Whether playing SXSW, opening for fellow DFW breakout artist Sarah Jaffe or walking down the aisle, the 29-year-old indie/electro-pop musician isn’t letting up in 2018. The singer/songwriter and vocalist of DFW-based band TOMKAT is just getting started.
The 5-foot-2 vocal powerhouse is competing on this season of NBC’s The Voice.
“It wasn’t something originally on my radar,” Cain says. “But certainly it’s the biggest opportunity I've ever been given and I felt like it would be silly to not do it.”
Just days after marrying her husband Andrew, Cain made the decision to give up her honeymoon for the “best wedding present” she’s ever received — finding herself under the coaching of reigning country music king Blake Shelton.
After flowing through a haunting rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” Cain turned the chairs of Shelton and R&B singer Jennifer Hudson before securing the final spot on Team Blake. Fellow Texan Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine were unable to press their red buttons to snag Cain for their teams — though Clarkson expressed frustration for not being able to turn around and Levine proclaimed Cain should have been a “4-chair-turn.”
Cain’s audition has since reached more than one million views on YouTube.
“I just felt like even though my music is different than [Shelton’s], it was a better fit as far as what I want to learn about the business and artistry,” Cain says.
Though she doesn’t seem to be able to escape comparisons with country music — something she’s been told all her life (even Clarkson mentioned she heard country in Cain’s audition) — the UNT jazz studies graduate is quick to remind people that her music is rooted in indie-pop. While Shelton does have a history of molding artists on the show into country standouts, Cain insists she is not worried about straying from her sound.
“It is really fun to sing [country], but as an artist I’m going to continue to stay true to who I am and the type of music I love,” Cain says. “And if that affects my time on the show, that’s unfortunate, but I don’t think that’s the most disappointing thing because The Voice is an amazing opportunity.”
Preserving her sound isn’t the only test Cain will be put to while on the show, either. Fronting an indie, DIY band is a far cry from the Hollywood studios where viewers are being introduced to her.
“I was a little worried at first because my whole career and my whole musical community here in DFW is basically based around either this indie band grinding it out or it’s based in this very academic music field,” Cain says. “So I really wasn’t sure how people would react to me even doing something in this other realm of music, but I think the ultimate goal is to be as successful as you can in your field and that sometimes encompasses many different worlds.”
But make no mistake, the bright studio lights haven’t left her feeling ungrateful for those who have taken a chance on her, as it is the smaller local shows that have kept her going.
“I can't even tell you how much I appreciate them,” Cain says. “Some of those shows are the only reason I didn't quit music altogether.”
Regardless of the show’s outcome, Cain says one of the biggest rewards from her time on it is the chance to step out on her own, something she has been afraid to do for quite some time.
“This is something I wanted to pursue but was kind of too scared to. I was like, ‘I’m not sure if my solo music is good enough; I don’t know if anyone would really listen; I don’t know if I would have time for TOMKAT,’” she says. “[But] no matter what happens, the funny byproduct of this is that it gave me a little bit of a chance to actually explore that side of myself.”
Fans of TOMKAT have no reason to worry about the future of the band. Cain says her solo endeavor won’t overshadow the project she’s worked on for so long, and if anything, she’s eager to keep it alive.
“Beyond the show, months from now, years from now, no matter what happens, I don’t think that any solo music I do will usurp TOMKAT or make it nonexistent,” Cain says. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back into it with the guys.”
But as she explores her solo career further, Cain finds that navigating her path is one of the biggest challenges she’s up against.
“Beyond the show, months from now, years from now, no matter what happens, I don’t think that any solo music I do will usurp TOMKAT or make it nonexistent." – Katrina Cain
“There’s always going to be that disappointment because it's hard as an artist, you always want to do your best, it’s ingrained in you that you have to be the best that you can be,” she says. “[But] I think that by even having the absolutely wonderful opportunity to be a part of the show, I’ve already won.”
Cain can remain optimistic for now, as she has already emerged victorious from the “battle” round of the show, moving into the “knockout” round, where she is now the last female artist standing on Team Blake, fighting for a win.
“I feel like I’m always having to prove myself,” Cain says.
Viewers shouldn’t count Cain out yet either, as she continues her course as the dark horse of her team’s lineup.
“I have a lot more in my pocket and up my sleeve,” Cain says. “And I don’t feel like I’m always given the opportunity to show that [in my career] in general.”
With the pressures of being in competition mode while the country watches her rise, Cain’s assurance remains as cool and collected as the sounds of TOMKAT’s repertoire.
“To be able to prove it to myself is probably exactly what I need,” Cain says. “But in a way I also feel like I’m begging to be taken seriously by the rest of the world. And I think this is my opportunity to make ’em take me seriously.”