Almost three months have passed since Raleigh’s Kat Robichaud was eliminated from The Voice. The singing competition had been kind to her for the most part, providing Robichaud with a grand forum for belting her big notes and kicking her stretch pants high. She stage-dove and earned some 30,000-plus Twitter fans. Ultimately, Tessanne Chin grabbed the title, and Kat and the rest of the contestants entered a new phase—one without judges or a network to guide their futures.
“Reckless Boys” by The Design: Robichaud spent over a year creating this stop motion music video out of a Lite-Brite, completing the project just this November.
Few appreciate the potential and the fear of that position more than Robichaud, who’s spent her time since The Voice wrapped working to determine her next step. The first was signing with J.J. Italiano, the Los Angeles-based manager who has helped bands such as I Fight Dragons. The second was deciding to go with Kickstarter rather than a label to fund her debut solo album of “theatrical rock ’n’ roll.”
We chatted with Robichaud about new pal Amanda Palmer, social media pressure and Macklemore.
On performing with Amanda Palmer
Right when I came off the show, I flew to New York for The Today Show and MTV, and Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman happened to be doing a show in New York at the same time. Amanda invited me to the show to perform with her. We sang “Delilah” together on this beautiful old theater stage with 1,200 people watching.
I’m standing backstage while she’s introducing me, and I want to hear everything she’s saying to the audience about me. I’m trying to listen to what she’s saying, and Neil Gaiman is trying to talk to me at the same time. I’m like, ‘Neil, be quiet!’ [laughs] They’re just really wonderful people. I got to go out and have a couple drinks with them afterward.
On getting Kickstarter Advice from Palmer
I’ve been working on the [Kickstarter] video. The video is so important. I have kind of a sick sense of humor, and my video takes about a minute to give my backstory before I was on The Voice. I was a very awkward kid growing up, and I never felt like I fit in. I was trying to illustrate how high school was for me, so I used a picture from some zombie film where this guy is getting his guts ripped out. I showed the video to Amanda as just a rough draft, and she emailed me back this morning—she’s actually in Australia right now, writing a book—and was like, “I think the video is great. I think that you should get rid of gory images because it’s not suitable for work and might offend some people.” This is coming from Amanda Palmer. I should probably take this out, because you know she can be very controversial at times. I got her point. Maybe I should instead use some awkward pictures of me from high school if I can find them.
She’s been giving me a lot of advice—to keep the video under three minutes, tell people what you’re going to spend the money on, don’t make it boring, paint a picture. The reason that Amanda Palmer was so successful with the Kickstarter campaign—besides the fact that she’s Amanda Palmer and is very talented—is that this was not new as far as the way that she did business. She’s always been with the fans. She’s so one-on-one, and she’s very verbal with the fans. She’s always very sharing and doesn’t hold anything back, and she’s never been afraid to ask for support.
On what she learned from the show
The biggest impact that the show has had on me is just the instant fame, where all of a sudden you really don’t know how to handle people online. When you’re on a show like this and you’re competing for fans, you have to be all the time on the Internet. The reason I think I was instantly saved first is because of the hours I put into responding to every single person. I’d wake up in the morning. I’d look at Twitter and I’d have a couple hundred people saying “hey” or asking questions. I would just sit there and favorite all of it and respond to people on YouTube and Facebook. When I wasn’t practicing, I was talking to people online.
People want to know that you’re real. I was also dealing with little girls emailing me to tell me that they’re really sad and they’re having not such nice thoughts about their life. The only thing that you can do is tell them it’s going to be okay and recommend they talk to somebody. It’s really been a crash course in learning how to talk to people on Twitter and Facebook. Before, with The Design, people who were reaching out to us weren’t complete strangers from across the world that had seen me on a television show. You don’t know how to deal with it in the correct way, and you don’t want to upset anybody, and you don’t want to put anybody off. I’m still learning.
On The Voice performance that wasn’t
Honestly, the only time that I felt like I was compromising who I was was when I did the Mary Lambert song. I think it’s a beautiful song, but originally [I was supposed to perform] a part of Mary Lambert’s song. (Ed’s note: Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” is built on the hook of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” which she sings.) We were going to come in with Macklemore lyrics and sing them in a James Brown/gospel style. I had filmed this reality bit about standing up for equal rights. I felt really strongly about it. I knew it was risky but I didn’t care. Those are the kind of people that I want as fans, anyway—people who stand up for what they believe in.
We had already filmed the reality bit. We had filmed rehearsing it with CeeLo. We got the call from Macklemore saying he didn’t feel comfortable with our version, that we were completely rewriting the song. We were taking a little bit too much creative license with it, and his concern was that people were going to think this was the same song if you keep putting it together. Mary has her song and Macklemore has his song that he sampled her chorus for, and that’s it.
CeeLo even called him. He just didn’t feel comfortable with it. I hate to say I got stuck, but I did get stuck singing an alt-country song. I’m a rock ’n’ roll girl.
On her aspirations
It’s a very hard sell to be an aggressive female rock ’n’ roller because there’s a certain standard: You’re not supposed to be loud and out front and have opinions. I didn’t just sit there and smile and bat my eyelashes. I really look up to people like Amanda because she’s doing it very successfully and without apology. She is who she is. I know her life isn’t perfect, and she has struggles everyday. She’s a great role model for people like me.
I decided I’m not going to try to appeal to the mass public. What I really need to do is to be there for the awkward little girls and boys that need somebody like me out in the universe. It’s funny because I did a video blog not too long ago where I told people that high school was awful for me and the response to that was [disbelief]. So I said, “OK, I’m going to do that. I’m going to be this person for you, because I honestly can’t be anything else.”