Katianne Timko knew she wanted to be a singer at a young age, and that early ambition made her the passionate singer she is today.
"In the third grade, I dressed up as a singer on career day and wrote a report on the Spice Girls," Timko said. "It was more or less a matter of developing the confidence to get in front of a room full of strangers and do it, which happened when I was 20."
Sometimes it takes a passionate fellow musician to bring out the best in another. Robbie Jay McFarland, frontman for the Americana act the Robbie Jay Band, helped inspire Timko, who lives in Austintown, develop herself as a musician.
Photo by Monica Smith
Singer-songwriter Katianne Timko performs Friday at the Lemon Grove Cafe.
"He would let me hang out at the Robbie Jay Band's practices, and during their smoke breaks they'd have me play my songs that no one had ever heard before. He would always say, 'Whenever you're ready to, you can play a show with us, kid,' and eventually I felt ready."
Timko, who plays guitar, ukulele and autoharp, will be backed by Khaled Tabbara, keyboards, guitar and banjo; Sandi Quotson, violin; and her brother, Andy Timko, guitar, for Friday's show at the Lemon Grove Cafe.
Timko said the band rotates instruments throughout their live set.
WHO: Katianne Timko, Khaled Tabbara, Demos Papadimas and Alex Smith
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Lemon Grove Cafe, 110 W. Federal St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $6
"The idea is that we want it to feel like you're hanging out with us in our living room," she said. "Instruments just get passed around the whole time."
Timko currently is in the planning stages for recording her next album. She has been experimenting with stylistic ideas and deciding what musical elements to incorporate on the album before she heads into the studio.
After a bout of writer's block at the end of 2012, Timko has written some new songs, including "Love Is Real," "Go Away (Make It Rain)" and "Wild Eyes."
"I've been really content with my life. I know it sounds crazy, but when I am busy being happy, it's hard to write anything of substance. I've recently come out of it, when I wrote, 'Love Is Real,' the writer's block came out of me. The song picks apart the shocked reaction a lot of people have when they find the right person by accident."
Another new song is "Go Away (Make It Rain)," which "dives more into how we feel criticized and judged by people who really shouldn't have a say in whether we're happy or not, all they want to do is make it rain."
At times a favorite book, film or television show or series can be an inspirational muse for a song. In Timko's case, the acclaimed television drama series "Dexter" became the inspiration for one of her new songs.
"I have another new song I have been working on called 'Wild Eyes,' which is inspired by season 7 of 'Dexter.' Does it relate to life at some point or another? Absolutely! It was written with the intent of showing what those characters were feeling at the time. I'm obviously a big 'Dexter' fan. With these new songs comes a nice breath of fresh air into my music. I'm starting to look out for inspiration instead of only looking in at myself," Timko said.
On the topic of musical influences, Timko said her top three inspirations are Alanis Morissette, June Carter Cash and Katy Perry. Timko has the title to Morissette's 1998 song "That I Would Be Good" tattooed on her forearm.
"I turn to Alanis Morissette for lyrical inspiration more than anyone else," she said. "She's brutally honest and I've learned a lot from studying her writing. I love June Carter Cash because of her stage presence. She was so sharp and funny and likeable, and she really understood the art behind putting on a good show. I admire her and Johnny as a couple and that performing was a way for them to bond. I know how magical it is when my boyfriend, Khaled (Tabbara, from The Zou), and I play together. Katy Perry is at the top of her game. From watching her, I learned that it's okay to have fun with my set. I use props, decorations and whatever I want, it's my art. She shows me that it's okay to experiment with it."
Timko made her recording debut with the 2011 EP "What I Wanted," which she recorded with Pete Drivere at Ampreon Recorder in Youngstown.
"I had so much fun recording with Pete Drivere and he is a genius," she said. "With the 'What I Wanted' EP, I had four songs that really mattered to me, called some friends to help out and just went for it. It took four days from start to finish. I wanted it to be simple, clean and to showcase my bare bones songwriting. It's a great first record because it did what I wanted it to do, which is show people that I can write and show people that I can sing. I can't wait to go back into the studio and record the next record. For my next record, we're looking to make it sound old fashioned and interesting, kind of like a Kitty Wells record."