New to the music scene with her debut album Heroine is New York City-based artist Kate Grom. Growing up on her parent’s farm in Frenchtown, NJ, she was inspired by its beauty and the nature of the American countryside and this can be felt in her music. She fell in love with music at the young age of seven and began her journey on the piano. As a teenager, she found a treasure trove of classic rock records in the attic of her home which kept her occupied and she had an uncle with eccentric lifestyle who had attended Woodstock who knew all about ‘60s and ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll. She ultimately learned guitar later in college while attending Belmont University in Nashville where she soaked up the sounds of Music City.
After college, Grom returned to New York City to pursue her dreams. “That was a challenging time,” says Grom, recalling her getaway. “I felt worn down. I thought, maybe, spending time alone and away with the guitar would help me fall in love with music, and it did. That was the moment where I decided to define music in m y life as my own career focus.” She traveled to France on her own, rented an acoustic guitar, and fell in love with music again.
Heroine was produced by Stewart Lerman who has worked with famed musicians Willie Nelson, Sharon Van Etten, Elvis Costello, Neko Case, and Patti Smith to name a few. They also pulled together a world-class list of musicians for the album who have worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, My Morning Jacket, Brandi Carlile, Lana Del Ray, and the Eagles. The album has nine emotional, soulful songs that are beautifully arranged, wonderful instrumentation all the way down to the steel pedal guitar; and I believe this debut album will be a hit for Kate Grom.
Heroine, your debut album, congratulations! There’s a unique story behind the name of the album. Can you share with us that story?
Thanks very much. Heroine was inspired by a quote by author, Nora Ephron: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” This song was written after a transformative time in my life as an artist, where I left New York city and headed to France with my guitar. While there, Heroine was completed. Heroine reflects my journey toward independence, which I think is very relatable. Heroine is meant to be an inspiration and anthem to all who have experienced, or who are now experiencing changes in life.
How long did you stay in France and how did that experience shape the music on this new album?
I was in France for three weeks or so. The French “Joie de vivre” was like a wellspring of creativity, fueling the flames of inspiration.
I read in your bio that this trip helped you decide that music was your “only career focus.” What was that defining moment?
I was enjoying a quiet morning in the garden where I was staying. And I hadn’t felt so at peace in years. It felt like finally the world stood still, and I was able to write endlessly, without struggling to put imagination on paper. I knew I needed to capture that moment… that fulfilling feeling, in my mind. And really dedicate myself to its continuation.
Stewart Lerman is the producer on Heroine which was a great choice. The album sounds wonderful. I love the song choices, the flow of the music, the sound, it’s excellent. How did you make the decision to work with Stewart and how was the entire process?
Stewart and I met after I was searching for the right studio and Producer to make a record within the NYC area. I emailed my demos and story, thinking it was a shot in the dark after seeing the many great artists he had worked with – many of which I really look up to and grew up listening to. I had people tell me, you probably won’t hear back, don’t get your hopes too high… that type of thing. A week after emailing Stewart, I was on a roof at a BBQ when Stewart called me and told me he was ready to make my record. “Let’s make a record!” – those are words you don’t ever forget. The entire process was incredible. Stewart never imposed on what I imagined during the process or put aside my vision. He has a very laid back way about him, which makes you feel calm and freed up to go wherever you are led while creating. No reservations. This was extremely influential as an artist making her first record.
Did you play guitar on the album?
I played rhythm guitar on a few tracks. Steuart Smith (The Eagles, Roseanne Cash, Rodney Crowell) really swept us all away on guitar(s) when he arrived to the studio for the first time.
Did you start out playing guitar and do you play any other instruments?
My first and main instrument was piano. I started playing when I was 7. Then I picked up guitar in college. I tend to perform on guitar more, although I write on both piano and guitar. My mom’s friend gave me a hammered dulcimer a few years ago, and I’m looking forward to playing around with that next.
How did you get interested in music from the beginning and who were some of your early musical influences?
Music has always been a part of me. I’ve related to songs, and have gotten lost in the storytelling, for as long as I can remember. At some point in high school, I had this feeling that it was necessary to pursue songwriting, because of the impact music was having on me. I wanted to create a connection with people and their experiences, through music. Early influences include Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Simon and Garfunkel, and many more.
Attending college at Belmont University in Nashville, I assume you spent many nights in Music City soaking up the abundance of country music?
Oh yes. I was out seeing shows or supporting friends and their bands for majority of those college nights. We’d play a Nashville route and follow the music.
What are your tour plans for the album?
I’m thrilled to be heading on tour this month with Heather Nova (& Mishka) for the following dates:
The Stolz Listening room
New York, NY
The Ardmore Music Hall
What’s your background with horses…I see you’re riding a horse in your video and your family has a farm. Are you involved in horseback riding and other activities?
I grew up on my family’s horse farm. The horses were and continue to be an important part of my life. I pursued goals as a competitive equestrian for most of my life and saddle time is something I still enjoy. It was really special to film my recent/debut music video for “Whistle Cry” at the farm, because much of the song was written there several years ago. I’m out at the farm almost every weekend- to be with the horses and to find creative inspiration out in nature. Most recently it’s been foaling season. This year I helped deliver and care for newborn foals, which is something I love.
Good luck with the album and we hope to catch your show when you come through Atlanta!
Thank you so much – I look forward to seeing you then!
Heroine Track listing:
Lose My Mind
Under The Gun
Only Way Out