The music industry is in desperate need of a makeover. Obviously, it’s nothing new but we still need to push the change forward in a direction of inclusivity and diversity. Despite the proportion and long-term presence of the problem, we tend to forget and stay passive. That’s why we need constant reminders and there are no better ones than the musicians themselves. Katbrownsugar is one of them. Passionate, people-driven and with no bullshit policy.
Kat is a Manchester-based musical multitasker, from performing on neo-soul scene, DJing to recently curating her own radio show. The story of becoming a powerhouse she is now have started early on. “I was always a singer. I did that my whole life, in college, in university. I always wanted to DJ but I could never afford the equipment because it’s quite expensive and then my friend taught me five or four years ago. I got into it from there,” she shares.
Kat’s tunes are like instant balms for the soul, packed neatly into a song-size format. “The music that I make is a blend of neo-soul, future sounds. I love working with saxophones and guitars. That kind of vibe. Chilled out,” she says. Her latest EP ‘Neo Stoned’ is the essence of her signature, and for the first time ever self-produced, sound. Created in lockdown, it bears marks of artists who influenced her along the way and impressed with their excellence in various areas of music-making: Amy Winehouse with songwriting abilities, J Dilla with production and Angie Stone as a total package.
Artists that shaped Kat’s musical taste have also found their way into her style of Djing that has fused into something completely else. “It’s like a melting pot of neo-soul, chilled-out hip-hop, all kinds of R&B but then also R&B from the North East from when I was younger, what I used to listen to. It’s all that together,” she shares and admits that she wants to be in charge of this mixture, from choosing primary lyrical ingredients to spicing it up in production. “I would really like to develop myself as an artist and a producer. That side is the most important when I’m making my own music and my own songs,” she says and firmly proclaims: “I really want to perfect that and make work that I’m really proud of.”
There’s always space for growth but it’s praise time now. When the world has stopped and gone crazy to the pandemic tempo, Kat made great use of hours in isolation, a plague of negativity spreading across social media and anger that it caused. “I remember thinking, ‘Is everyone racist? Does everyone hate me?’. I was literally getting in such a negative space because you just see it everywhere. […] Around the same time, someone told me about this app that you can use to make your own radio station. That’s my retirement dream, to have my own radio station,” she explains. What started as an experiment broadcast from a bedroom, now has turned into a year-old platform supporting young creatives, Sweet Vibrations. “We have DJs from across the world selecting neo-soul, R&B. It’s something I’m really proud of. It’s like my baby,” Kat smiles. Their first event is only a month away now.
Kat’s well-aware of the importance of initiatives like this and the positive influence it can have on the community, especially that it’s a kind of support she could’ve used when growing up. “I feel so blessed to be where I am just because where I come from wasn’t so great. I see that as a really important job for me to pass that down and to help the community to empower black women, to empower the LGBTQ. It’s about people who can select neo-souls. It’s not about followers, your fanbase, how much experience you have. I just want to bring a community worldwide of people that love this genre. I never want Sweet Vibrations to be about ‘we empower LGBTQ or we empower black women’. I just want it to be that. Just naturally, it’s that,” she shares.
It’s all about showing up, giving space for diverse talent and encouraging creatives not to be afraid to use their voice. Katbrownsugar makes sure hers is loud and clear on the Manchester music scene which she loves so much. “We really got these people who are pushing through and making it in the mainstream. The scene is popping for that in Manchester. It’s sick that I get to play there,” she says.
This summer Kat’s a busy bee, from performing, writing to collaborating with Unlock Your City project that she created a song for to go with their virtual reality experience. “They are such a cool brand to work with because they really love my individuality and the style that I’m doing. They really appreciate that and want to promote creative youth. It’s such a sick thing to be a part of a company that cares so much about emerging creative talent and being supportive of what you do as well,” Kate explains.
Here and now, there’s nothing more important than giving a push to the people that deserve a breakthrough, especially in the current political climate. Kat knows it’s about time to take power back and steer in the direction you want to head. In her case, it’s towards UK’s biggest stages. We’re excited to watch her on the journey to the ultimate neo-soul paradise.
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