Interview with Julie Kathryn (aka I AM SNOW ANGEL). Julie Kathryn is an Artist, Producer and a Sound Designer. We asked her some questions to get some insight on her unique career.
HC: What steered you in the direction of music and music production?
I’ve been musical since I was young. I remember playing a little Casio keyboard my parents gave me when I was about five. I took piano lessons for years and sang in the school chorus. I learned guitar when I was 17 – I was mostly self-taught – and then I went down the path of traditional singer-songwriter. Eventually I stumbled into producing my own tracks and I discovered that I love incorporating electronic elements into my music. After that, I also began producing for other artists and designing sounds for companies like Ableton.
HC: What is the best part about producing for other female artists?
I love the dynamic of working with other women. I had been in studio settings in the past, before I began producing, where I felt intimidated and misunderstood. But when it’s all women, it feels like a more level playing field. I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learned about music production with other women. It feels good to be a mentor.
HC: What has been the biggest challenge of working in the music industry for you?
Hmmm. Honestly the biggest challenge for me has been internal; reconciling who I thought I should be with who I really am. For years, I thought I should be touring, fronting a band, signed to a label. When I accidentally stumbled into programming, production, sound design and electronic music, I discovered that these are some of my passions — and where my talents are most pronounced. It took me a while to acknowledge my own strengths. Once I did that, I began to find my place in the industry. I’m still finding my place, but for me the most important step was getting honest with myself about who I am as an artist.
HC: Do you think that the music industry is changing? Why or why not? If yes, how?
Yes! I do think it’s changing. When I started out, it felt very male dominated. It also felt like there were “gatekeepers” who decided who could be successful. Over the years that I’ve been making music, women have become much more organized and visible — especially in the production realm. A lot of female-centric organizations – including one that I cofounded, Female Frequency – have sprouted up. With better organization, women in production/live sound/engineering have gained more recognition and visibility. And it feels like, in the era of social media, there are more paths to success for artists – especially non-traditional artists. The industry is becoming less controlled by those few major labels and gatekeepers (although a good amount of that does still exist, unfortunately).
HC: Has the pandemic affected your motivation to create music?
This odd and tough time has reawakened my creative energy. I’ve felt compelled to create music as a way to get through it. As an artist, that’s what I do – make art. That’s what I have to offer to people — music. It feels even more vital during hard times.
HC: What was most important to you at the start of your career? What is most important to you now?
At the start of my career, I had dreams of big success without a clear understanding of the steps I would need to take to get there. These days, I find that I really want to enjoy my work on a daily basis. That’s the most important thing to me now – enjoying what I do and gaining spiritual fulfillment from the music I make.
HC: What would you like people (who do not work in the music industry) to know about what it’s actually like?
I think people should know that there’s no such thing as overnight success. Years of work and dedication are behind every successful artist, even those who seem to come out of nowhere.
HC: What do you think is the biggest challenge for female producers working in the music industry?
I think it has been difficult for female producers to get visibility and credibility. This industry, like many others, has been rife with sexism — and racism – for such a long time. People have been pigeon-holed into roles based on their gender and/or racial identity. As I mentioned earlier, I do think the landscape is changing. As our culture in general moves towards more accountability and awareness, I hope the music industry will continue to evolve and become a more equitable place.
HC: Out of all your music, what is the song, EP, or album that you are the proudest of?
I think I’m actually most proud of the music I’ve been working on during the pandemic. As you know, I became a mom in 2019, and it has definitely changed my creative energy. I was nervous about my ability to focus and make interesting music – especially during a pandemic without any consistent childcare. I’m really proud of what I’ve been creating and I plan to release it in the form of multiple EPs this year. The first two will be coming out in March and May.
HC: What is one thing that you wish you could have told yourself when you were first starting out as an artist?
I would have told myself to pay attention to what excites me, and to pursue that! And to not compare myself to others too much. My creative life is mine, no one else’s.
HC: What is your focus now?
To keep evolving and moving forward. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like. I’m taking it one day at a time!