Katelyn Richards Uses Music To Go Through A Pivotal Time In Her Life
An album about transition and getting over a breakup. 

Katelyn Richards singing at Oliver's in Astoria, Queens. Photo by Giselle Medina.

It’s a Friday night at Oliver’s. With floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the restaurant, you can see the change of the oranges and red of dusk to the street lights of the Astoria, Queens nightlife. Walking into the establishment, you’re met with the bar right in front of you and to your left an open space. It’s then that you notice a short woman with red shoulder-length hair setting up her guitar while taking sips of her beer. 
Looking at the crowd at Oliver’s, she introduces herself as Katelyn Richards. 
Despite it being her first time singing at Oliver’s, Katelyn is calm. There are no nerves, it’s like she’s going into her own world - one with her guitar. Every song is performed with a passion and Katelyn switches from looking down while strumming her guitar to meeting the eyes of everyone in the audience. The huge windows at Oliver’s allowed people walking the streets of Astoria to look into the restaurant which gravitated more people into the bar multiple times throughout her three sets.

The crowd is singing "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake with Katelyn. Video by Giselle Medina.

Before doing music full-time, Katelyn grew up in the Quincy suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. She worked at a school for underprivileged kids during the day, and at night she was performing until late. She made the decision to move to New York to pursue music almost 12 years ago. “It's a lot more rewarding pursuing my dream,” she says. “But the fact that I'm making my living - every meal that I eat, every roof that's been over my head, my vehicle, everything, every dollar that I've earned is from making music.”
She has a way of getting her audience engaged despite the chatter over beers and burgers. Next to her is a white box decorated with fairy lights and two huge QR codes: one for Venmo and another to request songs. Normally, when I go to music nights the singer has a set list that they follow and just goes through the vibes of the day or night. But Katelyn encourages her audience with enthusiasm, “let’s make it interactive!” and gets our input on how the night should go. But singing her original songs is intimate. “I'm giving you my soul. Cover songs, like that's somebody else's soul,” she says with her hands close to her chest, “But when I give mine, I would like people to like really focus and pay attention.”
One of the first songs she sings is an original... “City Speed.”

Katelyn singing "City Speed," the third track off her latest album. Video by Giselle Medina.

“City Speed” is the third track off her latest album Inevitable - an album she describes as a transition piece. Inevitable is Katelyn’s third album and was released last May. The cover also puts the theme of transition in perspective with the image of someone putting their hand through a mirror. There are two sides to a mirror: you and your reflection. The imagery of going through the mirror is like a door to another version of yourself, the self that has gotten past the hardship. 

Katelyn Richards' 3rd album. Photo by Giselle Medina.

It took a couple of years to make this album and it comes with a lot of feelings. Katelyn had some songs already written, but the pivotal point was the pandemic. It was a time when she was engaged and the pandemic put a stop to the wedding, which she describes as a blessing. The track “Falling From a Tree” was written in 2016 but was put in the album for its message of overcoming hardships. The title track “Inevitable,” is a sad and snarky song she wrote in a day when she was finally alone in her home and getting back into music writing in 2020. “Fake News Blues” is one that hits a little too close to home. Katelyn sings,
Where is the page on the calendar 
where something in my brain buys a ticket 
with no return?​​​​​​​
There are more times in a year than I care to admit when I just want to leave my current life and just go to a place where I don’t have to worry about my problems. A feeling that I’m not alone in having. The song centers around seasonal depression. “It's the topic that I can like connect with other people and that's really what writing music is," Katelyn says. "Like, ‘Oh, do you remember when you were in love? Let's just remember that together.’ ‘Oh, do you remember when you got your heart broken? Let's sing about that right now.’ or ‘Do you remember when you were sad for absolutely no reason whatsoever?’” 
Like the seasons Katelyn changes, and has a notebook dedicated to this album. The notebook was originally going to be used for wedding planning, but after "the wedding fell through, I needed a book that would be metaphorically published," she says. The notebook then became her songbook detailing the year and season she wrote the songs to see that perspective in her life. "I was curious to see how my songwriting timeline lines up with my depression timeline," she says.

Inevitable's nine-song track list depicts the year and the season each song was written. Photo provided by Katelyn Richards.

She talks about her album in the most delicate way and there’s a light in her eyes when she mentions how the production of the album came to fruition. It all began when she started working with drummer Hector Lopez who connected her to producer Matt Chiaravalle, who is based in New York City. “I listened to some of the stuff that he put out and I was like, ‘This is next level. I want to graduate. I want to be next level,’” she says with a small smile. Katelyn did crowdfunding to help pay for this new album and her musicians. And to her surprise, had around over 130 support donors and felt all the emotions - “overwhelmed, so loved, so supported.” Then came her release party at Heaven Can Wait on the Lower East Side. 
“It was like my wedding!” she exclaims. “I got my hair did like, we're talking like 400 bucks just on the hair. Everything was to the nines.” To match, she wore a big red dress to celebrate the occasion. It’s a vast difference from the first album she released in 2012, one that you really have to dig deep to find. “I had to take my first album down because it was too cringy. I can't do it anymore.” She wasn’t having the same feelings when singing those songs and ended up taking those songs out entirely from her setlist.  
While listening to her album something about it gave me early 2000s and country vibes. The guitar melody is accompanied by edgy lyrics that one can relate to, it’s like being seen. Then, it clicked when Katelyn sang “Head Over Feet” by Alanis Morissette. Alanis Morissette awakened something in Katelyn and not just on that Friday night, but when she first saw her on SNL. Hers was the first CD that Katelyn ever got and while listening to the album understood the meaning of it. “When I started writing songs, I sort of took that influence with me like, what's the message, what's the growth behind this?”
Katelyn will be going on her first-ever organized tour with stops at Florida, Vermont and ending the East Coast tour back in New York City. 
Inevitable is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and BandCamp

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