Carmel Valley native finding herself, and recognition, through music

By Rob LeDonne

She has all of the hallmarks of a burgeoning music star: the interesting backstory, the drive, the talent, and even a unique one-word name. Now Kattail, a native of Carmel Valley who currently resides in San Francisco, is preparing herself to be North County’s next musical success story.

“What really strikes a chord with me, even as a writer, is when you articulate your emotions through spoken words,” she explains from San Francisco’s Hunters Point district. “I love when I hear a really good song from another artist that sounds like I’m being expressed, and I want to do that for other people.”

Expressing herself through music started at an early age, and Kattail points to her upbringing in North County as a constant source of inspiration. A 2009 graduate of The Winston School in Del Mar, she was enamored by the beach and Pacific Ocean nature.

“Del Mar and Carmel Valley is safe and beautiful, and the whole area is a good mixture of city life and nature. In particular, the Torrey Pines Reserve is one place that inspired a lot of my music. Basically, it’s like my songwriting: very simple, sweet and positive, just like the whole general area is.”

Kattail fell in love with music by happenstance. Her good friend was taking guitar lessons and couldn’t quite get the hang of a Bob Dylan song she was trying to learn. It was then Kattail was introduced to playing acoustic guitar, and to this day her tracks sound Dylan-esque.

“Trying to learn Dylan escalated into me trying to write my own songs,” and while never having a formal music education, she taught herself the ins and outs of writing and performing.

“One specific person who helped me along was (guitar teacher and musician) Matt Currey, who gave me a shot to play at the Artist’s Colony in Encinitas when I was in the 10th grade. Everything snowballed from there.”

Upon graduation, she decided to head up to Oregon to check out the independent music scene, moving in with her biological mother.

“I was living in a very small town in Oregon and playing with a bunch of different folk musicians, and at the same time rekindling my relationship with her, which was great.”

With a passion for performing firmly implanted, Kattail decided to forgo college and dive headfirst into trying to catch a big break, and says she’s especially grateful to her parents for the opportunity to do so. Kattail’s parents are Dr. Judy Saalinger and Dr. Arthur Farkas (Kattail’s biological father), co-founders of Lasting Recovery in Carmel Valley, one of the premiere addiction treatment centers in the San Diego area (

“They’re really supportive and happy for me, and I know I’m so blessed to have that because I’m well aware that other parents would want something more conventional for their children.”

After making the rounds in Oregon, Kattail decided to broaden her horizons and move to San Francisco — a mecca since the 1960s for singer/songwriters with a passion and a message: “A main goal of mine is just to have my music be heard, and to have a lot of people respond to it and feel uplifted by its positive messages.”

That seems to be already happening: after gaining representation, Kattail just finished recording her self-titled debut album set for release March 1. In addition, she recently trekked back to Oregon and shot a music video to promote her first single, dubbed “Cottage Grove,” which stars Kattail alongside actress Signy Coleman, who is best known for her role on the daytime soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” The video premieres Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“Throughout the entire shoot, my (biological) mother was right there with me,” said Kattail. “She really got into it.”

For now, she’s going to focus on promoting her album and, of course, performing, including “Cottage Grove,” a track that’s simple, sweet, and positive — just like North County.

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