Kate Stapley has an addictively original sound that fuses traditional folk compositions with refreshingly honest and modern concepts. Self-confessing to her ‘obsession’ with the old school songwriting scene, Kate tells us she takes influences from the somewhat juxtaposed styles of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, interjected with the styles of more progressive sounds popular on the Bristol music scene, such as those heard from EBU, Giant Swan and Ep 64. ‘Bristol is beautiful and supportive community of musicians that are so encouraging, supportive and engaged,’ Kate tells us.
Previously known as the lead singer of the now-disbanded Bristol punks Springbreak, Kate’s debut solo EP Centella (released last year via Breakfast Records) sees her make a return to the folk sensibilities of her teenage years; though Kate draws parallels between Centella and the tracks she was simultaneously performing with Springbreak at the time of the EP’s release. The differences, she says, are most potent in the Centella’s collusion of genres and dialogues, likening some moments as reflective of the Breeders and others of Richard Dawson.
some moments are reflective of the Breeders and others of Richard Dawson
This Saturday, Kate will be kicking off St George’s new intimate music series, aptly titled The Listening Room, where the audience can expect to hear some brand new material, whilst delving into the stories behind Kate’s emotive songwriting. The series was developed with the intention of unravelling the dialogue around the creative processes that form the foundation of artists’ songs, through a combination of discussion and music playing. Joined by BBC Radio Bristol’s Harriet Robinson in conversation, listeners will have the opportunity to ask Kate questions as she digs her teeth into the themes of her music.
the audience can expect to hear some brand new material, whilst delving into the stories behind Kate’s emotive songwriting
An ability to allow the storytelling to dictate the journey of her music is something that Kate credits to her Fine Art degree and the ‘freedom from structure’ it taught her – focusing on the intricacies of songwriting as an art, as opposed to learning to sing or play instrumentally. ‘I was more interested in writing songs and using my voice and other instruments as a tool to support the lyrics,’ she tells us.
Kate’s music presents relatable themes such as working 0-hour contracts, finding identity within your gender and the current political climate
Finding much of her inspiration from conversation and through self-exploration, Kate touches on concepts familiar to a young person living in Bristol today, making it hard not to identify with her music. Her new material focusses on identity and presents relatable themes such as working 0-hour contracts, finding identity within your gender and the current political climate.
As a singer that seeks out the honesty and vulnerability that playing solo brings, we can be sure to expect an unaffected performance offering the opportunity to get to know the meaning behind the lyrics in what will no doubt be an intimate and stripped-back affair.
Words by Sarah Macpherson
Photos by Simon Holliday and Ania Shrimpton