Katrina Parker :: Out Of The Dark (Finally)
Truth be told, I’ve known Katrina Parker for over five years. We’re not besties or anything, but I became a fan of her luscious voice and flirtatious personality ever since I saw her perform in LA’s underground singer/songwriter scene. From there we became My Space buddies (remember My Space?) and from time to time we’d say a friendly hello. Then she disappeared. Vanished. And I used to say to myself... whatever happened to that amazing Katrina Parker?
Lo and behold a few years ago she rose like the phoenix when she appeared on the second season of "NBC’s The Voice" cementing her talent in front of the world. And thank God. Because much-deserved things are happening for her and many people are glad for that.
Katrina just released her first album since the show aired and it proves that not only should she have won the whole thing, but also that Ms. Parker is certainly on her way to future stardom.
We got the chance to talk recently about her new album, her time on the hit reality show, and her thoughts about issues she holds dear to her heart.
EDGE: You were a fixture on the LA music scene - which is where I first heard you sing - and then you vanished. I remember quite specifically wondering whatever happened to you. When you appeared on NBC’s ’The Voice’ you mentioned being sick for a few years as the result of mold...? What exactly happened?
Katrina Parker: I try not to talk about this (because I was mocked by recappers/bloggers when I mentioned it during ’The Voice’), but for you? I’ll share. Yes, I had some mystery health issues for over a year that forced me to stop singing (severe respiratory problems, chronic fatigue, facial nerve issues, among other things). After seeing a ridiculous amount of doctors with no solution, I finally discovered I had a severe allergy to mold (and unbeknownst to me there was hidden mold in the house I’d been living in). After figuring that out, I moved and started working hard on my recovery. A year (and lots of herbal and acupuncture treatments later), I finally started singing again. That was right before my audition for ’The Voice.’
EDGE: You ended up working at an insurance company. Did anyone know your talent and passion for singing?
Katrina Parker: My roommate also worked there, and she knew I was a singer, but no one else knew. It was my little secret. I started working there about the same time I started my recovery process, and I didn’t want anyone to know I was a singer until I knew my voice was back.
About ’The Voice’
EDGE: Would you say ’The Voice’ changed everything for you? How did your participation on the show happen?
Katrina Parker: ’The Voice’ changed my life on multiple levels. First, it afforded me the opportunity to pursue music full time by opening doors that would never have opened for me before. It also garnered me a larger fan base than I’d previously had (which later helped me crowd-fund my album). It also changed the way I saw myself as an artist. I’d always imagined myself to be this tortured waif behind a piano, but ’The Voice’ showed me a different side of myself that’s a much better fit. I’ve got a big voice and belong at the top of the stage, singing music that’s accessible to a large group of people (not hiding behind my piano trying to be purposefully esoteric).
As for how I got on the show, a friend here in LA got me a private audition. I laughed when he asked me to do it, but I quickly stopped laughing once I made it onto Team Adam.
EDGE: What was the experience on ’The Voice’ like? How was Adam Levine to work with? The other judges?
Katrina Parker: ’The Voice’ experience was crazy, wonderful, stressful. Working with Adam was great. He was very specific in his critiques, which I appreciate. He also had a very open mind, which is an underrated personality trait. I wasn’t his favorite going in. He was very honest about that, but he still allowed his mind to be changed by my performances. That’s something I respect and admire.
I didn’t have a lot of experience with the other coaches beyond interacting with them onstage. Christina was very generous in her support of me at the end. Blake seemed genuinely sweet. I didn’t get much of a handle on Ceelo. I don’t think he was very fond of me, haaa.
EDGE: Please give us at least one piece of salacious gossip from the show! And make it good. You can change names to protect the innocent!
Katrina Parker: A lady doesn’t gossip, but I will say there were a couple of narcissists in that contestant pool that I was thrilled to leave behind. I’m not used to being around other singers, so I was unprepared for some of the egos and jostling for attention and mind games people tried to play. It was very disconcerting, because I am all about staying in my own lane.
EDGE: Adam Levine has a gay brother. You’ve been a big supporter of gay rights for as long as I have known of you. What drives your passion for the issue?
Katrina Parker: My passion for the issue is innate. I was taught from a young age that all of us are equal and that empathy is everything (you never take your privilege for granted). The right to love who you love should be a given for everyone, but until it is I’m ready to keep fighting the good fight alongside people I know and love.
EDGE: When you didn’t win ’The Voice’ (a travesty!) I thought for sure you’d get a record deal, regardless. I was surprised when you told me at one of your shows that you hadn’t. Was that a surprise to you as well?
Katrina Parker: No, it wasn’t a surprise. I mean, wouldn’t it be lovely if a record executive showed up at my door after the show with a pony and a bag of money and a list of instructions? Yes, but that’s not how it works. Whether you’re on this show for one episode or ten episodes, the opportunity is what you make of it. I very quickly realized you have to hit the ground running, diversify and learn to think like an entrepreneur. Yes, more doors will open after the show, but NO ONE is going to come rescue you from post reality TV stagnation. You have to be your own white knight.
Her CD (via Kickstarter)
EDGE: You decided to fund the album that you released on Sept. 10 via a Kickstarter campaign. How did that go for you? Easy? Hard? Complicated?
Katrina Parker: Kickstarter is a great platform, but it took me a long time to get there. First, I took months writing the album, lining up producers, making a budget and looking for private funding. Once I realized Kickstarter was the best solution, I took another two months to research crowd-funding and plan the campaign. It was something I took very seriously, because I knew I only had one shot to get it right. The campaign itself went well. It was stressful. A lot of our goal was met in the eleventh hour, but we got there.
EDGE: I’ve heard the new album and I must say it is spectacular. There isn’t a clunker in the bunch and many seem like radio-friendly hits in the vein of singers like Adele and Duffy. I’m really in love with it.
Katrina Parker: Aw, thank you! I’m flattered by those comparisons.
EDGE: When you self-release, how do you get the word out to listeners about the music and get them to hear it?
Katrina Parker: I think it takes a village to get the word out. I’m primarily sharing via social media and asking fans to share. I also have a great publicist who is working hard to get features and interviews to promote the album (among other more non-traditional mediums).
EDGE: Tell us about the songs on your new album. They seem like a mix of originals and some covers. Possibly a common question, but who inspires you musically?
Katrina Parker: The album is 7 originals (2 of which are co-writes) and 3 covers.
I’m inspired by so many: Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Frank Sinatra, Travis, Edith Piaf, Patty Griffin, Irving Berlin, Muse, Jonatha Brooke, Jesca Hoop and so many more. The list could go on for days.
EDGE: There is a particularly striking, stripped-down version of Dolly Parton’s ’Jolene.’ What engendered that?
Katrina Parker: Dolly Parton is probably my favorite living songwriter. If someone asked me my favorite song of all time, ’Jolene’ would be right up there in my top 5. I’ve been compelled to record it for years and always knew I wanted to do an almost a capella version of it. This was my chance.
EDGE: There’s also an amazing kick-ass version of ’Hang Me Up to Dry’ by the Cold War Kids. The arrangement is phenomenal. How/why did you select that particular song?
Katrina Parker: My best friend was obsessed with the idea of me doing it (she actually suggested it for ’The Voice’). She really made that one happen. Once I did it live with the band, I knew it HAD to be on the album. It’s such fun.
Her musical process
EDGE: What is your writing process with the originals? I was particularly taken with the mid-tempo ’No Downside’ and the gorgeously simple ’Hand Me Downs.’ What were your inspirations for those?
Katrina Parker: I don’t know that I have a "process." It varies per song. ’No Downside’ was a co-write with Khris Lorenz (who also produced the track). That one originated in the studio and is all about falling in love. I always imagine the chorus taking place on a roller coaster (haaa). ’Hand Me Downs’ was one I wrote for my aunt when my uncle passed away. They’d been married over sixty years, and I was really touched by their love story and how bittersweet that goodbye must have been for her.
EDGE: How is it collaborating in the studio with musicians and producers? Were they all people you had worked with before?
Katrina Parker: Tim Moore is an Indie Rock producer. He’s someone I’ve worked with for years, and all the musicians we used were people in my current (or rotating) British Boy Band (ie: the handsome guys onstage with me at shows). Khris Lorenz is a Pop Producer, and he’s someone I met through a friend right before ’The Voice.’ They both have very different musical aesthetics, but that’s what I wanted for the album and the songs. I loved working with them both.
EDGE: You had an album release party at the Hotel Café in Hollywood on Sept. 10th - the album’s release date. What are your plans for the coming year now that the album has dropped to rave reviews?
Katrina Parker: I believe this album has legs and plan to promote it long and hard. We’re recording a video for the title track in early October. A college radio campaign is also on the horizon, and I’d love to hear one of the songs in film/TV at some point. I’m also interested in touring in the new year, if budget allows.
EDGE: What do you want to say to the world about the world with your music?
Katrina Parker: I just want to share a little piece of my struggles, joy, pain - the good, bad and ugly of the last few years of my life. If someone hears my music and is moved or comforted or happy or sad, then my job is done, because it’s hell hard to feel anything in this disposable society where our closest friend is our smart phone.
EDGE: Okay, let’s get personal:
Katrina Parker: ’All About Eve’
Favorite reality show?
Katrina Parker: ’Toddlers and Tiaras’
First concert you ever attended?
Katrina Parker: Reba McEntire
Most embarrassing concert you ever attended?
Katrina Parker: DC Talk (2 words: Christian. Rap.)
Guilty pleasure? (It can be anything.)
Katrina Parker: ’Toddlers and Tiaras.’ ’Dear Abby’ & ’Miss Manners’ columns. ’Doctor Who.’
EDGE: You seem particularly fond of a throw-back look to the 50’s which suits you perfectly. Where did that style sense come from?
Katrina Parker: I haven’t worn pants since 1999. I’ve always loved girly, vintage dresses, but they’re hard to fit. Then I discovered vintage inspired clothing lines like Pinup Girl Clothing, Stop Staring and Bernie Dexter, and there was no going back. It not only fits my aesthetic, but it’s also flattering to all body types (not just sample sizes).
EDGE: I heard something about potentially starting a clothing line?
Katrina Parker: It’s on my bucket list. I would very much like to collaborate on a plus size clothing line - something fun, flirty, and vintage inspired.
EDGE: What’s this about you and unicorns? ;-)
Katrina Parker: I am obsessed with unicorns - have been and always will be. Asking why is like asking why the sun rises every morning. It just is.
For more on Katrina Parker, visit her website.