Doug Mayberry: Would you mind sharing some insight on working with Norman artists Kyle Reid, David Leach and Caleb McGee on 2015's release, Force of Nature?
Katie Williams: Well, that kind of happened out of the goodness of their hearts. Steve Boaz had a lot to do with it. He produced the album. David Leach was about to move to Nashville the next morning, quite literally. He came into the studio and knocked it out of the park the first time. He's such a professional. After releasing the album, I've had the opportunity to play with them quite a bit which has been a dream.
Mayberry: Was it recorded here in Norman? Can you tell me a bit about the recording process?
Williams: Yes! On Comanche, one street over [from the Bluebonnet]. I did everything backwards. I dated musicians for 10 years. I just felt like I could become one, so I started playing guitar and, after playing some open mics up at Michelangelo's, I still kept it secret. Then Dylan Stewart bought me ten hours of studio time as a Christmas gift. Best gift ever! He said, "What you're doing is good enough to record--why don't you do it?"
Honestly, I don't know that I would have done it as quickly or as seriously if he hadn't pushed me. We did really knock it out as quickly as we could. I didn't know Steve [Boaz] at the time, but we formed a relationship and a really good friendship. I realized it was a cohesive project. I went from, "Hi, my name is Katie and I play some songs" to a full blown EP.
Mayberry: Tell me about growing up in Norman.
Williams: Well, I grew up in Norman and lived three years in Los Angeles. There were quite a few people from Oklahoma out there! We stuck together in a little group. Other than that, Norman is the only place I've ever lived. I came back and wasn't doing music at all, so now it feels like a totally different town. I'm at a weird place now. Even if you have a CD, it doesn't mean that you like playing live. Now that I'm playing live, it's a new art form. Just because you can play live doesn't mean you're comfortable.
That's why I started at Michelangelo's. I realized that I'm just playing music in a room with other people, and I'm not going to die. It's a gracious room filled with people who are equally as scared out of their minds. Everyone's in it together.
Mayberry: Seeing the rise of a contemporary music scene, what does it mean to you to represent Oklahoma as an artist?
Williams: I couldn't be more proud to be associated with the artists here! Before I moved to Los Angeles, I couldn't wait to move out and gain a different perspective. Like I said, it's a completely different town to me now. In the three years I was in LA, I didn't see a single band or person that came close to the same caliber of artist that we have here. More importantly, I don't think I ever would have. Sometimes people get to know you and it interferes with your success later, but being from Oklahoma keeps me grounded. It's hard not to be a good person when you're from Oklahoma.
Mayberry: Just as a final note, what’s your favorite venue around the Metro area?
Williams: I still have to say The Deli. It has such an atmosphere. I've soaked up as such as I can. I used to plan my trips home from California to when Mama Sweet would play. The first time I got to play there, it was a milestone for me to cross the line from audience member to performer. I'll play there any day.
Check out her debut EP, Force of Nature available on Spotify and Bandcamp.