American singer moved north to seek success



Kate Schutt says musically, she’s growing in ways she never thought she could.


It’s common in the music industry for Canadians to seek fortune and glory Stateside. But for one American, the path to success runs slightly further north.


Meet Kate Schutt. For the past two years the singer/songwriter, originally from Chadds Ford, Penn., has been carving out her niche of bluesy jazz across the country, primarily in the Toronto music scene. Schutt’s latest album, No Love Lost, was partly recorded in her current hometown of Guelph, Ont. with the help of Newfoundland-based Duane Andrews and his gypsy jazz trio.

The Harvard graduate and Berklee College of Music alumnus says she’s broadening her horizons both geographically and esthetically: No Love Lost departs from her typically minimalist sound, and is Schutt’s first foray recording with a backup band.

“The decision to do a bigger production was entirely dictated by the songs,” she says. “When I wrote the first handful, I heard a bigger sound in my head and was fortunate enough to see Dwayne Andrews and his trio perform in Montreal. I just knew that this was the sound for this batch of songs I had already written.”

A batch of songs that close an earlier, less worldly chapter of a life full of blithe romance, unrequited love and an infatuation with the Wild West, the former cattle rancher says. With her Novax 8-string in tow, Schutt says musically, she’s growing in ways she never thought she could.

“I think if someone were listening to the album they wouldn’t know that I was playing an 8-string guitar,” she says. “They would think there were a bass player and a guitar player.

Singing and playing that instrument is a challenge. You’re doing three things at once essentially. You’ve got the bass line moving along, and then you’ve got the guitar on top doing something else and then you’ve got to do something different with your phrasing. I accomplished a lot that I didn’t think I was able to do.”

It wasn’t the Tim Hortons coffee and universal healthcare that made Schutt depart Boston’s Ivy League venues for Canada’s colder climes. She was looking for a change and a 2005 NXNE conference she attended on the advice of a friend was the decision maker.

“I came up during the conference and was totally overwhelmed by the Toronto music scene,” she says. “There was just so much going on. It was so friendly and welcoming. So I decided just then and there instead of moving to New York City I’d move to Toronto … The market is also a bit smaller up here. You can meet people much quicker. In the States it’s a little more cutthroat. There’s so much noise that it’s harder to cut through, especially as an independent artist.”

see it live @ NXNE

  • Kate Schutt plays the Free Times Cafe tonight as part of North By Northeast.