NASHVILLE-BASED RETRO SOUL ARTIST SINGER-SONGWRITER CAITLIN KOCH CHATS WITH ROCK ‘N’ LOAD
Caitlin, for anyone unfamiliar with yourself, how do you like to describe your own brand of music?
I’d say it’s a bit gritty! Like if Mahalia Jackson, the Stones, Duane Allman, & Eva Cassidy had a baby! Those are some big names to throw around! There certainly is a blend of soul, southern rock, with a pop thing happening in what I’ve developed into.. and it’s ever-changing which is so cool. Retro-soul seems appropriate, but it’s its own thing and my sound is constantly progressing.
Who were your own musical heroes? As a young lover of music was there a “eureka” moment for you and if so what song or album made you want to follow suit?
Elvis Presley was a big one at home growing up. My mom is a big fan, and thus he was always on the stereo. My parents, in general, cast a wide net when it came to the types of music they’d listen to. Depending on the time of year, anyone artist from George Strait, to Gregorian chants, LeAnn Rimes, to Percy Sledge, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Boccelli, to traditional Polish songs (we’re of Polish descent, it’s pronounced Cook, not…you know) would be roaring through the house. I really was blessed to be exposed to so much. As for the”Eureka” moment, that was old Elvis. I wanted to record “Don’t” at 12 years old. I think I really just loved the melody, his intonation & approach to any given song.
You dipped your toes into the reality tv pool with X Factor back in 2011, looking back on that experience now, how did that shape your journey and relationship with music and the industry since?
I certainly did! I loved my time on The X Factor. It was a blessing of an experience for me & introduced me to so many individuals nationwide who are so, so talented. It was eye-opening to experience my fellow contestants’ gifts firsthand and we really had a great camaraderie among us that you don’t always see. I think that the bonds we developed were instrumental in manifesting my perspective. It was helpful as well to be exposed to that level of talent in a competitive setting – as that is exactly what the music industry is like. So many creatives, with God-given gifts that you can’t even be mad at. It’s a waste of time to compare yourself to anyone else though. Certainly, I have fallen victim to it a time or two but, at the end of the day I try to stay in my own lane.
You upped sticks and moved to Nashville to pursue your dream and a career in music, I remember speaking to Tyler Bryant and he told me “We can’t even get arrested in Nashville” it strikes me as quite a competitive/combative city for an artist like yourself, it from the outside looking in must be quite an intimidating place to try and establish yourself with so many talented musicians gravitating to there to try to make it, how has your own journey been there and what do you feel is key to making Nashville work for you?
Say what? What does Tyler have to be worried about?! He’s talented AF! I saw him at Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2017 when I played there and he killed it. I’ve been coming to Nashville from NY for rugby since I was in my teens. It’s centrally located so when they’d have these selected sides, nationwide tournaments Nashville was always the location. We did some damage repping the Northeast back in those days! Also when in my teens, I was scouted by Tom Collins who developed Barbara Mandrell. My parents would bring me down to meet for label meetings. All of this to say, I’ve always felt something good in the air here in Nashville. Something called me here. Living here & meeting my co-writers definitely has helped me develop a skillset in songwriting. The people here that are from here are down-to-earth. It’s a beautiful place to live that also makes sense if you’re in the industry. Of course, there is fierce competition as in other places but that’s alright with me – it’s inspiring if you let it be.
What has been your own personal highlight of your career to date and what boxes would you like to tick moving forward?
X-Factor was of course a big one and it was glamorous. Getting to work with Paula Abdul post-X-Factor was so exciting. Annually, I sing the US national anthem for my hometown NFL team, The Buffalo Bills & which is always an honor. Headlining my own international tour that I connected with audiences I normally wouldn’t see live, that was just next level.
My own personal highlights are in moments on stage, something spiritual happens. They’re moments that don’t always happen, so I’ve learned to be grateful for them. Whether you believe in God, a higher power, it’s that. They happened when I was a teenager in a band playing for the bartender, and they happened on stages in front of 30-40,000 people. I’d like to experience more moments like those going forward.
More importantly, connecting with fans I’d say. It is a genuine privilege. When something you create manifests and affects someone else that you’ve never met before, it is magic. I’d like to keep creating with hopes that these songs & performances continue to touch people, help them through something potentially. That connection is the highlight in all I do…I sound like an 85-year-old woman dropping the hammer of truth, hahaha!
2020 was a bit of a strange year … did that experience allow you any space to breathe as an artist and refocus or regroup and if so, what do you think you will take away from the year that never was?
Ah 2020 was for the birds was it not? Hahaa! We all faced some adversity that year – globally, intimately, on a large scale as well as in our personal lives. My experience was no different in the sense that I had to make changes I didn’t foresee making. It was a unique & challenging season. But, the silver lining for me was being able to get back into the studio. I was in New York state – we kept it safe & played it smart – but got to work. My friends/musicians & I were able to finish the songs that are being released & heard now.
What is next on the cards for Caitlin Koch?
Your girl is ready to go! “So Different Now” is my latest release out now and the second of many to come in the coming year. I’ll continue to create, putting final touches on the tunes I have & readying them for release, also on the docket are live shows here stateside. I have hopes of getting overseas again, perhaps in the near future or 2022 so you’ll have to watch this space on that, pretty much all the good things!