10 in 10 with Belmont's Kat Saul

With 850,000 streams of her deep, delicious, dreamy pop hits, Belmont’s Kat Saul wants you to know she’s still the nerdy girl in the bar doing the robot. Yeah, and then some.

Photographed by Matt Blum

1. The women of Quadio would officially like to thank you for writing “Compromise.”

How’d it happen?

It came out of a songwriting session. I was with two of my close friends and, you know,

the pattern with these things is, you shoot the shit for the first hour that you’re in the

room together. I guess I had kind of glossed over some stuff going on in my life with,

“Eh, my relationship’s not going super well, but it’s okay, blah, blah, blah, and here’s this

other idea I have…” My friend Page was like, “Kat, no, no, no – rewind. That thing that

you said about not wanting to compromise. There’s something there. Tell me more about

that.”

It ended up being this amazing, cathartic experience, writing about that feeling – the

emotional struggle when you’re with someone and you want very different things.

Honestly, that’s a very special song for me.


2. Did you end up compromising?

I knew that by writing that song, I would come to the conclusion that we needed to break

up. I hated that I had to confront that reality, but I’m so glad I did. I had to. In the end, it

was as mutual as it could’ve been, even though all breakups suck.


3. Let’s start at the beginning. Musical family?

Actually, my family is so not musical. I’ve come this far, surprising my parents, who are

in insurance and accounting. Sometimes they’re like, “What is going on, you creative

kid? What did we do?”

I started with piano lessons at five, then a few years later, I stole my brother’s guitar. The

piano recitals were not my thing. The two-hand version of “Ode to Joy” -- I was so not

into that, so I started writing my own kind of stuff.

My granddad passed when I was young, and my first song with words that I was proud of

was for him. It was called, “You’re Still Here.” It definitely sounded like it was written

by a middle schooler, but I remember being proud that it had a little metaphor in there,

like, “We were in the kitchen, cooking up trouble,” and I was like, “That’s so clever!”

But more than that, it was a really cool experience for me, to be able to write about

something going on in my life. And I think that experience, doing it once, kind of got me

hooked.


4. A lot of people get “hooked.” Something happened between that and 850,000

streams on Spotify.

If there was an “a-ha” moment in there it was when I was 13. Every day, I would

commute to Nashville for school and I rode with a friend whose dad was in A&R. He

would have these CDs that publishers would send him of pitches for his artists, and he

would play songs for us, and ask us our opinions, and I remember thinking, “Woah, this

is a job? People write songs and perform them? And send their songs to other artists?”

And there’s like a thing called ‘songwriting rounds’ -- this is crazy!” And I think I just

subconsciously decided, “I want to be doing that; I want to be playing in Mr. Hendrick’s

car.”


I know what I want to say as an artist, and I want to embrace this. I just want to be open about being a pop artist and not just a Nashville songwriter.

5. And then?

Eventually, I got a driver’s license and car of my own, and drove to this place called

NSAI in Nashville – it’s a non-profit association where they sponsor lectures and classes

about the music industry. I walked in and said, “I want to be a songwriter.” They were

like, “That’s hysterical. That’s amazing. So does everyone here. Let’s teach you how to

do this.” I was 16.

I owe a lot to them, really. They educated me about good songwriting, and referred me to

some co-writers, and I just started writing all the time. Every day after school, I wrote. I

arranged my school schedule to make my study hall last period so I could leave school,

write or go to a lecture at NSAI, and be back for the football game. It became my life. I

was writing with anyone and everyone. And just being in Nashville, the non-country

scene at that time was Americana, so I fell into that type of music.


6. Americana? But you’re pure pop.

That happened at Belmont. It was almost like an intervention. I was playing a song for

my friend Jordan, and he was like, “Kat, you listen to pop music, right?” And I said,

“Yeah!” And he goes, “You know the songs that you write in your dorm room are pop

songs, right?” And I said, “Yeah?” And he says, “You can do that here, and that’s okay.”

It was mind-blowing. Suddenly, I realized, “Woah, this is what I am.” I know what I

want to say as an artist, and I want to embrace this. I just want to be open about being a

pop artist and not just a Nashville songwriter.


7. Was your main emotion relief?

Honestly, yeah. And I think on top of that, the main feeling was that I just could be

myself. The quality of my songs went up by like 80% -- because I could say what I

wanted to say and have it sound how I wanted it to sound, and I didn’t have to hold it up

to some weird metaphorical structure of what a “good song” should be.


Photographed by Matt Blum

8. You write a lot of autobiographical stuff, about love and relationships. Is there a

song that you’ve got the title for but haven’t written yet?

Oh, yes. I’ve been toying with this idea of a song around the concept of being an anti-

flirt. It stems from this time I went out with all my friends to a bar, and I was literally

wearing a turtleneck and doing the robot, and I have never gotten more numbers in my

entire life.

So, I guess I want to make a song that’s not totally nerdy or corny that says, I’m not this

ingenue, sexy girl; that’s so not me. I’m genuine, but I’m still cool. I feel like there’s a lot

of girls out there with that personality type, but there’s not music for us. I’m not sure how

to pull it off. Yet.


9. Speaking of being genuine, why do we get the feeling you’ve got some kind of secret,

quirky hobby?

Obviously, I hang out with my friends and stuff like that, but for hobbies, I guess it’s just

running. Not too quirky.


10. What do you listen to when you run?

A lot of punk rock, actually. There’s just something really real and emotional about it.

I think great pop music always captures that feeling, of just saying exactly what you want

to say. And granted, I have no intention of ever screaming in a song or anything like that,

but I think it’s cool that with punk, there are no rules. All great music is just straight from

the heart.


Check out Kat Saul below!


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