photo of creepy turtle head photo of Kidwell rocking out Kidwell doodle that looks like a mountain or something Kat Kidwell


This site is launched. Woo hoo. I'll be adding a lot more content this week. The links above don't really lead anywhere yet, but here's my story for the meantime.

My story

I'm from a beach town in southeastern Connecticut called East Lyme and/or Niantic. What the hell happened there? I spoke to dragons in the woods when I was eight. Our house was right next to a cemetery where we played as kids. My parents were a math teacher and children's library assistant. They raised me on good Christian morals. Kids at school knew it. I'd walk through the hall past some older kids saying or doing something even slightly questionable - "Hey, watch out! That's the math teacher's daughter!"

So I guess I had a happy little naive suburban life, getting the best grades in class, hitting all the "milestones" ahead of schedule, and then around age 16 my brain got weird. Nope, maybe it started at 13, when I first started to have trouble reading. A few years later I encountered hallucinations almost every day at school. Sometimes they'd appear as ghosts that flew out of the wall, knocked me on the ground, and tried to choke me. God damn am I glad that hasn't happened in years. I've written a lot of songs about my struggle to escape. Keep in mind I was a god suck-up anti-drug Christian kid, so nothing at that time could've been caused by recreational substances. I took some weird fucking anti-depressants, don't remember what they were called. That's when I first felt the urge to rebel against authority: when I realized my brain could get fucked up, get dumber, make me think whatever the fuck it wanted, and no amount of acting like a good little girl could help me do shit about it.

I got my Autistic spectrum (specifically Asperger's) diagnosis when I was 16, and I tried not to act surprised. I first learned about Autism nearly a decade earlier and thought, "huh, that sounds like me, but that doesn't make sense because I'm in a normal classroom." Meh, I knew something "wasn't right" about me from the start. I've learned to embrace it. I've held my "Autistic Queer Pride" poster in some of the local parades and protests.

Anyway, damn, that guitar has probably saved my life. I first felt the calling at age 11. I felt like I was getting visits from spirit guides whose message was - yes you can write songs, and you're going to learn to play the guitar because it's going to be important to you, and the time is now. I listened. I asked my mother to start me off. I learned fingerstyle guitar from a folk book written by a local guy, Murray Phillips, whose son taught my mom. I mainly taught myself, and in high school, I expanded my skills by meeting the local folkies and asking, "Hey, how'd you play that little riff?" or just by observing them closely at gigs. I've never taken a formal lesson. I invented my own form of hybrid playing (using both a pick and your fingers at the same time).

I've been playing for 16 years. I love the physical sensation of my fingers against the strings. If a song doesn't feel right for my hands, I can't play it.

I began writing songs as a kid by stringing together poetic phrases about nature, strumming bizarre chord patterns, and singing whatever tune felt right with them. I used to believe that adding new songs to the world is impossible, and now I've composed several hundred - but half of those bastards are hidden in drawers or thrown out by now.

I like leading listers into new settings and new ways of envisionsing the world. I love that any genre can be transformational, a way of turning anger and tears into a dance when you need it. Love songs are sacred to me, and the reason I haven't put out too many is because I don't want to write any that will just be taken lightly and stashed in a drawer. I first felt romantic love for someone when I was 18, and it was one of the most transformative moments of my life. I only write about real love situations and how they changed me. Sexuality is becoming a big topic for me now because of all the body-shaming and sex-shaming I witnessed as a kid. Sex is power. It's a power we can all take advantage of, for good or bad, and I'm going to put it out in the open and give you space to accept yourselves.

My earliest influences were folk finger pickers. I learned how to write ballads. I do punkish shit now. I don't think I could call myself a real punk. I guess folk-punk is accurate. I create what feels right.

I don't rely on my voice. I took formal voice lessons for a couple years, but I've really needed to play with the sound and figure out for myself what I can sound like. I can sing operatically, I can be rough, sometimes I do spoken word despite my trouble pronoucing the letter "L" and a few others. On the playground as a kid, I was honored as "the worst singer in the school," and ten years later, in high school, I still couldn't use this voice the standard way. I tried out for the All New England and Eastern Regionals choirs and didn't make either in senior year. Fuck it. I've got a voice, I've made people feel things with it and I've given them something to enjoy somehow, and if that's something I can only give without technical skills then so be it.

Back in the early MySpace days, I was advertised as a cute little Autism-cure-supporting (bleh) lovable folkie guitar "good kid" who couldn't sing worth shit. I had 700 followers. It was all bullshit. Or maybe not? I think I enjoyed doing it, but I lost the drive. I couldn't do "Pure Folk Music For The Spirit" when my head was spinning new life questions every day and my hormones were firing up so rapidly.

I've always had a nature-based spiritual sense and don't vibe as much with Christianity now, but I don't really regret my foundation. The hymns influenced me, and churches gave me my first performance opportunities. Yeah, I used to be a Christian folk songwriter in my naive teen years. I was in a show choir-y hunger awareness troupe for teenagers. We were a bunch of young girls in tie-dye shirts led by an old hippie producer guy, and I played guitar and sometimes did bass, percussion, or shitty choreography. I did that from age 15 until they kicked me out at age 17 for mental illness related social issues or some shit like that. After a few stomach aches, I realized I'd won freedom for the first time in my life. That experience helped me realize where I didn't belong and what kind of people I didn't need to be around.

I feel lucky as an LGBTQ+ person. I've never encountered any major obstacles because of it. I mean, sure, a little bit of prejudice or anxiety from people when they find out, but I've never had my life threatened, and I hope everyone in our community (especially Trans* people) will be able to live that freely within my lifetime. "Queer" and "Dyke" are two words I identify with strongly. I'm Bi, I guess Demi too, but maybe I'm Pansexual, I wonder sometimes... Anyway, I usually just say I'm Bi, I mean, interactions and friendship instead of gender or equipment are what I'd be attracted to. Though I am drawn to androgeny and non-standard gender expression :-) My pronouns are they/them/their or she/her/hers.

Back to the story. At the end of high school, I suddenly put out an EP, fell in love, and moved to Chicago because I realized I'd never learn any truth about life except in the big city. I received my BA in Audio Design & Production. I don't know where I found the strength. I thought I'd be dead by now and I honestly think continuing to play music and using music to commune with others was what saved me.

I've lived in Chicago for nearly a decade. When I'm not writing songs or playing solo gigs, I play for rock operas, teach private lessons, provide healing non-sexual consentual touch therapy for strangers, and help out Life Force Arts Center, a spiritual healing venue/art gallery where I'm a long-time supporter (and erstwhile performer and exhibitor). I also have a combination album/ indie comic book called Wolves Got To Eat that's coming along.

I'm getting free songwriting and guitar lesson material prepared for this site, plus more art and info about the weird world of professional cuddling. It's June 2017, and I'm dancing into the future.

This site is a work in progress, like my ability to distinguish the combined sounds of a loud hammer & screaming children from real music. That's why most links don't work yet. Email: info(at)katkidwell(dot)com. Last updated June 3, 2017

Want to get updates about this site? Send an email about anything you want, with the subject "Add Me To Your Mailing List," to info(at)katkidwell(dot)com.