Country music is all about great stories and the ability to connect with people that might be on a similar journey or place in life. Many do not understand the years of work and sacrifices that go into becoming an overnight success, in any industry let alone the music industry. It only seems fitting that we would do this interview with Australian-born, now Nashville-based Singer-Songwriter, Katrina Burgoyne, while she was on the road driving back to Nashville after a week of doing gigs. Katrina opens up about the challenges that she has faced in her journey, finding her true person and understanding that she is right where she is supposed to be in life and her career as she pursues her dreams in Music City.
Spotlight on Business: So, tell us a little about yourself growing up in New South Wales and what that was like.
Katrina Burgoyne: I grew up on the main street of Gunnedah, NSW which is about six hours northwest of Sydney, Australia. It was a regular upbringing, nothing too fancy to tell, I guess. However, when I was about nine or ten my mom and my stepdad took me and my brother out of school for about a month and we traveled the outback of Australia.
Spotlight on Business: What do you like to do in your spare time as a hobby or for fun when you are not writing songs or gigging if there is such a thing?
Katrina Burgoyne: So, my problem is, that when I have a hobby, I make it a business. So, for example, I love photography, and I do photography. But when I was in Australia, I ended up turning that into a side hustle business. I just love working and that’s my hobby. But I am thinking of taking up sewing this winter.
Spotlight on Business: Were you always musically inclined? When did you discover that you might want to make a career out of music?
Katrina Burgoyne: Both of my grandfathers played music. My grandfather on my dad’s side was classically trained and he played in the pit orchestras in Sydney, when he wasn’t working as a carpenter. In his older days, he played in a ragtime jazz band.
My Poppy was from Gunnedah, where I’m from. He was a police officer, but he used to play country music and gigged on the weekends for some extra money when he was younger. This is where I got my love of country music. All of us grandkids would be in the field playing together, but as soon as my grandfather started playing or singing, I would be captivated. He taught me all the old ones that l loved, like Hank Williams.
When I was traveling in the outback with my family, we didn’t have a CD player or a tape player in our car, all we had was the radio. But there’s not a lot of great radio service in the outback. So, the only music that I really heard was Australian country music when we would get to a remote town in Australia. Thankfully, one of the cars we were traveling with had Shania Twain’s, Come on Over CD and I would listen to it every time we’d stopped for river checks, to make sure we could all get through the river or to pull out people who were stuck in the outback. I remember leaving that trip and telling myself I’m going to learn the guitar. And I’m going to sing around the campfire.
I started playing paid shows at local pubs at age 14 and I’ve been a full-time musician now for 15 years. Just gigging at pubs and clubs, and wherever I can play to make ends meet. And, you know, it kind of led me halfway around the world to Nashville.
Spotlight on Business: If we asked you to name two current artists in the industry who inspire you, whom would they be and why?
Katrina Burgoyne: If I only had two, I would say, Shania Twain and Keith Urban. Both are amazing entertainers with the ability to connect with their fans to make sure that everyone is 100% present and that they’re having fun. I feel like that is the essence of what a true entertainer should be.
Plus, both Shania Twain and Keith Urban inspire me, in that they both moved to the USA, in pursuit of their country music dreams. And I know, personally, what that struggle is like. And so, when there have been times when I’ve been down and out and had thoughts of doubt that could have taken me back home to Australia. The one thing that kept me going is the fact that I know this can be done. Keith did it. Shania did it. I know what I am doing isn’t impossible.
Spotlight on Business: Many will know you for your musical talents but we understand that you spent a little time in front of the camera as a contestant on the Australian version of The Bachelor. What was that experience like?
Katrina Burgoyne: This experience was a personal one. And one that was one of those defining moments of my life. I can say that it wasn’t about romance, it was definitely about really connecting with the person that I am.
I went on the show genuinely looking for love. I was very naive thinking that it was real life and not a reality TV show production. My dating experience was very limited.
While on the show the producers asked me if I could write the bachelor a song for the first impression. I told them, if I felt inspired, I would write a song, but I wasn’t on the show for my music career. I was there to find “love” (cringe at my righteous nativity). We went into lockdown, and I spent four days in a hotel room by myself. So, I picked up the guitar and wrote him a song, sang it to him and I ended up getting the very first impression rose for the season.
The love element of the story was he was NOT my type. I spent ten minutes in total over the five weeks I was filming, and I got kicked out on a two-on-one date.
When we weren’t filming, I would sit in the garden and write songs and journal. It gave me the opportunity to really connect with myself. Having time alone for self-reflection with no TV, no phones, and no outside distractions was the most incredible experience of the show. I felt really proud of the person that I was and found my self-belief and this is what gave me the courage to chase my Nashville dream.
Spotlight on Business: Can you tell us about your journey to Nashville, how did you know it was the time to make the jump and what was it like?
Katrina Burgoyne: I got an email in August of 2014 saying that a song I wrote back in 2009 while I was in Nashville had just got cut. It was almost like a sign.
I started saving $350 a week and by July 2015, I moved out of my apartment and put everything into storage. And I went to Nashville for 3 months. I wanted to know if I liked it there.
By the end of that trip, I had written 75 songs in 90 days. I had meetings with publishers my last week in Nashville and they told me that I really need to think about making Nashville my home base if I want this to happen. That same week I got to sing at the iconic Bluebird Café, and I just knew that I needed to do this.
So, when I got back home, I sold everything I owned and moved back in with my mother for 14 months. I got my work visa, which was restricted so I could only make an income from playing music, and headed back to Nashville with three suitcases, a guitar, and a few thousand dollars. I started knocking on doors trying to get gigs to pay the bills.
It wasn’t as ‘easy’ as it sounds. After about a year of gigging, I ended up getting chronically ill with a sinus infection and laryngitis. So, I would gig for about two weeks until my voice would give out. Then I’d have to vocal rest for a couple of weeks before I could sing again, it was a tough time financially. I had $150 left to my name, no voice and no prospect of getting income due to my visa restrictions. I spent it on seeing a doctor to inspect my vocal damage. I must have looked like a stray dog because he offered to donate the operation I needed to get better. This was another life-changing moment for me.
I had met my husband about three weeks before I had planned a trip to go back to Australia. He ended up flying out to see me in Australia for a visit. We eventually fell in love and have been together ever since.
I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do Nashville on my own again. I’m not sure if I would have flown back. I felt pretty beaten down at the time. But love was a great incentive.
When I went back to Nashville, and we started living together, I knew that I found my person, I knew that it just wasn’t me fighting my own battles and that lifted a lot of stress off me, and my health finally got back on track within a few months.
Still to this day, I feel like my health problems were from chronic stress and insomnia. I sound really brave for moving countries alone with little funds, but the truth is it was the hardest and scariest thing I have ever done. I’m really proud of that brave girl that got on the plane in Sydney in January 2017.
Spotlight on Business: What is the biggest lesson you have learned along the way in your professional journey in front of the camera or behind the mic? What was your biggest surprise?
Katrina Burgoyne: One thing I have learned in the music industry is you are never going to get where you want to be because the target keeps moving. First, you want to make enough money gigging to pay the bills and have a roof over your head and food on the table. Once that happens, you want a record cut. Then you want to go on tour as an opening act. Then you want to be the headliner of your own tour and I don’t think it ever stops. It’s hard for me sometimes but I have to remember that I need to breathe in my day and know that this is right where I’m at today right now, and I’m pretty happy with that and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve achieved and what I’ve done and that I am still on my journey.
I’ll tell you the biggest surprise of my journey happened during the pandemic. Now, let me tell you my husband and I had been living together for about a year before the lockdown in 2020 happened. One day he looks at me and said, ‘Katrina, why don’t I start producing your music, while we are in lockdown, and we can get some songs ready for release?’ And I said to him, do you know how to do that? And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’ So little did I know that when I would go away on the weekend to play gigs, my husband, who had a corporate job, was recording and making music on his own. So now, Steve is my producer, and we do everything in-house from recording the singles to making the music videos.
Spotlight on Business: Tell us about the first time you heard yourself signing on the radio. Where were you and what was the song?
Katrina Burgoyne: I was about 19 or 20 years old, and my debut EP, Tennessee, got into the hands of the local country music station in Brisbane Australia. The program director had heard of me and knew all about me just from following the “upcoming musicians” in the area.
I remember driving to the local mall one day and hearing my song on the radio. They continued to play my song on high rotation for months playing it multiple times a day. It was very exciting to hear it all the time when around Brisbane and surrounding areas.
Spotlight on Business: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Katrina Burgoyne: I actually prefer live performances 100%. I actually don’t like the recording process. I just want my producer to produce it and tell me when to sing and play. I get frustrated with the process because sometimes it can be slow and tedious. And it drives me insane because I can be a really impatient person at times. I like the high of being on stage. The energy that I get back off the crowd when I perform. We can all laugh together and sing together, we all leave the show, like Keith Urban does when he performs, with us all feeling like we’re all new friends. Nothing has ever come close to beating that.
It could be a bad day, or the stresses of life could be getting to me, but I step on that stage, and it just doesn’t matter. It’s like it just switches off. I love it, there is nothing like it.
Spotlight on Business: Country music is all about collaborations between artists, if you had the chance to do a duet with another artist, who would it be and why?
Katrina Burgoyne: Keith Urban, I feel like our journey is very similar and he just inspires me. I would love for him to mentor me one day, that would be a big dream of mine. Again, just to learn from him. He’s such a seasoned performer and still relevant after 30-plus years, that is an amazing career, and he is still going strong and putting out amazing music. I would love to learn how to have a career like that.
Spotlight on Business: Where can country music fans find out more about you and your music and upcoming shows?
Katrina Burgoyne: If you want to find out more about me and what I am up to check out my website www.KBcountry.net it has all my upcoming shows and links to all my socials.
Although Katrina has been preparing for her overnight success in the music business since she was a little girl sitting on her Poppy’s knee listening to him sing country songs. She has never lost her drive; she might have had to change gears and map out a new course a time or two, but she is still following her dreams.
Since releasing her debut album in 2011, Katrina has secured four top-10 singles. Her song “Tennessee”, based on the experience of moving to Nashville while leaving a boyfriend back in Australia, reached #1 on CMT Australia and #3 on Australian Country Radio. “Tennessee” would eventually become her first Spotify editorial playlist.
Katrina’s song “25 Cents In The Ashtray” which she wrote with Jacob Anderson in 2020, was the first video that Katrina and her husband, Steve shot and produced independently proving how resourceful and talented the couple was working together and their ability to release a heartfelt and meaningful song during the pandemic that was also uplifting. Katrina followed this up by partnering up with Australian favorite, Troy Kemp, on the hit “Before Summer Starts to Fall” which was produced and written by Katrina, her husband, and Kemp and was released in 2021.
This month Katrina released “We Had Fun” which was produced and written with her husband. Showcasing this country girl from Gunnedah, NSW vocal talents that can go toe-to-toe with the strongest vocalists in country music today. In our minds Katrina Burgoyne is already a superstar, everyone else just hasn’t discovered it yet.
by Lee Ann Atwater