Award-winning Melbourne-based pop singer-songwriter Celeste Kate has released her new single “Can you hold my hand instead” which is her second collaboration on a Single release. The song was co-written and produced by Scottish artist Andrew Tomney on her first acoustic-styled studio release.
‘Can you hold my hand instead’ looks at love and romance through the lens of taking things slowly and focusing on emotional intimacy before physical intimacy. Holding hands has become undervalued and, in many ways, non-existent in an age where sex is so easily obtained and freely given away.
“This song talks about the experience at the start of a new romantic relationship.” The physical side of a relationship is simple, but developing emotional intimacy in a new relationship is more difficult. It reminds us of how vulnerable we are and how the fear of being hurt can prevent us from leaning into our partner for the emotional support we require as humans.”
Celeste Kate shared more about herself and her music in a recent interview with Mister Styx of Musicarenagh
Get the full story below:
What is your stage name? Celeste Kate
Is there a story behind your stage name?
Celeste is my first given name and Kate is my second given name. My surname is Polson, but I feel like Celeste Kate has more of a ring to it than Celeste Polson.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m really inspired by female artists and female singer-songwriters. I guess this is because I can relate to them on so many levels, what it’s like to be female in this world and in the music industry. I’m drawn to artists who write music with heartfelt emotional music lyrics, that’s what inspires me to write when I’m writing from my own personal experiences.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
Music has always been a therapy to me ever since I discovered it. It’s a way that I can tune out from the sadness and realities of the real world and the only way I can completely switch off my monkey mind. There are so few ways that we can fully be present and live in the moment where we’re not constantly distracted by smartphones and devices and I feel that music is the main one for me. It’s a saviour to my soul.
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
My older sister is also musically inclined. If anything, she was the extroverted sanguine child, always into singing and acting, creating and being involved in plays and musical theatre as a young child and teen, while I was the shy introverted being who spent most of my time hiding away at the piano. My mum learned the piano as a child and wanted to learn to sing but wasn’t encouraged by her teacher and I think that really led to her heavily encouraging my sister and I to have the opportunity with singing and piano lessons and even dance, drama and musical theatre.
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
My first music teacher was Bruce Keck who taught me piano, singing, and choir. He encouraged me to teach piano because my sight reading was at a high level. My vocal coach Rae Bainger in my early 20s also encouraged me to audition for musicals and classical singing competitions, as she was teaching me opera and classical techniques.
In terms of my original music, a vocal coach I studied with briefly towards the end of high school encouraged me to pursue a career in writing and performing my own original music but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I felt that I could step into and really embrace that part of me, as I think I lived with some limiting beliefs at the time.
People throughout childhood tried to put me into a box, labeling me as a “piano player” rather than a singer. But I always felt in my heart that it was my heart’s desire and my dream to be a Singer-songwriter, writing and performing my own songs.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I learned to play piano and sing from some wonderful teachers to who I’m forever indebted, likes of Bruce Keck, Phillip Johnston, and Rae Bainger. I didn’t learn to write music from anyone in particular. There was no mentor or coach who taught me that skill.
It was just a skill that I learned to develop myself over many years of terrible writing and failed journal entries and failed songwriting attempts. I read lots of books about the craft and business of songwriting and I started to implement the advice and tips they were giving me.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
Ooh, does this include from childhood? It’d have to be the Playschool concert haha. Although I think the first concert as an adolescent that really left an impression on me was when I saw The Corrs live at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. I was high on the way they combined their pop sound with traditional Irish instruments like the Bodhran and tin whistle and traditional Irish instrumental jigs. It was Sharon’s Violin playing that I really loved.
How could you describe your music?
This is always a tough question to answer because I’m not particularly good with defining genres, but what I will say is that it’s largely inspired by my foundational learning in classical singing and classical piano. In saying that though, I do have songs that are more jazz/blues inspired like the self-titled song from my EP “I’ve been waiting”. It could perhaps be described as contemporary and alternative indie pop music with elements of classical, theatrical and jazz.
Describe your creative process.
I would say it’s very old school in a sense. I typically write lyrics first and then put the music to them. If I’m traveling and don’t have a piano with me I’ll record a vocal idea on my phone (very basic) and then once I’m at the piano I’ll work out what chords I think best suit that melody or often change the melody to suit a chord progression I find myself playing.
What is your main inspiration?
What inspires me to write music has changed over time. In the beginning, it was completely self-indulgent – expressing my woes or feelings on whatever the subject might be. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, and I still do that from time to time, I find what inspires me these days is to write music that I hope will help people. Homelessness and mental illness are two topics close to my heart, so they tend to come up a lot in my writing now.
What musician do you admire most and why?
There are so many it’s hard to pinpoint just one, but I would have to say Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller – Heidke is at the top of the list. She worked hard from the very start of her career and didn’t take shortcuts in the industry or rely on being discovered on reality TV as I think some artists tend to do these days. She came from divorced parents and a background in tertiary music studies – both of which I did too, so I can relate to her on those levels as well.
Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Yes. I used to write a lot of sad, melancholic songs when I first started composing. I think I took life too seriously and my music was a direct reflection of that. I guess the more I learned about life and adulting and the more I learned to laugh at myself and at life, the more I could write from different places – sarcasm, hope, joy, empathy, love..
Who do you see as your main competitor?
That’s an interesting question and one I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before. It’s not something I’ve really given much thought to. I think of sport as being competitive but don’t view music as a competition. I find that comparing myself to others is just the thief of all joy and so I try to just focus on being the best version of myself.
What are your interests outside of music?
Many random things: Badminton, yoga, hikes, Latin dancing, when it comes to food, I love a good cheese and wine pairing and I live for fresh seafood. Give me a dozen natural oysters and some prawns with a sav blanc and I’m pretty content
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
It’s hard to know exactly, but something that involves helping people, whether that be helping people change their circumstances or their mindset and develop a more fulfilling version of themselves and a more fulfilling life.
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Overthinking or underthinking decisions. The music industry has changed so dramatically over the last 20 years. With the digital age it’s never been so easy for every man and his dog to become an artist, develop a following, and “get discovered”, but on the same token, it’s equally harder to navigate now more than ever with so many platforms and opportunities. It can be hard to know whether what you’re doing is right for your music and whether it’s going to benefit you and your music or not.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
To have royalties from all streaming platforms paid at a much fairer return for the artist. It still flabbergasts me when I think that one stream from a platform such as Spotify or Apple only pays the artist $0.003 – $0.005 per stream on average.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I’ll be playing a series of gigs around Melbourne to launch my new Single “Can you hold my hands instead” including a very exciting music industry networking event called “Exposure” on September 19 over at Kindred Bandroom in Yarraville, Melbourne.
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans?
I’m always looking for other artists to collaborate with on writing new material. My recent single was a joint collaboration with Andrew Tomney, an artist originally from Scotland, who co-wrote and produced “Can you hold my hand instead” with me. We also perform the song live, together with some of my other songs.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
Forget rejection and negativity. Use it instead to fuel your fire to do what it is that you know you are called to do, and do it well. I think that can be applied to whatever industry you’re in.