Stephanie of Something For Kate’s Savvy Seven

Photo by Daniel Boud

In the year of 1994, from the diverse city of Melbourne, Australia, alternative rock band Something For Kate formed. Starting in high school, the band originally consisted of vocalist and guitarist Paul Dempsey and drummer Clint Hyndman. In 1998, Stephanie Ashworth joined as the new bassist and the three have stuck together ever since. 

Something For Kate released their first studio album, Elsewhere for 8 minutes in 1997, a year before Stephanie joined. Their second studio album, Beautiful Sharks (1998) was Stephanie’s first album with the band. To date, the band have released seven albums, including one B-sides, a best of and one live. The band are due to release a new album The Modern Medieval in November this year. The album will feature recent singles “Supercomputer” and “Situation Room”. Something For Kate have been nominated for 16 ARIA’s, achieved six gold and platinum albums and received several awards such as Best Single, Best Live Band and Best Album from various music outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, Triple J and iTunes. Throughout the years, Something For Kate have toured with the likes of David Bowie, Powderfinger and Death Cab for Cutie.

Now, over to Stephanie!

What inspired you to pursue music as a career?

I’m not sure it was actually my intention to pursue music as a career originally – I was studying at university when I joined a band and found myself on tour a lot more than I found myself at university. I began doing my coursework and writing my thesis out of the back of a tour van. Before I knew it, we signed a record deal and I found myself so busy with the band that I had to make a choice about whether I would go into my qualification or keep doing the band. 

When a person who is 21 is having a great deal of fun travelling the world playing their music is faced with that choice, it’s easy to see why they would choose music! It was a no brainer for me to follow the musical path – to get to be creative and write songs and then play them for people on a nightly basis was of course the ultimate. I knew it was a precarious choice in a lot of ways but felt compelled and that it was important  to seize the moment and the opportunities. I felt that the band had things to say and a way to say them that was unique and that it was the time to follow that.

Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?

Obviously touring a great deal. A cliche but, playing live is the best way to keep your craft up. Touring and a lot of rehearsing! We spend a very large amount of time writing, drafting and redrafting songs – I think that attention to detail in songwriting for us has been crucial. Other than that, of course we have had to play a very active part in getting the music out there – I think we’ve made around 35 music videos to date, done an enormous amount of press and publicity.

In an overall sense I think it takes a really dedicated work ethic and commitment  to play music for a living. You have to be prepared to make it your life and treat it as seriously as you would any other job.

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How do you approach developing timelines for your career?

We are in a release pattern generally which is dictated in part by our record contract – we do a Something for Kate record and we tour it for around 2 or more years, and then Paul does a solo album while the band takes a break. It’s very busy for Paul always, he never really gets a break.

We have regular scheduling meetings where we work out what suits everyone and how that sits with the song writing process which, for us, is often very lengthy. It changes all the time according to where we are at and what our needs are but we communicate very regularly as a band and with our management and label daily. 

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What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career?

Probably having very young children and overseas recording and touring. The two don’t necessarily gel and it takes a whole team of people and logistics to make it work. We have had to plan around these factors.

What will musicians discover from touring and how should they prepare for it?

They will discover that no amount of rehearsing can prepare you for playing live and being on the road! And that you have to be able to adapt to all sorts of different scenarios very quickly in the live setting. 

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How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?

I’m not sure that musicians should always focus too heavily on industry issues – I feel like musicians should focus on music. Ideally managers should handle industry issues. Of course it’s crucial to have an understanding of the industry you’re in, but I would say try not to get bogged down by it. I feel that to be really aware of that stuff takes away from the more important matter of songwriting.

What’s your advice on staying professionally active during COVID times and how have you integrated modern technology into your content process?

Probably jumping on social media a couple of times a week to play songs – we have been doing that primarily for the people of Victoria as obviously they / we are experiencing the most extreme restrictions, so it’s nice to offer some connection during this time. To see everyone connect with each other on this platform is great. 

We are also in the position of releasing singles and announcing a new album during this time. It’s obviously a pretty strange situation to be in given that we can’t tour or play live as a band – we are experiencing the limitations of the restrictions on our occupation. So as we can’t do tours to promote singles, we can only do live streams, which is great in that a few years ago that wouldn’t have been possible. But of course this doesn’t replace touring and there is a new challenge in trying to make sure music doesn’t become devalued via these free platforms in the process.

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