First Interview: Katie Uva

I've pegged this week (in my mind at least) as the week of a thousand (or at least three) interviews. The first up is a girl I met not too long ago through a mutual friend, Katie Uva. Katie Uva is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter with a lot more on her plate than just music alone.

She has some fast approaching shows in New York and was able to do a question and answer session with me (via Facebook messaging, hey, the wonders of technology) yesterday.

How did you get started in music? Where do you take your influence from?

Katie:  I took several kinds of music lessons as a kid. I played piano from the age of 7-17, although I never got very good at it. I also took bass in middle school. I think I started the way most people do. I listened to music a lot and I liked to sing along, and eventually I wanted to imitate what I was hearing. When I was younger, I listened to the Beatles pretty much nonstop. In high school, I discovered the Indigo Girls. They became my favorite band and their music seemed more approachable. The Beatles are great, but they have a lot of wacky chords, strange instrumentation, and effects that can only be produced in a studio. You can do a good rendition of an Indigo Girls song with just yourself and a guitar, and listening to them made me feel like I really could learn to play. The Indigo Girls are definitely my biggest influence, but I also draw some inspiration from Ani Difranco, Paul Simon, and the Roches. I try to combine pleasant acoustic guitar music, clear vocals, and meaningful lyrics, the way all my idols do. 

Do you have any recordings currently out?

Katie:  I have three self-produced CDs, each of which has 12 songs on it. They are "The Me Album" (2006), "Good Things in Small Packages" (2007), and "Banana Genesis" (2009). I made these CDs myself, so the production values are a little rough, but I'm proud of each of them. They were each a labor of love, and there is a certain degree of collaboration on all of them. My friend Grace Gillies did the album artwork for all three. I'm particularly proud of Banana Genesis, because you can hear that I've really improved as a musician on that one. I play all the instruments on all the CDs, but I got a little more ambitious on Banana Genesis, trying my hand at some percussion. I also think it has the best variety of songs.

question:  is Banana Genesis not one of the best names ever? I think so.

How often do you do shows?

Katie:  I play shows periodically. Over the past year and a half I have been playing more, because I'm in touch with a booking agent who sends me things. Last year I played about 10 shows in various venues around Manhattan. It was a lot of fun, and I even made money at some of them! I have 4 shows between now and March, and I hope to keep that rate consistent.

we hope so too!

What does your material consist of for shows?

Katie:  Playing live really is exhilarating. Even though I play small venues, and usually I know most of the people in the audience, there's still something exciting about getting up in front of people and putting yourself out there. There's also the fact that you just never know who's going to show up. At a show I played in October, three of my high school teachers came! I've really enjoyed seeing the different types of venues, too. I don't go out to bars much, so it's been interesting for me to play in various places and see how they're set up differently, what kind of crowds they attract, and what it feels like to play in each of them. My current favorite venue is the Alphabet Lounge, on Avenue C, although I also like the National Underground because you get paid no matter how many people you bring in.

Where do you see yourself in five years, musically speaking?

Katie:  One of my biggest concerns as a musician is whether I can keep going with it. I'm a full-time student with several jobs, and so music isn't my main job or priority most of the time. I don't expect to be rich or famous or playing music full-time in 5 years, but I would like to be able to keep playing on a small scale. I hope I can keep writing songs on a regular basis, and keep improving as a musician and songwriter. I'd like to play more shows with other people, and maybe stretch my legs in various genres a bit more.

so come out and support Katie Uva in NYC these following dates and enjoy some good acoustic music:

December 2nd, 7:30 at the Alphabet Lounge
December 27th, 8:00 at the Bitter End WITH BAND!
January 21st, 8:00 at the Village Lantern
March 28th, time TBD, at Bar East 

and check out her MYSPACE for more details, as well as information on her recordings.