ATS: So how do you like Thornton [USC School of Music]? What kinds of classes are you taking?
Kathryn Gallagher: I love it! It’s such an amazing program. I take songwriting and pop harmony, performance classes and guitar lessons…anything you need, you can find there. It’s so exciting.
In terms of business, what are your goals? Do you want to sign with a label or publisher?
I want to make my first record and release it. I want to work with everyone, try everything, and make a really good record. I love performing – my dream is to go on tour with my own music…that seems like the most perfect thing in the world.
Right now we’re working on my first music video, for a song called “Damaged” that was placed in this movie Thanks For Sharing (with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo).
I love your song “How Do I Grow Up” – it’s so, so good. Do you want to share the inspiration or how the song came about?
Yes, thank you! That song I wrote for the movie Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. The director loved another song of mine so much that he sent me the script and I wrote a song. He said that it was too sad…so I got [to watch] the scene in an email –Toby Regbo is running with his therapist – and picked up my guitar and the song ["How Do I Grow Up"] was done in 20 minutes. I know exactly this feeling of not knowing what to do.
I was a senior in high school waiting to hear back from colleges – I saw that scene…I really identified with this kid — the feeling ‘I don’t know anything, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ It came out of this crazy point of desperation. It’s a really confused desperation. And after I finished it – maybe it’s okay that I don’t know. No one’s going to tell me and I just have to figure it out.
That’s cool – I didn’t know that you wrote the song specifically for the movie/scene. What qualities do you look for in collaborators/musicians to write or perform with?
Humor and honesty. Honesty’s a big one. I start any co-write with just talking. Openness and all the things I look for in a friend. And also talent is always lovely [laughs], but it really is almost further down on the list. You have to like them as a person, especially because co-songwriting can be such an awkward thing…you have to be honest and open, and that’s not an easy thing to do at all.
I’ve noticed that many kids of actors or musicians, who also want to do something creative with their lives, often face a backlash and resentment, and accusations of nepotism. Is that something you’ve had to deal with at all?
It’s funny because it’s definitely present but I’ve never had another dad [Peter Gallagher], and I never will…I love my dad because he’s an amazing dad. Both of my parents are amazingly supportive and I feel so lucky because of that.
I’ve been around it my whole life – my dad lives in that actor/musician world – so I definitely think it helps being around [the] creative. So I understand that more than, like, finance. I know there can be weird feelings or questioning…times when people assume that I get certain things because of whatever reason, but I just work and try to make my parents proud. There’s not much I can do about it. I wouldn’t trade my parents for anyone.
I discovered your music via Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. What about licensing – is there a type of film or certain kind of scene where your songs would naturally/thematically fit well?
That’s interesting – I’ve never thought about that. I think any scene where anyone is very confused or sad or self-deprecating, my songs would just fit right in there [laughs]. I write from such a personal point of view that I’m always surprised when a song can take on so many other meanings. It’s such an honor that anyone would want to use my songs.
And serious question: Your thoughts on Taylor Swift vs Miley Cyrus, in terms of the quality of their music + career longevity?
I’m a huge fan of both honestly. I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift since her first record. I’ve been loving Taylor Swift forever — I think she’s such an amazing songwriter…her tour is amazing. And Miley Cyrus – I totally watched Hannah Montana.
They’re so different – I hope they both have really long careers and are extremely successful, I think they’re so cool and so honest about who they are and what they stand for.