Katie DeGraff

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Katie DeGraff. When it comes to writing music, I go by Katie Kapteyn (the maiden name). I’m an independent singer/songwriter, full-time wife and mother, and a part-time worship leader at Faith Church in Dyer, IN.

Where are you from?

Lansing, IL

How did you get started?

I started singing in church when I was 5 years old. At first it was a lot of duets with my mom, mostly at family friends’ baby dedications, but eventually I discovered my passion for music through piano lessons, band, choir, and leading worship for my youth group. A big shout-out to my church growing up –  Village Church – because they gave me growing room to start young in leading worship. I started writing music when I was 15, and songwriting quickly became one of the things I love to do most.

Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?

I love a conversation with a friend over a good cup of coffee or loose leaf (it has to be loose leaf) tea, rocking on my front porch, any kind of creative project that involves building something or creating an inviting space. I love a good concert or songwriters round.  Baking makes me happy now and again, and I used to love to read when I was less busy. I hope to find my way back there one day…

What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?

These questions are hard (for me) because I don’t always remember specific examples, but I think a mistake I’ve made in multiple instances was not being bold enough. I’ve always had (to put it nicely) a “gentle” approach. It’s even been called “apologetic” at times, and while there are aspects of that to value and hold onto, it can work against you in an industry where loud, confident, and entertaining personalities move their way through faster.  That tension of being true to who I am, yet not shrinking back to where you miss opportunities–that’s been tough.

What are the top tools you need to do your job?

Inspiration, SPACE, an instrument of some sort (I’d choose piano or guitar), my voice, and the talent of other artists –  to offer their bends in writing, instrumentation and vocals and just IDEAS in general. What’s already great can potentially be made that much greater. I’d say individual work and collaboration can both be of great value in writing and creating music.

Who or what inspires you and why?

My relationship with Jesus Christ is my biggest inspiration – it always has been because it’s my source of Truth, identity, life, everything! But relationships in general, too. The people in my life, the things we experience together, the things I experience alone.  Other artists and writers inspire me – and peoples’ stories. Being out in nature, where it’s quiet is helpful, but sometimes I hear a quick phrase or thought in a conversation or a speech that hits me hard and I’ve got to write it down. Life in general inspires me – no matter what direction it’s going in. Music invokes emotion and has a way of reaching the deepest parts of people in a very unique way and so whatever stirs emotion seems idea-worthy of a song. It’s endless, really!

What do you love about Northwest Indiana?

I like that it’s not the city, but close to the city.  I really like a lot of people who live there, too.

What resources are you finding to educate yourself?

Now and again I read a random article or book on songwriting or worship leading that sheds light on something new, but can I be honest? Parenting is my greatest form of education right now. Talk about inspiration! You find the joys, the struggles, the good, the bad and the ugly all in one day, without looking very hard!  It’s nearly impossible for me to sit down at the piano or strum a guitar at home without little hands trying to join in on the fun, so finding a quiet corner is the key resource to further anything. Collaboration with other artists continues to be a way to learn too. It’s good to surround yourself with people who are different than you; to discover other perspectives and come to value them.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?

Discover and value what YOU bring to the table and don’t try to copy or evolve into what or who someone else already is. Care more about the souls of other people, rather than working to make a name for yourself. Let loving God and loving others be the driving force behind what you do.

What’s next for you?

I don’t really know, but I’m trying to live in today and embrace what today holds. If I could find a way to write amazing songs every day and have the opportunity to share them- that’s a dream I continue to hold onto and would love to live out. But if today means I get to explore the world with a couple cute kids and hopefully teach them a little of what really matters in life- or I get to have a cup of coffee on the front porch with my husband, than that’s more than enough. No matter what, I keep creating, singing, writing and learning. I’m excited to see what the future holds!

Where can we find you?

You can find some of my music on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-different-kind-of-king/1175186957

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-highest-joy/519826314