When Katie DuTemple first sang publicly she took everyone by surprise.
“I randomly decided to sing at a school fundraising concert in the tenth grade,” DuTemple says. “I sang, and it was just me and a piano.”
Her friends and family were left stunned.
“I still cannot tell you to this day what compelled me to do it,” she says. “I think maybe I wanted to be cool, but I am not even sure. My parents and everybody were so dumbfounded.”
It was after that performance that DuTemple realized she wanted to make a living as musician.
“Afterwards I realized that this is pretty much what I want to do,” DuTemple says. “I just loved it and it took off from there.”
Earlier this month, after years of developing her talent and a stint living overseas, DuTemple released her debut album Give and Grow.
“It’s all original compositions by me,” she says. “It sits somewhere between jazz, pop and electronica. It’s kind of a mix of all those with a little bit soul and folk influences as well. There are a wide range of emotions that are portrayed and it’s very honest work.”
Give and Grow was partly funded by a $4,000 project grant that DuTemple received from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). The Toronto-based artist applied five times before being approved.
“It’s an intense process,” DuTemple says. “There is something like 500 to 600 applicants and only about 70 people get funding.”
The OAC, which is similar to the British Columbia Arts Council, offers a wide range of grants and opportunities for musicians and artists alike. There are various types of grants that musicians can apply for such as a project or operating grant. In order to be considered for a project grant from the OAC, artists must meet a handful of requirements and demonstrate to the council that they are working on a project.
“You need to have a project that you’re working on or working towards. You can’t just simply say ‘I’m a musician give me money,’” DuTemple says. “You need to have a proposed project that you’re working on. You also have to be a professional musician, which means you have to be active in the industry and you have to have some sort basic training to show that you have spent time on your craft.”
DuTemple, who was born in Montreal but calls Toronto home, explains that the OAC does not ask musicians for a project budget beforehand, but rather requires applicants to fill out a form if they are approved.
“The expectation is that the project will likely be halfway completed or almost completed by the time that you do get the funds,” DuTemple explains. “I paid for studio time late in the year pretty close to after I applied. I had to pay for that studio time but I was able to use the grant money to pay for mixing and mastering.”
While DuTemple didn’t experience any challenges in creating content for Give and Grow she did run into delays during the production stage.
“It was longer than I expected,” she says. “I had to change my timeline of when I was going to release things and how much time I had to do stuff.”
DuTemple had originally planned for five days of recording at the CBC studio in Toronto and then to have the album mixed and mastered immediately after.
“I did the first two days of instruments then I did a day for vocals,” she says. “Then I was going to do two days for mixing right after and when I was talking to someone in the studio they said it was more beneficial to do it outside of the CBC.”
She elected to have the mixing and mastering done by someone outside of the CBC studio because it saved her the cost of having to pay for additional studio time. While the idea was great, it resulted in Give and Grow being completed six months later.
DuTemple’s musical beginnings date back to when she learned to play the French horn in grade 5.
“I didn’t really like it but I was good at it,” DuTemple says.
She was also involved with theatre performances and school choirs and in grade eight she began to learn to play the piano.
In 1999, DuTemple and her family moved to the Czech Republic. She spent her high school years in Prague and says the music she listened to impacted her own musical style.
“My musical influences stem from a lot of different places,” she says. “Mainly the stuff I write is deeply influenced by a lot of stuff that I would hear on this radio station in Prague that played a lot of electronica, drum and bass and hip hop.”
As a teenager DuTemple loved exploring new music.
“I find that when you’re a teenager that’s when you’re an emotional and a very passionate person,” she says. “Every free weekend I was at the record store digging through CD’s and listening to new artists and buying new albums.”
After six years of living in Europe, DuTemple returned to Canada in 2004 and experienced culture shock.
“I didn’t know who Avril Lavigne was when I came back. Somebody had to tell me,” she says. “I had to learn a lot about Canadian culture. I had never heard of Family Guy. There were a whole bunch of references to Canadiana stuff during a six-year period where I had no idea what anyone was talking about.”
That same year she enrolled in Jazz studies at York University and graduated in 2008. While at York, she was mentored by Sacha Williamson and Bob Fenton.
DuTemple remembers being at a music workshop when she met Fenton for the first time.
“Bob was 78 when I met him and he had this old Detroit Pistons trucker hat on and this old shirt and high waisted pants and one of those nasal strips you wear at night when you go to bed. I remember thinking am I in the right place?” she says.
However, the moment Fenton began playing the piano DuTemple knew she was in the right the place.
“Rumour had it he had played with Billie Holiday, but he never talked about it,” she says. “He had crazy stories and he changed my perspective on how I think of singing. He made sure we made it a story.”
To see a cover of PJ Harvey and John Parish’s “That Was My Veil” performed by Du Temple with Robb Cappelletto at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on Oct. 15 go to youtube.com/watch?v=yg6EaKMfNSc&feature=youtu.be&a.
For more information on DuTemple and her new album visit katiedutemple.com or follow @KatieDuTemple on Twitter.