13th Annual Holiday Song Nominee
12th Annual Social Action Song Nominee
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Record Label: Self-Released
Home Base: Chicago, IL
Categories Entered: Social Action
Work Submitted: “Down To Earth”
Artists Featured: Kate Diaz
Who are your influences?: Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic, K’naan, Adele, Dan Wilson, The Smeezingtons, Ellie Goulding, Beyonce & Suga Mamas, Sister Hazel.
Describe your nominated work: I wrote this song for 2011 Earth Day, and then last year I was made an EarthDay.org “Arts & Athletes For The Earth” music partner and I got to play it at the 2012 Earth Day on the National Mall, and I’m invited back to their next festival in 2015. I got the song recorded and I donate the money from sales to EarthDay.org for sustainable energy projects. Also, I received an award from the Captain Planet Foundation for teen environmentalists because of this song. This year I am using the song in a campaign to get people to recycle wire hangers by making themselves something I built for my dad for Christmas. Here is how a reviewer described my song in October 2012: “Down To Earth” is an assertive rock/pop song which has the energy and full sound of a Kelly Clarkson radio hit–you wouldn’t guess that it’s a 15-year-old who wrote and sang this song. It has a distinctive song title which cleverly captures the Earth Day theme, and a well crafted lyric which elaborates on this message. “Down To Earth” also provides a good showcase for Diaz’s expressive, soulful vocal performance. – Dale Kawashima, Founder SongwriterUniverse – October 2012.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: I recorded my guitar and lead and backup vocals at a Chicago studio (Groovemaster) with a producer (Tadpole) who had laid down drums from my demo, and then he added bass, keys, etc. Then all I asked him to do was add the strings parts and raise the vocal volume, and he was amazing!
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: It was all so awesome!
How did you raise the funds for this project? I have played regularly at a Potbelly Sandwich Shop since I was 12 and I also get gigs off Sonicbids.com. I burn CDs of my three live acoustic albums that I had mixed from live shows. I save all my tips and pay and money from CD sales, except for what I donate every Christmas in a fundraiser I do.
How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: Probably never, since I donate all sales to EarthDay.org, but it doesn’t matter since I recorded it for gaining experience doing that. I picked this song to record because it’s for a good cause, and it’s not like my iTunes gets many sales for my live albums so I knew I was investing in experience rather than expecting to recoup my expenses.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: I saw the gig on Sonicbids.com, where I get all my shows and saw you had a social action category so I went for it.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: I think success will be that I can be a headliner who can fill venues in Chicago like House Of Blues. Then the next step I guess would be that it would make financial sense to have a tour.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: I hope that it gets exposure for me with professionals who want to help my music. I know I would need to form a professional team to gain success, but I don’t really know how to go about that and anyway I am a full time high school student and have little time to step it up right now.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: Right now my fans span from adults who like my voice and like acoustic music and like to listen to lyrics and stories of motivations for the songs to little girls who dance to my songs when I play at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Everyone, especially girls my age, says they really like my voice so I’ve become adjusted to that, because I always used to think of myself as a guitarist because I had some guitar lessons but never voice lessons. I think my fans would expand when I get a band and perform my songs with a band.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: I wish I wasn’t so busy with high school and homework, because I have 3 songs half done since fall, but can’t finish them because I’m always so tired after doing everything else I have to do, and I’m not very creative when tired.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: Stravinsky…I am a percussionist in my high school orchestra, and I have a cool xylophone solo in his song Danse Internale. Maybe a lot of pop musicians started out as classical trained pianists and then moved to pop, but I’m kind of the opposite. I didn’t ever listen to any classical until I joined the orchestra last year.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I started using Spotify this year on my computer. But I still download songs for my iPhone from iTunes; I don’t pay for any streaming service.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…changing.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: This summer I’m playing at Taste Of Chicago in July, at Six Flags amusement park in June, and another big festival that isn’t announced yet. Also, I am going back for my third summer to Berklee summer program, where it’s my third full merit scholarship to their amazing Five Week summer program. In the fall I will start my senior year of high school and will continue doing Chicago shows during the school year.