'It’s Not a Race. It’s Not a Comparison': Katelyn Read on Musical Soul-Searching

Jun 14, 2017

"As an artist, you’re your own product. When all you see is everyone’s best and all you feel is your worst, it can be so defeating and crippling to be stuck in this place of 'Why am I not there yet?'"

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting and A Change of Tune, this is 30 Days of #WVmusic, the interview series celebrating the folks who make the West Virginia music scene wild and wonderful.  

And today's interview is with a Parkersburg West Virginian who has found growth and community in Raleigh, North Carolina. This… is Katelyn Read.

Katelyn Read’s latest release is We’ve Come This Far. Catch up with the rising singer-songwriter on social media. Hear more #WVmusic on A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Connect with A Change of Tune on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic and subscribe to our RSS / podcast feeds.

Katelyn Read
Credit Courtesy of the artist

Interview Highlights

On her musical beginnings:

I started doing music in Parkersburg, I started playing in a little coffee shop there called The Daily Grind and play kind of through lunch during their busy hour as background music. I actually grew up in Bridgeport through my elementary school years, and then moved to Parkersburg for junior high and high school. Music was always something my parents enjoyed. I grew up listening to all of the great ‘70s tunes – the Eagles, America, Bill Withers. That was a great time for music. My dad played saxophone, but the only song I can remember him playing was the Pink Panther theme song [laughing]. And both of my parents sing, but my dad didn’t let me take voice lessons until my final semester of high school because he said it was something you didn’t need lessons for. “You either sing, or you can’t sing.”

We have this video of my third or fourth grade talent show, and I wanted to sing. I’m holding the microphone, chord in my hand, walking across the stage as a superstar. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but I never viewed it as a realistic career path or even a realistic hobby. It seemed so far and unreasonable. I pursued a degree in art, like sculpting and watercolor and charcoal and all of that. I wanted to be a high school art teacher.

Katelyn Read
Credit Courtesy of the artist

On moving to North Carolina from West Virginia:

We moved in 2013. It was kind of a two-part move. My dad was looking to start a new company, and we were wanting to move to Raleigh with some friends with church plans. We talked my dad into coming down, and now we’re here with our friends and hope to start the church. The move wasn’t planned for my music, but it was a big benefit for me as far as moving to a bigger town with more opportunity to find places to start branching out and getting into music.

Raleigh is interesting because on almost any given night, you can find live music in the area, which is amazing that people enjoy it so much. But it can be a difficult thing because no matter when you plan your show, there’s five other shows doing on. But it’s also a really great community of musicians and artists. Even though there are so many artists, it’s really a small world. Everyone is so supportive of each other.

On the long road leading up to her new EP We’ve Come This Far:

We started recording it in January 2016, and I didn’t plan on doing any type of crowdfunding, just self-funded and low budget as possible. Since I am an art person and not a math person, I realized half-way through the process that I had gotten the numbers all wrong and would need help from the community. So I started raising funds for it, but I got sick sometime through the process, so it made the timeline get a lot longer. And then we had issues with getting the mixes back. All-in-all, my timelines was decimated last year. So we had to wait, but we released it May [2017], and it totally exceeded my expectations.

The release party was actually on the same night that Bastille and Chris Stapleton were playing in the area [laughing]. But people came! They had the choice between the three of us, and I’m glad some of them chose me.

Katelyn Read
Credit Courtesy of the artist

On the name of the EP We’ve Come This Far:

If I had guessed five years ago that I would be at the place that I am now, I wouldn’t have seen a path to it. I don’t think a lot of it has happened because of the effort I’ve put into it; it’s been a lot of the people around me. So I’m thankful for that support and encouragement because if it were up to be, I’d recluse and retreat and not risk and not put myself into a position to be rejected. It’s because of the community around me that I’ve been able to take these steps.

Music featured in this #WVmusic chat:

Katelyn Read- “Moving On”

Katelyn Read- “Brick + Mortar”

Katelyn Read- “Still”

Support for 30 Days of #WVmusic is provided by Kin Ship Goods, proud supporter of DIY music and the arts. Locally shipped worldwide at kinshipgoods.com.