Kate Malanaphy’s mellifluous concert

A Hamline student shares her story and her songs.


Kelly Holm

Kate Malanaphy performs her song “Honey” at the venue Honey.

Although Hamline’s own Kate Malanaphy may be only halfway through her first year of college, she’s already had a lifetime of memorable musical experiences. The singer-songwriter, who performed at Northeast Minneapolis’ Honey on Wednesday, Feb. 21, recounted her journey in a pre-concert interview.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was four, and at first I hated it, ‘cause my mom made me take, like, classical lessons, but then she sent me to this after-school program called School of Rock where I started playing more contemporary music… That’s when I realized, this is something that I really love.”

She goes on to explain how she felt playing at the School of Rock for the first time.

“The first few times I played [with School of Rock], it was super… nerve-wracking, but it’s been empowering to be more comfortable onstage,” Malanaphy said. “I look back and realize how far I’ve come… I’ve played a lot of venues with School of Rock, and I can’t really take credit for playing there ‘cause it was all arranged by adults and stuff, but I went on some tours and played a lot of really cool places.”

Despite her lifelong involvement in the performing arts, Malanaphy said she didn’t dabble much in songwriting until about two years ago.

“I always wrote stupid little songs when I was like, eight years old,” she said. “But I think what inspired me to start writing again was my friend… who wrote songs… I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t! I forgot you could do that!’, so I just wanted to start writing my own stuff… A lot of it’s just basically talking about my emotions.”

At Honey, Malanaphy’s concert was opened by her friend, Griffin Energy Turtle Thiel.

“He usually does some pretty light-hearted stuff,” she said. “I asked him to play so it would… balance me out a bit, ‘cause my stuff’s pretty sad.”

Thiel offered punk-laced covers of songs such as R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” and “When I Ripped My Pants” from SpongeBob, as well as cheeky originals about the pitfalls of the music industry and being too young to drink wine. Malanaphy acknowledged that the subject matter of her own music was somber in comparison to Thiel’s.

“I hope you brought some tissues,” she told the crowd.

Malanaphy’s setlist consisted of five original songs and two covers. Her self-written material explored love in all its glory, both the joys of newfound affection as well as the painstaking twinge of abandonment.

In an original near the end of the set, which she described as “the most concise song I’ve written,” she wonders if her dog would’ve gotten along with a lover after all, and if a canine relationship would have been less ill-fated than a human one.

“Dogs have simpler minds than men, and men are often wrong,” she aptly concluded- and due to the tune’s somber, reflective nature, not one person laughed at what could’ve, in another context, been a humorous line, displaying her ability to truly engage the audience in the emotions depicted in her songs.

Her cover of Ben Folds’ “Evaporated” struck a chord, as its lyrics of regret and loneliness were easy to relate to for anyone who’s ever wondered if there’s anything they could’ve done to prevent a relationship’s end.

It wasn’t all lost love and loneliness, however. Malanaphy’s originals “Thoughts” and “Honey” sang the praises of a new flame.

“Your name’s synonymous with love,” she declared in the latter song. “It moves like honey through my teeth/and I no longer have to hold my tongue/but I have no need to speak/cause I’ve got what I need.”

“Honey” can be purchased on Bandcamp. Malanaphy also has several performance dates coming up at Urban Olive & Vine in her hometown, Hudson, Wis.

“I just wanna keep writing,” she said. “It’s become such an outlet for me. I’d go crazy, y’know, if I stopped.”