Tone Talk with Kate Angel

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Photo by Greg Testerman

Alt-rock singer-songwriter and music producer Kate Angel is quickly becoming a major driving force behind the new generation of rock blossoming out of the live music capital of the world; Austin, Texas. The talented young multi-instrumentalist wrote her first song at age 10 and has since released several single projects which embody both the soul of rock ‘n’ roll and a modern 21st-century alt-rock influence.

Her 2020 EP Wrong Era has landed her on Austin’s CW-TV show 512 Studios LIVE on more than one occasion, plus more than 60 live performances at ACL 3Ten, Unofficial SXSW, Houston Rodeo, Round Rock Chalk Walk, and the Georgetown Red Poppy Festival. She is set to release new music in 2021, which is being recorded at Austin’s Orb Recording Studios. Kate’s debut song “H20” released in April, quickly racked up more than 65K views on YouTube and established her as a new breed of alternative rock ‘n’ roll being produced from the LIVE music capital of the world.

Angel’s new single, “16 Drops Of Tea,” is set to release September 2, 2021, and premiered today on Guitar Girl Magazine. Listen HERE.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I like to write music in minor keys. I turn up the bass level to create a darker tone/element to the guitar. I’m then able to tell my stories through the darker tones. It makes my songs an edgy mystery to some and angelic to others.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
My very first guitar was my Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic/electric. I love its orange with red sunburst color, and the tone is pretty and bright. My acoustic Luna is the foundation for my writing and original ideas. I transfer the heavier moments to my silver sparkly electric Gretsch guitar. Gretsch is my go-to brand because the recording quality is flawless when it comes to getting a clean sound on clear and dirty patches. I also just love the aesthetic of the silver sparkles. In fact, Joey and Josh, the guitarist and vocalist from Bad Flower have the exact same model. Both are musician role models to me. My favorite amp I use is a Katana Boss Amp. I like the distortion levels I can get when I’m in my creative mode. The delay effect is used for my angelic moments, which aren’t as heavy-hitting. It gives dynamics and incredible variation.

What about strings?
Spaghetti strings are my personal favorite because they’re easier to bend and control during manic moments of my songs.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I’ve enjoyed learning a lot from Matt Noveskey, bassist for Blue October, and co-owner of Orb Record Studios in my hometown of Austin. I also produce and record rough cuts and demos in my own music room using an app called Logic. Looping the guitar while recording a section is a method I find that works for me. It’s easier to stack octaves and prepare a selection of tracks to choose from to get the best product possible within the final mix. I’d like to give a shout-out to Omar Vallejo, the owner and director of 512 Studios in Austin, Texas. 512 Studios has been such a great experience for live studio recordings. I enjoy hearing the reverb on my voice, as well as the ambiance while recording. It gives me a better vision of what the song is going to sound like once the live cut is finished.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
The position of monitors plays a vital role in live music concerts. Setting up the speakers and connecting them to the mixer is extremely important. It gives off good sound quality. I know that my Shure SM58 mic is my good luck charm for every live show that I’ve done.  

What does your practice consist of?
I get together with my backing band twice a week. I write the music and produce a rough demo to share with my bandmates. Every once in a while, we’ll collaborate, or if they have an idea, I like to listen and be open to trying an instrumental bridge or a minor chord for a verse. I’m very metaphorical when it comes to lyrics. I want to phrase my words backwards, as if they were interpreted in the opposite of what the song is actually about. It allows the listener to have a more broad interpretation or personal connection. Practicing stage presence is also very important to me and my band. We want to feed off of each other while performing and get the crowd involved as much as possible.  

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
Guitar riff that inspired me: 5th grade was when I started taking guitar lessons. I then became real serious about writing music. Lzzy Hale from the band Halestorm is an incredible frontwoman. I get my inspiration from the guitar riffs that Lzzy and her brother come up with. My guitarist Levi and I like to create harmonic solos and riffs. There’s times when I like to sing or belt on a harmonic riff with the guitar. It creates an idea for the listener that the voice and guitar are playing off of each other within theory.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
My advice for young women who want to work in the industry is to be bold and confident, yet humble. Don’t let anyone take away your creativity or who you are. Listen to your mentors and work hard. Connect with your fans and spread a positive message. You might save someone’s life by that one lyric or vocal cry. You never know who will be there watching in the audience. Let them know that you are here to make a difference. You are the New Generation of Rock. These wings are made to take flight, and I love you.

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