From busking Byron to the world!
Garrett Kato’s story is something of a musical fairytale. The west Canadian moved to Byron when he was 23 and built his following on the streets of the town. His talent wasn’t just noticed by the passing parade; it caught the attention of Bernard Fanning and Kasey Chambers and saw him join their international tours.
Garrett Kato’s story is something of a musical fairytale. The west Canadian moved to Byron when he was 23 and built his following on the streets of the town. His talent wasn’t just noticed by the passing parade; it caught the attention of Bernard Fanning and Kasey Chambers and saw him join their international tours. He’s also toured with Jack Johnson, Ziggy Alberts and Pete Murray. His 2017 single Take It Slowly is just shy of eight million streams on Spotify and his breakout song Sweet Jane was featured in the film Bad Moms. I guess you could say that the humble gig of setting up in the street and playing for change has changed the life of this musician.
‘Getting a song on the soundtrack of a Hollywood release is certainly a career coup. I got signed to this publishing company called Sony ATV and they sent my song around and the producers came back saying we love this song from this random busker guy in Byron. It’s been like a snowball. That moment made it possible for me to be a musician,’ says Kato.
‘Busking is a test of any musician’s resilience and ability to push through. It’s also a big dose of humility. There is definitely a moment when you are playing for just one person and you think what am I doing with my life? I have a child at home!’
‘Everyone feels like that all the time; there is definitely a moment when you are outside mocha playing for one person and you just had one child…
‘But if I didn’t busk I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing – on tour with Kasey Chambers, playing the US. When you are on the street you have to win the trust of your audience.
‘Kasey saw me on the street; she bought my CD – I didn’t even know who she was – I go thanks, Love!’
‘For musicians often busking is the only way they can make enough money to pay the bills.
‘You don’t plan for it, you are looking to make money so you can pay some rent, you hope it’s the right music at the right time, you just connect with people – it’s a valuable marketing tool – you never know who sees you. Everyone has a get-rich-quick scheme online but I still think people like to get to know someone face to face. It creates an opinion. They stumble on you. They feel like they’ve found you!’ laughs Garrett.
‘It’s liberating, you don’t feel like you are tied down playing by the bar in front of the footy; that thing is strictly for money, it’s not going to increase your career.
‘That’s part of cutting your teeth in the industry… it’s a confusing time to be a musician now; there are so many ways you can go and there’s no real rule book. Someone might busk for 10 years, someone might get a song on Triple J – I guess you take your break wherever you can…’
Garrett Kato returns to Byron to play Falls Festival, and says, ‘For Falls Festival – it’s going to be a band show with some friends I have been playing with for a while – I did the set at Splendour, nothing too crazy, probably will be the most mellow set at Falls!’
Catch Garrett Kato at Falls Festival this year 31 Dec – 2 Jan