Kate Schutt is an award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer whose voice NPR calls “glassily clear and glossily sweet.”Americana Highways names her new album Bright Nowhere “Superb...one of the year’s best.” American Songwriter calls it “illuminating” and “the work that ought to bring her the wider recognition she so decidedly deserves.” Kate’s songs have won top honors from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and ASCAP, and she’s shared stages with Terri Lyne Carrington, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Scott Colley, and Bernard Perdie, to name only a few.
For all information on Kate and her work: https://linktr.ee/kateschutt
Her TEDx Talk: https://bit.ly/3EcB7Ip
Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast site:
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3swezAe
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/3s79IoZ
Ashley Rindsberg: So Kate Schutt thank you so much for joining me on the burning castle podcast. It's really great to see you in this context because we've worked together, talk together about different things. Hopefully things that we'll get into on this podcast today, because they're important. But before we jump in, I just want to give people a sense of who you are, what you do, where you come from. And I'd rather that you do it instead of me, so please,
Kate Schutt: well, first of all, thank you for having me. It's a real honor. And every time we've spent any time together have really been impressedand just sort of felt like I met a kindred spirit.
So who am I? Kate, my name is Kate Schutt. My last name is spelled S C H U T T, but I pronounce it like shut the door is an easy way to remember it. I do two things. The first thing is I'm a musician I write and sing and perform music. That sounds like a lost jazz standard. That's that's how I describe it. AKA jazz pop, kind of I also say that, you know, the songs I write or I endeavored to write because I don't always succeed. Are the kinds of songs that Ella Fitzgerald or Billy Holiday would be singing if they were alive today.
Ashley Rindsberg: Wow that's a great way to think about it
Kate Schutt: yeah. My Cole, my, my songwriting hero is Cole Porter. So one of my songs that's always sort of trying to always write a song that sounds like that, but of course filtered through my own perspective. So that's the first thing I do. And the second thing I do is I'm a life coach more specifically, I'm a change coach. I help people help walk athletes, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, artists. You know, seasoned and unseasoned through major changes in their life and change seems to be the through line. I have a very wide array of clients and all walks of life, all shapes and sizes, all ages, all, everything you can think of. And the through line seems to be people trying to make or wanting to make are craving to make you sort of massive change.in their life.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And it's something you know, just looking at your bio and you know, at what you're doing right now, it's like, is changes something that is, that seems to be a through line for you and your life. I mean, it's like you look at you know, you've done so much and you do so much currently, and that ranges from the music to the coaching, to the work that you do for the Ucross foundation, which is. So important and stretching all the way back to your, your university experience where, you know, I believe you studied poetry and you can inform us exactly what it was at Harvard. And at the same time and correct me if I'm wrong again, you were a D one athlete, which is really wild. I mean you don't see that everyday.
It's like, there's not a lot of those out there to support D one athlete division one athlete, which is really the creme de LA creme of athletics while studying poetry at Harvard.
And then going on to as effectively, what is the Harvard of music, which is Berkeley, Berkeley college of music. So, and, you know, That's a lot. And it's, it's a lot of, it's a lot of strands and it's a lot of threads. And I think, I think that's something that challenges a lot of people today, especially because we, the old model was you do one thing, you do the 30 year thing, you get your pension and retire today it's not that today. It's you, you do five things, 10 things, 20 things, but that's really hard. So how has it, how has it worked for you and how does it work for you?
Kate Schutt: That's a great question. As you said, as you mentioned, you know, we're all at the speed of life now is so quick and we have to, we either change jobs when we change hats really quickly.
You know, just just to make sure the record is clear. I didn't do Berkeley at the same time I was doing Harvard and athletics. Yeah. Thank goodness. So I was playing sports for Harvard and studying English literature and, you know, the specific focus on poetry and then really had sort of epiphany and realized that at the time, this was 1993 to 95. When my first two years at Harvard that I wasn't going to go on and be a coach that didn't have sports coach that didn't interest me at that time. There were no Olympic opportunities for women's ice hockey or women's. So that wasn't in the cards for me. And certainly even if that had been, then, you know, there are no professional women's leagues.
So, my epiphany was one day when I was walking down to the rink practice, it was like, how many hours a day do I practice a sport? And it was on any given day. It was six hours, you know, and that's not including weekends when we traveled for our games and we'd be gone all weekend. And I was like, wow, what would be possible if I put two hours towards my music?
So that's that's immediately when I essentially dropped out of Harvard and went to Berkeley college of music for a couple of years and then came back to Harvard, finished my sports school. That got my degree, went back to I never graduated from Berkeley that took nine semesters plus classes.
Anyway, so I just want to say that. So back to your real question of how do you do all these things at once? Man, you know, I wish I had a great answer. I think, I think as I've gotten better at it, as I've gotten older, which is presence, not perfection, right. You know, and, and I think the thing that becomes, it was easier back then. We didn't have, the internet was very new. I was still turning in papers, like, you know, typing papers up and turning them in, not emailing them in. And I use that example. That's sort of a strange example, but you know, like when, when I was playing ice hockey, I was playing ice hockey. Right. When I was doing my homework, I was doing homework. There was no. There, wasn't the level of distraction that there is today. So, but of course I, I I'm alive today. So now I deal with that. And you know, for me, I think it's this, keep it holding in mind, this idea that you can actually only do one thing at a time and presence, not perfection. So whatever it is you're doing be fully present.
And then you know, some is better than nothing. So when there's a lot of things going on you know, and I think the more you do that, the more you sense, like, oh, what I need right now is to dive in fully to this thing. Or there's a period where, you know, you're kind of doing three or four things at once.
So I think trusting your gut and. And just knowing that if you're interested and interesting and curious that there will always be more things than you will ever be able to do in one lifetime and making a kind of peace with that too. You know, I don't know if that's a great answer.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, no, it it's. It is. It's helpful. You know, it also makes me think of w when you trust your gut, because a lot of the time we, you know, we all have this head gut, you know, and a lot of the time I think that we hear the old, the old messages, we hear them like echoes of like, well, you know, buckle down and do the one thing and stick to it and you know, which is true.
And I do think there is an element of like, When you follow through and you stay with something for a long time, as you clearly have with your music, there's a compound effect of skill of mastery of exploration, and it deepens. But at the same time, you know, it doesn't mean that we need to shut down the other things. And at some point, those other things can become like synergistic in a way they add even where you wouldn't really think they would add. Is that something that you found to be the case with all the many things that you currently do?
Kate Schutt: Yeah. I think that there's you know, it is at a certain point, it becomes your unique angle, you know, that if you're, if you're interested, I mean, for me, certainly there would be no way that I could write the songs. I kind of music I write had I not studied English literature for so many years. Like, and, and that's so much. There's just no way the kind of songs I'm interested in writing and I'm, I'm, you know, in, in, in trying to be my bet the best or my best songwriter, you know, trying to write my best songs require a level of critical analysis. And as I'm writing and a level of. Literariness for lack of a better word. Cause that's the kind of song I'm trying to write, you know?
And so I think to your point, like at some point that thing that seems so different now is really fundamental to my music. You know, it, my music wouldn't be my music without it. Right. So I think your point is really like that. Yes, of course. I have a performance psychologist that I've been studying with since the beginning of the year.
And that's been an amazing journey. His name is mark . And he, the way he likes to talk about it is like, you know, you can't as a, as an elite performer in any category, you know, it does not, not just sports, not just music, but in your own life, as the elite performer of your own life. There are times when you have to focus.
And do the work that gets you to that level of excellence. You know, and so the great performers across all genres will be, you know, a 9.7 in one thing. And, and then they might be like an 8.1 and something else, you know and then they might be, and then there might be a lot of things are like a five in. But they don't let the fives worry them that much. They're not interested, you know, they know. And then the, you know, in the Navy, the 9.7, like they're trying to go from 9.7 to 9.8. You know, and maybe they're trying to bump up their eight, eight a little bit, but you know, there's always one, there's always a point where you have to, you have to get that core competency, as you said, you know?
And then it's like, and then the other things are like, what are you comfortable with? You know, are you comfortable with an eight? Do you want it to be an 8.5? Or are you trying to get everything up to a nine.
Ashley Rindsberg: So that would be like, as an example, let's say you know, you're, you're you find that for yourself or for any individual songwriting might be there nine or 9.5 and 9.7, but you know, the.
That they play maybe slightly lower than the songwriting they're leading with the one thing. And then maybe the stage presence or whatever else might be a five and whatever. I'm I'm a great masterful songwriter. That's okay. Right.
Kate Schutt: Yeah. And then, and then kind of, I mean, you know, this is just, but one framework to look at it and to, to decide like, well, what's going to be worth my time, you know, like.
Well, first of all, what's the price of admission to the game you're trying to play, right? Like how good do you have to be to even get on the field? Right. Cause there's in most types of jobs and things you want to do, there is a level that you have the minimum standard, right. That you have to meet. So then, so, okay.
Do you do that? And then it's like, well, where all the, are these, all these other skillsets and what is. You know, what is worth your time? And it's sort of like a back of the envelope type of thing. You know, he made me go through this exercise because as you pointed out, I'm, I'm I'm interested in a lot of things.
And so songwriting is one of them, but, but playing my instrument, masterfully is also one of them. And I would say my songwriting is more at the level of a nine or above a nine. And the instrument playing is more like. Eight or maybe like a 7.9 and it's like, well, what is the level of energy I needed to take the instrument?
You know, the eight to the nine versus taking the song writing from a nine to a 9.2 to a 9.3. You know? So this is getting ridiculous to talk about, but the day before the point is the point is that, you know, it's sort of like Making peace with things being somewhat in this like state of you know, unevenness and I just, there's probably a way in your life, I bet.
And in what you do, that you have to be comfortable with that. And so, and so you are, as you're developing other skills, because I can imagine, I know you're a writer and I know that when you're writing a book, You have to be okay with the, like the shitty first draft to use annual month's phrase. Right.
Ashley Rindsberg: Very much
Kate Schutt: so. And so you don't really worry about that until you get to the end of the shitty first draft. Right?
Ashley Rindsberg: Right. Well, yeah. I think that's the optimal approach, if you can find a way not to worry. Yeah. Yeah.
Kate Schutt: So you stubble with the unease of things on. Perfect as you're doing them. That's really, I think that's a key part of developing skills.
Ashley Rindsberg: Absolutely because I think that the alternatives on either side of that one side being just despair and it doesn't allow you to go forward and the other side cause pain moment, which is horrible, but the other side of it being kind of a diluted state where you're writing that first step. Wow.
everyone's going to jump out the window when they read this and even probably worse than the painful state, because then you're just you, you're never going to improve. So,
Kate Schutt: yeah. And it's art. I mean, at the end of the day, you know, I mean maybe if you're making a widget, this conversation probably applies in a different way, but.
A piece of writing a song, you know, a dance of visual artwork. Like let's all, remember it's art and there is taste involved and you don't have any control over that. I mean, my example that I always use in one of my heroes is Vincent van Gogh. You know, you read the letters of Vincent van Gogh and you understand that, you know, there was a person who was doing his art with zero acknowledgement from the world. And in fact, we know now that the, sort of the only reason that then go came, van Gogh is through his wife, is his brother's wife. We set about like making him known the effects of which we're still feeling today. You know? Yeah. So you have to remember you an account for taste and that you may be ahead of your time.
You may be behind your time. You may be behind your time, but ahead of when everything comes back around in the circle, you know what I mean?
Ashley Rindsberg: Right. Yeah. And it, you know, it, that cuts to the question of why, why you're doing it. And that's a question, you know, I think that there's never a single static answer that you can do.
Oh, this is why I wrote it down. You know, here's the answer. I think it's something that also requires a play with that tension to say, It's part of the audience. It's part of me, it's part of self expression. It's part of wanting to have a positive impact on the world, around me. It's things you don't even think about things that you don't even know.
But I think it's, you know, it's almost that you sort of just have to. Continue to explore that question and suspend the judgment at any given moment to say, well, this is why I'm doing it. This is unless it's commercial. And you say, well, it's really, really clear. My last book sold 50,000 at this time, I wanted to sell 75,000.
That's why I'm doing it. And that's, that's a different thing, right?
Kate Schutt: Yeah. I think you're you used the word tension and that's a really great word. You know, like there is this, there's always this level of tension. If you're really going after something and you have to be willing to accept it. And, you know, I think how, how much sleep you've had and now, you know, all of those sort of taking what my Zen teacher, Sarah huger calls, like taking care of the human.
When you take care of the human, we can accept a lot more tension of this creative tension. This, you know, being, working a little bit on this thing and then going over here and, you know, feeling like, oh my God, I gotta catch up over here. This isn't quite up to the level that I'm used to, you know, like being able to sit and be with that tension and be okay with that. That's like a meta skill.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yes it absolutely is.. And I do think that that's absolutely correct. I think that you need to take care of the human, which I think in some ways means find a way to live life. That is a good way, you know, to the extent possible, like to enjoy, enjoy the day, enjoy what you're doing. Take a break, you know, like you're never going to be able to white knuckle success in the arts, maybe another things maybe not, but certainly not in artistic or crew, or even creative in general, because that's not what it's about. It's not about driving through doing 80 hours a week like you're working in Goldman Sachs.
That's not the point. And I think that's the confusion is that especially today, Especially in the world of the internet, where we see quote, unquote success, we see the person with a hundred billion followers on whatever, and we're like, oh God, I'm going to have to work so hard to get that and be like, wait a second that's actually not the point. The point is something very, very different. And I think that's also, you know, we, you and I have discussed in the past a different approach, a different model, a different different worldview than whatever the Taylor swift world view to music might be. And that is one that is about playing with tension. And, you know, it's something we've talked about you know a mutual Let's see, you know, mentor from afar of ours, which is Seth Goden go to talks a lot about, you know, finding, finding the smallest thing that you can do the smallest way that you can succeed or have an impact. And it's like, when you think, when you think about that as the starting point magic can really happen, and I think that's, that's something that, you know, with your work and the way you think. Started to approach it, including how you thought about releasing an album into the world. And maybe that's something you can talk a little bit more about and, and you know, what you're doing in that regard, because I think that's something that's very important to a lot of people
Kate Schutt: Sure.. Well, I, yeah, I just have to second say here, here for what you said, you know, find the place, find the smallest amount of good you can do and do it and stay present to it. Its such a beautiful way that he puts that and it's so, you know, I think when, if we can, if we can stop our attention for being fractured all the time and remain in those moments of creation, you know, there's no, but I'm in my practice or in right now. You know, there's no, when I am in here and I'm solely in here and I don't have the phone here and I don't have. A deadline looming, or even if I do, and I can just put it out of my head and I'm just in here to explore whatever it is I choose to explore that day. You know, I drop into flow and coming out of this room, I feel refreshed, you know, and I think that's something that people can get from their work.
Right. So they approach it the right way. Right. So that was a little addendum to what you said, but how did I, how did I release the record? Well so this year I finally released a record. I had been thinking about for a very long time and, and writing songs towards, for very long time in the backstory, just to give some people some context, is that in 2010, I was living in New York.
Actually just about to go do a, kind of like a cruise ship gig, but not on a shift in Dohuk cutter you know, playing a couple sets a night, solo music. And I went home to say goodbye to my parents. And the mom told me that she hadn't been feeling well. And she had just had a catscan and that essentially while I was there, the results would come in.
They did indeed come in and she was diagnosed she had a tumor, the size of a grapefruit in her stomach and, you know, the doctor needed to operate immediately, et cetera. So basically I went from one day thinking I was saying goodbye to my parents and about literally like two days later, flying to Doha cutter to.
Actually going back to New York, breaking my contract, unpacking the bags, repacking them, moving down to Pennsylvania where my parents lived and moving in with my parents into a childhood bedroom and becoming my mom's primary caregiver for the next, at that point, who knew how long it was going to be. It turned out to be five years, roughly four and a half, and then like a half, half of a year kind of getting my dad sorted and back on track.
So that's a long way of saying I didn't pick up my guitar for about a year and a half though I kept notes of the things I wanted to write the songs I wanted to write. And eventually my mom went into her first remission and I got a chance to go to the Ucross foundation, which is an artist residency program in Wyoming. And luckily gifted six weeks of time there. And my mom was completely healthy and well during that. It was like kismet. Yeah, it was amazing. And I started to write these songs and fast forward to she, she died. I wrote, I wrote eight, seven or eight songs that she heard before she died. She died and then I began writing the rest of the songs, a lot of which I couldn't write because they were from her perspective and I couldn't do it until she wasn't in her shoes anymore, so to speak.
And then I recorded the record. "Great Nowhere" after a phrase from the Shamus Heaney Poem and I released it basically in two parts because, because why not? Because I can first of all, I'm not affiliated with a label and I can do what I want. And secondly, because the material, it's not a downer, definitely not a downer the record, what it is a very sharp diamond hard look at mortality and there was a lot, you know, it's not, it wasn't a lot for me, but I lived it. So I released it in, in, in like in a half, basically I released one half of it, six songs and then three or four weeks later, I released the other half of it. And with all of that came my songwriting notes for the record came behind the scene video from filming. It came the Seamus Heaney poem came all these other sources that I use to write these songs because you know, as I said, three literary or literate literary writer, so I have a lot of sources. So, so yeah, you know, and, and th that was really amazing because I think it was for a lot of people, a more digestible way to engage with the music.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. It's also more it's a, it's a way to engage, that's engaging. It's more of a participation when you. Looking at, on Spotify, you know, and flipping through, you're really entering to the world of the album and in this case, your world, because it's, so, it's so personal, it's so much a part of who you are. And it's it is a beautiful album. I've listened. I've had the privilege of listening. It's amazing. And I really recommend everybody to go listen to it because it's that good. But, you know, I, I think the key point there is that. Where you do something that is so personal, you give other people a chance to engage in a personal manner.
And that, that is that, you know, the smallest possible good approach to it, because if you're not looking for, you know, the million streams on Spotify. That's not the point of it. The point was that engagement was, is that experience of it. But, you know, to return to the, to the experience that led that sort of just data, the album, which was being your mother's primary caregiver, you know what jumps out at me there is five years. I mean, five years is a long. Long time. How did you, what sustained you? I mean, I know what it's like as a writer and I'm sure anyone else out there who has a passion for something knows what it's like to be torn away from that, or kept away from that thing for even a few days, or, you know, my case when my, my children are born, like, you have to kind of stop things for a long time and it's hard, but five years is a different story. How did you continue to get that?
Kate Schutt: I mean there's so many ways I can answer that question. One is, I didn't know, it would be five years. So, you know, we were just living day to day, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, essentially stage four. We knew that it would kill her one way or the other. It was a very rare and aggressive form. So it was going to kill her sooner rather than later. She, I was very clear with her from the day one that we weren't going to mince words about this. And we were going to talk very directly about her impending death and live, you know, the best quality life we could live you know, knowing that this around the corner. And that my whole job was to maximize her quality of life. And how did I do it just day by day? And I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it was easy. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and I've done some pretty hard things in my life. But that being said, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
It was one of the most profound experience of my life. And it was day by day. It was very dark. If my girlfriend was here, she would tell you that it was, it was hard on me. You know, I was living in a childhood bedroom. I was, my days were filled with the bare necessities as a, I mean, it's very like, it's, it's exactly like caring for a newborn. You know, I haven't cared for a newborn, but I was doing the same things like making food, making, going to the doctor, going to the chemo suite, spending seven hours in the chemo suite, then having to spend four more in the blood transfusions room, you know grocery shopping you name it. I mean, and obviously towards the end, it became much more of a Walker the bodily care. We went into hospice very, very early, which was an amazing experience. But Yeah, it was just one day at a time. And luckily I have surrounded myself with great mentors and people who could help me be the family. That was what my, my life coach John warden said to me, at one point when I was pushing back against it all.
You know, despairing over the fact that I was watching my friends, like rocket to stardom, you know, get record deals and get those 20 million followers on Instagram. And there I am literally like, you know, changing my moms, diapers, you know, like I had really, he said that to me, and that really helps like you be the family that's who you are. That's what you're doing.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. You know, something you said there jumped out of me, which is that you would do it again in a heartbeat. And it reminds me of this I think it's quite a well-known story of I think his name was Admiral Stockton. Oh yeah, of course
Kate Schutt: he was. I know the story. Yeah, he was, he was flying a Navy. He was a Navy pilot. Wasn't any shutdown over Vietnam and as he was parachuting in, he basically realized that he was like stepping back in time.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And he was taking as a prisoner of war and held for a number of years. And when he came out, that's what he said is that he, he knew. He knew while he was still captive, that that was the event that would define his life. And he knew that when it would, once it was over whenever that would be that he would never want it to be otherwise that it was him
Kate Schutt: you know exactly what this experience was for me.
Ashley Rindsberg: Right. And, you know, I think that's that, that is connected to what you said earlier about, about the music or whatever you do, being this product of the uniqueness of whoever you are and what, where you've come from it's there is no way for you to control it and to say, well, I want to be this kind of, I want to be the author that gets the book deal out of college and rockets to fame and has a great time and whatever that's like, it's.
It's not in our control, it's not in our hands, but what is in our hands is the ability to embrace the story and to say, oh, actually, this is my story. Just the way that you talked about the, the 9.2 and the age and the five being like, this is the kind of artist that I am, and I'm going to fully accept that. But that's the hard part. That's the really hard thing that nobody really talks about. And I think maybe, you know, certain experiences like the one you have. With your mother, perhaps, I don't know, but maybe help you learn how to do that very hard thing of embracing, embracing faith, you know, living with a love of fate.
Kate Schutt: Yeah, I think it was, it was not a choice. Okay. Because, you know, when I tell the story, I say like, well, you know, my mom got, got her, the news, and then I decided to move home and I say the word decided, but like, that is the wrong word, right? There was no, it was, we got the news and I turned to my dad and I said, take me back to New York. I have to wrap my affairs up, I'll be down tomorrow. Yeah. And it wasn't a choice. It was like, it was, I guess, fate, because there was no way I was making any other decision. Like it just was not happening. That was the decision I made, you know, and I made it to the very end, you know, like it was a decision that I knew there was no bailing out. Right. As dark as it got, there was no bailing out. You know, and I didn't, and frankly, I didn't even know if I'd be like, you know, I didn't even know I was open enough to be like, I don't know if I'll be a musician on the other side of this, it's such a long time to be gone from the scene, you know? I mean, literally gone, like so it was, I mean, I still, I still have to sometimes say to myself, oh yeah, Remember you like, weren't doing music for five years.
Like, so if you get a little frustrated about where things are and what things look like in your life, like, don't forget. Cause it's easy to forget that I did all that at this point. I'm so far beyond it, you know? I mean, obviously it informs everything I do and I've been contacted by a lot of people. Who is now like, so you're the expert on death, you know, because I have this comfortability I'm very, I'm very comfortable with this you know, landscape of illness and moving into it. And out of it as a person who happens to live on the well, the planet of wealth of wellbeing currently and I'm very able to, and that's, I guess what you were talking about, I mean, in the defining thing became for me this ability to be okay with loss and grief and stay in that place and not have it rattle me.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Which, you know, it's obviously it's, so it's so crucial in life to be able to. Except death, not just because it's a part of life, obviously it is. But also because you know it's so much a part of love that the present moment of death, the feeling, you know, that it's all going to end, you know, the people in your life.
Are not going to be there. And that actualizes love the presentiment of death and you cannot really fully love anything without. Understanding or feeling that present moment of death as well. So I feel like that love and death are seemingly unconnected as they are as opposite. It's in fact, that very much the case that they're just intertwined in our lives.
Kate Schutt: But you know, you said it beautifully.
Ashley Rindsberg: Thank you. So, you know, Returning to life. Where were you went to the Ucross artist's presidency found yeah. The foundation you had those six weeks. You know, I think people hear those words, artists, residency and, and whatever, and they don't really know what that means, but you're cross in itself in that place is very special, physically special. So maybe just give a little sense of what, what it is and what that was like.
Kate Schutt: The UCross foundation is an artist residency program. So basically what that means is artist residency is a time and a space given to an artist to work on a project or multiple clusters just to just do their work. That's basically what an artist residency is. Hundreds, if not thousands of them in the United States and all over the world. And they are on things like a shift in the Arctic or a cabin and in a national park or a bunk on a train. I knew an artist who did one for Amtrak. We did an artist residency in and track cross-cuts and train. So what makes you cross unique is that it's a 20,000 acre cattle ranch and the high Plains of Wyoming. So this is the Northern lake. Of the state of Wyoming. So when, when you say high Plains, you really mean it. There's like not a tree in sight, kind of in the shadow of the big horn mountains, it's utterly stunning landscape and there's just no place like it in the United States. It's, it's vast it's Barren, but of course not Barron also when you're really in it and among it, it's tempestuous, it's filled with mysteries.
And so Ucross gives nine artists time and space to work on their art. And the role is, you know, you can't be disturbed unless the building's burning down and your lunches delivered to your door. And at nighttime, there's an incredible chef. Who's on staff that you brought, who makes an incredible meal. There's it for you all lays it all out, cleans up her dishes leaves in you and the eight other people have get this gorgeous dinner to enjoy every weeknight together. And so it's a real I mean, it really is just time and space to. It's to dive into something that you're working on now. And often there's a lot of writers that where there's only, there can only be two musicians at the time because we make noise and we have to have separate studios, but there's a lot of writers, a lot of painters, a lot of mixed media, artists, dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers. So it's just a really magical place. I just don't even know what to say about it. It completely changed my life.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I know, you know, I think for it, it sounds I think it's, it can sound to people, something that's like almost a, like a resort, but what people miss is that for, for artists or for creators of any kind, those two things, time and space are you fight tooth and nail, you fight so hard for the scrap. All of your life, all of your working life as a whatever artist you are, and to have someone just gift it to you for six weeks. It's, it's not, it's something that is almost permanent it's almost indelible as you know.
Kate Schutt: Yeah. And you know, it's not always, I mean, first of all, I have to say again, you put it perfectly like life as an artist or as a creative thing. Let's not even use that term because some people are like, I'm not an artist, but a life life's trying to create something in the world all you're doing is fighting tooth and nail for time and space to work on that project. Right. And as you said, you know and you gross gifts. You know, with no strings attached you, of course you have to apply to get in, and you have to say something on your application about what you want to do, but there's no one saying at the end.
Did you create, did you write 2.5 chapters of your novel? No. No one does that. It's basically like once you're there, you're there, you're there to do your work. You're there to experience the place you're there to experience what's possible with this amount of freedom. I can, I can remember talking to some residents and, and the residencies have 2 4, 6 week chunks. So, you know, you don't have to have only six weeks to get with some people go for as little as two weeks. I can remember talking to some of the moms, like the artists that were moms saying, just the thought of me not having to deal with cooking for two weeks was like a revolution of revelation and a revolution in my, in my creative life, you know, like not only did I not have to prepare it, but I didn't even have to think about it. The mental space that opened up for them.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, the mental space. Yeah. So, you know, when you, when you got back there and you're, you're working again on music you know, I, I think the question that I'm interested in is about the kind of music that you create, which you'd characterize it as the lost jazz standards I'm curious about the jazz part, you know, because jazz is connected to, I mean, obviously it's still very much alive, but it's also rooted in something that's earlier. What is it about jazz? What got you to jazz and what keeps you in that tradition?
Kate Schutt: That's a great question. Well I grew up I'm the youngest of three. I have two older brothers. I was mostly, I never got to choose the music I listened to as a kid because my two older brothers, so I listened to a lot of classic rock and that's deeply embedded in who I am and how I play and what I play. And my first bands were cover bands flying that kind of music, Jimmy Hendrix and stones, Janis Joplin, the grateful dead, the doors, all that, all that music. But at the same time, my parents were playing Ella Fitzgerald that that was one of their favorite singers. So I heard and could sing all the words of the Ella Fitzgerald sings, the Cole Porter song book, before I even knew that I could basically, they were, it was so embedded in, in me.
And so that had, that had always been there. And then I studied with a guitar. My first sort of only guitar teacher before I went to Berkeley was a major jazzer. He was like came straight out of the bebop tradition. And so I was hearing it and playing it in my lessons even though at the same time I was, you know, really into whatever the music of the nineties and the two thousands, you know, the current. So I guess it was always in there. And then when I got to Berkeley, I mean, it's a contemporary music school, so you can do anything at Berkeley and then you could, you know, you can be doing bluegrass or newgrass there, you could be doing R and B, you know? But I just, I don't know to me, my biggest heroes are those singers,Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan. Those players, you know, they have a complete freedom on their instrument. That's what I want. I'm interested in freedom for myself and others. And if I can play my instrument like that, or have the freedom to create like that, that that's kind of what I'm after. And so that's why I really dove sort of headlong into studying jazz and well, because it also gave me the skillset at a sort of higher level. It's a, it's such a demanding art.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. It's, it's something it always fascinated me. I, I, you know, played a little bit of piano growing up and I played classical and it's kind of classical it's like, here's the song, learn it. And there's a little bit of room to be creative with it. But when it came to learning jazz, I was like, wait a second. I don't understand what I was supposed to do here. Like what notes am I supposed to play? I don't get it. Like, and when you think about it, that way, it's this open field that you have to, you take the core elements and you have to make something out of it, which was, I really couldn't comprehend it on that level.
But in that sense, it's something lyrical. Like you're, you're kind of. You're adding to this thing that's constantly, it's like a artistic blockchain. Like it's just, yes,
Kate Schutt: it is. That's a great, yeah, that's a great way to talk about it. And I don't know you should, we should do I don't know if anybody's said that yet about jazz or I haven't heard it, but it is, it's basically an artistic blockchain. I mean, every you one could argue that all of music is to but you know, for sure it's the, it's the learning of the tradition. You know, in the language, it's a language and it's in itself and then learning how to speak the language and then hopefully adding something if your own to the language.
Ashley Rindsberg: Right. Yeah. And that's the incredible way that it evolves and changes in a way that, you know, classical, you can still play in right. Classical music of course today. But it doesn't, it doesn't have that immediacy, in my opinion, that jazz can have, when you hear it in contemporary music, it's still feels alive.
Kate Schutt: Guess that's why I think the edges of classical music, contemporary classical music they do in this kind of. It's just you know, it's a different, it's a different way of getting at the same thing, I think is a different way of getting at the same freedom, basically.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Well I think that's, that's a lot of that word, freedom. I mean, for me, that's so important. I've also started to think how important freedom is alongside independence. Well, I think that's, you know, when you're talking about the freedom and within, within the creative. Act a creative moment. You are free to create, but to be independent means. And you know, in this case with you as an example, to not be chained to a record label, who's telling you, this is the kind of record we need from you.
This is the kind of song this is, you know, we, we need the single, you're no longer independent you're deepened and it might work for you as it does for a lot of people. But I think freedom and independence. Are they have to exist together because without the other one, though, that one can't exist properly.
And that's what I've sort of been learning about in with today's media is that media is very, our media is very free from government interference. The government's not cracking skulls. Thank God. But the question then is independent is our media independent of influence. And I think that applies across the board to any, any element of life. If you're seeking freedom, you must also be seeking independence and vice versa. And I think that's such an important thing to learn. And I think it's something that your story really illustrates because you, you maintained that independence, even something like the experience with your mother, it was an active independence. You're you were sort of, you put the, you put yourself in this context, but you, you did it and maintained independence by doing it in order to do it.
Kate Schutt: Yeah, very much so, I mean, it was a freefall. It was like you know, at times certainly the beginning, it was just like, I don't know where I'm going to end up and I might not even end up as myself on the other side of this, right. And that, that was I could, again, if my girlfriend was listening to this conversation, she'd chime in now and say, yeah, one of the things you've consistently said to me throughout that experience was I do not recognize myself.
Ashley Rindsberg: Wow. Wow. Well, that's an interesting place to be a difficult place to be, but I think that's also again to not be dependent on identity as a great thing.
I just read Naval Ravikant who's this great entrepreneur for anyone who doesn't know. So just go seek him out just might be in the word, the word, the letters, N a V a L. And one thing he talks about is that how decreasing his emphasis on identity it makes him happier because then you're not married to these concepts. You're not married to I'm this and must do this and it must achieve this. And you are just the thing that you happen to be in this moment that you're in, you know, touching back to what you said earlier in the conversation.
Kate Schutt: Yeah. And I think being a creative person, it's hopefully as if you're the wise for you, this person.
I think you can get to that state because I often like to talk about, you know, I coach people around songwriting or albums, releasing albums and things like that. And there was so wrought up about how to release it and you know, this is the be all end all, and this is it. And I'm like, it's not, it's just a snapshot of, it's literally a Polaroid of you in this moment. Right. That's all it is. Right. You know, and anybody wants to say otherwise, like, doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. It's just you, when you decided to push the send or release, or when you decided to, you know, have your book available, whenever that exact moment you push send on it. And then it appeared that was that's the, when the snapshot was taken.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that's just opening the book and starting that story. And that's, again, that's something Seth Godin talks about that we, we put so much emphasis on the launch where the launch really means nothing because you've got no idea what's going to happen next. You've got no idea what's going to happen in a year or five or 10 or a hundred years to, to the, you know, the van Gogh van
Kate Schutt: Van Gogh point. You really have no idea. Yeah, exactly. Right.
Ashley Rindsberg: And that's about maintaining that kind of faith in what you're doing. So where can people find more about you? Where can they listen to the music? Where do they engage?
Kate Schutt: Well, everything is on the socials. It's at Kate shuts. Okay. KATE SCHUTT My website is www.kateschutt.com. You're interested in coaching. I kind of separate those two, but there's a lot of crossover. You can find my coaching email@example.com. I'm not gonna spell that out, but it's the word intend essence with the word coaching.com. And I think the music can be heard now after we launched it sort of for everybody to take part in it, we waited a little while and now it's available on Spotify and, and all those things. So though you can still go and get the experience if you'd like it. In fact, I just had a couple of sales yesterday, which had been, it had been a minute since someone had gone for the experience and I was like, oh, that's really cool.
Artists share artist share.com. That's the label that I partnered with to release it that way.
So it's just artistshare.com and if you look around on that site, you'll find me it may be our to share.com forward slash Kate Schutt, but it's been a minute. So I can't remember, but I'm there. In fact, the record is you know nominations for the Grammy ballots are up, are just about to happen. And so label has put it up for a number of nominations. We hope so. If any of your listeners are voting members of the recording academy, I'd love for you to re vote for "Bright Nowhere" but anyway, it's just a great vote of confidence from my label.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, and I really recommend people do check it out on artists share because it is a different thing. It's, it's just different than what we're accustomed to. And it's something it's not just about listening to a track or two it's, it's much more than that. It's much more like seeing an exhibit in a, in a great gallery or museum where you really haven't experienced. So Kate, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. I hope we do it again.
Kate Schutt: Let's do it again. Thank you, Ashley. And thank you for just your insightful questions and your there's a number of phrases that you used. Squirrel away for myself. And thank you
Ashley Rindsberg: So Kate Schutt everybody as Kate mentioned, check her out Kate schutt.com and artist share.com and we'll be looking forward to hearing more.
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