Kat McGivern

When we ask an artist the question, “what else would you be doing if it weren’t for music?” we often get answers like “nothing – music is all I know.” The artist knows what it wants to do with his/her life, to be sure. But Boston native Kat McGivern let us know that music is her purpose, without the aforementioned question. She says, “I’m not sure if I am onto something now, but music is a compulsion. Everything I do ends up being a song. I write a couple of songs a week and I can’t imagine not doing it.” Kat takes her devotion a step further – she isn’t involved in music because that’s all she’s good at – she’s in it because she has no choice. She needs to do it. It’s wired from her brain to vocal chords to her fingertips.

McGivern has a new EP out titled “Kamikaze Heart”, the follow-up to “Armor” and “Alice Lost”. We asked the New Englander to get into it: “’Kamikaze Heart’ is about my life. Being young I have chosen to love with reckless abandon, and to live my life with no regrets and it’s given me a lot of material to work with. Anthony Resta of Bopnique Musique produced the album and we were able to carve out a very cool unique sonic landscape to tell those stories.” Check out the record – it’s pure listening. And look into Kat’s jewelry line “Labeled” as well as the next release, “Kandy Pop”. Before all of this though, keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Kat McGivern

PEV: How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?


Kat McGivern (KM): I started out as a singer songwriter and I feel like I still am. I just use synths, drum machines and loud guitars. The mix of sounds in my music is definitely unique.

PEV: Calling Boston, Massachusetts home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

KM: When I was growing up I sang Celtic music and classical music in church. I started at five years old. In junior high school I began to get into rock music and play in coffee houses. I worshiped Bob Dylan and Ani Difranco and I still do. I am fascinated by the ways in which they can turn a phrase so that it sounds so familiar yet completely fresh.

PEV: You quit college to start your own musical career. What went through your head to make that decision?

KM: I think I had to stop using my head to make that decision. I was miserable trying to be something I am not, and working on a “career” that I didn’t want. I just wanted to play music.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”

KM: I’m not sure if I am onto something now, but music is a compulsion. Everything I do ends up being a song. I write a couple of songs a week and I can’t imagine not doing it. I just hope that people can relate to the things I am writing about because at the end of the day it’s really about reaching the fans and giving them insight into their own emotions.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Kat McGivern show?

KM: Coming out of the coffee house circuit I love to talk about the songs as I play them. So at shows you can expect to hear stories about where the song came from. Also I love to throw out new songs at all of my shows. So in addition to the Album material you can usually expect to hear something new.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

KM:  Let’s get this party started!!! Playing shows is just fun, you can’t think about anything too serious when you are playing.

PEV: Tell us about your line of jewelry and even photography you’ve taken up.

KM: The Jewelry line is called Labeled. I am really excited about it. It’s a lot of plastic and industrial materials; sort of steam punk meets disco queen. I really love big clunky jewelry so it’s a lot of that. I recently got my first camera and I am becoming an armature shutterbug. I love being able to take pictures and actually have a hobby. When I am stressed I stay up all night and play with photo shop, it’s great!

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

KM: Most of my songs are from things I have gone through personally. One of the songs on Kamikaze Heart everyone thinks is a love song but it’s actually about an old boss I had who was really cruel to his staff. At the time I thought I could make being around him more bearable if I wrote a song about him. I wrote Napoleon on Thursday and quit the following Wednesday. Some of my other songs are about friend’s relationships, or relationship themes we have discussed.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, "Kamikaze Heart”. What can fans expect from this work?

KM: Kamikaze Heart is about my life. Being young I have chosen to love with reckless abandon, and to live my life with no regrets and it’s given me a lot of material to work with. Anthony Resta of Bopnique Musique produced the album and we were able to carve out a very cool unique sonic landscape to tell those stories.

PEV: Do you ever find yourself getting writer’s block and if so, how do you get over that?

KM: Someday that might happen and Ill probably get more sleep. As I have learned more and more about structuring songs the song ideas come more frequently. The last song I wrote I had a dream about the song title and the next day I wrote it.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Kat McGivern?

KM: I was a super dork growing up; I was very into science and classical music. Now I am still a dork but I am into very different things.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

KM: I was 11 and it was the first time I played guitar and sang for a group of people. It was at a school function and I was very scared. My mother’s best friend told me, “Don’t be afraid because you have a gift to give the world and it’s not about you”. Ever since then I knew that this was what I need to do with my life. From that moment on I realized that music is not about the person making it, it’s about the person listening to it.

PEV: What one word best describes Kat McGivern?

KM: Quirky.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

KM: The best part is being able to write songs all the time. The worst part is sometimes missing things with the people you love. Music keeps you very busy.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

KM: I want to travel the world. I am dying to get to the point where I have a world tour but as of yet I have not left the country.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

KM: Some of my friends ask me when I am getting a “real job” and some of them show up to shows really angry that they haven’t seen me in awhile. But I still have so many of my hometown friends that they are usually backstage with me. My family is great. My little brother is in a band called the sign off and when he’s not in school he even comes and plays with me.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

KM: I have spare time? Where? Just kidding! I love spending time with my family and I am a shop-a-holic so I tend to be out looking for new fashions when I have spare time.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

KM: There are tons of great bands coming out of Boston right now. Small Talk, The Sign Off, the Cinnamon Fuzz, Casey Desmond, and Naked on Roller-skates just to name a few.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

KM: I would be a professional mental patient. Music is really the only career I have.

PEV: So, what is next for Kat McGivern?

KM: Well right now I am working a new album called Kandy pop. It’s an upbeat pop rock project that I started with my friend Andy Tats.  When we started writing the songs for KAndy pop I kept thinking to myself, this is bubble gum pop! I love it. Then we got the idea of KAndy pop.

For more on Kat McGivern, check out: www.katmcgivern.com

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