The summer before my senior year, I had a job working as the receptionist at a tractor store. (I think I also detailed boats and worked for a landscaping company that summer, but that’s neither here nor there.) That year, a group of my good friends all went to summer camp at a little place called The Malibu Club. It’s tucked away in a remote inlet in British Columbia. My friend Andrew brought me back a gift—the CD from the camp musician. Apparently, she was a bad-ass, guitar-looping singer songwriter from Nashville and all his camp counselors had mad crushes.
The album was Weightless; the artist was Katie Herzig.
That year, I fell in love with every track on that album. Katie was the first artist and songwriter who made me think, “I could do this. I might want to do this.” Fast-forward 5 years, and I found myself in the same position of camp musician belting out top 40 songs with a bunch of teenagers, sharing my original music each night and fending off over-eager male counselors like I was a defensive-lineman. (I wish I were joking.) Katie Herzig has been the most personally inspiring musician in my life thus far. For that reason and many others, she had to make the Year of the Tribute list.
For me, Katie Herzig is an artist who writes songs that give voice to feelings I’ve never been able to articulate myself. I think that’s the noblest cause a lyricist can take up—to go through the painstaking work of articulating your own grief, desire, infatuation and confusion so when people hear your songs, they feel understood. Have you ever heard a lyric and thought to yourself, “How did they know?”
Needless to say, Herzig’s music is comprised of heartfelt lyrics. She has an enchanting and unique tambour to her voice. Her production is full of rich soundscapes and symphonic surprises. She’s also a total #girlboss and multi-instrumentalist who does much of her own production. The tone of her music ranges from ethereal to playful, sultry to quirky to spiritual and absurdist. I would describe her genre as dreamy folk pop. Her four albums have become subsequently more electronic over the years, but have stayed true to her musical DNA. One of the meta-themes of Year of the Tribute is artists who have undergone an authentic, graceful musical evolution. I hope to follow in their footsteps.
I have often said I want to be Katie Herzig when I grow up. (Ask my mom, it’s true.) I stand by my statement. She has had an incredibly versatile career. Her music has been licensed for innumerable film, TV shows and commercials. She has opened for acts such as Brandi Carlile, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson and The Fray—just to name a few. She was a contributing producer on Ingrid Michaelson’s album Lights Out including the hit single, “Girls Chase Boys”.
I never dreamed of being a professional musician and neither did she. She majored in journalism. I wanted to be a teacher, a medical translator, a linguist, anything but a professional musician. But no matter what I do, music continues to find me. It camps out on my front doorstep until I give it the attention that it deserves. It has led to my greatest adventures and opportunities. I stumbled upon this quote by Katie and I think it’s the perfect way to sum up this second to last Year of the Tribute blog.
“I never set out to do what I do, I just kept loving it and doing it. Then there was a moment when I realized that’s how I was making a living and it was a pretty crazy thing to realize. There were a lot of things I think I would have loved doing with my life, I think I just realized it’s less to do with what you think of or dream of, and more to do with what you just do…. over and over again, and that can always shift as time goes by. One thing leading to another.”