Leah Kate appeared on the Artist Friendly podcast, hosted by Joel Madden, this week. The rising alt pop-rock artist spoke about her long journey towards making music and feeling confident as a performer, her aspirations, and more. 

The episode is out now wherever you listen to podcasts. Before you listen to the interview, check out key takeaways from the conversation below.

leah kate joel madden

Having anxiety growing up is what led her to write the kinds of songs she does today

Leah Kate is known for writing confessional, confrontational songs, like her hits “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Fuck Up the Friendship,” and “F U Anthem.” When Madden points this out on the podcast, she agrees and attributes it to being extremely shy and having “crippling anxiety” growing up. “I think a part of my music being so confrontational now is that I don’t really have that fear anymore, or that I’ve overcome it,” she says. For a while, she was even hesitant to perform live and thought she would only ever write and record in the studio. With time, she became more comfortable — and thankfully she did, considering how much her songs connect.  

Kate thought she was going to be a singer before she realized she was a songwriter 

Growing up, Kate was always in love with singing, but it took some time to realize how talented she is as a songwriter. She explains that she used to look up the names of producers who worked with artists like Katy Perry and Fergie because she knew she always wanted to be a pop star, but it wasn’t until her brother began producing his own music on GarageBand that she was inspired to freestyle herself. “I was like, ‘Oh, these aren’t so bad,’” she says. “Then I learned that I liked writing songs, but I don’t think I knew that, though.” 

She aspires to write songs for other artists one day

Now that Kate has realized her full potential as a songwriter, she tells Madden on the podcast that she “for sure” wants to write for other artists someday. While she’s focusing on her own career right now, she says writing for others is on her list of things she’s aspiring to do this year and thinks it would be a really inspiring experience. “I have so many songs that are amazing, and I’m always thinking about who could release what, but I want to actively be writing with others,” she says. 

Kate got fired from her day job because she was focusing on her music

Of course, making music her first priority has come with sacrifices. While she was living in New York City, she got fired from her day job at a startup. But it was the moment she knew her “career started becoming something.” “[The job] was great because I didn’t have to go into the office. So for me, that meant be in the studio and write songs all day, but do it on the side. I got fired because they were like, ‘This girl has songs coming out every Friday. We know she’s not really focused on this,’” she recalls with a laugh. At the time, the sudden lack of security upset her because the city is so expensive, but she made it work by moving back in with her parents.

Opening for Madison Beer was a “long time in the making”

Kate is more persistent than you may realize. Last spring, she joined Madison Beer’s Life Support tour in Europe for over two dozen dates, but it was a gig that she “worked toward for four years.” Being a huge fan of Beer and her music, Kate originally reached out to her manager years ago because she liked the vision. Though he couldn’t take her on as a client, she mentioned that she would “die to open for her.” Through many ups, downs, and follow-up emails, Kate eventually sent over a performance reel that she “spent hours making” and landed the job. Determination is key, folks.

She’s out to prove people wrong

When Madden jokes that a chip on his shoulder drives him to be better, Kate relates. “Growing up, I never felt good enough,” she admits. But Kate believes most artists feel this way, so she’s not alone. Now, she’s harnessing that emotion because there are tons of people she wants to prove wrong by making it as a musician, including family members. In the episode, she recalls being told that “music should be a weekend hobby,” but she pursued it anyway. In fact, she says no one in her family believed music could be her full-time job until last year. “I was never the smart kid in class or the cool kid in high school. I felt severe insecurity about not being good enough, so I think I’m always trying to prove people wrong,” she says. Given the hundreds of thousands of streams on her recent singles, she’s succeeded.