© Photography by Kat Vitug
The genre of R&B expresses the language of emotions together with harmonies and rhythms employed to serenade listeners in classic and contemporary times. One R&B artist on our radar is Kat Vitug.
Despite only making music for less than a year, Kat has already established herself as one to watch. She navigates the music scene with a backpack crammed full of melodies and crafts powerful tunes that weave in reflexive messages. As a result, she has developed a style that is true to its core, with her songs feeling concurrently nostalgic and future-facing.
“I would describe my sound as catchy, warm and chill, yet sometimes energetic. Overall, a mix of contemporary R&B and pop with a hint of 2000s R&B.”
This is on top of also studying for a postgraduate degree in digital marketing, where she states that the “workload has been immense.” Despite this, she continues to be laser-focused on breaking into the modern R&B industry. We had the chance to chat with her about juggling music and her degree, her throwback influences and her inspirational new single, Dream Girl - a song that aims to inspire others no matter where you come from or what you look like.
How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled, through your music, and studying? What made you decide to really pursue music?
Balancing music and studying has been a very complicated process for me. The decision to even pursue music wasn’t in my mind less than a year ago. I didn't actually know that I could create music on my own - I thought I needed management, a label, and a large budget. But, a friend of mine once asked, "why don't you make your own songs," and, truthfully, I never thought of it because I didn't know how.
However, through Youtube and connecting with other independent artists, I learnt the necessary skills. I had a simple recording setup that I used for covers and just dabbled with beats online and started creating lyrics. I was surprised at how easily I fell into songwriting, and although I have much more to learn, the process of creating just fit me like a glove. I found a true passion in it.
Going back to the point of studying and music, I knew it would be a challenge. I always hear, ‘just go for it,’ but in the real world, we can't just drop everything for something that cannot pay our rent or solidify a "good future." I was also raised in a Filipino/Asian culture where education is crucial to have a successful life.
For me, I think of my degree as a backup plan; however, this makes me feel a bit of internal guilt - almost as if I don't believe in my own dreams. I try to combat this by thinking of education as an avenue to develop my knowledge and use this for my own interests. I use the knowledge from my digital marketing course when creating content every day for my Tiktok and Instagram.
You mention that you want to recreate a nostalgic sound that a lot of throwback songs have. Which musicians inspired you and your music style?
My dad used to play Usher's ‘Confessions’ album in the car and me, and my sister would know exactly what track was next, one after the other. I miss that kind of music and aim to emulate those vibes and emotions in my songs. The musicians that have inspired me the most, not only for their style but for their talent and work ethic, are Beyonce, Rihanna, SZA, Jhene Aiko, Selena Quintanilla, Destiny's Child, and Jazmine Sullivan. The list goes on…
In a TIKTOK, you talk about the struggles in signing to a music label that only wants you for the streams etc.; do you think you will focus on becoming an independent artist or strive to find a music label that truly wants to help you?
As of now, I am solely trying to find success within myself. By that, I mean increasing the quality of my art, learning as I go, having a higher budget for potential future shoots, and finding the right producer/engineer who suits my music. In an ideal world, being a successful independent artist would be the best outcome; however, I have a belief that with the right people and the correct resources, this can amplify me as an artist. If that means signing with a label, it is something I would 100% consider.
To what extent do you think it is harder to break into the music industry as a female artist?
I do believe there is gender discrimination and sexism within the music industry. I feel that there are specific standards women have to meet, which creates a lot of pressure on female artists. Take, for example - Billie Eilish. The press always has something to say about her looks. Women are surrounded by the idea that if you're a 'popstar,' you have to 'sell yourself' - making sure you appeal to the majority. In terms of breaking into the industry, these are things that women have to take into account. Luckily, I have not come across gender discrimination as of yet, but I do keep an eye out to protect myself from future issues.
Social media is so crucial to building a personal brand but can also be such a toxic place. How are you navigating the TIKTOK world, and have you ever found it challenging to stay motivated and positive when posting daily?
It is a crazy world we live in now. Not only do I have to be an artist, but I also have to be a content creator as well. If I'm being honest, posting good quality content that I'm proud of every day is simply impossible. Tiktok is a great platform to find people who like my music and has built me a community where I can receive feedback or comments on how excited someone is for my next single, and for that, I am grateful. However, posting every day is toxic; I've been struggling to think of video ideas to post, and it's given me a kind of 'writer's block.' I try to push past this and have realised that there are only a few times a week when I get a sprinkle of motivation!
© Photography by Kat Vitug
Do you believe in manifesting?
To put it simply, I do believe in manifesting. I know manifestation and religion do not go hand in hand, but I look at it in a way where they do. I don't know all the facts of manifestation but what I know and believe is 'if you believe, have faith and trust in … (God or the universe, for me, I believe in God), it will work out!" If you have faith in yourself and a higher power (whatever you believe in) that will guide you, you don't need to worry. Whatever is for you will be for you.
Where do you think the R&B music scene is headed in the next few years?
I feel as though there is no glove that can fit the R&B scene as of now and in the future. However, I am sensing that a lot of artists miss nostalgic music back in the 90s or 2000s. For example, a lot of rappers/artists are using samples from back in the day, including tracks from Ashanti and Tamia.
Your new song, Dream Girl, is out! Can you tell us a bit about the song and the creative process/inspirations behind writing it?
‘Dream Girl,’ for me, speaks for all women or any gender/race/age and is a song to make you feel confident in yourself - no matter what. When I was writing the song, I felt as though the person singing the song was an alter ego of my most confident self.
I hope to see more people of colour representing music as many of us did not have these 'role models' growing up. We're all so happy to see women who look like us in shows, music etc. I want to be a part of those people who inspire others no matter where you come from or what you look like.
The lyrics "See me on your screens boy, new shows, catch me on a billboard..." encompass the fact that anyone can accomplish what they want and be shown as a 'dream girl' or your own version of a 'dream girl' that society does not enforce upon you.
What’s next for Kat? What’s your ultimate dream for yourself and your career?
My next step is to release more music and hopefully release an EP in the new year. I am currently working and writing on a song called ‘Confidential Lover’ that I am so excited about and the proudest of out of all my songs. It is deeper in story and lyricism.
My ultimate goal is to make this my job. I want to make music every day. I cannot think of myself in an office job, not only because of the long hours but because making music is what I enjoy. I will always be drawn to my creative side and making music, so I cannot simply give up on it. I might as well try my hardest to make this my living, as I can't run away from wanting to make music!