Life sure is beautiful for Kat Graham. With her debut album, "Roxbury Drive," the star of "The Vampire Diaries" is proving to be a bona fide triple threat. Wonderwall.com caught up with the singer-actress-dancer backstage at the 2015 Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival in Las Vegas shortly after her first public performance since the release of her new album. Read on for the highlights from our exclusive chat.
Wonderwall.com: This is your first big show since the debut of your new album "Roxbury Drive." How does it feel to perform your new music now that it's out there?
Kat Graham: "It was super fun to perform here. It's such a huge festival and such a different energy. I was really happy with the fans who came out. They were super cute... I just want to perform every day as much as I can and meet new fans. It was interesting because a lot of those people hadn't heard the album yet and hadn't heard the music. They just came because they knew who I was, so it was really cool for them to hear the new music and get into it."
WW: How do you keep your energy up?
KG: "I don't know. I get cranky a lot. I'm kidding! No, really, I don't know how you keep the headspace. You just have to have a really good team around you. I don't know how I'd do it [without my team]... We are everywhere. It feels like we've been everywhere."
WW: How does your shooting schedule for "The Vampire Diaries" work with your promotional duties for the album?
KG: "I have to get a lot of days cleared to do this. But it also just so happens that I'm off this episode, the entire episode. I wrapped on Tuesday, and then the whole next week and the week after were totally free by coincide. By God's grace, I've been on a promo run [for my new album] and doing exactly what I would've done had I not been shooting."
WW: Will your role on the show be scaled back to accommodate your career as a recording artist?
KG: "With any kind of production, I don't know how forgiving they are. I've never missed a day, and I've never been late on the show -- not once. So I think that they've just been like, you know, 'It's been seven years. Let's give her a break. She works really hard on the show.' I put in the work as an actor, and I think that's what matters: that I show up and do the work. I think just on a very human level, they understand that as long as I show up and I do it, they can make some exceptions and let me do a couple shows."
WW: What's your priority moving forward: acting or music?
KG: "I definitely want to focus on touring and promoting this album. It's my first album. And it's not like I have a crazy Disney following or famous parents, so I just have to hustle like an independent act. But luckily I have such a great fan base and enough recognition from everything that we've been building, so I'm able to get into really great places and do some really cool performances, like today."
WW: Before you launched your acting and singing careers, you were a backup dancer. How difficult is it for you to slip back into dancing on stage?
KG: "The hardest thing for me is to not dance while I sing. It's always super hard for me to just focus on the vocals and focus on my pitch -- don't focus on hitting [the dancing] hard. [My song] '1991' is super fun, and I'm used to it at this point, hitting it [hard with the dancing]. But it's hard for me not to dance."
WW: Do you take vocal lessons?
KG: "I do my vocal lessons, and I do a lot of running. I run two miles a day."
WW: Your sound and style are highly influenced by the '90s. What about that decade speaks to you?
KG: "It was a very empowering time for women with the Cindy Crawfords and Naomi Campbells and other beautiful figured women, Madonna and Janet [Jackson]. The sassy, tongue-in-cheek force of a pop star came out. We saw so much happening with women during that time. I just love the energy of it and the fashion... Stylistically, it was just amazing. I also love the harmonies. I can go on forever! The harmonies, the musicianship -- it was just a totally different sound. I've done current music. I've done dance music. I have those records -- and those are cool. But my first album is called 'Roxbury Drive,' which is the street I grew up on when I started listening to that music. Hopefully it will have the same impact on people and take them back the way it took me back."
WW: You've established yourself as someone to watch on the red carpet. What kind of pressure do you feel to live up to your reputation as a fashonista?
KG: "I look at people and what they're wearing, and I'm like, 'Oh, she's wearing the newest collection.' But there are very few designers making the stuff that I like -- especially as a performer. The stuff that I want to wear on stage doesn't really exist in fashion. But red carpets, I don't know if it's that I try to one up [what I've worn before]. I have to perform for the U.N. -- I'm actually going to work for the UNHCR, and it's like, well, how do I do that and still remain funky without looking like I got dressed by J.Crew."
WW: Are you interested in designing?
KG: "I'm doing a collection with Foster Grant, but other than that, no."
WW: What will that collection look like?
KG: "It'll be a bit funkier. Foster Grant is very traditional -- everyone can wear them. But I wanted to have a bit more of an aggressive take on sunglasses. There's a very defined style -- superstar sunglasses."
WW: Because we're at the Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival: What's the most beautiful thing about your life right now?
KG: "I have a lot of love in my life right now, so I feel really good. I feel really supported in a lot of ways."
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