Somewhere amongst the barrage of bros high-fiving over games of beer pong and woo girls throwing down shots with seductive-sounding names, Kat Trujillo sat with her classical guitar strumming along to words she had written about a guy she liked. She had recently shared a song she wrote with a close friend privately. On a whim, that same friend coaxed her into playing it at a party they attended that night. She did not disappoint. By the end of her performance, a girl she had never even met before was in tears. Kat Trujillo, the songwriter was born.
To fully understand Kat Trujillo, the songwriter, you really have to understand Kat Trujillo the person. She is a synthesis of her influences. Kat developed a knack for singing while performing covers of popular songs at several events across San Antonio through the organization Network for Young Artists (NYA). While she was raised on artists like Cher and John Denver, she would soon be enveloped by the late 90s/early 00s pop explosion through the likes of Britney Spears and N*Sync. She developed an ear for catchy hooks and maintained a sense of emotional sincerity in her songwriting. This was only broadened when she discovered the music of Max Bemis of Say Anything and The Randy Rogers Band. While seemingly very different on paper, the two artists share a raw energy in their songwriting that translates to some of the most honest lyrics in the world of popular music. It is these two artists that have had the biggest influence on Kat as a songwriter.
It shows in her music. She connects to a lot of Bemis’ themes about feeling alienated and yet still being proud of what you’re doing. Like Bemis, she finds a way to fit several syllables in her verses without making them sound crowded or unnatural. At the same time, she manages to use simplified rhyme schemes without coming off as cliché or cheesy. Her work truly balances heart-on-her-sleeve proclamations of love without becoming overwhelmingly self-indulgent or contrived. Even more so, she has adapted a narrative in how she writes her songs that are very similar to the type of storytelling Randy Rogers evokes in his music. Kat is great at showing vs telling that by the end of her songs you don’t just understand how she feels, you literally feel what she feels.
Kat shares a birthday with a very famous, talented singer who will remain unnamed because people are unfairly swift to compare Kat’s sound to hers. Kat’s voice is more reminiscent of Sophie B. Hawkins in how it effortlessly floats from word to word like a leaf refusing to let gravity win; she even manages to maintain an angelic tone when adding emotional emphasis on certain lyrics. Her tact in her delivery also draws similarities to Jenny Lewis on early Rilo Kiley records. She never falters or over embellishes but still drives the point home.
The most dynamic element of Kat’s music and what sets her apart from her peers, is that she has subtle nods to a very 90s alternative pop rock sound. Her affinity for bluegrass instrumentation, especially the fiddle, accentuates the emotion in her voice and that is easily mnemonic of Randy Rogers. At the same time, the way she builds up verses into choruses that drive off into an instrumental bridge are so nostalgic of Natalie Imbruglia and Alanis Morrisette. As perfect as the instrumentation is, it’s so easy to imagine her singing over lightly distorted guitars and syncopated drum grooves. It’s so subtle, yet so implicit and only further exemplifies how well Kat fuses her influences.
Kat is a product of her influences. Amongst those influences are the San Antonio musician friends she has met over the years. She acknowledges that she is the songwriter she is because of these friends. Being around these musicians and seeing how hard they work was not only an inspiration to her as a musician, but also to motivate her to be in a position to help fix the music industry. Spending the last few years attending The University of Texas at Austin, Kat has racked up the experience and credentials to make a splash in the music business. She has come a long way from debuting at a house party and as she transitions into post-graduate oblivion pursuing her musical endeavors on the business side, it’s safe to say Kat Trujillo, the songwriter, will be making noise.