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    15 MIN READ

    Confronting the industry and charting London city with Winifred


    Hailing from Townsville, Winifred, also known as Kate Martin, has skillfully navigated the ever-changing currents of the music industry for years, now culminating in a dazzling new era of releases. Her latest single Want it Bad  and its accompanying self-directed video vividly portray Winifred’s journey, revealing a stark narrative of disillusionment with the industry in which she resides. Positioned as an observer on the fringes of glamour, Winifred narrates her personal growth away from the allure of notoriety.

    Within the contrasting realms of a small-town upbringing and newfound toe-dipping in the bustling city of London, this talented popstress is on a quest to extend her winning streak, securing prominent syncs (think Fortnite and Love Island UK) and engaging in meaningful musical collaborations. In our conversation with Winifred, we delved into themes of self-trust, the redefinition of success, and the delightful nuances of encountering the grandeur of the big city.

    Your new single Want it bad is out now. The music video is beautifully produced and we definitely will talk about that a little bit later on, but I wanted to start off with understanding: who is Winifred? 

    Winifred as a project is geared primarily towards the art and execution of sharing myself through my songs. Followed by embodiment, movement and dance with fashion-focused visuals, subtle satire and a touch of glamour. But mostly I write music as Winifred to connect with others.  My musical journey started probably 15 years ago. I’ve been doing music for as long as I can remember. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I started making music as Kate Martin and that was Indie singer-songwriter kind of stuff. I released a few albums under that project and then around 2017/2018 I started collaborating with people, and that was a real catalyst moment for me. It was a turning point in the way I started writing music. I started writing with people who were really in the pop lane and that really rubbed off on me. 

    The background of music writing that I came from blended with this new direction seemed to make this really interesting, alt-pop combination. My music began to take on parameters and I started to give myself structure in the way that I was writing. When I was younger, I wrote music where one song would have 30 different chords. It would have no structure, it was very cathartic. As my songwriting started to mature, I became more intentional about the ‘why’. I think I wanted to give myself constraints to actually define what I’m doing and to write music with the intention of connecting with people. 

    Around that time period and then at the time Zach Abrams (who is now my label manager at MNRK) said to me one day, “I notice your writing and your sound is shifting and it’s really exciting,” and he was like, “Look, I don’t want to put any pressure on you to make any big changes or decisions, but I’m just going to say you have a really unique middle name. And I’m just going to leave it at that.”

    And that’s when Winifred was born around 2018. I did a few writing trips to LA and London and wrote some music in Berlin as well. That was a really formative writing trip for me because I branched out of my comfort zone, but I had the intention in mind to really explore who Winifred was. 

    Was there anything that felt surprising to you once you stepped into that new space, any areas of discomfort or definitive newness? 

    I think it was a really joyful experience for me, starting to write more contemporary pop music because I felt so connected to what I was doing. Writing big choruses and hooks and going hard with the attitude and mood of Winifred. The concept and the brand of Winifred just fell into my lap, it’s not like I had to spend a long time searching for that. It was evident as soon as I started writing music. And so I think there was a real sense of euphoria, the more I started writing. It was like okay I’m realising this, it’s all coming together.

    I had to navigate the world of co-writing and collaborating which was a huge learning curve for me because all of those years previously, I’d written everything on my own. I was extremely independent as a songwriter and then I found myself in this world where I was having to put my trust in someone else. Sometimes it’s someone I’ve never met and I’m on the other side of the world, or we’re in a studio and we’ve got eight hours to write something, and they can be pretty intimidating environments, but I think there was a lot of liberation in letting go and trusting the process. In that I found a lot of freedom and confirmation in my ability as a songwriter and a collaborator, and then by default as an artist.

    What feels like the most enjoyable part of that process, even in its intensity? 

    The most rewarding part is that light bulb moment because sometimes songwriting is hard work. It can be really exhausting but all the work and effort you put into writing immediately pays off as soon as you hit that magic moment where you’re like okay, let’s go.

    It could be something as simple as a little vocal melody line or a standalone chorus and you’re like, ok, well let’s write an entire song around this. 

    You just keep searching and searching until you find that thing and then you latch on and run with it and that’s always been my greatest joy with songwriting,  finding that thing that resonates. 

    That is an immense sense of trust that you have, not just in the process, but in yourself as a creative person, as someone with things to say and a way of speaking that other people are going to connect to. How has your relationship with self-trust been built? Were there moments where you weren’t sure if you were going to be able to claim that space? 

    I think for me it was learning and understanding my process, owning that and walking into a studio with confidence knowing that this is how I work and expressing that to the person I’m writing with. Sometimes a song will just write itself and other times it’s going to take time. Every single writing session is completely different both for myself as the artist and the person I might be writing with, whether it’s another artist or a producer, and that’s the beauty of collaboration. No experience is identical. So it’s always fresh. It’s always an opportunity to meet new people and have new shared experiences. And it’s something I’ll never get tired of.

    That’s so beautiful to hear even on a personal level; to find a creative space that has a quality of homeliness, that doesn’t feel like you’re sacrificing too much of yourself to monetize it and have as a viable art form that you can actually live off. Coming from a place like Townsville and stepping into this world, have there been any moments where you’ve been like, wait, is this my life?

    I think I often-times get hit with that feeling. The most recent time that happened was when I was in London and I was on my way to the studio in Islington. I was working out of Rex Studios for about a week and I just remember being hit with an overwhelming sense of gratitude walking down the street. Even the fact that I’m currently splitting my time between Townsville and London, which is such a random contrast.

    I love that I get to come home to a regional space where there’s tranquillity. I can reconnect with home soil,  family,  my community and then kind of just take off and do my thing again. That feels pretty surreal to me being able to have that duality in my life currently. So yeah, I’m rolling with that for as long as I can. 

    Touching on the themes in the new track Want it bad, I have interviewed a lot of artists and it does seem to me that you’ve made a very conscious choice to live a dualistic life,  to kind of keep yourself separate from the character that inhabits the celebrity side of what you do. I want to know why that is. What is your relationship with fame, both as an idea and in practicality? 

    In my career, I’ve always felt like I’ve been sort of on the outside looking in. And it’s only been in recent years that I’ve really come to understand that that’s not a bad thing for me. Actually my ideals of fame and all of these markers of success have shifted so drastically over the years as I’ve matured and as I’ve grown up. My passion for music and writing and collaborating will always be there. I can see myself writing music into my old age. 

    I do feel it’s tied in with my personality as well. I’m an introverted- extrovert. I really like to connect with the individual rather than a larger group of people. With Winifred, I put everything into it but then I’m very happy to step back and have that separation. I only give what I’m comfortable giving, and I think that just feels true to who I am.

    That boundary is something that I’ve established over the years of  dwelling on the outskirts of the industry just observing and seeing how it all works. You have to ask yourself, what am I comfortable with?

     I can definitely relate to that feeling. When you’re young and you have creative aspirations you immediately kind of project this idea of needing fame to be viable as an artist, and I think as you get older you realise that maybe the world of notoriety isn’t as sparkly as what you previously thought. 

    No, exactly. When I was younger I thought success to me was standing on a big  stage, being on  a massive festival bill, having thousands of people screaming my lyrics back to me. 

    And that has completely shifted as I’ve come to realise that there’s more than one formula for success in this industry and thank goodness for that. I always had this sense that my journey would look a little different, I just didn’t realise how different. 

    But when I take stock of where I’m at right now, being on the cusp of releasing my second Winifred EP, I feel proud of the fact that I’ve been able to get some really solid runs on the board with syncs. From that one five track EP, my music was synced on Fortnite and Love Island UK, and I also have another currently unannounced sync in the beauty world which goes live early next year that I’m personally most excited about. If I get to keep writing with who I want to, living a life that feels true to who I am, having my music connect with people through these channels, then I don’t know what more I could ask for really.

    What do you feel inspires you the most to come back to songwriting? Where do you draw your influences from?

    It’s really varied. I wrote one of my songs that’s going to be a single on this EP called Carpet Of Flowers. I remember walking around in Islington (again) before I went into the studio and wrote the song. I was listening to a poetry book and there was literally a line about someone walking on a symbolic carpet of flowers. 

    The book had so much natural symbolism and beauty in it which I found so stunning that it really put me in this visual mindset. I was like, I’m gonna write a song that really touches on all the senses- smell, sound, taste and touch- I’m really going to go into that visual world in my mind and create from that place. That’s one example. 

    I’m also really inspired by films and even by sentence structure. If someone’s talking to me and they say a string of words together that just sounds really unique, I’ll grab out my phone and be like, “Sorry, what you just said was really beautiful I have to write it down”. Most likely it’s going to become a lyric of one of my songs. 

    I was talking to a friend recently and they asked me what music I listen to for leisure. I said I don’t really find myself doing that anymore because I have this subconscious part of my brain that’s always listening out for inspiration. Whenever I listen to any kind of music- whether it’s music on TV or if I’m just scrolling through Spotify- there’s always part of me that’s listening very intently, it’s not exactly relaxing! I think I’m just excited and keen to absorb whatever I can that gets my creative juices flowing. It can be hard to switch that off when I listen to music, probably because it’s so tied in with my job. I think it is a good thing,  I’ll always love listening to music even if these days I struggle to find it totally relaxing (laughs). 

    Actually my ideals of fame and all of these markers of success have shifted so drastically over the years as I've matured and as I've grown up... I can see myself writing music into my old age. 

    Islington and the whole of East London is such a fun, hectic place to be. I was living in the city at the beginning of this year, which was super formative but ultimately not something I was ready to sustain long term. What is your survival method to somewhere like London? How do you stay grounded amongst the madness? 

    That is a good question. Honestly, I’m still figuring it out, so I want tips from you on this. I was talking to my manager about it because I find London so fast-paced. I’m still learning how to switch off when I’m there, and this is coming from someone who lived in Melbourne for nine years. 

    I think for me the really important thing is staying connected to family. It’s really good with the time zones because I’m able to catch them in the morning when I wake up, which is their afternoon/early evening. So making time to have a quick touch base is really grounding for me.  

    Wherever I am I always try to find a quiet place to retreat into myself, even for a moment. I really love solitude and quiet time, I always try to carve out time every day to have at least 15-20 minutes completely to myself just to reflect and re-center. But yeah, I am still very much figuring all of that out. 

    I found on my days off that I could walk from one side of the city almost to the other, and I realised that everyone was bustling around me the whole way. It helped me realise that the feeling of craziness wasn’t me, it was what the city was built for. So the best way to ground was to go out to the country or to whatever coast I could reach, and then come back again. 

    Ocean and sun. That was one of the things that I really missed when I was over there. This last time it was nine degrees every day I didn’t see the sun at all for three weeks straight, which actually really affected me. I just thought wow, I really get why Londoners are notoriously affected by the weather. It’s contrasting because the last time I was there was in May in the middle of summer which was glorious.  People were light and chirpy and sometimes they’d say hey or smile at you on the street, which made me feel like I was in Townsville. Finding your own little pockets of joy is really important, that and having community.

    When you go, do you stay in Islington, or is that just where the studio was that time?

    Yes, it was just my first time staying in Islington. It was a 10 minute walk to the studio. So that was perfect. But usually I stay in Kensington / Earls Court. 

    That’s where I used to live.

    So someone on the plane over told me that Earls Court used to be called ‘Kangaroo Valley’ or  ‘Little Australia’ because all the Aussies stay there. 

    I didn’t know that before I moved there. Australians must have some strange, magnetic pull towards it. 

    I didn’t know that either and it’s funny because now looking back I remember hearing so many Aussie accents in Earl’s Court, and I thought there’s so many of us over here. But maybe it’s just an Earl’s Court thing. 

    I remember I first learnt of the trend when I was out socialising and someone asked me where I lived in London. I’d said Kensington/Earl’s Court, and they said “Of course you do”. So, I thought they were calling me posh. But when I asked if that’s what they meant, they said “No, that’s where all the Australian’s live”. So, not special and not posh (laughs). 

    It is such a lovely area though. I stayed there on my first few trips over, so it was probably time for me to branch out and stay in some other areas, but I think I’ll always really love that particular spot because it holds all my first memories of London and it does feel close to home. I’ve got my bearings of that area at least so it’s one of the few parts of London’s I feel like I can easily navigate my way around.

    Finding your own little pockets of joy is really important, that and having community.

    Where did the concept for the music video come from? How was bringing those visions to life?

    I wanted to create something that aligned with the subtext of the lyrics. It’s a spin-off of a glamorised TV Awards performance. We got to shoot it at the Northcote Theater, which was incredible to lock that location down with it  being so iconic. The Winifred project is very movement inspired, I intertwine a lot of dancing and choreography into my visuals and live performances. I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with Melbourne choreographer Zoee Marsh, she has been very integral to the identity of Winifred by helping me learn how to move and be present in my body. Fun fact: I actually didn’t know how to dance before COVID. 

    So that was a COVID project? 

    Yeah, so my first time moving and actually getting into the body was in 2020 during a lockdown. It was just Zoee and I in the studio. I remember her saying, “Your arms have a lot to say, I definitely believe you can dance”. It’s almost like I needed someone to tell me you can do this, at which point I just started believing that I could. So I just thought, I’m gonna go into this with no inhibitions and use it as a way to shed my insecurities about movement expression. Next thing you know, I’m making dance music videos with backing dancers. 

    I wanted to have backing dancers for the ‘Want It Bad’ music video . Mel and Drago are incredible- I’ve worked with them before.  

    We learned the choreography pretty quickly. I flew down from Townsville to Melbourne, we had a few rehearsals and then it was straight off to shooting. Majella Productions produced this one, I shot one of my previous videos with them ( ‘Into The Night’) so it was sort of like getting the old crew back together again. We shot some of the outdoor night shots in Sydney as well. I wanted those shots to feel a lot more free and uninhibited, as if they were going off the wall a little bit. The stage world is poised and  choreographed whereas I guess the outdoor world is more like an insight into what’s really going on in my mind. It was my first time directing a music video, so I’m proud of myself for that.

    The music video for me was really refreshing because it feels like a revival of the original pop movement, where it was really fun and really embodied. You can feel that everyone is having fun in the process of creation too. 

    The movement was so sassy, there’s some shots where it’s just all hair flicks, glitter, wind machines and stage lights. So fun.  

    Where would you ideally like the next few years to go for you? 

    Well I just finalised my record deal with MNRK, so I feel as though this will play some sort of role in determining the next chapter.


    I’m about to embark on the journey of releasing my second EP, which is all signed off on but I think the plan beyond that is to just keep releasing music even after the EP comes out and just kind of keep a consistent stream of music coming out from here onwards. I’m really excited because previously, I’d have a big release and then go into hibernation for six to 12 months, but I’m excited to keep that stream of output going consistently and hopefully things will continue to build organically. 

     I definitely see myself going back to London. At this stage , I’m content splitting my time, but who knows, I might make the leap like you did eventually. We’ll see how this EP goes…

    My only tip for London is always keep an escape route up your sleeve (laughs).

    Every time I go to London, I have a little goal to try and travel to a new country because you’re so connected to the rest of the world. I didn’t get to do that on the last trip but on my May trip, I went to Amsterdam and I did some writing over there and that was so beautiful. Getting off the train in Amsterdam Central the air felt different. The vibe was immediately different. We got on the Eurostar at St Pancras which is pure chaos, and getting off at Amsterdam was like I’d stepped into another world. 

    And even though I had writing sessions pretty much every day in Amsterdam, it felt so relaxed compared to London. There’s distinctively different energies depending on which country you go to, even though everything is so close geographically, which is really interesting. So that’s a really good tip.

    My final question is a bit more of a whimsical one. Everywhere, but particularly in London Sundays are really cherished. If you could create an ultimate London Sunday routine, what’s on the itinerary?

    Hmm, maybe I’d go to Hampstead Heath – ideally  on a sunny day. I’d bring a blanket and a book and then I’d go and get a Sunday roast at a pub. They’re so good over there! 

    Do you have a pub that has a standout roast for you?

    Earl’s Court Tavern does amazing roasts. Some of my food experiences in London have been hit and miss  but the Sunday roasts are so good.

    There’s always going to be like a Yorkshire pudding, heaps of gravy and mashed potato.

    Yorkshire pudding, yes! So good! One of my favourite things to do in London is to get on the tube on a day off and pick a suburb to explore. I had a beautiful day in Notting Hill recently. The markets were great- the shopping, thrifting, the coffee- everything was beautiful. There’s suburbs like that everywhere in London. So much to be experienced! 

    Do you know when you head back there next? 

    I don’t have a date locked in yet, but I’m thinking probably April or May next year is when I’ll most likely head back. That’s what I’m hoping for.

    Also missing the grizzly wintry months is probably a smart thing. You’ll be right in time for the start of Spring, there’ll be flowers and a bit of sun hopefully. 

    Yes, gotta be strategic about these things. Hopefully the sunshine and warmth inspire lots of new songs!