Chicago – Quick, think back to your senior year of high school. What were you doing? Smoking in the bathroom or taking notes in class? And how long was your list of accomplishments? Perhaps you were like me, with a short list, spending way too much time cutting classes, goofing off with friends, listening to music, and hanging with my boyfriend. Or maybe you had your head on your shoulders, like Chicagoan Kate Diaz. At only seventeen years old, this recent high school graduate is on the road to musical success. Kate is a highly motivated, self-taught musician. She began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of eight, started her own youtube channel at eleven years old, has been performing live since the age of twelve, and she currently has four albums under her belt. If that’s not enough to impress you, she graduated high school early in order to begin summer enrollment at Berklee College of Music, so that she’ll be able to attend Harvard on time in the fall. Yeah, you read that right. Forget double majors, this girl is taking on two colleges! Kate Diaz is dreaming big, aiming for her goals, and diving into young adulthood headfirst. She certainly made a splash with us at BestNewBands.com with her astonishing voice and knack for songwriting!
I caught up with Kate in Chicago the weekend before she skipped off to Boston. As she put it, she’s “really stoked” about plunging into college and soaking up all the new adventures that come with leaving home and exploring life. She’ll be majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee and is contemplating studying Environmental Policy at Harvard. More importantly, she’s hoping to find a band to join over the summer. That is her primary goal upon settling into the East Coast. She’s been starting to arrange her songs with ideas of how a band could enhance the music, and is excited about the idea of performing gigs throughout New England. We talked not only about college, but also her childhood venture into youtube, DIY, and her love for Ryan Tedder.
When Kate was in fifth grade, YouTube was starting to blow up. With its popularity expanding, she had the brilliant idea of creating videos to showcase her talent. However, she had one major roadblock: her parents. They said no. Who could blame them? Having your child exposed to millions of people on the Internet is terrifying. Eventually they gave into her demands. When she turned eleven, Kate’s “big Christmas present” was getting a “yes” to make her YouTube channel. Really, it was a win-win because as Kate put it, “It didn’t cost [my parents] anything!” There was a catch though. She could not use her real name. Fret not! Clever as she is, she figured out how to get her name out there without actually using her name. She mixed letters and numbers to sound out her name: K8 DS. Toss a guitar in there, and suddenly she has a logo that helped her brand herself online and around Chicago.
She’s been booking shows around the Windy City since she was a preteen. She opened for Sister Hazel at the Chicago House of Blues and K’naan at The Metro, played the Taste Of Chicago, and rocked the kids’ stage at Lollapalooza. Kate has also been recording music since 2011. For her fourth album,Horizon, she wrote the song “Tell The World” as a high school graduation anthem. While chatting at a local Starbucks, she said, “You know, it felt like we’re all graduating high school and going off to different parts of the country, so you know, tell the world [about your dreams and abilities.]” Well, Kate has been revealing her talents for quite sometime, but she’s definitely ready to step into young adulthood and see her visions come to life!
Between finishing up high school, playing varsity soccer, preparing to attend an Ivy League University and a renowned music school which has produced Grammy Award winners, and writing, recording, and performing music, Kate has been one busy girl! I asked Kate if she finds the time to squeeze in a little “fun time” for herself. You know, just hang with friends and do typical teenager stuff. Her face lit up as she talked about skyping with her best friend in Australia, whom she met through Berklee Five Week (a summer music program), hanging with friends, and her love of Pinterest. This DYI addict loves getting down with the arts and crafts. And of course she also loves listening to music. I asked who has inspired her and what bands she’s into now. Kate has long been a Beatles fan, and Paul McCartney was an inspiration for her growing up. But it is Ryan Tedder, of OneRupublic, who has really made an influence on her as of late. She blushed a rosy pink as she called him her hero and gushed about his songwriting capabilities. And like us at BNB, she’s been a little obsessed with BΔSTILLE these days. I also had to ask what she would do if a record deal fell in her lap; would she finish college or hit the road on tour? She must have pondered this, as she quickly remarked that colleges do allow you to take a leave of absence for up to three semesters. Whatever happens, I’m sure Kate will continue to keep her head on her shoulders and her eyes on the prize.
BestNewBands.com discovered Kate Diaz in partnership with ReverbNation. Click here to check out her page. If you’re on the East Coast, you can catch Kate performing throughout the summer. Hit up ReverbNation or her facebook for details. Horizon is available for purchase on iTunes.
BestNewBands.com is pleased to present a series of articles about worthy artists that came to us via our Artist Discovery program with ReverbNation, the website that provides over three million music industry professionals with powerful easy-to-use technology to promote and prosper online. Look for additional artist profiles in the weeks and months ahead!
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.