School of rock: How little Katie’s primary rock ‘n’ roll dreams came true
There’s a terrific twist of fate in the story of Welsh DJ Katie Owen’s rise to fame.
One of the most in-demand DJs in the UK, she’s played the biggest festival stages and supported some huge names, but this week Katie saw her life turn full circle when she was invited to support indie stars Kasabian as their tour DJ.
Described as “a dream come true” by the youngster, this truly is a tale of wish fulfilment that can be traced back to the days Katie was in primary school in Merthyr.
There it seems she was pre-ordained for a life in music if her childhood is any measure, at least.
“My dad told me he used to play The Beatles to me when I was in my mum’s tummy,” she says. “When I was little, he made me watch Yellow Submarine and I remember I was petrified of the Blue Meanies, but I immediately fell in love with The Beatles.
“He also always used to play music in the car to me. He didn’t think I would like what he was playing that much. However, I remember once he went to a parents’ evening when I was about six or seven and he told me how the teacher was laughing with him.
“The teacher told him everybody had to write a diary about their favourite band – most of the class wrote about Spice Girls and Busted, and I wrote about Kasabian.
“My dad was laughing his head off as the teacher said no-one else had written that. I think my musical tastes were a little different to anyone else in the class.”
Fast forward 16 years and 23-year-old Katie is about to head out to support Kasabian on their sold out UK tour.
Her dad, filmmaker and radio presenter Jonny Owen, a former musician who has evidently passed on his musical genes, is the person Katie cites as the biggest influence on her career.
It’s hard to say how little Katie would have reacted if she’d known that all these years later she would be behind the decks at shows by her favourite band.
Odds on it would have involved lots of screaming, laughter and possibly tears.
It’s a tale that has evidently tickled her dad.
Jonny took to Facebook to retell the story of that fateful parents’ evening and how life truly can move in mysterious ways.
He posted: “This is a mad story. When Katie Owen was in primary I had to go in for a parents evening. She was about six years old. All the kids had written about their favourite band and most had written The Spice Girls. Katie wrote that hers was Kasabian. Her teacher (smiling)…showed it to me.
“And now she’s going to be their Tour DJ. They asked for her. Life eh?”
This is the latest instalment in the unstoppable rise of the DJ who last month introduced some of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll on the main stage at the Reading and Leeds Festival.
Her compere and DJ duties at the Leeds Festival is the latest in a number of festival appearances after finally being able to return to performing at live events.
It was back in May when the DJ created a slice of history – taking to the stage at the first live indoor music event in the UK in more than a year.
Katie’s role as the stage DJ for the first live indoor show on these shores in more than a year at Sefton Park in Liverpool was a joyful celebration; the sound of 5,000 voices singing the words to the tracks she was playing back to the stage in rapturous union.
It was a moment many of us feared wouldn’t happen, while dreaming of the day it would.
The test event headlined by local indie heroes Blossoms was a key part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme, a vital step in science-led research, which provided key data to support the reopening of live events and venues by way of mass testing.
It was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel, as we collectively navigated our way out of the most difficult year many of us have ever experienced.
For Katie it was her first gig back in more than 12 months, after an abrupt emergency stop was applied to a career that was very much in the ascendancy.
Rewind to 2019 and there was no stopping her. The summer of that year saw Katie signing with one of the biggest UK music management companies, the Coalition Agency after being recommended to the agency by music legend – former Creation Records boss, Alan McGee.
Coalition represents star names including Sara Cox, Greg James and Jo Whiley.
Radio 2 presenter Whiley took Katie out on her ‘90s anthem tour and to top off a fantastic year, the talented young DJ appeared on Radio 1 over Christmas covering for Jack Saunders on the station’s Indie Show.
Katie was subsequently snapped up by Money Management, who represent the likes of Nick Grimshaw, Annie Mac, Trevor Nelson, Tom Ravenscroft and Matt Edmondson.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck like many in the creative industries her career came to an abrupt halt, those dreams she had long harboured unceremoniously shelved.
Now she’s making up for lost time and seemingly having the time of her life while she’s at it.