Kate Voegele first immersed herself in the music industry aged 16. After playing music and finding her feet as an artist, she quickly signed a record deal, started making an album and began touring. While she was in LA touring, she decided to audition for a part in One Tree Hill, because quite simply, she thought “I may as well!” It was a good thing she did, because she got the part, and her career as an artist flourished. Acting allowed Kate to really learn more about herself as an artist – it also gave her the perfect opportunity to find a loyal fanbase, who have stuck by her music and career the whole way.
Now, Kate is working on lots of new things. Having always been a keen painter as well as musician and actress, she is living in Paris discovering different ways she can use her creativity to make herself even more of a multi-faceted artist.
We caught up with Kate and heard all about her current projects, what it was really like to star on One Tree Hill and how she manages being a musician, actress and painter all at the same time…
“I feel lucky because I know a lot of young women find it hard to find their real voice. For me, it has always been in there but it wasn’t until the last five years or so that I was really able to find ownership of my artistry, claim it and allow that to open me up to being more honest in my writing and being freer to express what I wanted to.” – Kate Voegele
Taylor Magazine: Tell us about you, and what you do!
Kate Voegele: I’m an American singer-songwriter, actress, artist – a bunch of different things! I primarily work out of LA, but right now I’m living in Paris. I’m currently working on some new music, writing songs here in France, putting together some art work for my next project and I spend my time writing music for myself and other artists, basically making all types of art. I’m a painter too, so I incorporate that into my work as well. I call myself a musician first and foremost, but I played a bunch of my music on One Tree Hill, so I do a bit of acting too!
Taylor Magazine: So, what brought you to Paris?
Kate Voegele: I always wanted to spend an extended period of time living somewhere other than the States. I think that’s probably because I love travelling and I’ve been brought up to see places – that was a big part of my life growing up. Naturally, I always dreamed of travelling overseas and when I first got the chance to come over to the UK and Europe in 2009 for my first tour, I just fell in love with the idea of different cultures and learning more about some of my roots. Being American, all of us are immigrants at some point! I have a Grandmother who was born in Manchester and a Grandmother who was born in Glasgow. I have family from England, France, Germany, Italy and Greece – pretty much all over the continent! It was a really cool thing for me and once I came over here, I realised I wanted to actually spend time living here. It’s something that is really important to my husband and I – travelling is probably our biggest passion together. He was with me for my first tour and we made a pact to ourselves we had to do this at some point.
We came to Paris because I studied the language growing up and my Mum lived in Luxembourg for a year when she was at University. She spoke a little bit of the language and taught me some – there is so much incredible literature, music and art in Paris and I wanted to see what it was all about! I’m a big believer in travelling and meeting new people.
Taylor Magazine: Paris is such a creative place, so it must be a great base to create all the different types of art that you’ve got going on at the moment!
Kate Voegele: Yeah – there is certainly no shortage of inspiration here! It’s really incredible. The people are awesome and there are certain things you see in the city that are definitely clichés but there are so many clichés here that are also definitely not true – the people for one are very welcoming and so sweet. It’s such a cool and diverse culture – there is so much depth and I’ve found so much inspiration for my work here.
Taylor Magazine: Going back to your music and acting a little bit, what was it like breaking into music while you were acting at the same time?
Kate Voegele: It was a really cool mix of different creative challenges. For the majority of my high school years, when I was still living in Ohio and before I had signed a record deal, the only thing I was totally focused on was signing a record deal, playing music and performing shows. So, I actually never really thought about acting as something to actively pursue – I just took it one step at a time! When I signed my record deal, was in the process of making my album and touring, I was doing that for around a year before I ever went to the auditions for One Tree Hill. I was doing a lot of the grass roots marketing that you do as a musician on an indie label – I was touring around in my parents’ van with a couple of friends and was really doing it DIY style, but with my label who were an awesome support system.
Then, this audition came around and I ended up getting the part. I learnt everything there was to know about being a real actor in a TV show, while I was filming, which was crazy! With music, I spent hours practicing and singing in my bedroom, so when it came to playing a real show, I was nervous of course, but I knew what I was doing. With acting I had to learn on the spot. It was such a good creative challenge for me because I love story-telling. That really is what acting, song-writing and performing on stage is all about – it’s all story-telling. It was such an interesting process doing both at the same time, and I’m the type of person that if I feel stuck in one type of creative area, engaging in another creative arena really helps me improve.
Taylor Magazine: It sounds like there were a lot of challenges, but ultimately these helped you in the end to become a well-rounded artist. What is your favourite thing about the music industry, in particular?
Kate Voegele: Man, there are so many things! My favourite thing is that it’s ever-evolving and there are never any wrong answers. I was always someone who hated maths, because there was only one right answer. To me, that’s boring, but also because I’m bad at maths! What I love about writing, and even history, is there are so many different ways you can interpret things. The music world works in exactly the same way – not everyone likes the same type of music, but everyone likes some type of music. I love that its universal but so subjective at the same time – and so personal. I also really love how popular music has changed since I first started. The best thing about being in this industry is that anything goes.
“Not everyone likes the same type of music, but everyone likes some type of music. I love that its universal but so subjective at the same time – and so personal.” – Kate Voegele
Taylor Magazine: What has been your career highlight so far?
Kate Voegele: That’s such a good question! I never think of it as one moment in particular, because it would be hard to nail that down for me. In an abstract sense, the highlight has been the evolving mesh of taking ownership of my art, especially as a young female. I was only 18 when I signed a record deal, but I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing people in the industry. I feel lucky because I know a lot of young women find it hard to find their real voice. For me, it has always been in there but it wasn’t until the last five years or so that I was really able to find ownership of my artistry, claim it and allow that to open me up to being more honest in my writing and being freer to express what I wanted to.
That’s definitely my highlight because it is something that, looking back, I can clearly see the building blocks of how I got to this place. I also think looking back at your achievements and journey is especially important for young females, to empower them to own their craft and own their art. Even if you are young and you have a lot of people throwing their opinions at you, it’s much like being a small business owner but you don’t know that until you’ve been in it for a long time. It’s really powerful to all of a sudden realise: ‘Oh – this is my thing’.
Taylor Magazine: This must have built your confidence up as well?
Kate Voegele: Oh yeah – it’s incredible. It’s definitely one of the coolest parts of the job – you write music often as a therapeutic thing to figure out what is going on in your life, but it’s also something that people think back to at your shows and they’re going through the same thing. I’ll never be over that part of it!
Taylor Magazine: Talk to us a bit about One Tree Hill – how did you find this, and how do you think it helped your career in music, in a wider sense?
Kate Voegele: It was such an amazing experience. It was a happy accident almost, I nearly didn’t even go to the audition. I was on tour, I was in LA, and just thought I may as well. I had heard of the show, but had never seen it. I spent so much time in high school just writing music in my room and playing shows. I was so unaware of what was going on in TV, but I had heard lots of my friends go on about this show! When I got the part I was on tour and I went into my bunk in my tour bus and started bingeing the first couple of seasons because I realised that I should really know what is going on! Of course, I ended up loving it and watched like 15 episodes in a row! It got me so excited to be a part of it and from a creative point of view, it really helped me with my stage presence and being an artist in general. You’re in front of the camera all of the time, and you have to learn to get comfortable in yourself.
I’m quite an introverted as an artist and was never the first person to raise my hand and volunteer, so it was a completely new thing for me. The biggest thing the show introduced me to, apart from finding life-long friends, was the perfect audience for my music. Fans of this show are the most wonderful, loyal people who really get me and get my music. That’s one of those things you can’t know until you put your art in front of an audience. Sometimes it translates, sometimes it doesn’t. It just so happened for me that these fans were exactly the type of people that I wanted to write music for – I just didn’t know they were out there yet. Now, I get to have a conversation with these fans, and I know them through the show. The fact that the show has been over for however many years, and there is still such a loyal fan base who continue to follow me on my journey, is just so wonderful.
Taylor Magazine: It must be great knowing you have such loyal fans who stick by you! Talk to us about your art as well…
Kate Voegele: As a kid, my two favourite things to do were painting and music and when I went to university for a short time, I majored in art. My family and I have always joked that if music didn’t work out, I’d become a painter. But, they’re both really fluctuating careers – it’s not like saying you’ll be a lawyer if something doesn’t work out! I’ve always wanted to paint and draw but had to leave university fairly quickly to sign my record deal and I missed drawing and creating art. So, at the back of my tour bus, I created a little painting area because it really helped me move past creative blocks.
I’d pick up a paint brush and interpret the music I was writing, and the way I was feeling. It’s always been a big part of my ethos and I actually designed a pair of sunglasses with Oakleys in conjunction with the release of my third album, which was so exciting! I had a cool art gallery show in the store in Covent Garden in London to showcase my work and it was the first time I was able to show my fans, this is how I write my music – it’s a 360 thing in how I create my work. Since then, it’s taken off and I’ve started channelling my designs with a company I’m in the midst of launching called ‘Be The Dreamers’ – it’s a blog and a little design company. It’s still something that’s evolving but there are a few things for sale, and it’s a cool little project for me!
More recently too, I’ve been working on an art series where I take some of my songs and interpret them through painting. It’s so cool because it’s how I’ve written music all along, but I had never found a way to bring my fans into that, until now. There are lots of new projects that I want to continue to grow at the moment! I want my fans to interact with my songs more, and these are ways to do that.
Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Kate Voegele: I think the most important advice would be to keep pushing even when things don’t work out the way you expect them to on the first try. I’ve really had to learn (and am continuing to learn) how to prototype and try different things, and to adjust and keep going with a different approach when things don’t come together right the first time. When I was young I definitely had the tendency to be a perfectionist and wanted everything to unfold in a certain way, and if it didn’t, I would be so afraid of failure that I would consider giving up. But I’ve learned that failing is actually not the opposite of succeeding, it’s a huge part of succeeding. I really believe that the best opportunities only present themselves after we’ve already tried a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work.
“Failing is actually not the opposite of succeeding, it’s a huge part of succeeding. I really believe that the best opportunities only present themselves after we’ve already tried a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work.” – Kate Voegele
Taylor Magazine: We’re all about self-care and being the best version of yourself – what do you do to relax when things get a bit stressful?
Kate Voegele: Self-care is something I’m trying really hard to take more time for, because I agree that it’s so important! It can be easy in our culture to reward people or admire people who go 24/7 and never sleep and constantly pack their schedules, and while working hard is awesome, it’s so necessary to take care of yourself and take time for you, so you don’t burn out. Traveling is such a big part of my life, so taking a weekend trip even if it’s just an hour or so away really helps to clear my head. On the other hand, sometimes there’s nothing better than having a glass of wine at home, a long bath, and reading a book or some favourite blogs. I’m also becoming kind of a face mask junkie, and sometimes just carving out 10 minutes to do a sheet mask makes all the difference in the world!
Taylor Magazine: Lastly, what should we expect from you in the near future?
Kate Voegele: I’m currently working on new music every day, and I’m definitely planning to release some of it very soon. I already have some of my next singles ready to go and can’t wait to share more soon. Here’s a link to all of my current releases on Spotify, and I also made a few playlists of music I’m loving on the road right now.
I also just partnered with Fender, which I’m incredibly excited about. My first guitar was a Fender, so it was where I learned all my first chords and how to write songs. It’s perfect because we’re working together to introduce their new Fender Play app, which is a really cool way to learn how to play guitar, whether you’re a total beginner, already advanced or somewhere in between. It’s a digital learning app so I can learn new things on the go and on my phone (a huge plus for a touring musician like me!). Friends and fans are always asking my advice about how to learn to play, so if you’ve always wanted to try you can check it out here!
Lastly, you can follow along with my blog and shop We The Dreamers as we revamp and get ready to officially launch.