To celebrate International Women's Day, the music industry are coming together to put the #SpotlightOnHer, putting the women who play an important part backstage, under the spotlight to inspire, encourage and empower young women to find and follow their dream of working in live music, after all, you can't be what you can't see!Intern Sophie spoke to Kat about her role and career.
During her time at school, you’d always find Kat in the school theatre working as a stage manager or show caller. “I probably spent more time there than in my lessons!”
After discovering this passion, Kat went on to study Film and Theatre at the University of Reading. Whilst there she watched lots of performances and even got the chance to write and direct her own play. She firmly believes that the practicality of her degree allowed for an invaluable training opportunity as she was able to “head off into the technical and production side of events with a lot of confidence.” Following university, Kat went straight into working behind the scenes for two theatre shows in London and then spent a month Stage Managing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a new play called Jamie Blake.
It wasn’t until after this that Kat started her first “real job”, as where she spent two years contracted as a Junior Technician at the ICC in Birmingham. She used this time to build up her technical knowledge and professional network, to ensure that she had enough skills to then could work as a freelance technician and cover multiple roles for companies and events all over the West Midlands once her contract had ended.
Kat started with B:Music in 2012 as a casual technician, before moving into the Production Department full time as a liaison officer in 2016. “I was lucky enough to be promoted a year later and have been Production Manager now since 2017”.
Kat has definitely tried to seize any opportunities that have come her way. “I knew from my years in that school theatre that I loved live events and wanted to spend my time behind the scenes in the thick of it all. I’ve been fortunate enough ever since choosing to make my passion my career, to have worked with some of the world’s best musicians, bands and comedians and I hope that I can continue to work and develop in a world that I love.” The progress she has been able to make through roles in B:Music “has been really fulfilling” and allowed Kat “to grow both as an individual and a professional in two world-class concert halls, alongside a really talented group of colleagues.”
When it comes to career tips, Kat suggests that new starters talk to anyone and ask them anything, and shouldn’t be afraid to leap out of their comfort zones. “On the first day of my first job, I walked into a staff room full of 13 grown men. As a 21 year old female, relatively new to the industry as a professional, that could have been quite daunting but I worked hard, quickly became one of the team and learned how to stand my ground in that brand new situation.”
Music is massively important to Kat. “I was trying to think about the last time I went a day without listening to music and I can’t remember one. I think that says a lot about the importance of music – whether I’m singing too loudly in my car, concentrating with a film soundtrack in my headphones, or listening in on a sound check at work – it’s always there.”
Kat mentioned that her favourite thing about working at B:Music is seeing a room full of people at a show, “joined together in an experience that will never be repeated or relived in the exact same way ever again. Getting to create those experiences for people daily is without a doubt the best part of my job”.
“The back of my business card has a quote from Hans Christian Andersen, “where words fail, music speaks” and for me that sums up everything I can’t describe about music.
More specifically about working for B:Music, Kat says it has given her the opportunity to plan events for global artists, but also to give young, local, emerging performers their first opportunities to shine on B:Music stages. Working with Music for Youth, the Music Service and working alongside colleagues for projects such as Generation Ladywood and Community Spirit is incredibly rewarding and “shows the versality of what we can do here, what we value as an organisation and how we support people from all walks of life.”
The best gig Kat has seen at Symphony Hall was Darius Rucker; speaking of the gig, Kat said: “2000 people on their feet all night, creating one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever experienced here!” However the best show Kat has worked on has been Billy Ocean, because “he is one of the nicest people in the business and gives a great performance every time.”
Outside of the B:Music venues, one of Kat’s favourite gigs was Muse at Coventry Ricoh, which she stated was “probably the best live performance I’ve ever seen.” A very close second was Hans Zimmer at Arena Birmingham. “My favourite film composer on stage with a full band, orchestra and choir was simply stunning.” “Personally though, I don’t think you can beat a night at smaller grassroots venues and the band I’ve definitely seen most are The Rifles; a great night every single time.”