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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Caleb Kopta

Courtesy of the artist

Music can change your life — just ask Pittsburgh musician Caleb Kopta. He found his path while listening to The Killers driving through the Mojave Desert.

What is your musical history up to this point?

I grew up with a drum set and learned how to drum at a very early age, even playing in church at seven years old. Picked up the guitar a couple years later, and found myself writing little songs around the age of 10. That started me on this journey of being totally fascinated and dedicated to making music.

It's the one thing in life that totally fuels me, and will never get old. I started coming into the Pittsburgh scene around 2017-2018 and got my footing here as a local artist. Through COVID, and over the past three years, the whirlwinds of life tried to drive me off the path. I lost my way a bit, but over the last year, I was able to get myself locked back in. I re-entered in life to realize that once again, music is what drives me.

I'm very excited this time around since I feel ready for this, and I really believe in it; The music keeps me going. I hope that the music I make can connect with others, the same as it does with me.

How do you describe your sound?

My sound would probably take the edge or songwriting of pop radio, and blend it with alt rock. Sometimes it leans more one way than the other, but it all tends to live in that world. I've always been very inspired by bands like U2, Coldplay, and The Killers so I guess in some way you could call this Arena Rock.

Tell us more about the song “Outta My Head.” How did it come together and what does it mean to you?

“Outta My Head” came to me all the way back in February of 2018. I remember putting on my coat and boots, and sitting down with my guitar last minute before leaving the house, and I wrote in that moment what would become "Outta My Head." I found the original voice memo, and it's very different from how the song turned out, but you can hear the ideas within. I wrote out the idea over a long drive to Michigan a couple days later in my voice memos, and found the melodies and words that ended up making the final cut.

At the time, I didn't really connect the song to anything particular in my life; It was just a song at that point. For me that's how a lot of my writing goes. Down the road I find a meaning to what I had written, or find how it may have connected to my life at the time. This is very much a song for me that I've been able to allow to take on its’ own meaning. It wasn't an inspired piece as much as it just showed up on the paper. I kind of like it that way. I've lived with the song for six years already, and in some way, it reminds me of my desire to chase this dream as much as it has found its way into my relationships. “Outta My Head” has allowed me to connect the lyrics to what I've experienced so far. Whatever I can find myself obsessing over, stuck on, and unable to escape.

What was the first album that changed your life?

The first album that really changed my life was "Battleborn" by The Killers. When I graduated high school in 2016, I went on tour with a band as a drummer for a few months. We traveled across the USA and back, with this album being one of a handful that was on regular rotation in the van.

I grew up knowing mostly CCM music, top 40s hits, and the songs I heard on Guitar Hero and Rock Band. This one particular drive we left Salt Lake City for Los Angeles, and I was woken up halfway through the drive to take a driving shift. I listened to this album under the desert stars, passing through the lights of Vegas, and into the Mojave. It was painted with the sonic and lyrical imagery I'd always imagined music could be, and when I first heard Battleborn in that old van, I felt understood. Like there was someone else out there that knew what I was hearing in my head. I really fell in love with The Killers from that point on.


Who are some other Pittsburgh artists we should be listening to?

Kahone Concept. I am a bit biased because he's my best friend, and I play in his band. He's genuinely impressive, and great at making songs, he self produces everything he does and has no business being as good as he is.

Another local that I've found myself listening to a lot lately is Gene the Werewolf. They're sort of like Pittsburgh legends or even royalty, I really love their ability to modernize the classic rock sound.

Tiny Wars is another that I've been diving into and getting to know. Sue is a very good songwriter, and she always impresses me.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

You’ll be seeing a whole lot more of me this year.

Caleb has a couple shows on the horizon including April 2 at Club Cafe opening for Kate Clover and May 21 at Crafthouse Stage & Grill opening up for Motherfolk and Kevin Devine.

You can connect with Caleb Kopta here:
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Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.