Music in me: Kate Bollinger’s lifelong connection to healing through song

Kate Bollinger celebrates the vinyl release of her 2019 EP, I Don’t Wanna Lose, at the Southern on November 14. “Music is always around for a lot of people and it’s, I think, subtly powerful, but [not everyone] knows that it can really change people’s lives and change their brain patterns," she says. Publicity photo Kate Bollinger celebrates the vinyl release of her 2019 EP, I Don’t Wanna Lose, at the Southern on November 14. “Music is always around for a lot of people and it’s, I think, subtly powerful, but [not everyone] knows that it can really change people’s lives and change their brain patterns,” she says. Publicity photo

The health benefits of music have been widely researched. Evidence has shown that music can alleviate stress, reduce pain, and lead to better cognitive functioning in patients suffering from memory loss. A popular study released last year asserted that routinely going to concerts can contribute to an increased lifespan. Charlottesville native Kate Bollinger witnessed music’s neurological impact firsthand while growing up: Her mom is a music therapist.

“I think it was important to see music in that context—as something that really, powerfully can help people get better,” Bollinger explains. “[My mom] works with a lot of older people that have dementia, and then she also works with younger kids who have autism and developmental disabilities. Music is always around for a lot of people and it’s, I think, subtly powerful, but [not everyone] knows that it can really change people’s lives and change their brain patterns.”

Bollinger’s musical lineage can be traced back to those early music therapy sessions.

“My mom was always releasing children’s music albums, so I grew up singing in children’s choruses for her albums,” says Bollinger. “From a young age, I had the chance to see how it works to record in a studio and to sing with other people.”

Meanwhile, both of Bollinger’s older brothers played music, hosting band practices in their basement. This exposure informed her own approach: She joined the girl’s chorus in middle school, and by high school was recording and releasing her own songs on SoundCloud.

Now a fourth-year cinematography major at the University of Virginia, Bollinger’s teamed up with classmate John Trainum, and they’ve put out a string of singles over the past couple of years. Trainum plays keys and synth on Bollinger’s tracks, and is credited with mixing and production.

“[Trainum and I] put out two songs together that we just recorded in his room—I guess it was two years ago now—and then he would make beats and I would write over them,” she says. The duo have been recording at White Star Sound in Louisa.

Over the summer, Bollinger released a five-song EP, I Don’t Wanna Lose, which marked a period of growth for her: It’s the first time she’s worked with a full band during the recording process. Along with Trainum, the disc features drummer Jacob Grissom, who Bollinger met in high school. Enrolled in the jazz program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Grissom brought along fellow VCU jazz students Chris Lewis (guitar) and Jimmy Trussell (bass). Possessing all the familiarity of a lo-fi bedroom recording, I Don’t Wanna Lose is a languid collection that’s easy to get lost in.

While the EP’s themes are universal—a sense of insecurity about the future and the pains of heartbreak—Bollinger says songwriting, for her, began as personal catharsis.

“I feel like I’ve written a lot of songs in tears about something, so it definitely started from a self-centered place, just trying to hash out what I felt and trying to make something productive out of usually bad feelings,” she says.

But as her audience continues to grow, it’s clear that Bollinger’s work harkens back to the touchstone of music therapy—music as a communal tool for healing.

“It’s been really cool to hear that [my songs have] helped with people’s anxiety, so I’m definitely thinking now in a bit of a broader way, that hopefully it can help other people with their feelings.”


Kate Bollinger celebrates the vinyl release of her 2019 EP, I Don’t Wanna Lose, at the Southern on November 14.

Posted In:     Arts

Tags:     , , , ,

Previous Post

Work and passion: The search for hip-hop success

Next Post

ARTS Pick: Ariana Grande



Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of