Kate Stewart continues to carve out an audience in the world of R&B, turning simple melodies into soul-stirring tunes. Having ramped up anticipation for her next body of work via songs like “The Game” and “Hate You,” that time has finally arrived. She’s currently gearing up to debut her first project in nearly five years.
In 2023, Kate’s musical career took an exciting turn with a new deal with The Orchard. Her upcoming six-track EP, You Had To Be There, is a testament to her growth. Initially planned to release last year, the updated body of work combines elements of romance, self-discovery, and a sense of nostalgic connection to the music of the early ’90s. Each track reveals a different aspect of her personality and musical prowess.
Songs like “Everybody Loves Me” off the project exude confidence, providing listeners with a sense of empowerment. With “F**k You,” Kate blends brash lyrics with honey-hued melodies, setting her apart from other artists. Meanwhile, “Never Enough” comes through as a sultry entry in the musician’s discography. It serves as the lead single, accompanied by a live visual that complements the song’s overall tone.
In our Q&A with Kate Stewart, the singer gave us the deets on You Had To Be There, her goals for the year, and working on another project amid putting out the current. Read our conversation below.
It’s been a bit under a year since we last spoke. What have you been up to these past 12 months?
I’ve been finishing off this project that comes out in October. I kind of had it done in my mind, and then kind of scrapped a lot of it, went to New York, and redid quite a lot of it. So I was literally just been writing a lot this year. Last year, I was trying to finish this project and make everything sound really cohesive. Then I’ve started on the second one already. So that’s basically what I’ve been doing.
How do you feel about it so far?
I feel good. I feel really good about it. I’m really, really excited about this project. It’s the first project I’ve done that really feels like me. Since I scrapped quite a lot of them and started again, I honed in on a specific sound. So I feel very comfortable with the choices that I’ve made, the way that I’ve presented the project, all of the visuals that I’ve done, and pictures and press shorts, and everything just feels very authentic.
Initially, you were supposed to put the EP last year, but things have seemingly changed. What happened?
I didn’t change my mind, but I’m really happy that I that it didn’t work out that way. A few things happened just behind the scenes with my team and stuff like that. At the time, it felt annoying that I wasn’t able to put it out. In hindsight, I’m happy that I got this extra time to keep writing. I guess everything happens for a reason. So yeah, I didn’t want to keep doing it. I just wanted to start fresh.
“Never Enough” dropped last month — how do you feel about the reception it’s gotten so far?
Thank you. I feel good. It’s been. Sometimes when you step out for a little bit. Since my last song to this one, it was quite a long time, which again, was something that was out of my hands because I had the music ready to go. So I feel like when you step out, it takes a little while for two people to come back and know that you dropped music again. The reception that I’ve had has been really great.
I can’t really ask for much more other than people just loving the song and finding that it’s like a new start to the project that I’m about to drop. So I feel good about it.
What inspired the song?
You know what, I wrote it like a really, really long time ago. I actually can’t even remember when I wrote it. I just know it was over a year ago, maybe longer. I wrote it with my brother and Jess, who are like really big pop writers. My brother does a lot of producing for K-pop and that kind of genre, which I don’t usually do. Whenever I get in a session with them, I know we’re going to make a big pop record.
I wanted to have at least one of those on my project. I don’t know what inspired that initial day because it was so long ago. I think I must have been listening to The Weeknd at the time or something because it gives me that kind of energy, that kind of pot but not too cheesy, mainstream but not too cringy. In my eyes, if I do say so myself, it’s a perfect pop song.
Let’s talk about You Had to Be There! What does the title mean?
I always think that when you tell a story, if someone doesn’t really get it, they might find it hilarious or not get it. It’s all relative. Like, you could tell a story and the outcome of the person listening. You just had to be there to understand exactly what was going on. A lot of the songs on the projects are very conceptual.
They have very strong concepts. You might understand it and relate to it, or you might not. So I just called it “You Had to Be There” because you might relate to it, or you might be completely distant from it. Either way, you know.
I love the new creative direction you’re going in. Can you tell me more about it?
Thank you. I’ve been through a lot of different vibes when it comes to thinking about the direction of the pictures and my styling. Because this EP is very vocal forward and very stripped back, I wanted to do the same with my look. I had to make sure I represented myself in all of the pictures. I wanted to make sure nothing was too high fashion or too editorial, or too cartoon-like. In my previous pictures, my face was a bit warped. Even though I love them, they didn’t look like me.
So, I wanted to make sure the vision is clear. It goes with the music and goes with who I am, which is a bit more stripped back and calmer than doing full fashion every time.
What else is on your bucket list for 2023?
For 2023, I feel like we’re already halfway through it. If I’m gonna be honest, I don’t set myself targets that are unreachable for the time period. So for this end of the year, I’m starting to write my second project, which I’m keen to finish by the end of the year.
I’m kind of halfway through, and I’m happy with what I’ve got. I just want to keep writing. Obviously, I’m going to put this current project out in October. I hope it’s received well and I get a lot of love for my voice. At the end of the day, that’s what I want to be known for. I want to be known for my vocals. I hope I can achieve that with this EP. I want to find a new group of people that really love my voice.