Star Spot with Kitt Wakeley, InterContinental Music Awards and Grammy winner, composer, arranger, and producer
Unleashing the Secrets to Success in the Music Industry: An Exclusive Interview with InterContinental Music Awards and Grammy® Winner Kitt Wakeley
Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me Kitt Wakeley, songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer.
Kitt Wakeley is the winner of the InterContinental Music Awards for his track “Conficted (feat. Joe Satriani)” in the Best of Pangaea New Age category. And, just after our interview, Kitt won a Grammy® Award for his album “An Adoption Story” featuring London Symphonic Orchestra.
Let’s jump straight into the interview highlights and explore Kitt Wakeley’s extensive expertise and insights. The full interview is available on Instagram – click here to check it out.
Kitt, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m a songwriter, composer, performer, artist, and producer from Oklahoma City. I’ve been doing this full-time for about 10 years.
Congratulations on your album “An Adoption Story” being nominated for a Grammy®! Can you tell us the story behind the album?
The premise of the album stems from my experience in the foster care system and being separated from my biological sister. I was adopted by a wonderful family, but during that time, I was looking for my sister.
Years later, we were reunited after 30 years. Within a few months of reuniting, my wife and I were given the opportunity to adopt three children because they didn’t want them to be separated. The album is based on the full circle of everything that took place. It’s a personal exploration of my experiences in the foster care system and as an adoptive parent.
The album features the London Symphony Orchestra and talented guest musicians such as Wouter Kellerman and Joe Satriani, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium.
How and when did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry?
I think I knew early on that I wanted to pursue music, and I gave it a try by opening up for major label bands like Motley Crue and Poison. However, things didn’t work out, and I had to make a tough choice as a single dad raising two girls. Years later, after getting remarried, my wife encouraged me to pursue music again.
My daughters were taking my music to school, and it got played at the prom, which sparked my interest. From there, I took an inadvertent path towards bigger and better opportunities, and that’s where I find myself now.
What inspires you to make music?
I have always loved music and the art behind it, regardless of the genre. When I was playing in a band and performing at clubs and dances, I had to learn so many different styles of music, from Michael Jackson to Van Halen. Through that experience, I learned that every artist has an art form that they bring to their music.
For example, Michael Jackson’s art was his producer Quincy Jones, and even rap artists like Eminem have an art to their syncopation and syllables. As a producer for other artists, I’m able to bring together all these different influences, whether it’s pop, EDM, or any other genre.
But when I take a break and work on my own projects, I bring my personal brand to a hybrid of rock and pop, often incorporating orchestras like the London Symphony or Royal Philharmonic. Ultimately, my inspiration comes from the artistry and creativity that goes into making music, no matter what form it takes.
Can you tell us about your creative process? How do you begin working on a new piece of music?
When I’m working on a new piece of music for another artist, we have zoom calls where we discuss their vision and influences. But when I’m creating music for myself, I collect ideas and visions for new music throughout the year, using my voice memos or making notes of certain beats or rhythms from every genre.
I start with a skeleton laid out with a piano and then I start thinking in terms of what major guitarists like Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani would do. Once I have a chord progression, I create a massive orchestra, inspired by artists like Hans Zimmer.
Then I bring these two forces together because rock music inspires us in sports events, and movies inspire us to tears or for triumph. By combining these elements, I get a really powerful force, setting the groundwork before we go to the studio or do any production.
Can you tell me about your experience working with Joe Satriani on the song “Conflicted” during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, many artists were unable to work much, but I wanted to keep creating music. So, I reached out to Joe Satriani, whom I didn’t know, and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on a project I was working on at Abbey Road in London. To my delight, he agreed, and that marked the start of a great relationship between us. For “Conflict,” I shared the melodies, scales, and modes I had written and let Joe add his thumbprint and give it a whole new depth and color. It was great to have someone else’s perspective and talent bring something fresh to my music. Working with Joe was truly magical, and I am grateful for the experience.
How did you hear about InterContinental Music Awards (ICMA)? How was your experience with ICMA, and what was your takeaway?
Beth Hilton told me all about InterContinental Music Awards, and if Beth puts her fingerprint on it, I know it’s got integrity and quality. I can’t say enough good things about Beth or what she brings to a conversation about ICMA.
My takeaway is that I liked the whole concept of what InterContinental Music Awards is doing. I felt like the integrity of the process was there, and there was a credibility that I didn’t see in other award programs. ICMA was totally independent, and there was no politics involved.
I just had to submit my work and hope that ICMA liked it enough for something. In my professional perspective, I put ICMA on a different level compared to a lot of other award programs.
(Musicians, if you’re looking for the opportunity to showcase your talents on a global level, check out the InterContinental Music Awards opportunities by clicking here)
What are some of the challenges and ups and downs you have faced in your career?
Throughout my career, I have faced numerous challenges and ups and downs. One example I can give is during the production of “The Adoption Story” album. We spent months, if not a year and a half, working on it, coordinating scores, traveling around the country to work with different musicians, and then recording in London. It was an emotionally charged creative process that took a toll on us, but we were determined to make it a success.
However, when we received reviews after the release, some were not positive. Some critics found it too elementary or cliche, which was disheartening after all the hard work we put in. It’s difficult to receive criticism after pouring your heart and soul into something. But, on the other hand, we also received positive feedback and were eventually nominated for a Grammy. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, and we have to keep pushing forward despite any setbacks or negative reviews.
In conclusion, it’s essential to keep our eyes on the target and persevere despite the challenges and ups and downs that come with a career in the music industry. We may face criticisms, setbacks, or even failures, but it’s crucial to learn from them, grow from them, and keep moving forward.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in music?
My advice for someone starting their career in music would be to have a vision and a purpose and not deviate from it, regardless of what others say. Seek out people who are better than you and can mentor you, and associate yourself with people who have character and humility. Networking is also important, but don’t just get to know about their music, get to know about their life.
Create a bond with people, remain humble, and work with people better than you. Don’t take no for an answer, take chances, and don’t give up. Finally, keep your humility and character intact and stay grateful for everything that happens in your career.
Kitt Wkeley’s Contact Info:
- Website: https://www.kittwakeley.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kittwakeley/
- Website: https://www.youtube.com/c/KittWakeleyMusic
Click here to watch the full interview on Instagram
InterContinental Music Awards Team