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Songtrust Spotlight: Katie Toupin

Katie Toupin has found a home in her role as a solo artist after leaving the critically acclaimed alt-country band, Houndmouth, in 2016. Toupin has since released a live EP, “Moroccan Ballroom,” a self-produced album “Magnetic Moves," and her newest creation, a mini-album, “Little Heart,” released July 9th, 2021.


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I was inspired by going to the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2007 and seeing The White Stripes perform. The entirety of the festival made music as a career seem tangible while The White Stripes left me feeling amazed. I couldn't believe two people could create such a powerful experience and it was something that changed the course of my life. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I have no idea. I hate this question. I don't subscribe to a genre, I am open to any sound that inspires me. It has been suggested to me before that I lean into one, but I don't feel I can create that which I am not, authentically. There is a place for an all Americana-woman, an all-rock woman, an all country-woman, an all singer-songwriter woman...I just can't be that. 

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

I have seen all sides of "success." Now, for me, success is doing what brings me joy. Which is more often than not doing something for others, with a greater purpose outside of myself. Anytime I have veered from that philosophy, the outcome has been unpleasant. 

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

My parents have helped me the most. My dad taught me to play. Both of my parents supported my decision to pursue it as a career. It would have been much more challenging to have gone this path without them. 

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

I actually started a resource, called "Camp KT," for this reason on Patreon. The music industry is ever-changing and so many artists beat themselves up over the numbers. We've all been guilty of comparison stealing the joy. This community is one of unwavering support. From guest speakers to clear up information (like having Anna Bond from Songtrust on) or to motivate, to the Camp KT Talent Show that streams live on YouTube and Facebook, it is meant to give information, opportunity, and support. We remind each other WHY we do it and know we aren't alone in our struggles with the music industry.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?

Phew! Book More Women is an account that I follow that I'd highly recommend for everyone to take a look at. I am saddened to say that not a ton of progress has been made since I began playing music. We still see an overwhelming amount of men on festival line-ups. One thing I KNOW needs to change is women need to support other women in this industry.

There is also a competitiveness sparked by the scarcity illusion that the music industry paints. That is the part women can consciously reverse. We also need more women in gate-keeper positions - at labels, as managers, publishers, etc. It starts at the top. We need more allies to open those doors and women to fight for those positions. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Don't involve yourself in a group where you are the minority if the group doesn't understand the responsibility they have to respect the equality of your voice. That would be just one piece of advice. Mostly just how much your voice matters and how not to let anyone take advantage of you. 

FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY?

It's industry-wide. I would say this is a deep-seated issue. One where rock and roll was painted by the male "rockstars" and the female "groupies." Where the incentive for being on stage was to "get the women." This is what the music industry was, and still is, in many ways. Even as a woman doing the same thing as men, I often felt l was treated no different than "a groupie." I don't feel that way anymore because I have realized my worth and don't allow for much bullshit.

I often have to put politeness aside, which is difficult for the southerner in me. But it shouldn't be my responsibility to expect the same treatment as men. I have seen this degrading behavior from EVERYONE in the industry - from booking agents to musicians to managers. It is truly disgusting. If you wonder "maybe I shouldn't say that," THEN DON'T. You honestly wouldn't believe the things said to me by people that WORKED FOR ME. Women have to work four times as hard to get the same respect as men. Going back to your previous question, when we are young we accept these things as the "norm." That is my biggest regret and I'm having to do a ton of work to "reprogram" the normalization of it. 

WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?

"Let me be of service" is my mantra. I try to look through my life experiences from a lens of gratitude so that my experiences equip me with wisdom to help instill change for the better. I also will add, that there are tons of men that I have in my life currently that ARE NOT what I have described. I in no way hate men! These men give me a lot of hope and empowerment and I'm so grateful for them.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?

2022 has a lot of stuff coming up that I can't talk about yet. A few things I CAN speak on -  I am playing SXSW - my first-time SOLO, first time back in five years! I've got a great band so it should be a lot of fun. I have a Blink-182 Tribute EP coming out where all streaming will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! I also will be continuing to grow my podcast "Toupin Talks" and my Artist Resource "Camp KT"!

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