Katrina Gustafson is a veteran performer at the Topsfield Fair, with the Lynnfield resident performing at the area’s premier fall event since 2013.
At the age of 14, she started doing unpaid shows “just to get a feel of doing gigs.” The following year, she started getting paid for her performances at the beloved Topsfield event — and she has been playing ever since.
Gustafson’s music career started at the age of 13, when she began learning how to play the guitar.
“I taught myself,” she said. “I kind of looked at YouTube and figured out how to work the chords.”
Gustafson’s dad is also a musician. As a drummer, he helped his daughter start her musical journey. She soon discovered that she loved songwriting and being able to tell a story with her music.
Like many artists, Gustafson found inspiration through other artists.
“I went to a Taylor Swift concert in 2011 and I thought it was so cool that she could tell a story on the stage, so I was like ‘I want to do that,'” said Gustafson.
When it comes to playing at the Topsfield Fair, she said that her favorite part about performing is getting to connect with people because of her music.
“I really like that I can connect with people as they’re walking by, kind of make eye contact and they’re like ‘you know, I love that song,'” she said.
The musician also noted that she enjoys the food at the fair when she isn’t performing.
Gustafson said that her songwriting process varies depending on how she is feeling at the moment.
“If I’m really happy with someone I write a love song and I think of all of these phrases,” she admitted. “My favorite thing about songwriting is a play on words and stuff like that, so I try to use that.”
Gustafson also talked about where she can find inspiration for songs; it sometimes comes from random moments she experiences.
“My process is kind of different each time,” she said. “Sometimes my inspiration comes from random people. If I’m just talking with them and they just say a phrase that I’m like ‘wow that sounds really cool,’ I’ll just put it into a song hoping that it’s unique and no one else did it.”
Gustafson added that she’s really excited to perform at the fair this year, after last year’s event was canceled to COVID-19.
“Just in general, with everyone not being around each other for a long time, I think it will be a great way to connect again and see people in person, and I just love the rush of performing too, so that will really be fun,” she said. “I’m just really excited for it to return and I’m ready for a reunion.”
Gustafson released a new album in January, entitled “Unspoken,” all about life in her 20s and things that she wishes she could have said but hasn’t yet — until the album was released.