DITL Kathryn King

Kathryn King, a senior majoring in Film & Media Studies, talks about her experiences as a singer-songwriter and ways to further her passion.

As a child, learning Mozart and Beethoven on the piano, Kathryn King couldn't have imagined where her love for music would lead her. From playing 100-year-old pieces to creating her own, King has spent her four years in Lawrence breaking into the music scene as a singer, songwriter and collaborator. 

King, an Osage City native, has a schedule that includes work in the morning at the warehouse Sophia Global, classes in the afternoon, work again in the late afternoon and then homework.

Rarely does King have time outside of school and work, but on Monday nights she makes time for band rehearsal.

King is a film and media studies major as well as a religious studies minor, but what she really loves about Lawrence has more to do with its thriving music scene.

While King is a solo artist, she lends her talent for guitar, piano and back-up harmonies to the band Spencer Mackenzie Brown. King described her sound as an indie-pop sound and the band as a folk-rock type. 

“I actually knew them in middle school and we reconnected when I came to KU and they asked me to join. I joined them about two years ago," she said. 

John Benda is an Atwood native who serves as the drummer for Spencer Mackenzie Brown.

“Kathryn is one of those people who can actually play everybody else’s instruments just as well as they can,” Benda said. “It is incredibly easy to work with her because she speaks everyone’s language. She also has a real knack for arranging someone else’s songs, which plays a huge part in the band.”

Writing with Spencer Mackenzie Brown is a collaborative effort. The band contributes to the melody or the song structure and write until they are satisfied. Personally, King said she writes the most when she needs to express her emotions.

“I will usually start by playing my guitar and something will come to me, and I just roll with it.” King said. “Rarely do I sit down to try and force myself to write a song. I just kind of let it happen."

King said she feels the most motivated to write after a hard day or after something bad happens to her. She is able to use writing as a form of self-care and starts writing how she feels and then adds the music.

She said her mother, also a songwriter, is her biggest influence. Musicians she listens to daily include Regina Spektor, Paramore, Tallest Man on Earth and Chance the Rapper. Her biggest influence is Brandi Carlisle.

Though getting through school and graduating is her goal, her long-term goals mean more to her.

“Realistically, I see myself in Kansas City and hopefully I will continue with Spencer’s band,” King said. “If things keep picking up like they have been, I’d love to maybe go on a tour. I could see us getting asked to be an opener for someone.”

She said a vision for herself is being able to combine her love for music and her aspiration for films.

“Hopefully I can get a following in Kansas City. And also, I will hopefully be working in some kind of documentary company for my real job," King said.

Whether music ever becomes her career or not, King is already following her dreams with a clear vision for what she wants.

And her go-to karaoke song?

“Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 and Airplanes by B.O.B.," she said. “Oh, and Hips Don’t Lie.”

But, only when she’s feeling ambitious, she said.

—Edited by Paola Alor