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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