Kat Vinter

If you’ve followed SoundChips for a while you’ll know that our appreciation for Kat Vinter runs deep. We’ve covered “Sooner or Later,” waxed poetic about “Downtime,” and were wowed by the visual presence of the video for “Sooner or Later.” In fact, she may have been the first artist to get the three writer treatment from SoundChips. We were lucky enough to catch some time with her during a very busy creative period, including the creation of her video for “Downtime,” which you can see below.

We usually like to ask what your origin story is, but it seems like you have quite the tale to tell. So first, Australia to traveling through Europe, was there an intentional focus on creating music?

Music somehow has always been my motivation for getting on a plane. In 2010 I left Australia bound for New York; my band at the time had just come back from playing shows in London, LA, and SXSW, and I was really craving for the overseas journey to continue. After talking the band into relocating to NY, we played around and wrote new material for a couple of years. Another important development occurred as well though, which is that I began to write songs with other writers/producers. I believe this was the period when I started to see my future as being based in songwriting as well as being an artist in my own right. After 2 years, I returned to Australia only to book six weeks of intensive songwriting through Europe with the help of a few publishers. In the manner that I’m very familiar with by now, I got a good vibe for a new city (Berlin) and then decided to stay there. At the time I was really looking for new inspiration and a change of scenery. Berlin just sucked me in, and I’ve been there ever since. So I suppose the music does always inevitably have an international focus because I seem to be more inspired and focused on music when I’m “somewhere else.”

The German producer and Norwegian poet, what’s the back story there? Are you still working with or influenced by this pair?

I work with Laila Samuels (Norweigan) and Hannes Büscher (German) frequently in regards to my own artist projects. After literally co-writing and collaborating with writers and producers all over the world, I found this kind of magical creative connection in this particular constellation. I’m writing a lot of music outside of my project as well with other writers and for other artists, though for my own project I stick to these guys. We are like family now, and the music that comes out when we get together is something I’m always really excited about and proud of.

It seems like you’ve seen and experienced a lot, not just from the world of music but globe as well. So how has going out and doing and experiencing in the world influenced you?

For me, there is nothing more real and affecting than the experience of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, going places where you have to begin again, meeting people you’ve never met before, and being creative with them. It can be hard to keep having things to write about; you have to LIVE and experience things in order to have something meaningful to convey through music, and for me, moving around and seeing the world is the essence of really living. It prevents you from falling into routines, forgetting what you did two days ago, and being bored and unsatisfied. It has many risks and challenges, though what you get back is a whole lot of encounters, emotions, reactions, and perceptions to translate into songs.

And are there any particular musical influences that you came across that you culled from to lead to what you’re currently creating?

I guess the greatest musical influences that have crept in to the project are the particular musical preferences or backgrounds we have as individual musicians. Hannes for example has a background in hip hop, and to me his beats are carefully crafted to groove to the max. He shies away from constant 4 to the floor and experiments a lot with percussive sounds and surprising patterns. Laila is Norweigan, so we definitely have a flavor of Scandinavia thrown in there, especially in regards to special vocal arrangements and melodies, and I have brought a very personal touch to the songwriting. All the songs are about my experiences, perceptions, desires… I always preferred music that spoke to me on a personal and relatable level. The sound really took two years to evolve and come together, so now I feel like we’ve been able to create a “Kat Vinter” sound that’s contemporary, emotional, and always with a killer beat.

It looks like you’re based in Berlin now. How has the adjustment from Australia to Berlin impacted your sound?

The sound is a lot colder, mature, more mysterious, moody, and emotional. My music in Australia was lighter, danceable…more fun. For me, there is a couple of obvious correlations. I was younger, more naïve, and excitable when I made music in Australia (plus the sun is shining), and now I’ve lived a little; I’ve been high and low, put myself through some huge changes and lonely times. I’m older, I have more to say, and I’m not afraid anymore of writing about real emotions. Plus it is just damn cold in Berlin in the winter. It does affect your mood – it seeps into your soul. Quite a few songs were actually written in a tiny snow covered cabin on the border of Sweden and Norway. So some winter vibes are definitely creeping in there.

“Downtime” and “Sooner or Later” both have a well of depth throughout. What’s the process like to reach such precision?

We didn’t rush anything. We let ourselves work on a song for longer than a day, which is not uncommon when you are a songwriter working at song camps or with other artists. We didn’t let anything out until we were 100% happy with the results. We produced songs and then let them breathe for months and then produced them again or rewrote melodies and/or lyrics several times. We didn’t treat this material like a factory processed commodity. We wanted to make artful pop music that could be felt.

The video for “Sooner or Later” is simply stunning. How do you feel the video conveys what you were looking to achieve with the single?

I think the video is a perfect abstract portrayal of the emotional intention behind the song. It’s not like a narrative with a beginning and an end. It’s a continual process of being created and destroyed, building up and breaking down, evolving, and searching for an answer that is almost visible but never attainable.

Tell us a bit more about the new video for “Downtime”…

I teamed up with a creative collective called Elektropastete to make something visual for ‘Downtime.’ ‘Downtime’ has a much more intimate feel than ‘Sooner or Later,’ which deserved more space and grandiose visions. With ‘Downtime’ we tried to create this more intimate environment using light and some other exciting post-production techniques. There is more focus on me as a performer in this video; for example, there is more expressive movement, and the camera stays quite close to me.

Your debut EP Islands is out April 24th globally and April 28th in North America. Is this working towards a full-length soon, or are you going to keep refining before rushing into something more extensive?

While I’ve been careful not to rush, I definitely have enough material to follow up with some more music. Lets just say it won’t be too long before some fresh material drops.

Do you expect Berlin to be a more permanent base, or are you open to once again experiencing the world and seeing if it heads you in yet another direction?

I love Berlin for so many reasons, and I can see myself always considering it a place I can feel at home, though I’m still making frequent trips to anywhere it makes sense to visit for a few days, like London, Stockholm, Reykjavik (where I’m writing you from right now), and I’m open to spending some time back in the US at some point since my music is also being released in North America. I’m never certain I’ll stay anywhere permanently, in fact I’m not sure I’m capable of it.

Islands is out April 24th around most parts of the globe via AdP Records and will be available in North America on April 28th through Culvert Music. In the meantime, brush up on your Kat Vinter and enjoy the video for “Downtime.”