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Kat McDowell - JPop.com
Artist info
Kat McDowell

Kat McDowell

Kat McDowell


In August 2009, Kat McDowell released her first full album, “Echoes over the ocean”, produced by internationally acclaimed Yashiki Gota. With a combination of catchy acoustic guitar-led melodies and powerful lyrics sung in a blend of Japanese and English, her folk-pop style has captured the attention of Japanese audiences. Born in Tokyo and raised in New Zealand from the age of five, Kat has always loved music. As a child, she could be found listening to tapes of Japanese folk singer Iruka Read more on Last.fm
In August 2009, Kat McDowell released her first full album, “Echoes over the ocean”, produced by internationally acclaimed Yashiki Gota. With a combination of catchy acoustic guitar-led melodies and powerful lyrics sung in a blend of Japanese and English, her folk-pop style has captured the attention of Japanese audiences. Born in Tokyo and raised in New Zealand from the age of five, Kat has always loved music. As a child, she could be found listening to tapes of Japanese folk singer Iruka, whose song “Nagoriyuki” she would one day take to the top of Japan’s vinyl charts with a bilingual cover version.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. When she first decided that she wanted to be a singer, her mum told her to give up the dream - she didn’t have the natural talent required. But Kat took her mother’s words as a challenge, began to write lyrics for which, as a teenager, she went on to win multiple prizes. Having studied Jazz at university, Kat then set out with her guitar to explore the live music scene outside of New Zealand.

Her first stop was the UK, where she took to the stage at various venues, including the prestigious Rock Garden in London’s Covent Garden. On arrival in Japan, she began to make a name for herself as a session singer – this paid the bills whilst she worked on her own music. However, as she didn’t sing in Japanese at the time she was told that she wouldn’t make it as a solo artist. Feeling that perhaps this wasn’t the place for her after all, she prepared to leave - but at the last minute was spotted by a Sony Music scout, and signed a short-term contract.

The label, however, found her difficult to categorise. She wasn’t a big name from overseas, and despite her now starting to sing in Japanese, she looked like too much of a foreigner to be promoted as a local artist. These experiences have been reflected in her music. In ‘Apple of My Eye’, the third track on Echoes over the ocean, we find her standing on a bridge staring into the water - wondering who she really is.

But such challenges only made Kat more determined, and finally, in 2007, the effort paid off when she was offered a contract with Avex subsidiary Binyl, the label behind Canadian-Japanese crossover success Monkey Majik. Since then, Kat has released several mini-albums, and has had the opportunity to work with top musicians. Her first full album, Echoes over the ocean (released August 2009), was produced by the internationally renowned Yashiki Gota, known for his work with Bjork, Simply Red, Seal and Depeche Mode. Outside of the recording studio, Kat has also been recognized for her performances in two high profile TV advertising campaigns, for Mastumoto Kiyoshi and Hitocomu.

One reason for Kat’s popularity is the uplifting style of her music. Her energy and passion shine through, whilst the catchy melodies from her guitar remain with you throughout the day. Part of her motivation for writing this kind of music is to make her audience smile - having briefly experienced depression herself she is only too aware of what a big problem it is here in Japan; thus, through her music she hopes people will find inspiration and hope. Kat has also found a warm welcome on Japan’s beaches, and in 2009 became the official artist of the Association of Surfing Professionals, which saw her take centre stage at numerous live concerts around Japan. Subsequently, she also appeared in and provided music for the New Zealand surf-road movie ‘Velvet’.

In total, she has now given over 1000 live performances, including providing support for Raul Midon on his Japan tour, and alongside artists such as Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado and Linkin Park at the huge Summer Sonic Festival. As for the future, Kat is working to establish herself internationally. With all of her songs having been originally written in English, she’s looking to introduce her unique blend of Japanese city / New Zealand beach vibes to a wider audience through live shows and a second album release. In October 2009 she’ll be heading down to Perth, Australia, for an international music festival where she’ll be collaborating with Old Man River. Read more on Last.fm.

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