Katie Ferrara has perfected the art of writing catchy songs on her guitar and ukulele. She recently sat down with busk.co to discuss her upcoming EP, “Dream Catcher”, busking in LA and how music has helped her grow as a person.




Davi: Katie, you’re preparing to release your third EP “Dream Catcher” on busk.co. Can you talk a little about this album?

Katie: This EP is important to me because I funded it through my street performances in LA and via Kickstarter. I wrote this album in hopes of refining my sound as a folk pop artist but also to communicate the idea there can be security in pursuing what you are passionate about. This EP is an inspirational album to motivate people and make them feel good about pursuing their dreams.

D: You started your music career while working as a Barista in London. Can you elaborate on that story?

K: At that point in my life, I had just graduated from college with a degree in psychology. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my major—all I knew was that I was incredibly happy to be done with school. I flew to London because I wanted the experience of living in a different city. I didn’t know I would start my music career there—I really just needed a place to find myself. I was spending all my free time playing guitar and songwriting, which lead to me meeting the right people and having more and more opportunities to perform live and record.

D: I know that, early on, you also performed at open mic nights. How is that similar or dissimilar was that experience to busking?

K: Playing at an open mic is similar to busking in that you can test out new material with an audience while not making the commitment of doing a full blown show. At an open mic, there is a built in audience and it’s a really great place to meet other musicians with whom you can collaborate with. The downside to playing at an open mic is that you are only being exposed to other musicians when you perform.

When you are busking, you are exposed to different groups of people—families, couples, children etc. You are given an opportunity to build relationships with people and to provide a form of entertainment that everyone can enjoy in the community. Plus there is a great chance chance you will make tips. However, if it’s raining, you are out of luck.

D: Your mom was actually the person who taught you how to play guitar. Would you say you come from a musical family?

K: I would say that my family is very musical, especially on my mom’s side. My brother is a jazz musician and my mom plays folk music. She used to be a singer and guitarist in several bands in England before I was born. Even my grandfather made his living as a classical pianist accompanying ballet dancers in rehearsal halls. I used to listen to recordings of his recitals on cassette tape when I was a kid.


“At the end of the day, I’ve found a sense of empowerment through my street performances. I would rather be alone doing what I love than feeling like I need to ask for permission from someone else to express myself.”

D: Now you’re a seasoned busker in Santa Monica, Melrose and Burbank. However, the first time you busked, what were you thinking?

K: When I first started busking I was nervous because I had never done it before, but I was also excited to be sharing my songs with the world. I just tried to have fun in the situation and play because it felt good to sing something I created. The first time I busked was only for about an hour. My amp had died that day and I didn’t think about the logistics of playing outdoors. What I really enjoyed about that day was the sense of adventure I got from just being by myself, exploring a new area of town, and conquering my fears.

D: You’ve said that busking isn’t something that came naturally to you. What inspires you to keep going?

K: I keep busking because I love the sense of freedom that I get from getting paid to play wherever I like, and honestly, it’s all the positive experiences I’ve had playing in these different locations. I feel like I’ve truly experienced my life because I’m not waiting to be signed to some record label. I’m selling my music, meeting people and seeing the world on my terms.

I think so many people don’t go for what they really want because they are afraid of being alone, or not fitting in. It’s this need for social approval that often hinders creativity and self-expression. I’ve always struggled with not letting others bring me down. I’ve had my fair share of bullying, and exclusion from people I thought were friends. At the end of the day, I’ve found a sense of empowerment through my street performances. I would rather be alone doing what I love than feeling like I need to ask for permission from someone else to express myself.

D: I’ve heard you talk a lot about respect within the musical community and the pride and gratitude you feel in earning respect from other artists. Can you give an example of this type of comrodery that you’ve witnessed or experienced within the busking community?

K: I’ve made a big deal about earning respect from other artists because quite frankly, busking is highly territorial and competitive. Playing on a street that has a high amount of foot traffic is crucial to being able to make money, especially if busking is the main source of income for certain performers.

What is really amazing is when you meet other performers who can compromise or who care about creating a sense of community in the neighborhood. I experienced this in Burbank. When I first started playing out there, I didn’t know anyone until I talked to one of the buskers called Bobby Strange. He performs in the downtown area very regularly. He showed me some spots where buskers usually play so I could perform there as well.

My favourite experiences busking have been the ones where other musicians have come up to me and asked to jam. There was one night in Burbank where I saw my friend Seth show up to Palm Ave with his cajon. We jammed for a couple hours in different spots and made some good money. I think that if there is an opportunity to learn something from a fellow busker, that’s way more valuable than making an extra buck playing the same songs over and over again.

D: How has your musical style evolved over time?

K: I think I developed this folk/pop style of playing from the people that I’ve jammed or co-written with. I used to play a lot on my own so when I wrote songs, the melody and guitar would take up much of the space in the song. Now I write songs thinking about the arrangement I would like to have. I’ve just spent a lot of time with folk and country artists in LA so I think my sound has been influenced by being in that particular music scene.

D: You won “Feeling the Street” in 2015. Can you talk a little about that experience and what has changed for you since you won?

K: Last year I was one of the winners of the season 1 competition. I was flown out to New Zealand by Toyota along with 5 other performers from different countries such as Poland, Belgium, Colombia and Spain. We went on a week road trip and did some incredible things together. It was an amazing experience to have that connection with people I’ve never met before and to challenge myself to sing and play in a different way.

When I came back to LA, I felt more respected as an artist by other musicians, but more importantly, the experience inspired me just to keep creating music, and keep pursuing something that I’m passionate about. It inspired me to collaborate more, travel abroad and get out of my comfort zone.

D: If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

K: This is a really tough question because there are so many places I would love to perform!
I would have to say that a trip to Brazil is definitely on my bucket list. I would love to visit the beaches of Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo and learn how to play Bossa Nova. I think it would be cool to learn a new style of music, and develop my guitar playing and songwriting by jamming with other local musicians. I also think that the country is absolutely beautiful and it would be amazing to watch the sunset in that part of the world!