Leah Kate

Leah Kate writes pop/rock anthems that cut to the bone. Pairing booming, radio-ready choruses with dizzying, hyper-specific detail, her songs are intimate, relatable, and razor-sharp—the sort of tracks that resonate with listeners around the world. With the success of the biting breakup song “10 Things I Hate About You,” the Los Angeles native is realizing her childhood dreams of pop stardom by doing what feels most authentic to her—reaching deep into her innermost feelings and sharing them with us. It’s the perfect introduction to pop’s most candid new voice.


“I really needed to get over a guy who had been f***ing with my head for the longest time,” Kate says. “At one point I decided to list everything I hated about him to help me move the f*** on.”  

That eye-wateringly specific list—“an act of therapy”—was the genesis of “10 Things I Hate About You.” While the lyrics couldn’t be more personal (e.g. “a sloppy drunk obsessed with his Juul”), the sentiment hit hugely with the pissed off and brokenhearted. A snippet went nuclear on TikTok, and the rising star was inundated with requests for the full song. A week and a half later, “10 Things I Hate About You” was live on DSPs zooming past 20 million streams in its first month. “It’s crazy to see so many people connecting with it,” Kate says. “At the time I didn’t understand why that guy came into my life, but now I have my first hit. So, thank you, I guess!”  

Since taking her first singing lesson at 5, Kate knew that music was her destiny. “I would just watch music videos and try to sing like my favorite artists,” she remembers. By 13, she’d penned her first song. “It was about a stupid guy, obviously,” she quips. “I hadn’t even had a boyfriend, but I clearly liked to write about the same things as I do now.”  

From that point on, she focused on making contacts within the music industry. “I would Google Katy Perry's producers and email them voice notes,” she says. “I was such a little hustler.” The budding artist couldn’t muster the same passion for school. “I didn’t give a f***,” she says matter of factly. “I was always struggling or behind in classes. It was not a good feeling, but it gave me the drive to prove people wrong and succeed. That’s probably why I’m so self-sufficient.”  


For starters, Kate learned how to write songs. “No one can really teach you,” she says. “You just have to write a thousand bad songs before you get a good one.” Even though her family is musical—her dad owns radio stations, her grandfather was an opera singer, and two of her aunts are singer/songwriters—she was initially afraid to share her gift. “I didn’t have a lot of support,” she says. “Everyone told me to get a real job.“  

So she did. “I ended up getting fired every time,” she laughs. “I knew that I was a writer and performer, so I just decided to go for it.” Instead of pumping the brakes during the pandemic, Kate doubled down and penned the empowering “Fuck Up the Friendship.” The California native was so convinced it was going to be a hit that she put everything she had into making a series of TikTok videos for the song. Unfortunately, the campaign bombed. At least, initially.  

“It was an absolute flop,” Kate says, “but I refused to give up.” So she spent all summer DMing big-name creators to see if they would use her sound. Eventually one did, and her intuition was vindicated when the song blew up. “It was my first time having any kind of traction and it was in the middle of a pandemic,” she says. “I didn’t even have a manager.” Her music did, however, catch the attention of Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, who proved to be a huge supporter of Leah.


Feeling momentum building, Kate got to work. During writing sessions, she randomly pulled up the instrumental of a rock song and started singing over it. Liking the result, she brought guitars into the mix on “F U Anthem” (another ode to the chump who inspired “10 Things”) and realized she had finally found her sound by marrying crushing rock riffs to sugar-rush choruses. “I grew up loving Green Day, No Doubt, and Avril Lavigne,” she says. “It just made sense.”

The stars aligned when Kate met producer Mike Wise and co-writer Madi Yanofsky. Together, they conjured “10 Things I Hate About You,” and the singer’s long-awaited pop vision started coming true. “This was just always how I envisioned my future,” she says. And proving people wrong is, it turns out, just a bonus: “I spent so much time and energy concerned about other people's opinions—and now I don’t care. I’m living my dream."

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