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Q&A: Singer-Songwriter from Millbrae

Patch sits down with Katie Garibaldi to talk about her new single, Mariah Carey, Hank Williams, Lake Tahoe and the pros and cons of iTunes.

Singer-songwriter Katie Garibaldi of South San Francisco will be playing this Saturday at the Farmers Market at Orange Memorial Park.

Garibaldi has self-released three albums since 2004 that range from acoustic pop to folk and country. Garibaldi's music and upcoming concert dates this fall are available on her website.

How long have you been making music, and how would you describe your sound? 

I started playing the guitar when I was about 11 years old, but before that, I was always humming and making up melodies in my head. When I finally got my hands on a guitar, it was just meant to be. The chords came easy to me and within a day of my first lesson I was writing songs on the guitar.  It's my musical soulmate, so to speak.

How long have you lived in South San Francisco?

I just recently moved to South City this summer. I'm originally from Millbrae and have always been a Bay Area-based girl. I'm very supportive of this town because my dad and uncle own Sunshine Center Pharmacy here on Old Mission Road. You can actually find my CDs there!  South City is really a great community.

Where are your most regular places to perform, and what's your favorite place to perform?

I most regularly perform in the Bay Area, from the South Bay to San Francisco, and the North Bay. I also tour a lot, most regularly down to the Central Coast and Southern California. I absolutely love playing on the Central Coast, including San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area.

I've been to other states touring with my music as well. I really love playing in Nashville because the city just breathes music, and people there actually go out to the shows and support the live music scene, on all scales, whether it's a bar band, a songwriter-in-the-round night at a cafe, or a big event.

I'd have to say one of my favorite places to play is San Francisco. I wish more people would come out to support live music and enrich the indie music scene in SF. It's such a great city and there are so many talented artists just looking for a place to play, or people to come to their shows to support their art and take them to the next level of their career.

Who are you influences?
 
As a young kid, I grew up listening to rock and roll classics, including the Beatles, Huey Lewis, and Michael Jackson. I think that's where my heavy inclination of syncopation came from in my more upbeat songs, and they also influenced my sense of melody. Before I even picked up the guitar, I knew that I wanted to be a singer just because of Mariah Carey.

Then when I started playing guitar, Jewel had just taken the world by storm with her debut album.  The timing was impeccable.  I wasn't only heavily influenced by Jewel's music, but I was also able to see a young female artist, an original singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, be successful in exposing her music on a large scale and demand respect from other artists in the music industry.
Her story sparked something in me, a sort of confidence and permission to be honest in my songwriting.  It also proved to me that you don't have to sell yourself out and write a pop hit to get your music heard.  You can work hard and write music that you want to write, and you can succeed. 

When I first toured in Nashville I was deeply affected by the country music greats like Eddie Arnold, Tammy Wynette, and Hank Williams.

Which of your albums would you recommend for someone just getting into your music?

I would recommend someone just getting into my music to start with my latest album, Next Ride Out. It's a great example of my sound right now as an artist, as my sound evolves with time naturally. My next album may dip a bit more into the Americana/Country zone since my latest songs reflect my Nashville influences.

Has the change in the music industry toward single-track purchases and the iTunes marketplace affected your music career in any way?

The fact that we used to buy real CDs (in CD stores!) and now can access and own music by the click of a button on a computer or phone has absolutely changed the music industry. Single-track purchases has its pros and cons, but as an indie artist and owner of my own label, I have to be willing to roll with technological advances and the media people use to obtain music, and learn to use these changes as positive advantages. Selling one track on iTunes verses a whole album at a show definitely influences sales, but at the same time it's great to be able to have the freedom to release a new single or EP and not have to wait until the next album is ready to be released.

I recently recorded a Hank Williams song, "Baby We're Really In Love," and my distribution company, IDC (Independent Distribution Collective) released it as a single on iTunes.  I wanted this song to be separate from my album, as something special for my listeners.

Are you working on an album right now?

I am planning to release my next single before the end of the year--an original song that I recorded in Nashville. And currently, I'm getting my songs together to start my next album, which I plan to begin recording very soon, and release some time early next year. I'm really excited to get back in the studio and share my latest music with people!

How do you think being in South San Francisco, Millbrae or the Bay Area has affected your music?

I think a lot of songwriters assume that to be successful you have to live in Los Angeles. I don't think that's true, especially if you're working as an indie artist.  If you put yourself in an area where there are tons of artists just trying to make a radio hit and trying to make music that sounds like a lot of other people's music, you're going to end up making music that sounds similar to theirs. Having a unique point of view, such as living in a creatively thriving location like the San Francisco Bay Area has helped me stay rooted in my perspective as a writer.

Also, I've visited Lake Tahoe regularly since I was a young kid.  Being in Tahoe in the mountains and by the lake always gives me a breath of fresh inspiration for writing and usually encourages my country music-inclined perspective.

What non-music-related things do you like to do in your free time?

When I'm not working, I really like anything to do with graphic design. I'm a newlywed so a lot of the past year was mostly spent concentrating on planning the wedding!  Now I'll have a little more free time, although my time will mostly be spent getting my next album started.  I also enjoy reading, doing yoga and watching baseball. Go Giants!

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