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The 99% Episode #1 with Katie DiCicco

New York native Katie DiCicco is an independent singer/songwriter in the electronic dance and pop scene. After exploring the underground music world in the streets of NY, she ventured to the West Coast. Now living in Los Angeles, Katie has had a domino effect of achievements with breakthrough releases. She has a reputation for successful collaborations that include House DJ Alessandro Kraus with “Hey Love,” and it’s official music video that received over 20k views on Youtube. Her creative skills are proven as she explores the heavier side of electronic. She’s been featured in bass heavy singles like “I Want You” with Torch a cover of Milli Vanilli’s, “Girl You Know It’s True”.

Katie has an innovative approach to her workflow. She wears a lot of hats creatively as a solo artist, collaborator, and much more. We couldn’t help to want to speak to Katie more on her past music experience, career, and visions. Read & listen to the first episode featured on The 99% Podcast on Soundcloud.

Listen To Katie DiCicco’s 99 Percent Podcast Interview Below:

[00:00] Steereo:

We’re here with singer-songwriter Katie DiCicco. You’re a native New Yorker, raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. How did growing up in the creative madness that is Manhattan, influence your musical journey?

Katie:

“In general New York is just such an amazing, eclectic place. Or I like to say it’s an urban playground and growing up and having access to different clubs, going out to clubs when I was thirteen, being inspired by so many different cultures and everything that New York has to offer. I would say that I was very lucky that I had all those inspirations at my fingertips.”

Steereo:

Listeners may or may not know but Katie had a huge influence on my creative journey, introducing me to a lot of really cool venues and artistic expressions in the downtown scene. In the early stages of your career, you performed at places like Sway, Santals Party House, which was the breeding ground for underground music at the time. Kid Cudi, J. Cole, SZA, and A$AP Rocky have all performed at these places, so how was it being an artist in the downtown New York City at that time? How did that melting pot influence your music?

Katie:

It’s such a crazy time, so much fun, one of those things where everyone is part of the like the same creative ether and everyone is inspiring everyone, whether or not they’re aware of it. It was awesome performing at Fat Baby and Santos and The Local 269. I remember there was a photographer who came by and told me I was like Lady Gaga and I didn’t know who that was at the time because I was performing parody pop and making my own outfits with a neon fishnets and fringes and all this stuff, and I didn’t realize that there was someone else doing something very similar. Then I saw her on MTV and was like “oh that’s Lady Gaga okay I get it.” I was doing parody pop at that time and it was awesome and I was also performing with a band at The Bitter End. I would say I was constantly and still to this day, exploring multiple genres. Not just the dance world,which is where I have probably the biggest imprint musically at the moment as an artist.

Katie DiCicco via Facebook

Steereo:

After those beginnings, you eventually moved out to L.A. to explore the music scene out there. How has moving to the West Coast evolved your sound and your perspective?

Katie:

I just have to say L.A. is the jump off for music. Some days I’m in three sessions, that’s just crazy. I was bi-coastal, going back and forth from New York to L.A. working on projects on both coasts. It always felt like everything time I went to L.A. like there was so much more movement. Even when B.M.G. put me in sessions with artists from Germany Australian artists, like DJ Chronic, and they just can’t wait to move out to L.A. Even Flume just recently moved out here. Everyone’s moving out to L.A. and I feel like there’s so much more space. Within that space, creativity is very able to thrive. New York is amazing and has such an incredible energy and vibe, but for some reason, over the past few years, it just feels like L.A. seems to be like the music hub of the world. It’s cool because I get to work with all these awesome producers and writers as an artist, but also write for other artists and get to explore different genres as well. Even animation. Actually recently I’ve been writing some stuff for that. L.A. is a crazy because you can roll from one project the next and there’s so much amazing stuff happening. It’s not just with music but it’s also with animation and movies. I also act and I recently got picked up to be in a recurring role in this animated show on Nickelodeon. That aside I’ve also been able to hold some writing sessions for Hasbro for a My Little Pony project. Writing for animation is also really fun; you get to tap into a whole new vibe and it’s really fun. So I’d say that moving to L.A. has been a great move for me.

Steereo:

I think that’s really cool, especially because I think it gets artists to think outside the box about how they create and how they can make money professionally. For a lot of artists, music is their main love. But you do have a lot of different opportunities like dealing with music in film, animation, television, and different things like that. It can widen your scope and influence, and enable you to express yourself on multiple levels.

Katie:

There’s also such a big music community; there are awesome outlets and opportunities, but to be part of the creative cloth of what’s happening in L.A. right now with Live Music scene right now too. There are these awesome jam sessions with super dope artists and writers and musicians who have toured with the biggest stars in music today. You can casually go to a house party in the hills, and then all of a sudden there’s a top notch, amazing talent there. And it’s everywhere in the city, every nook and cranny has all of these amazing gems, which goes for really dope studios as well. L.A. is super spread out and there’s just so much more space and you can get more for your money, so people have built out these amazing studios and they’re everywhere. I’m in Burbank, Sun Valley, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Culver City, it’s everywhere.

[8:00] Steereo:

Transitioning into the music that our riders might hear, the music we’re playing in our office over here in New York, right now you have Middle of the Night which is performing really well, as well as your work with 99 Lola, and Consumed is one of my favorite tracks on Steereo right now. How did you get involved in 99 Lola, another creative project outside of your solo work?

Katie:

I love the 99 Lola project; Indie Pop is just so much fun. My manager at the time it pulled me into a call with D.J. Skee from Kiss F.M. who has this really cool spot on Cahuenga, and now it’s mostly the radio stations like dash radio, but the time they were all these studios. There was an influx of really cool people coming in and out, people like RiffRaff, Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, whoever just like coming to record stuff or to stop by the radio station. I went to a party in the back and I met these producers named the costars and they’re really awesome. They’ve worked with a ton of great people and they were just saying like well we love your voice and we would love to do a project with you. We were just going over our musical influences and we decided that this would be a really cool direction to go in. When I started writing, it wasn’t necessarily doing dance music. It was more, I wouldn’t say folk but more of like a singer songwriter vibe. So, being able to jump in with these super talented producers and writers and working with them to build out this whole new sound for my project was so cool. So that’s how it came about, and then we did a six song E.P. Then Paul Blair, DJ White Shadow, who’s actually currently touring with Gaga right now. But he has an indie label called On Planes, and they actually signed our strong Had You Just a Little. That song actually just recently got placed for M.T.V.’s thirty thirty. Over the course of time you never know what songs will resonate or what projects will take off or who’s interested in what when you’re creating it, but that’s not what you’re thinking about. You’re just thinking about putting your heart and soul into something that you’re really excited about.

Watch Alessandro Kraus – Hey Love ft. Katie DiCicco Music Video:


Steereo:

How is it for you personally, to transition from a solo artist to a collaborator, to a member of band, and even into animation voicework? Wearing all these different creative hats, how are you able to maintain these different hats and creative projects that you have going on?

Katie:

It’s definitely a lot to juggle. I would say that they all kind of blend into one another. It’s all being creative; voicework and I think that having an entrepreneurial spirit, being able to juggle all these things, comes from a place of having your stuff in order. Some days you have to focus on other things. Maybe one day I have a band practice and then I have a session after that. Or maybe I have an audition and a voice recording, and then I can’t be in a writing session that day. That’s also the thing about creative projects. Sometimes they’re not just done in one day, so maybe you can take a week and come back to it. It’s definitely a juggling act but I think that they all kind of feed into each other which is cool.

[12:55] Steereo:

People don’t realize that the transfer of energy can be difficult at times.

Katie:

There have definitely been times that I’ve been in a writing session before where I’m just so tired and I’m just like oh my god I’m just drained physically, emotionally, and I’ll push myself and go to the session. Sometimes that’s when the best shit happens. Sometimes when you’re so exhausted and sleep deprived and worn out, you’re really just not thinking about it and you tap into something that’s really amazing. Other times you’re just like shit that was a waste of an hour. Being creative is not something where you clock in and clock out. It’s definitely a twenty four seven thing. I often get super creative at two in the morning; there’s a window between 2am and 5am. Sometimes it’s when you feel like the world is sleeping and then you get into a certain zone where you can just be really creative and not overthink anything. I think that’s a problem for some people. Overthinking lyrics or overthinking a melody. I just go, and I think that’s how I manage to juggle everything. I work seven days a week, even when I’m just sitting and I just got out of the shower, or I’m just on my computer, an idea came to me. That’s not working if you love what you do, but you’re still putting energy and focus into something.

Steereo:

From 2-5am I think the frequency is particularly low in those hours. There are less T.V.’s on, less bodies up and at em and moving around. The low energy allows your energy to move freely in your environment that is different from when you’re up, and everyone else is up. From a New York City thing, you always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and right away there are emails flying about, there are notifications ringing off, so those random 2-5am think tanks are definitely needed to get your ideas out there in a fresh atmosphere while everyone is catching their Z’s on a low frequency.

Katie:

So many people are also feeling L.A. right now because you’re super spread out and it’s a more chill and relaxed vibe here than in New York. I thrive off of the New York energy, and sometimes you’re in the hustle bustle thing, the go go go go. I’d be recording in the Bronx until midnight and then going here and doing this. It’s nonstop. Even in L.A. I still don’t feel like I have enough hours in the day. I wish there were more than 24 hours in the day just so I can do everything I need to do. Because I’m working on so many projects, there’s never enough time. But between those hours, when the frequencies or low, or whatever it is, you’re able to let your vibe flow, that is awesome.

Steereo:

I want your perspective on the music industry and the music environment as it stands today in 2017. What’s it like, in your opinion, to be an independent artist? From your point of view, what are the benefits and the drawbacks of this independence that artists are steering toward?

Katie:

I think it’s kind of been a trend to be independent these days. When you have people like Chance The Rapper, who are just killing it. This industry is tough, and people who have the machine behind them are in a fortunate position. Then it’s very easy for everyone to call them a sell out, or they’re a this or that. Doing stuff independently gives you more freedom. For instance, when you’re doing a sync project with a publishing company, but you already have a publishing deal with APG, or something like that, then you’re limited to some of the projects you can do. When you’re out there and you’re working on multiple things, it’s good to have that flexibility and the freedom to not be tied down. Also, depending on what deal you get, like I have been offered a ton of deals over the course of my career and I’ve said no to most of them because people try to take advantage. I think that there are people out there right now who are trying to make change with that, but it’s still very easy to be taken advantage of in this industry…

I think that if you can stay independent for as long as you can, and build yourself up to a point where you have leverage, and you have negotiating power, you create value to who you are as an artist and for your projects. Then, I you can negotiate a more fair deal for yourself. Most artists are entrepreneurs, like Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, these are people who see themselves as a brand, they’re able to build their brand up and expand. Not just them as musicians but also as clothing designers and whatever else they do and have. The same thing applies to an up and coming artist; someone who has to build their brand on Instagram. They’re branding themselves through images and video clips. Labels and people like publishers are looking at that too. They want to know how much you’ve done before they give you a deal. You’re going to get a super shitty deal unless you’re able to build value for your brand.

[20:15] Steereo:

The independent route isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it gives people the option. When we were growing up, you went to the labels, they would support everything you did, and you would just be the artist. In result, you might sacrifice on creative freedoms and how you want to package yourself for the world. In another sense, independence is great, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. A lot of that is what fell on the labels, and you sort of have to do it on your own. So what are your thoughts on music technology, and how it’s given artists ways to be discovered?

Katie:

It definitely is an over-saturated market, but it is amazing. People like Justin Bieber got discovered via YouTube. Back in a day it was all about artist development. I feel kind of sad that there really isn’t much artist development anymore, but at the same time, super dope people are getting the platform they would never have, because maybe they just didn’t know the right person. As a social media consumer, obviously there’s an influx of stuff you’re exposed to unwillingly, and then there’s stuff that you seek out. It’s like, I’m super interested in underground electronica music, so I’ll research all of that and see what new people are out there. And then there’s just stuff that maybe your friends post or maybe there’s just stuff in your feed. Now you’re put onto something that you love. Even when you listen to Spotify or Pandora and something comes up and you like it, that’s often how I discover new bands. I love Matt deMarco’s radio station. It’s like beach house and then a super dope indie band will pop up. That’s how I discover a lot. I think that it’s good for music. It also can be overwhelming, but it’s a really cool outlet for people.

Steereo:

There’s also an opportunity to find fans where you may not have found them before.

Katie:

We’re definitely way more connected now across the board because of social media and the power that it has, and the power that each individual has. There’s also of course Steereo!

Steereo:

Yes, we want to connect communities, the driver community, and the artist community. And we want to create these situations where artists can be heard or discovered in a really interesting venue, which is when we travel, in rideshares.

It’s such an awesome outlet for up and coming artists and for anyone riding in cabs, to experience new stuff. It’s such a cool idea, I support it!

Steereo:

Where do you like to play and create music? Is it at home, in the studio, outdoors? Alternatively, as a consumer, where do you feel comfortable hearing music and discovering it?

Katie:

The majority of my time creating music is in a studio, so that’s my comfort zone. At home, you don’t want to disturb the neighbors or whoever else. I feel very inspired and creative in a studio. Performing out, there’s nothing better than a live show, and feeding off the energy of the people. I most recently performed at my sisters wedding, which was so nerve racking because it’s 180 people who you know intimately. I was already crying because my sister was getting married. As a music consumer, I guess anywhere. An outdoor festival, when I was at Ultra, I heard Kygo’s traphouse stuff for the first time and thought it was so dope. I couldn’t stop dancing, it was super feel good. It was a cool environment to be introduced to something dope. Then, of course, it’s always fun to hear music at a house party or if a good friend turns you on to something cool. So anywhere is good as long as there’s good music.

Steereo:

Sometimes you remember the first time you heard a song or artist because it might correlate with a memory. Sometimes the memory is positive and can have a direct relation to the music that is playing and you can bring yourself back to that moment, that amazing drop.

Katie:

I mean music is the sound of your life. If you hear something like while you’re going through a breakup or if someone died, certain music can be very healing too. It can soothe your soul.

Steereo:

Artists you’re inspired by, past and present.

Katie:

Past, I love old school divas. Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald of course, Stevie Wonder, I love pop music too, so there’s Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Ranging to underground electronica, or Peaches, people like that too. I have a very wide range of what I like and what inspires me. Even some country music like Dolly Parton. I love it all. There’s a more recent, really dope singer songwriter named Allie X. Kind of dark pop, indie artist. More soulful is Jessica Childress, she’s a firecracker. Then there are bands that I’m really feeling like Tame Impala, Matt Demarco, it ranges.

Steereo:

When someone hears you for the first time, what would you like them to feel? What emotions would you like to invoke in them?

Katie:

I would say my Katie DiCicco Dance Project is different from the 99 Lola Project, they’re two separate things. I would say the Dance Project is more sexually driven, lyric and vibe, but I want people to feel like they can escape. That’s the beauty about music, as an artist the only thing you can really hope for is to give people something that they can make their own. Once it’s out there, it’s not yours anymore. Maybe someone finds an escape in a certain way, that gives them an outlet to feel happy, to feel joy, to feel sensual, to feel whatever.

Steereo:

Fill in the blanks. Music to me is…

Katie:

I don’t want to sound corny and say music to me is my life, but it is my lifeline! Literally I eat, breathe, sleep, everything music. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not just a hobby, it consumes your soul. You are music. Everything from what you curate for yourself in your car, to what live shows you’re going to, to the music you’re creating. Music to me is therapy.

Steereo:

I couldn’t agree more. This has been amazing for me to sit here and speak with you, and have you share your story. I’m just super proud of what you’re doing. Thank you for becoming part of the Steereo family. Can you give our listeners some information about where to find you, any projects, shows, and events you have coming up?

Katie:

I’m pretty much on most platforms either as @theKatieDiCicco across the board. On Twitter is just @KatieDiCicco, just my name. I had a release about a few weeks ago with Alexander Krause, the European D.J., and we have a song called Hey Love. The video just dropped two weeks ago. Definitely check that out!

Listen To Bonus Track ” Middle of Night” by Katie DiCicco:

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Editor In Chief of The Pulse; A creative gal living in the City of Angels conquering the world with inspired writing about music.