After a steady set of single releases, music videos, and buzzing NY & London shows, Katherine Penfold finally debuts her much anticipated album SWEETEST THING. Following the international buzz on her latest singles Better, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Far Away, and Unapologetic music video, this 10-track release is the perfect soulful, intimate jazz album to kick off the autumn.
Soul resides just beneath the exterior. Upon meeting Katherine Penfold, you might initially notice the prominent tattoos along her shoulder and arms before the conversation veers to her lifelong affinity for motorcycles, skateboarding, or woodworking – let alone music. Listening to her sound elicits a different impression altogether – as a sultry, smooth, and sweet delivery belies the rustic badassery she exudes with ease. This gorgeous contrast illuminates the artist’s 2019 full-length debut, SWEETEST THING, which was released on October 4th.
With a story to every song and a really powerful vibe, SWEETEST THING is the musical juxtaposition that is Katherine Penfold. Although her tattooed, 6 ft, tomboyish exterior seems harsh to the naked eye, Penfold’s quirky Nova Scotia and Brandon University classically-trained upbringing creates a soft and clear musical voice that is all about love and joy. With this unique persona, Penfold went on to win the GROOVEFM singer/songwriter competition, perform alongside the likes of Hugh Laurie, Jeff Lorber, Brad Turner and Jodi Proznick, and even sell out headline shows. Her fascination for construction and architecture drove her to build her own studio – one of the many things she loves creating from scratch with her hands. While co-producing this album with David Sikula, Penfold channels these experiences and her spirited style to a soul, funk, and R&B 10-track wonder.
She taps into this vibe on the first single, her cover of Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Over dreamy keys and slick percussion, she breathes new life into the classic staple, sliding into the pocket with seductive bliss. She co-wrote “Better” alongside GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Chin Injeti [Drake, Eminem]. Its slinky groove seesaws from jazzy verses into a resounding chorus as she croons, “You make me feel better,” in a call-and-response over a bass warble. “I struggle with depression and anxiety,” she admits. “The song is for my partner. He finds a way of making me feel better during those times. It’s dedicated to the person who helps you up.”
UPCOMING KATHERINE PENFOLD SHOW DATES 2019:
01-Nov 19 Calgary BuckingJam Palace – W/Jodi Proznick Quartet
02-Nov-19 Edmonton Yardbird Suite – W/Jodi Proznick
14-Nov-19 Vancouver Festival of Lights
06-Dec-19 Vancouver CBC Studio 700
13-Dec-19 Vancouver Christ Church Cathedral
14-Dec-19 Vancouver Christ Church Cathedral
CONNECT WITH KATHERINE PENFOLD ONLINE HERE:
Learn more about Katherine Penfold in the following All Access interview:
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you have scheduled the rest of today and this week?
My day is always changing but, right now, when I’m at home, my day starts with taking care of my dog, making a strong coffee (usually in the opposite order lol), and then some sort of journalling or organization to figure out my day and what’s coming up that week so I can start prepping. I work as many hours as I need on admin, video editing, setlists, rehearsing, whatever needs to get done. If I’m at home, when the to do list is done I get to have fun with the to do lists for outside the house – building out the last of my recording studio, upgrades on my home. In the evenings it’s usually a few more hours of admin work or hanging out with my hubby and my pup. This week is editing live music videos for release later this fall as well as prepping for my CD release show next Friday at Guilt & Company!
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already excited about for this fall and even looking towards 2020?
2019 has been crazy. It’s been a lot of traveling, loads of working on the album, load of self-work so I can work on the album better… I really can’t believe it’s fall already! I started the year knowing it would be hard to have too many goals other than wanting to make the best album I could. It’s something that has so many facets – writing, arranging, recording, mixing, mastering, packaging, press, social content, music videos – and all of those pieces have their own moving pieces. Nothing’s gone exactly to plan, but it’s all worked out better than I could have imagined. Definite goal achieved! Now that the music is out in the world I’m just starting to think about what could come next; what I can manifest. Stay tuned. 😀
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
I’ve always been drawn to music – even as a 5-year-old cutting out cardboard replicas of fiddles and bagpipes and dancing around the living room to my favourite Rankin Family cassettes. But I was going to stay with the family farm, be a builder, a carer of animals. When I was 14 and my school teacher asked me to sing a song in front of the school, everything changed. Music was a becoming a priority from that moment – gigging 2-4 times a week through my high school years, studying music in University whilst building a career in the neighbouring city – but I still hadn’t 100% chosen it. I have quit so many times… just to find I was writing another album in my basement. What I’m trying to say is it’s chosen me. If you ask me who would be a perfect candidate in this day and age of the music industry; the personality necessary, the gutsiness… I would tell you I’m not it. What’s necessary to be in this industry scares the shit out of me. But I can’t NOT do it. Somehow, some way… I’m meant to be doing music. So, here I am!
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
As a kid I always said I was going to be an actor. And a vet. And I was growing up on a farm, so I figured I’d own a ranch, train horses and be building houses and barns happily for the rest of my life. Most of those dreams have fallen to the wayside in lieu of music, as organic as that introduction was when I was 14, except for my love of building and creating with my hands. If I wasn’t doing music I’d still be running my video production company, as well as probably dabbling in construction even more seriously than I accidentally do on my time off. (Gotta stop making projects for myself haha). But I wouldn’t be fulfilled with anything other than what I’m doing now. I get to do music, as well as making all the videos I want for my own career, and then build stuff on my day off. I’m damned grateful.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
Definitely the biggest surprise has been meeting my label at a moment where I least expected it. After so many years of making big leaps to try to make it happen, it ended up being a completely random situation where I wasn’t thinking about it at all. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.
An unexpected and welcome challenge has been the self-development that’s come from signing. I’m extremely lucky to have a label that’s super supportive of me being me, but also pushes me out of my comfort zone. I never anticipated having this kind of relationship with a label (though I’d hoped for it), and though at moments I thought I might mentally implode, I’ve been able to come through the other side a better person for the experience. I’m terrified and equally excited for what we’re going to do together in the future!
What did it feel like recently releasing your debut album, “Sweetest Thing”? How did you celebrate the release of it?
I have a confession… we haven’t celebrated yet. 😀 Release day was a whirlwind, and the days following were equally so in my brain. So, I decided that I wanted to treat the first couple weeks like normal (though to see previously un-released tunes in people’s playlists was/is insanely cool) and in a few weeks when it’s all sunk in… then I’m having a party. Might just be me at the party, but I will be having some margaritas on a patio somewhere with a big grin on my face.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind the songs on this new collection? What was it like putting it together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
The tunes on this album are about my personal experiences: mental health, arguments, love, appreciation, and my pup. 🙂 This is how I usually write, so it felt really awesome and organic as the songlist started to grow. I think what surprised me the most is how simply I stepped into the producer “chair”. Things that I’d always decided would boggle my mind ended up feeling second nature, which proved to me that I can do so much more than I realize.
Typically, how do you go about writing your songs? Do you follow one process for them all?
I don’t know if you can call this a process, but 99% of the time songs come out of me all at once. I don’t know how or why, but if you put me in a car, train, bike any moving vehicle basically… songs start flowing out of me. The voice memo app is always close at hand. A melody will start, or a bass line, then lyrics. Then I’ll have to stop part way through the recording to do a horrible beat box of the drums I’m hearing, then the harmonies and choirs line-by-line. And if I don’t get it down in that moment it’ll be gone forever. I enjoy putting myself out of my comfort zone with co-writing and other environments, but otherwise that’s how it goes!
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have any fall tour dates scheduled yet?
Head over to my website for all the dates and times! www.katherinepenfold.com
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
I always think I could be improving, so I’m not the best person to answer this question lol. I think maybe I’ve grown quite a bit in the way I do the business side of things? Not many people see all that behind-the-scenes stuff, but it’s so much of the job. Through running my own production company over the last 10 years I think I’ve ended up with this geek-love for the business side of things. I want to be part of the team instead of being an artist the team has to take care of. No idea if I’m achieving that, but it’s a goal. 🙂
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I think that’s the case for everyone these days. So much of our success hinges on our integration with social media, but I personally know that my mental health is very negatively affected by social media as well. There are a lot of moments that I can’t think about logging in, but need to. At the same time, I’ve met such incredible people around the world; artists and producers who are now on my album, great friends, wonderful supporters. Who can’t love and be grateful for that aspect of it? It’s a tough one. And I hope more regulations can be built for the future.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Right now, some of my faves are Jordan Rakei, Snoh Aalegra, Marie Dahlstrom, Mahalia, BJ the Chicago Kid, Moonchild… it’s an ever-growing list. There are such incredible artists out there right now. As a teen, Lauryn Hill and Joss Stone were my biggest inspirations, and they still are. And who I’d love to work with in the future. ANY of the above!
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
Oh boy… you’re talking to a video producer, here, so asking this question can get incredibly dangerous ha! I would love to create a video for each song that then combines into an entire movie or documentary. I have so many ideas for each song, I won’t give any of the storylines away… but perhaps you’ll see them all some day!
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
I would love to be sitting in BBC Radio 1 doing an interview and hear them spin one of my tunes part way through. That would be an absolute dream come true.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope that someone out there can find support in my tunes. Either through having a similar story to mine, or hearing their own story. If even just one person can feel support from a song on “Sweetest Thing”, I’ve achieved my goal.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Well, if they’ve read this far, thank you! Really grateful for being able to share my process and story through this awesome platform. And to leave you, I’m a complete and utter Trekkie nerd, so… live long and prosper, peeps! X