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Life After Padua - Paul Dempsey Class of 1993

Lead singer, guitarist and lyricist of rock group 'Something for Kate'

What did you do straight after graduating from Padua College in 1993?
As soon as I completed year 12 I immediately moved up to the inner city and found a part time job in a call centre to pay the rent while I went about searching for like-minded musicians with whom to start a band. My total focus was to start writing songs and try to get some gigs. I just wanted to be a busy working musician as soon as I possibly could.

What do you love about your music career choice?
Music has been my greatest passion for as long as I can remember. To be able to do the thing you love for a living is really about the best situation anyone could hope for.
I’ve seen more of the world than I ever thought I would, I’ve been able to meet, and in some cases perform with, a lot of the people who were an inspiration to me when I was starting out. It really is a dream come true.

What are the challenges that are faced in your music career?
It’s pretty similar to running any kind of small business. There’s a lot of organisation and administration and logistical challenges involved with making the bands’ schedule work around the rest of our lives. It can sometimes be a challenge to keep that side of things separate and contained so that you still have energy and mental space to be creative. So time-management and knowing when and how to shift your focus is important.
The creative part itself is always the biggest challenge though - Just trying not to repeat yourself or fall into familiar patterns, trying to push yourself into some new and unfamiliar territory every time you work on something.
 
If you were to sum up what your time at Padua taught you, what would it be?
The thing that springs quickest to mind is independence and thinking for myself.
 
What advice would you give to a student that is in their finishing years at Padua?  Any advice for students looking at entering the music industry?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say ‘I wish I’d listened more in high school!’ or ‘I wish I’d tried harder in high school’… (Hint – it’s a lot of dollars).
Evidently, most people realise too late that their teachers were trying to teach them something useful. If only they could remember what it was.
Also evident from the above cliché is how easily people are able to forget how bored or frustrated or exhausted they felt most of the time when they actually were in high school.
So, I would love to say – ‘Don’t be a cliché! Try as hard as you can now! Listen as hard as you can now! Don’t be one of those people who looks back and wishes they’d tried harder etc etc etc etc etc’…
But I know it’s easier said than done (and I too, am one of the above clichés).
As for the music industry, I’m not so sure I have any helpful advice. Focus enough on the ‘music’ part and the ‘industry’ part will take care of itself as a matter of course.
 
Do you still see or are friends with your mates from Padua?
Obviously Clint Hyndman, the drummer in Something for Kate was also a Padua student. We both still have several friends from our time at school.
 
When you look back at your time at Padua, what are your overriding memories?
Padua was my tenth school. I made a few lifelong friends there. Played an awful lot of basketball and talked a lot about music with my friends. I also remember Mr Cantwell’s history class which I enjoyed very much and doing every unit of math with Mr McMenanim.
 
What do you get up to in your spare time, what do you like to do for fun?
I have fun just doing my job so If I’m not on tour doing shows, I’m always playing an instrument at home or messing around with a new idea. I also love reading, cooking, cryptic crosswords and just hanging out with family and friends.

During your formative years, what influences did your primary and secondary schools have on the evolution of your music?
Not very much to be perfectly honest. I actually dropped music as a subject in VCE because I had my own stubborn ideas about creativity and how I wanted to approach things and I don’t think the music curriculum agreed with me. So I opted instead to pursue music on my own time, in my own way, and to choose VCE subjects that might open up other potential career options.
 
Where did your passion for music stem from?
My mother was a professional musician. Virtually everyone in my family is a musician. I grew up surrounded by people playing instruments and singing and being creative.

How has your taste of music evolved over the years?
I think it’s just more open and instinctive now. I care a whole lot less about who the artist is or what their story is or what the genre is or what anybody else is saying about it. I don’t’ care about hype or how popular something is. I just know whether something moves me or not and that’s all that matters. So, in that spirit, I’ll listen to anything.
 
How important is the ability to work as a group for music making?
It’s vital. Communication is the most important thing. It can be hard to articulate creative ideas that aren’t fully formed yet and it takes a lot of patience and understanding and trust to bring something new into existence together that literally did not exist before and for everyone to feel happy with how it turned out.
Working well together is exciting. A group that doesn’t work well together simply won’t last.
 
How did you come up with the name ‘Something For Kate’?
I found it written on a post-it note.

Why did you decide to also pursue a solo career?
It keeps things fresh for me and the band. I get to pursue other more personal music ideas and play all the different instruments on my solo albums and it gives my bandmates a break to pursue their own interests (Clint owns two bar/restaurants and Steph loves to pursue her interest in photography), and then we all feel refreshed and excited when we decide to make a SFK record or go out on tour. It’s a way of making sure that SFK is always a thing that we choose to do and not a thing that we feel like we have to do.
 
What song stands out to you the most out of all the songs you’ve written? Why?
I honestly couldn’t say. There isn’t a particular one that feels more important for any reason. I guess they all represent tiny fragments of my memory so I consider them all as pieces of a greater whole. 
 
Along the way, what challenges have you hit personally or professionally?
The short answer would be too short and the long answer would be too long! But I like to think that I have learned from every one of them so I would not change anything.

What is one of the highlights of your life so far?
Being a parent has been and is the highlight of my life. Touring with David Bowie is a close second.

 

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