Singer-songwriter Katie Burns has been writing songs since she was a fifth-grader at St. Bernard Catholic School in Omaha, Nebraska. When Katie decided to record her first CD, she went back to her roots in Omaha, home to the indie rock scene that she loves. Katie is celebrating the release of her first CD “You’ll Find Your Way” at Brewery Pottery Studio in Mineral Point on Saturday, March 30, from 7-9 p.m.
High Street Beat recently chatted with Katie:
Tell us about the experience of recording your first cd.
I love Omaha’s indie rock music scene and I wanted a record that had that sound to it. I sent my songs to a studio in Omaha that produced a favorite band of mine – Bright Eyes – and asked if I could record with them. Producer Ben Brodin agreed to work with me. Getting to work with the producers that worked in that music scene and with Bright Eyes was a dream come true. The studio in Omaha has a lot of vintage music equipment. My vocals on the CD are all recorded with Neil Young’s microphone – a vintage Neumann M49. We used a Hammond B3 organ on my CD. They had to warm it up before we could use it. We also used vibraphones and an old Fender guitar with an echo machine that ran through the guitar to make it sound like it was far away. Now when I listen to music I’m able to better understand how the sounds are made. We didn’t use auto-tuning on my album – everything on it is natural. I’m really happy about the way it turned out. The entire CD was recorded in three days.
You have a funny story about your first meeting with producer Ben Brodin.
I got a cup of coffee at the drive-through before meeting Ben and I hit a yellow pole as I was picking up my coffee. I took the coffee and didn’t even look at my car. There I was in a white minivan with probably a yellow stripe across the side and I pulled up to the studio. Then Ben pulled up in a white minivan with the same coffee as me and I knew we’d be friends.
You have three young kids – when do you find time to write songs?
Lately I’ve been writing a few hours per week. Writing is never a chore.
What kind of musical training do you have?
I studied classical guitar in high school and college and I majored in English and Creative Writing – they work well together for songwriting. When you study poetry a big thing is show don’t tell. I write songs with that in mind, but it is easier because you can use your voice to show an emotion and you don’t have to rely on image as much.
Do you play any instruments besides guitar?
I play ukulele. I just got one for Christmas and I’ve been fingerpicking on it. It sounds kind of Irish so I wrote a couple of Irish songs on it. I’ve also taken a couple of piano lessons with my kids.
What music do you play around the house?
Lots of stuff for the kids. The kids love to dance, so anything from Bruce Springsteen to Michael Jackson to Peter, Paul and Mary to the 10,000 Maniacs.
I know you love Mineral Point. What makes it so special to you?
I love it for my kids. They can have a great life. I love the arts, music and local food. It’s good for me because in Chicago (where Katie lived before moving to Mineral Point) it’s hard to meet people that share your interests. I’ve met some great friends through music here. I feel like this town helps one another.
You seem like a pretty private person. Is it hard for you to put your songs out into the world?
It’s funny because the first time I sang in front of people was for my brother’s baptism when I was in 3rd grade. After I was finished I went and hid behind my mom. I can get up in front of people and I don’t ever feel nervous. I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
Your husband Joe is a successful cheesemaker. Have you ever written a song about cheese?
No, but that is a good idea.
Musically, what’s next?
I already have six new songs ready for the next CD. I’m hoping to make enough money off this CD to work on another one this fall.
Katie Burns’ CD release party will be 7-9 p.m. Saturday, March 30 at Brewery Pottery Studio, 276 Shake Rag St., in Mineral Point. She will be accompanied by cellist Eric Miller, who also performed on her CD. CDs will be available for purchase at Brewery Pottery for $15. You can also purchase them at Johnston Gallery, or online at katieburnsmusic.com and greensquare.net.
More upcoming dates for Katie Burns:
April 20: Fox Cities Book Festival in Appleton – Katie will be teaming up for another storylogue with writer Dean Bakopoulos.
May 4: Mineral Point Opera House – Katie will be accompanied by cello, piano and guitar. The Krauss Family will also perform.
– Contributed by Susan Webb