Katie Hazel, a first-year graduate student in social work who also received her undergraduate degree from NC State, released a single titled “Are You Having Fun?” Sept. 13. Hazel talked to Technician about her sound, her process and her inspirations.
How would you describe your music and your sound?
When I started writing, I didn’t really know what I wanted as far as genre, or if I had any instruments specifically that I really wanted to use. I did know that no matter what I wrote or whatever music I did, I wanted to tell a story, whether it be through lyrics or through the vibe of the song. I’m still kind of figuring it out and experimenting with genre and stuff like that, but mostly pop or upbeat music, even if the story I’m trying to tell isn’t exactly positive or happy. I’ve been writing a lot of pop and borrowing certain characteristics from other genres.
What got you started in music?
I grew up in a musical family, so I’ve always done music. I started piano when I was five and started singing when I was nine. I started off in choirs at school, and then I started doing musicals and started taking music lessons and singing lessons when I was around 13 and stopped when I was around 17. When I got to college, I started a cappella with Wolfgang A Cappella. Once I started looking into what I wanted to do after college, I decide that I still wanted to do music, but I didn’t know what outlet I wanted to do, so I thought that maybe it was time to start doing my own stuff. I’d never done songwriting before because I didn’t know how to get started, but then I met a friend who was interested in producing music, and we ended up having the same interests as far as music, and we thought we should write songs together. He really helped me through that process. His name is Zeph Park.
What is your process for creating music?
It changes every time. Usually, I need some kind of beat or chord progression in order to even get started. Thank God I have Zeph there, because he’s much more oriented that way. He’ll send me a track, and I’ll tell him if I like it or not, and I’ll think about what the song sounds like to me and come up with a concept. For “Alright,” I thought, “You know when you’re at a party, and you’re in the bathroom and everything feels so far off and weird? I kind of want to write a song about that.” I’ll come up with a chorus for the song, and Zeph helps me and tells me when the lyrics suck, and we sort of figure it out from there.
Who are your inspirations?
I take a lot of musical inspiration from pop artists, obviously, but especially artists like Broods or Melanie Martinez. I like their lyrics so much, and I like their storytelling techniques in their lyrics and their album concepts as a whole. I take inspiration from really amazing vocalists as well, including Christina Aguilera and Ariana Grande; undeniable, pure talent.
Do you feel like your school life plays a role in your music?
No matter what, I always want to write about my experiences. Like I said before, I love storytelling, and I think my experiences in a cappella and school and beyond really make up how I write.
If you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would it be?
SZA. I should have put her as one of my inspirations, because I love her storytelling and how relatable her music is.
To learn more about Katie Hazel's music, check her out on Spotify.
Editor's Note: The attribution for the photo for this article was updated for accuracy.