Garrett Kato bares his soul in mesmerising album ‘Small Town Rituals’

Garrett Kato

Through enchanting melodies, earnest lyrics and intimate storytelling, Garrett Kato’s Small Town Rituals delivers an uplifting and heartwarming message about overcoming uncertainty.

Garrett Kato’s third studio album, Small Town Rituals blessed our ears in mid-June. The sensational nine-track collection of indie-folk hits takes us on an intimate, evocative journey through a myriad of “subconscious narratives,” that gave Garrett the opportunity to self-reflect and developnew perspectives on things.”

Self-produced in his Byron Bay studio, Small Town Rituals marks Garrett Kato’s most soul-bearing, sonically-striking approach to indie-folk as of yet.

Since moving to Australia a decade ago, the Canada-hailing singer, songwriter and platinum award-winning producer has risen from strength to strength, working alongside a string of legendary local acts including Tones and I, Julia Stone, Riley Pearce and Ziggy Alberts.

Now, as he prepares to embark on his Aussie tour in August, to celebrate the launch of Small Town Rituals, Garrett sat down and had a chat with us about his musical journey, creative influences, production process and love of busking.

Garrett Kato
Credit: Mos and Co

HAPPY: How’s your day been so far?

GARRETT:  It’s been great, I’m currently working on Jack Botts’ new record, so we have been chipping away at it.

HAPPY: Congrats on your latest album, Small Town Rituals. What’s the main message or feeling you want to express through the collection of songs?

GARRETT: Thanks! The overarching theme is overcoming challenges and uncertainty, but it tiptoes around my subconscious with little lyrics that are very personal to me. Most of the stories in the songs are based in a small town and have characters based on me, and many others I’ve met in my life.

HAPPY: You’ve been doing a number of shows across Australia to celebrate the new LP. Which track has been your favourite to perform live, and why?

GARRETT: Disappearing Light is a personal favourite. It feels like it connects deeper live than it does on the record. I love singing that one.

HAPPY: I read that you produced all of the original tracks on the album yourself, and took a more stripped-back, organic approach compared to previous releases. What were some sources of inspiration you drew from during that production process?

GARRETT: It was a practice in songwriting, really. I didn’t want to hide behind any producing party tricks to make the songs come to life. I needed the songs to be strong from the iPhone memo. So it gave me the opportunity to have the production be only what’s essential and needed.

HAPPY: The final track on your album is a beautiful rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. Is there a particular reason you chose to cover this track? Does it hold a special meaning for you?

GARRETT: Yes, funny story, my daughter Mieko who is five loves music. She loved that song in particular and asked me to sing it for her. So I learned it and discovered this beautiful story, and lyrics that I had never taken notice of before because of the ’80s vibe. So thanks to my daughter, that cover was recorded.

HAPPY: You’re originally from Canada, what made you decide to relocate to Australia and pursue your musical career here?

GARRETT: Long story, but I met a gal and started playing gigs and busking. One thing led to another, and now I’ve been here for 10 years. Initially, I came to Australia for a three-month holiday!

HAPPY: What’s your favourite thing about Australia, and the local music scene?

GARRETT: I love the busking here. Since the weather is so good, musicians can do it all year round. Also, the festivals are incredible.

HAPPY: Small Town Rituals is your third studio album. How would you say your songwriting and creative processes have evolved over time?

GARRETT: I think I’m a better singer, like, I can sing higher. So that’s fun for writing. Also, my studio has gotten bigger and better, so that helped me create things faster and more beautiful-sounding. Overall, I’m just older and feel I have a deeper perspective on songwriting than I did before.

HAPPY: Lastly, are there any new projects in the works at this time that we can look forward to?

GARRETT: Yeah, I’ve got a collab I’ve just wrapped that’s fun with one of my best mates. And I’ll be on tour in August!

HAPPY: Awesome, thanks for chatting!

Small Town Rituals is out now on all platforms. Stream the album here.

Check out Garrett Kato’s upcoming tour dates below.



Thursday 11 August | Brunswick Ballroom, Brunswick VIC

Friday 12 August | The Great Club, Marrickville NSW

Friday 19 August | Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide SA

Saturday 20 August | Sonar Room, Fremantle WA

Saturday 27 August | O’skulligans, Brisbane QLD


Interviewed by Amy Davidson.

Photography by Mos and Co.