In 2007 Kate McGill was a teenage YouTube singing sensation with videos receiving over a million views. But she's stopped the covers, said goodbye to her YouTube account, scrapped the name and now is one half of Meadowlark - an indie-pop band, so we had a chat with her to find out more about her new ventures and why she made the decision to stop the YouTube covers!
Hi Kate, introduce yourself to us…
I'm Kate McGill, 26 and living in Bristol. I'm the singer in a duo called Meadowlark and I'm a bit of a hippy...
Many of our #iswaigirls will remember watching your stripped back YouTube cover videos, did your success come as a surprise?
Definitely. I remember the elation I felt when I reached 100 subscribers. And it just kept growing! As did my bewilderment. I couldn't fathom that that many people were listening to me sing. I still can't really get my head around it to be honest!
How did it feel saying ‘goodbye’ to Kate McGill and your YouTube channel?
It felt really empowering at the time. I Google'd my name one time (don't act like you haven't done the same ha!) and the first thing that came up was 'Kate McGill is most known for her covers of Adele and Mumford & Sons...'. It was at that moment I had to re-think everything. I didn't want to be known for that. I write my own songs and am much more than just a cover girl, so it just felt natural to leave that part of my life where it was and start something fresh.
Were there any negatives starting your career in such an open forum?
To be honest, I haven't really noticed any negatives. Only positives. When I interact with people who support me online, they seem to understand and connect with me straight away just from watching some of my videos. And then I meet them in person at shows and it's like I've known them for years. That can only be a good thing!
Out of all of the many covers you did, do you have one that remains your favourite?
I'm still really proud of my cover of New Slang by The Shins. I love that song so much and I had the most fun interpreting it!
How did Meadowlark come about?
My friend Dan (the other half of Meadowlark) came up to Bristol to see The Tallest Man On Earth at Colston Hall. He stopped by mine beforehand for a drink and we started talking about our musical endeavours at the time. I mentioned that I was looking to start something new and get out of the solo thing, and he said he was growing a bit tired of the rock band he was in. I text him that evening to see if he wanted to jam some time, and the rest is history! It was the most natural thing.
How would you describe Meadowlark’s sound?
I'd say it's melancholy indie-pop. We struggle to write happy songs, ha! Not sure why as we're very happy positive people.
If you could cover any song that’s around right now what would it be?
I'd say No Pressure by Justin Bieber; the man himself. I am obsessed with this song right now! And I like believing that I can sing it as well as he can. Not sure Dan would be on board with this choice though...
Do you have an original song you’re proudest of?
What a tough question. Ok... of the Kate McGill stuff, I'd have to say 'You' or 'Weave'. I literally can't pick. And of the Meadowlark stuff - I'd have to say a song called 'Sunlight', which you'll all hear one day. I've danced around my room to it way too many times already!
Who’s your biggest musical influence?
I have so many! I'm a HUGE lover of pop music in general. But then I love Bon Iver, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Polyenso... I can't pick. They're all huge influences.
What are you experiences of being a female in the music industry? Were you afraid of being pigeon holed?
When I started playing music at 17, I was so unaware of sexism in general, let alone in the music industry. It's only really come to my attention in the last 2 or 3 years. And luckily, the Meadowlark team we have now are all incredible and I've not experienced anything gross like that. They also know that if I was pigeon holed in any way, I would say something and definitely not comply. It's 100% tougher for women in the industry though... I remember when we were looking for management back in the day; we were all sat around for dinner, and this potential manager told me I wouldn't be allowed to eat McDonald's anymore. Needless to say I had one right after just to prove a point.
Who are your female icons?
My main icon has to be Marina Diamandis. I watched a talk of hers recently where she spoke about her most recent album campaign and how she wanted to do the whole thing herself. From songwriting to marketing. She just owns everything she does. Even her tweets have me bowing down in agreement.
What’s the idea behind ‘Kate’s Mysterious Monthly Musical Parcel’?
I kinda missed the creativity and the sharing of the old YouTube days - and wanted to find a way to still be able to do these things! I'm writing all the time too, and sometimes what I'm writing doesn't fit Meadowlark, but I still want to share it. So I thought I'd do a subscription-based musical gift. It's crazy helpful for me too. Being a musician is so so great, but it can be quite financially draining. So when someone subscribes for £1 a month, I'm way closer to being able to pay rent ha!
What exciting things do you have coming in the pipeline?
We are just finishing the mixing of the debut Meadowlark album which is very exciting for me personally! We have quite a lot of shows coming up in May too which I also can't wait for. A lot of things are coming, I just can't say anything about them...!
And finally, what are your words of wisdom to our #iswaigirls?
Literally no one can be you better than you can. Rest in the knowledge that you are the BEST at being you. How cool is that?