At just 19 years old, guitarist and singer-songwriter Kate Cosentino has already carved out her musical path to success. Cosentino’s passion for music began at a very young age. In first grade, she began guitar and vocal lessons, and went on to write her first song in third grade. Music has been a big part of Consentino’s life ever since. She won the UK Songwriting Contest in the Under 18 category in 2014 for her heartfelt ballad, “Just Remember” at the age of 15, and was hired as a songwriter for American Girl. We interviewed Kate Consentino about her singing and songwriting career to learn more about what is up next for this rising music maven.
Artist Name: Kate Cosentino
Currently based in: Nashville, TN
Originally from: Kansas City, MO
Puns. I can whip out a pun like nobody’s business. Whether it’s good or bad is for you to decide but, it’s always a *pun* time.
Biggest pet peeve:
Whenever I need to be glued to my cell phone.
Favorite 90s jam?
“How Bizarre” by OMC
What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of music?
I love movies, video games, dancing (especially Zumba, although I’m not bad enough to be funny, nor good enough to be impressive, so I just do it to have a good time), roller skating (thank you the internet for my new pair of vintage skates!) and anything crafty (for example, I make my own guitar straps).
If money wasn’t an issue, what would you love to splurge on (something totally impractical & just for you)?
I would love to make my ceiling look like the stars, so it would light up and everything. That’d be super cool.
What is a quote or piece of advice that you try to live by?
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton
Right now it is “The Glow” by Slyvan Esso.
If you could live anywhere else in the world right now, where would it be?
Rotorua, New Zealand, living off of that geothermal energy.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
My earliest musical memory is sitting in a car seat, crying my soul out to “Mandy” by Barry Manilow. I had no concept of what the song was about, but it just made me feel so sad, I could never get through the whole song without sobbing. As a little child, I always wanted to be a musician. Music and its powerful effect on people is something I wanted to learn how to do myself; to move others.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is like if jazz and indie/alternative had a baby who liked bizarre guitar techniques and witty words.
What are the main themes or topics in your songs?
I write all over the place, but I really like writing about socially relevant stories. Often a news story will hit me or I’ll notice something in society that doesn’t sit right with me or moves me somehow, and i’ll channel that.
As a whole, what is the message you hope to put forth with your music?
I want to move people. If my music moves people to tears, dance, change their perspective, etc., then I am fulfilled.
Who are some of your favorite artists/which artists are your greatest musical inspiration?
Oh, you’re asking me to pick my favorite children? Well, Bombay Bicycle Club is my all-time favorite band. Big inspiration there. Regina Spektor originally inspired me to write songs. She writes about such unique things and is so unapologetically her in her lyrics and sound. Lianne La Havas and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) are my guitar goddesses.
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with in the future?
This is such a hard question. Honestly, Jack Black would be a dream. Being around that kind of free-form scatting hilarity would be the best time.
How do you feel your music evolved since you first started as a group or solo artist?
I feel my music has gotten even more unapologetic and guitar-heavy. The cooler guitar riffs come from more lessons, practice and being a better player. The unapologetic side comes from me growing into myself more. My music has always been honest, but I feel like the more I grow confident in myself, the less I mask my feelings with poetry. Now, rather than writing vague lyrics, I’d rather show my feelings through words in a more straightforward way.
Do you play any instruments, and if so, which ones?
Mainly guitar! I’ve been playing since I was seven. I dabble in ukulele, mandolin, and piano (so not good) for fun. I imitate the heck out of a trumpet though.
Who writes your songs?
I do, and I co-write a lot of songs as well.
What do you do or where do you go when you need to find inspiration for your music?
I talk to or observe other people. I love hearing other people’s stories. Anything that evokes an emotion in me, I can turn into a song. Movies and books help with that as well.
Where do you see yourself 30 years from now?
All I know is I will be happy and I will be making music.
What is a project you’re currently working on that you are most excited about?
I am currently on a study abroad trip in Ireland and Scotland, writing new songs. I am excited to get some of my new songs recorded, along with writing more songs. My next creation may come out in YouTube video form or perhaps a new album, but for now I am in the “create the art” stage.
What has been one of your favorite performances of all time?
I performed a song I was hired to write for an American Girl Doll, Tenney Grant. The song was called “Music In Me“, and I sang it for a room of about 50 girls and their mothers at a premiere event at the iconic Bluebird Cafe in New York City. Later, some of those girls sang my song back to me. Talking to and singing for those girls, and the thought that it might have inspired some of them to pursue music — or at least to believe in their own dreams — was a very touching moment for me. I felt like two seconds ago, I was that little girl.
What stands out as one of your worst/most horrifying performances of all time?
I have definitely blocked those out mentally. The only thing that comes to mind is one time when I accidentally burped while performing a song. Oops!
What is one thing that you have accomplished as a musician that you’re most proud of?
I wrote a song called “Dirt On It” about a transgender boy who takes his life because of his abusive father. When I’ve performed that song live, there have been a few times when people in the audience have come up to thank me for telling their story or the story of someone they love. The best reaction was from one of my friends, who told me that her brother and father had held opposing views on LGBTQ-related issues, but hearing my song had led them to have a great discussion about it, and ultimately, changed their perspective. Moments like that one are “making it” to me.
Share a story of a time you screwed up in your musical career and how you recovered:
I can’t think of a specific time when I messed up, because it happens quite a bit, but when in doubt, I always go for humor. Joking about myself when I screw up is a fun way to connect with the audience. It turns the dynamic into a conversation rather than a performance.
What do you see as one of the greatest challenges facing your industry today?
Music streaming rates (the amount that an artist makes every time someone plays their song on a platform like Spotify) seems like the obvious answer. Also, I feel like social media is both helpful and a challenge. Your social media has a lot to do with how successful your music is.
Are there any resources you have discovered that have been an asset to you as a musician that you’d like to share?
Facebook groups are great! I have met so many wonderful collaborators that way.
Were there any other band/performer names that you almost chose instead? And if so, please share!
I considered changing my name. I like my super-Italian last name, but sometimes I think about going by Kate Coz instead, because it’s sassy and less likely to be misspelled.
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be doing?
Something artistic. I would probably focus on my guitar strap company or maybe I’d get into voice acting, film or fashion.
This interview with Kate Cosantino is part of the Steereo Featured Artist Series. Steereo promotes new music from up-and-coming artists in rideshare vehicles, reaching new listeners and fans as they travel. For more on Steereo, visit mysteereo.com.
Featured Photo: Payton Holland