Small Town Rituals album art

In the world of indie-folk music, it takes more than musical prowess to stand out from the crowd. Artists need not only a mental hook to grab listeners’ attention, but also an emotional intelligence to keep them coming back for more. Thankfully, listeners can celebrate as Garrett Kato — one of the genre’s newest, brightest stars — sits with Glasse Factory to discuss his latest LP, Small Town Rituals, which released on June 17 and was produced and mixed in Kato’s own home studio!

Where are you located? What is your favorite part of living where you’re at right now? I’m currently living in Northern New South Wales. It’s a nice quiet place near some beautiful beaches and rainforests. Over time living there I’ve connected with lots of the community here and found the people so open and warm. That is probably my favourite part of living here.

When did you decide to pick up music? Tell us about your origin story as an artist. Born in Canada, I moved to Australia after spontaneously quitting my day job to pursue my passion for music. After busking and performing five gigs a week, I’m now having my songs synced with box office hits in the US, touring internationally, and all the while running my own recording studio.

Who inspired you as a musician and what were the songs you practiced when you learned to play? Who or what is your biggest muse in your craft lately? When I was younger it was maybe Dylan, Beatles, the usual types. As I got older Damien Rice and lots of the early 2000 folk artists influenced me a lot. Now it’s not even so much music that inspires me, it’s more so people and nature or anything really. As a songwriter my brain never turns off from it, so someone could say something in passing that becomes a song later.

How has the pandemic affected your creative process as a musician? The pandemic really slowed down me mentally having so much time off. Like a lot of people I found new parts of myself and grew as a person. This really helped me find new ways of telling stories in song and production. I think it was good for me in an upside down way.

How do you think your music has grown or changed as you’ve developed in your craft? For this album in particular I was very conscious of using production more sparingly, particularly on this project. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing too much, so with this album I took a more minimalist approach.

What are some themes that arose in the writing and creation process of your album? Any inspirations you would like to share? I wanted this record to feel close and present. The lyrics to be intimate, but not so far away that I’m in my own isolated world. I’ve been enjoying simple productions, and felt a more organic stripped back approach worked for this collection of songs. So my inspiration was definitely Marie Kondo lol.

How will this release influence and inspire your projects in the future? I think my next work will be more drum informed and perhaps a bit of Lofi. I often will do the opposite of what my previous release was to simply challenge and entertain myself.

What do you have planned next? (tour, album, etc.) I’ll be doing a little tour around Australia then perhaps something in Europe next year. I’m hoping to play more shows in the near future whilst working on new music.

Small Town Rituals is an enthralling LP from start to finish, full of deep pools of emotion and a subtle but profound musicality. Like the album title suggests, Kato revels in what could be mundane details about life growing up in a small town, but the songs never come off as condescending or pretentious. Rather, the soulful lyrics and intimate arrangements invite listeners in to what feels like a private concert filled with warmth and vulnerability — allowing Kato to deliver one of his most personal works yet.

You can check out more of Garrett Kato on his website, as well as on Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can — and should — also listen to the entirety of Garrett Kato’s newest release, Small Town Rituals, below!

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