which I felt so grateful for, I actually cried after my gig in Speyer because I was so overwhelmed by the experience!”

Sticking with busking for a moment, what is it that she gets from performing like that and going forward is a European tour something that she would like to take on.

“Anything can happen with Busking good or bad ha-ha but I think seeing people walk past and smile, I've had people chuck cards or bits of paper in my bag in the past just saying they thought it was cool which is so nice! and seeing all the different kinds of people that like it. Different ages & cultures sometimes people you wouldn't expect to like it that surprise you.” 

“Yes, I love going to new places! That would be a dream come true.”

Although Katie keeps herself fairly busy, we asked her if she was always writing or if in actual fact there was any downtime and what she liked to do.

“To be honest between working my job (unfortunate but necessary), booking & playing gigs every week, rehearsing with the band & writing I don't get much downtime! I love seeing my friends when I can it's always nice to have a laugh and blow off some steam this is rare though. But I love doing what I do the most.”

Although it had been touched on earlier in the interview, Katie does have quite the range of musical influences, but it was interesting to find out where she got her inspiration and at the same time what her writing process was like. 

“I think I touched on this before but so many. I grew up listening to the queen of blues Etta James, but I have listened to all sorts of artists and genres and I think that's the best way to get the most of your writing and to decide what you like the most. I'm loving Kaleo & Ben Miller band at the minute so that has inspired me a lot, I've just fused my favourite genres together and I'm so interested to see how the music is just naturally developing itself a lot of it is down to the lads I have around me too, they're all amazing musicians and I owe them a lot and without them I wouldn't be able to create half of what I do.”

“It can be different; I sometimes start with the guitar, but I know my strengths and guitar isn't one of them, so I think sometimes it limits me. I write quite subconsciously, most of the time I just start singing literally anything I don't know where it comes from it just comes to me. Sometimes it's just a hum but a lot of the time it has lyrics too I have hundreds of voice recordings of random melodies that would be rubbish to anybody else. Then I start building around that. Half of the time I don't know what I'm writing about it just feels like a story I'm creating and then I read it back and realise it probably is related to my life or something I might have recently watched on the T.V, I just didn't know it at the time. “

As we were drawing towards the end of our chat, we asked for a message for all of her supporters.

“Thank you to everyone that supports me and takes the time to message me telling me they like my music it means so much to me and gives me that little bit of fire to keep doing what I love to do.”

Finally, all that remained was to find out what we can expect to see from Katie O’ Malley going forward. 

“I’ve just recently finished filming a music video to our Got A Love single with the amazing Axel Wolstenholme it's been a long time in the making but something I really wanted to do as the song means a lot to me. I wrote it about my mum & dad they were childhood sweethearts so had only ever known being with each other. My mum passed away when I was a teenager, I know it sounds like a sad story but it's not a sad song at all! It's an uplifting one about finding love and me just telling her I've been able to find that too with someone. Also, some killer new music in the pipeline.”

The photographs for this interview were taken by PAIGE NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY.