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Life & Work with Katie Donnelly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Donnelly.

Hi Katie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My story starts in my small town of Madison, CT. It’s like every other suburban town in Connecticut, simple but beautiful. I always dreamed of leaving and trying somewhere completely out of my comfort zone. Southern California was always on my mind but ended up just north of Boston at a school called Endicott. I was disappointed at first, I always talked about having this ‘outside of the box’ life and here I was like most people from my high school, just north of Boston in a small liberal arts school. Little did I know then, it would have the largest impact on not only myself but my journey with music. I was shy, kept my voice locked in a box, only performing for myself or small groups. I had written songs on the uke and piano, inspired by artists like Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, and Colbie Callait. It wasn’t until my freshman year band class that we needed more singers and it was then that I was forced into ‘performing’. I gained confidence on stage, I joined an eight-person band throughout my college career. We played venues in Boston and I quickly fell in love with songwriting, performing, and just being an artist. After graduating, I was in a duo for a few years, we started working with different producers, learning how to create our sound.

After breaking up (both musically & romantically) I fell into a funk. I was living a small town in CT, working at a place that did not inspire me, not writing at all. I wanted to give up on music, I felt like I was forcing it like I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t write for months, I convinced myself that a 9-5 was the way to go, make money, start over. The plan I had for my life had fallen apart, so I let it consume me. One night I came home from a night out with friends and I sat down at my keyboard which I hadn’t done in months and starting writing. I stayed up all night to finish my first song in months entitled, ‘Love Again’. I went on a month-long trip to the West Coast and fell in love with LA. I knew I had to leave as soon as I walked off the plane. I called my mom and told her, ‘I just feel like I need to be here’. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I was going to do it. A few months later, I took the chords of ‘Love Again’ into a session during my second visit to LA. My friend’s Nydge & OSTON helped me create my first single. When I got home in September, I moved out of my apartment, broke my lease, moved back in with my parents and set the date January 1st. I was moving to LA no matter WHAT. I applied for jobs, I worked three jobs to save money, got everything in order and on January 13th, I was on a flight out here. I started really working on myself, looked at what I wanted, build manifesting and meditation into my practice. I landed a job with a dream company as a Marketing Assistant, was hiking with dogs three times a week, found a really cute apartment with my good friend OSTON (also an amazing artist), and really started to think about what does an artist career look like for me.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Life is rarely smooth. It sounds crazy, but I really am grateful for all the shitty things that have happened to me. Not to be corny – but they shaped me into who I am, they allowed me to transform into this person that is confident but humble. I have many people tell me that this dream of mine is too big, that I’m not talented enough, that there are so many other people better than I am – including that little voice in my head sometimes. Equally, there has been many people that have lifted me up when I didn’t think I could do it myself. There have been many influences in my life that have really gotten me out of that mindset. Wanting something, for me, is a mindset. Telling myself I am worthy of it, making moves to get myself there, and really believing in myself have all been key factors in creating. I grew up with a mother that told me I could do or be anything. She guided me to follow my path, she encouraged me to never give up on music, she even made sure that I went to a college where music was an active part of the curriculum. I come from a place where you go to high school, you get good grades, then you go to college and work you 9-5 and live happily ever after. That life has never called to me. There is nothing wrong with any of it, in fact it is stable and works for most people. For me, I fought that, and it wasn’t always what some people in my life found to be their version of ‘success’. Once I realized that I didn’t need to live my life for other people because at the end of the day, I have to live with my mind and my thoughts, that’s when I finally made the move to LA and decided to put in the work.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am an artist/writer. My artist project is called kate the dreamer and I currently have two singles out. I also work and write with other artists in LA for their projects and sync projects. I like to classify my sound as dream pop or indie pop. I pull influence from Florence and the Machine, LÈON, Maggie Rogers, Holly Humberstone, Coldplay, and Trella. I’m most proud of the fact that I am doing most of this on my own. I moved myself out to LA with no friends, a part-time job, and no place to live. Now I have a full-time job with an amazing company, I write almost everyday, I work with amazing co-writers and producers, and I’m getting more done towards my career now than I ever did in my early 20’s. I am so grateful everyday that the life I have always thought about, manifested really, is now starting to unfold, and I know this is only the beginning. I think we all take influence from other artists so it’s hard to stand out nowadays. One thing I think that sets me apart is my work ethic. I really came to LA to work hard, to take every opportunity handed to me, and stop at nothing to get my music heard and out in the world. My songwriting comes directly from my soul, I really love to craft my songs into something that means a lot to me and hopefully strikes feelings in others when they listen.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
Networking is the main reason I came to LA. Even in a pandemic, you can network with people in your field. Instagram is a great place to start. Do your research, find other artists like you, and reach out. The worst they can do is not reply…and you never know unless you try. Networking is how I found all of the people I work with now on a daily basis. It is a long game – I have a mentor that I just started working with from a connection that was over three years ago now. My biggest advice is to reach out to as many people as you can, make sure you are genuine about it, and most importantly, the art is what matters the most.

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Image Credits:

Whitney Otte Lyndsay Rinere

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