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Don’t Can’t Won’t

You don’t know me.

You just don’t.

You think you do.

You’re wrong.

 

You have me figured out.

You’re sure about your theories.

You think you know me.

You don’t.

 

It would be shocking if you did.

It might take you aback.

It may spark questions.

It would. It might. It may.

 

If you were open…

If you could see outside your bubble…

If you would take that risk…

If… but you’re not, you can’t, you won’t.

 

 

ELH

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TS10

TS10: Continual Catharsis

I recently posted a piece about the “cathartic synthesis” I hear in the music of the incredible Gracie and Rachel. If you haven’t yet read that, please do so as a personal favor… the process of creating that piece was highly emotive for me and it touched me in ways I’ve not been touched in a while.

One of the elements affecting me is the idea of catharsis. I’ve always understood catharsis to be a process of purification or purging emotionally. What I hadn’t previously realized was the dictionary definition (Merriam-Webster’s) includes the caveat that catharsis especially happens through art. This gets at the very heart of Tomme Suab.

So, as I think about this week’s TS10, I’m also thinking about catharsis. I think those two things are not mutually exclusive. I think they could be, just maybe, intimately related. From the cry for divine purpose in Jesus… to the anger and venom of Sabotage, we’re going all over the place this week.

Thanks for engaging,

Ed

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Artist Focus, Music and Healing

Exploring Gracie and Rachel’s Cathartic Synthesis

Above image from Gracie and Rachel’s Facebook Page

Synthesis: Combining two separate things to create a new thing

The above definition of synthesis is a loose paraphrase of the dictionary definition, but it captures the essence. It carries the idea of bringing together two different things toward the end of creating something new. Depending on the ingredients and the outcome, the synthesis process can create something good, meaningful, even healing.

All art is an expression of some kind of synthesis. The artist combines intangibles such as inspiration, imagination, and experience with skill and craftsmanship. They then leverage those things together in combination with their brush, their movement, their pen, their keys, their strings, their computer… and at the end of the process, there is something new.

In late 2017, I became aware of such an artistic synthesis in the music of New York-based duo of Gracie and Rachel. Early in the year, I was exposed to their Tiptoe EP and later, I indulged in their self-titled full-length album. In this album, in virtually every song, I hear this synthesis occurring and it is unique, special.

This synthesis facilitates a palpable tension throughout the record. It is inescapable…

Gracie and Rachel are a study in duality: light and dark, classical training with a pop sensibility, Californians in New York. Their music pits anxiety and tension against an almost serene self-assurance…(from their website)

On the surface, this duality rests in Gracie’s piano and Rachel’s violin, but it goes so much deeper. According to them, that intense, almost conflicted feel “comes from the world we live in as a duo in the bustle of New York, living together in our music every step of the way, working together in the same household, breathing the music we create. It’s full of tension, but it’s also full of release.”

Release… yes. That’s it. That word captures something of the end result of Gracie and Rachel’s synthesis. But, there may be a better word. When I asked them which of their songs seemed to impact them the most, their response was telling:

The song “Go” is one that always feels like a meditation for us when we play it live. It sits on this rhythmic pattern that sort of propels us forward and yet keeps us grounded throughout. Lyrically, the song works as a note-to-self, to celebrate anxiety as opposed to suppressing it – if we can do this, we can find peace.

We can find peace… Again, a powerful thought. Peace. Shalom. True well-being. It’s the longing of every human heart, no matter what the mouth might say. Finding peace through embracing anxiety, even celebrating it, is a powerful thought in itself. There is something to be said for facing directly into pain, fear, anxiety, traumatic memories, and the like. It takes courage, but there is healing there.

Their duality or tension has been shaped by a variety of stimuli, not the least of which are their artistic influences. In their words…

Gracie’s greatest influences include the author Carlos Castañeda, for his questioning mind, the composer Erik Satie for his patient piano lines, and Agnes Obel for her thoughtful fusing of strings and keys, her effortless tension and release. Rachel’s are endless and so instead of listing a bunch, she’ll give it to a female choral composer of the 16th century, Hildegard von Bingen, for her unique treatment of counterpoint.

Tension and release… counterpoint… There is a theme here. These ideas speak to Gracie and Rachel’s synthesis. But, what is the end product? Is it release? Is it healing?

Catharsis: purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

The synthesis of their experience, their passion, their instruments, their creativity, all of it… it all comes together as a cathartic experience. It seems that way from the artists’ perspective. And it certainly feels cathartic from this listener’s perspective. There is a universal truth to the themes running through Gracie and Rachel. From their site…

The nine orchestral-pop songs on Gracie and Rachel tell a story that’s rooted in the truth —their truth — but retain an enigmatic air that makes them relatable to anyone who has ever found their heart racing with doubt and pushed forward regardless, or triumphed in subverting expectations imposed from without.

Struggle and tension is a universal experience. We have all experienced “racing doubt” and “subverting expressions.” We have all been hurt… abused… neglected…oppressed… suppressed in some way. We have all gone through emotional and relational strife. At times, more than we’d like to admit, we all need catharsis. We need to get it out. To purge. To purify. Gracie and Rachel captures this incredible dynamic in their record.

This dynamic duo is getting noticed. Bob Boilen included them in a couple of his 2017 “Best” lists, as well as hosting them for a Tiny Desk Concert. They have toured with San Fermin and are in the midst of touring with the indomitable Ani DiFranco. Big things are coming. It is the hope of this particular listener that, as their influence grows, more and more people will feel invited into the cathartic synthesis underlying every song emanating from Gracie and Rachel.

 

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TS10

TS10: PARADE with ME!

Seriously, kids… I cannot quite get enough of Sylvan Esso these days. Their new track, Parad(w/m)E, is super fun and leads off this week’s TS10. But, there’s much more than the dynamic duo from Durham here. Take a listen and let it sink in deep.

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TS10

TS10: Dream and Zombie

Time for a new TS10, my friends. Lots of ups and downs here, with a tip of the cap to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (I hope we remember you would have much preferred us fighting for your ideals more than just giving your memory a day…) and Dolores O’Riordan. One has certainly impacted me more than the other, but they are both worthy of remembering.

Dr. King, I will continue to fight. Thank you for your example.

Ms. O’Riordan, thank you for your art.

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TS10

Tomme Suab’s 2017: Honors and the TS2017

Image above is entitled “Transition” and is featured courtesy of the artist, Denise Presnell (oil on canvas).

It’s been quite a year, huh? For a lot of us, 2017 cannot end quickly enough. Over the course of the year, I’ve touched on some of the stimuli potentially driving some of our eagerness to get to January 1. However, despite all the hard, there has been good as well, not the least of which has been deeply talented and creative artists making beautiful and provocative music. With that truth in mind, I want to take a moment to reflect on some of that music, especially the artists, experiences, and recordings which impacted Tomme Suab most significantly over the course of 2017, starting with some year-end honors.

2017 Tomme Suab Artist of the Year: Sylvan Esso

From Sylvan Esso’s Facebook page

Admittedly, I am late to the Sylvan Esso bandwagon. Back in 2014, I featured a track from their self-titled debut album on one of the very first TS10 playlists. However, I just couldn’t get into their music. Can’t explain it, but it just wasn’t speaking to me then.

Things have changed over the last three years. When I learned they would be playing at the third annual Eaux Claires festival this past June, I figured I ought to give it another go. Pretty soon, that first album was in regular rotation in my personal playlist. Their defiant spirit and pulsing sound took me prisoner and I’m still sitting in that cell. My fandom was cemented when I saw them play at the festival. Standing there in the midst of a crowd of thousands, this overweight, 40-something couldn’t help but move. So much energy. So much vivacity.

Their second release from earlier this year, What Now, has grabbed ahold of me more recently , sealing the “Artist of the Year” deal. Another great record full of creativity and emotional highs and lows. All of these factors combined, there’s no musician or band who has impacted Tomme Suab more in 2017 than Sylvan Esso.

2017 Tomme Suab Song of the Year: “Who We Are” by Gungor

There are several Gungor tracks which have grabbed my heart over the years (Beautiful Things, The Beat of Her Heart, and I Am Mountain among them), but none more so than Who We Are. This one, released this last summer, hit the proverbial spot for me. The right song done in the right way at precisely the right time.

The central question in the song, which is featured in the TS2017 playlist below, is “Will those who say they follow Jesus actually live up to those words?” The song represents a timely, poignant, and perhaps even prophetic question. As one who attempts to be like Jesus as much as I can, this question could not be more pertinent. The central human being in history, the one who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, the embodiment of love, who calls us to love our neighbors, the strangers, the prisoners, the sick… the generally downtrodden, is the model for all who say they follow him.

And yet, here in America, we see the Evangelical church (again, among those who say they follow Jesus), playing a pivotal role in electing perhaps the most un-Jesus-like President in our history, a person who denigrates women, makes fun of people with physical disorders, and mongers fear and hatred against those who are not like him (the very downtrodden who Jesus loves and values). We, the church, have defended and made excuses for his behavior. We stand with his unbridled hubris and claim that he is more overt about Jesus than previous Presidents (thank you, Franklin Graham). We should be ashamed of ourselves. We are standing on the wrong side of history once again (just as we did during the 18th and 19th centuries when it came to slavery, just like we’ve done in our historical treatment and “Christianization” of native peoples, just like we did during the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century and on and on and on. More importantly, we are not aligning with the one we say we want to be like.

Gungor, not standing in a place of judgment or ridicule but in the midst of the Evangelical American church, calls us to question these things in Who We Are. It challenges the church to set aside it’s political allegiances and learn to love once again. It asks, “Will we be who we’ve always said we are?”, intimating the vast disparity between the love we are supposed to embody just as Jesus did and the hate and fear we support politically as well as the apathy we show toward those who Jesus treasures. For all these reasons, Who We Are grabbed a hold of my heart like no other song this year.

2017 Tomme Suab Album of the Year: J.E. Sunde’s “Now I Feel Adored”

There is no question that J.E. Sunde is a TS favorite. I am a fan of just about everything the man makes. In 2017, Sunde released Now I Feel Adored, his brilliant sophomore solo album and it did not disappoint.

His vocal prowess is on display from the very beginning as Monica Martin from PHOX joins him on I Will Smile When I Think of You and continues throughout, never more evident than in My Attempts to Grow a Beard. Sunde’s committed focus on detail and precision, as well as phenomenal craftsmanship, is pervasive and virtually palpable. But it’s his lyrical content that brings all of it together for me and makes it a beautiful package. I won’t go into great detail here as I shared my thoughts on the record earlier this year here on TS. Suffice to say, the groaning of Prism, the hope of Called By Our Names, the romance of Color Your Nails, the strained apathy of Fire on the Mountain, and the passion of Wedding Ring, along with various other themes and feels, make for a powerful record. And there was no record that spoke to me as deeply as this one.

 

The TS2017

The following ten songs, in one way or another, have held sway and depth of meaning for TS over the course of 2017. Below the playlist is a brief description of some of that sway and meaning.

Sylvan Esso, “Kick Jump Twist”

Please see above. Sylvan Esso makes even this old guy want to kick, jump, twist.

Gracie and Rachel, “Tiptoe”

I’ve just been getting to know Gracie and Rachel’s music this past year. While I LOVE what I have heard from them overall, Tiptoe is special for me as it served as an introduction to their music. Dramatic, intense, morose… I’ll have more to say about them soon from an TS-exclusive interview.

David Bowie, “Blackstar”

I’ve always had immense respect for David Bowie. Honestly, I think he was a genius. Having said that, I haven’t always stayed current on his releases. The album Blackstar, released in 2016, didn’t really hit my personal radar until early 2017, about a year after Bowie’s death. The titular track immediately seized my attention and simply did not let go. It is an epic (a little less than ten minutes long) and encapsulates so much of what I like about David Bowie’s music.

Gungor, “Who We Are”

Please see above.

Soundgarden, “Jesus Christ Pose”

R.I.P. to one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, Chris Cornell. And, for what it’s worth, there something in this song which speaks to some of what’s wrong with the Evangelical church.

Solange, “F.U.B.U.”

I hate the “n” word, always have. And, full disclosure here, I don’t understand black folks calling each other by that name. I don’t get it. And, I think that’s the point of this song. Solange released A Seat at the Table on the same day as Bon Iver’s 22, A Million in September, 2016. Because of my obsession with Bon Iver’s record, I didn’t jump into Solange’s record right away. This song encapsulates well the mix of creativity and the roiling discomfort the entire album brings. And, for this guy, that roiling discomfort happened much in 2017.

Jetty Rae, “Can’t Curse the Free”

The spiritual defiance in this song resonates deeply with me. The darkness has no right over the free. Preach it, sister!

Jessie Smith – “Been in the Storm”

This song is great in and of itself. But, it also serves as a great reminder of the fun I had connecting this artist with local venues here in the Chippewa Valley and spending a little time with her and her husband. Good, good people (and AWFULLY talented).

Leon Bridges – “River”

Oh man… this song. What a beautiful song. Originally released in 2015, I had not been exposed to River until a buddy of mine pointed me in it’s direction earlier this year. There is both universal and personal truth here… there’s blood on my hands and my lips are unclean… take me to your river, I wanna go.

J.E. Sunde – “Called By Our Names”

Redemption and hope. That’s this song. Dreams of a day in which all is made right, when shalom reigns. Let it be so.

NOW, onto 2018!!

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Music and Healing

Shalom Wishes for Christmas

For the past several weeks, the TS10 has maintained a common strain. They all spoke to the ambivalence many of us experience this time of year. I would hope that we all can at least heed the “tidings of great joy” to an extent. However, joy is only one of the myriad of emotions people feel during the Christmas season. I am certainly not immune from this Noel-driven ambivalence.

I love Christmas so much. This holiday season, in particular, has been sweet. I, along with my beautiful family, have watched plenty of movies, listened to a plethora of carols, and viewed my share of lights. And yet I have found myself feeling so many emotions, several of which are dramatically divergent from the joy the season is supposed to purvey.

I’ve been prone to despair on occasion… hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men. That reality, that truth from one of my favorite Christmas songs, has swirled in my thoughts in recent weeks. I’ve felt frustrated with myself at times, as well as with how little and poorly we love each other. I’ve been grieved as I’ve remembered relationships which once meant the world to me but have either faded away or were severed for one reason or another. The music featured in this month’s TS10s have captured some of these emotions, as well as the incumbent joy of the season.

However, for this moment in time, on this Christmas Eve, I choose to set aside all that ambivalence. Now, it’s time to meditate on the idea of everything being made right somehow. Peace. Shalom. As you engage with this playlist, I wish you shalom. Certainly, I wish you a Merry Christmas. But, more than anything, I wish you shalom.

God is not dead nor does he sleep

The wrong shall fail

The right prevail

With peace on earth, goodwill to men…

-Ed

 

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TS10

TS10: Tree Skirts and Pine Needles

It’s Christmastime, folks. The last few TS10 playlists have flirted with Christmas music, but this week’s TS10 is in a committed relationship with holiday-themed songs. There is a mix of yuletide emotions, to be sure, but it’s all-Christmas, all the time for the next two weeks. Enjoy!

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Artist Focus

The U2 Factor: Justice, Creativity, and an Integrated Faith

Above image from Grantland.com

1987… not a golden year for me personally when it comes to music. A year or two earlier, I had fallen in love with Jesus. In my youthful enthusiasm and stupidity, I really had no idea how to follow his lead and, in that moment, I implemented a few immediate changes, one of which was curtailing/eliminating cuss words from my personal lexicon. That lasted a few years. Another short-lived change was my determination to only listen to music I could purchase from my local Christian bookstore. By the time 1987 came around, my ears, mind, and heart were being filled with Petra, Michael W. Smith, Stryper, and the like… exclusively.

Sometime that year, one of my church friends tried to tell me U2 was a Christian band. Of course, if that were so, it would be okay for me to listen to them. But I doubted. To try to convince me, my friend made me a cassette copy of some of U2’s music. Side A was War and Side B was The Unforgettable Fire. That tape sat in my room for months before I ever listened to it. I just wasn’t convinced their lyrics would bring me closer to Jesus (and I couldn’t buy their music from the Christian bookstore), so I wouldn’t give them a chance.

During the summer of that year (I believe), on a road trip somewhere in Virginia or North Carolina, I happened to hear With Or Without You for the first time. Good thing that radio station didn’t have the same bias against U2 I had. I was intrigued by what I heard. I couldn’t have put it into words then, but I’m sure it had to do with the desperate, passionate, emotional tone of the song. Sometime later, one of our local radio stations in Virginia played The Joshua True from beginning to end. When I listened to it, I was hooked.

I could write about the emotive or nostalgic connections I have with virtually every song on that album. I could also write much about how the lyrics challenged me and made me think. Where the Streets Have No Name made me think of a time when God’s shalom will reign. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For made me explore the shallowness of my faith. Bullet the Blue Sky not only made me move and got my heart pounding, but it led me to start thinking about social and political issues I’d never considered before. I could go on and on, but I won’t, at least not now.

Of course, once I was captivated by The Joshua Tree, I finally listened to that tape my friend made me. It wasn’t long before I was hearing about the revolution in Ireland, refugees, and other heavy subjects U2 covers in War. Eventually, The Unforgettable Fire would become one of my favorite albums of all time. As time went on, Boy, October, and Under a Blood Red Sky all joined the fray as well. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen were soon depicted on a poster on my wall. I was all in.

Those early albums impacted me deeply, in some ways I’m only beginning to see. However, the two most significant ways this music influenced me have to do with social justice and the nature of creative expression. Truly, without U2’s influence on me as a teenager and young man, I’m not sure I would care about music and justice like I do now. To a significant extent, God used U2’s music to mold me into the man I have become.

When it comes to issues of social justice… well, that’s kind of their thing. I think one would have to be completely unaware of U2 for that person to not recognize how deeply justice and activism runs in them. It is truly one of their defining characteristics. They call out the folly of war and the grief it brings. They cry out on behalf of the poor. They confront racism and bigotry. And for me, they challenged the gap between my experience of Christianity and efforts toward social justice.

You see, in my spiritual context, issues of war, race, and justice were divorced from faith. Choosing to become a Christian, evangelism (to an extent), and being baptized in the Holy Spirit were the virtual endgame of Christianity in my experience as a teenager. So, when I heard Bono, a professed Christian, sing about things like social injustice, I was provoked to consider how such things related to my faith.

Growing up in Chesapeake, Virginia, I was only a short drive from the Norfolk Naval Base. The people around me were almost always pro-military, to the point of not questioning the nature of war itself and whether or not Christians should be engaged in such things. U2 challenged me to think about this. And when I began making connections between their lyrics and what I read in the New Testament, I began asking some fairly uncomfortable questions of myself, my parents, and others. It made me question whether or not God was always on America’s side. It made me wonder if our military activities were, dare I say, sinful. I began to see contradiction in being pro-war or pro-military and Jesus’ call to love my enemies and turn the other cheek.

Being from Chesapeake also landed me only a few miles from Pat Robertson’s home-base at CBN in Virginia Beach. Some close to me considered Mr. Robertson a “prophet.” As I grew up, however, he became an emblem of the sick marriage between evangelical Christianity and the GOP. In my church, there wasn’t room for being a Democrat. I don’t even recall there being much room to question such things. U2’s lyrics and very persona led me to question these biases and challenge that sick marriage (I’m still praying for a divorce). And again, what they introduced to my mind and heart resonated with what I understood from the New Testament.

U2 didn’t teach me how to think… they opened my eyes to parts of the New Testament I’d neglected or simply didn’t know yet. I could no longer be satisfied with what I’d been spoon-fed regarding politics, race, economics, or any number of other social issues. Jesus was using U2 to take me deeper.

The other significant impact of U2’s music has to do with creative expression. When I stumbled onto The Joshua Tree, my thoughts about music, what was “good,” and what I should let enter my ears were so, so limited. I had the self-imposed limitations of listening only to contemporary Christian music, but I had a very influential family member who told me I shouldn’t listen to any songs that weren’t love songs (?!) and who thought John Denver was the standard by which all musicians should be measured. And then there are the influential folks in my life who taught me that if they didn’t like something, it wasn’t any good.

All in all, those factors led me to a very small pool of music to choose from, all of which resided at Heaven & Earth Bookstore at Greenbrier Mall. My categories for what I would listen to at that time were so limited… pop rock, some rap, hard rock… that was about it. And they had to be singing about God explicitly or I wasn’t giving them much of a chance. Not only were my categories limited, but my entire view of music and art were severely limited as well. U2 pushed those limits and eventually helped to shatter them.

U2 led me far away from the synthy pop of Michael W. Smith, the driving metal guitar of Bloodgood, and the glossy sound of Stryper (none of which were bad… I just needed to expand my horizons). I had never, personally, heard anything like them. They opened my mind to new sounds, new rhythms, new variables. They led me to listen to less predictable music. Chances are I would never have fallen in love with Bon Iver, Sylvan Esso, Adelyn Rose, JE Sunde, and so many others had it not been for this mental expansion. I would have never cared about attending Eaux Claires in 2016, much less be impacted as deeply by it as I was, had it not been for U2’s influence.

And then there are those lyrics. So, not only did U2 provoke me to think about social justice issues, but, dang it, I rarely heard them mention God or Jesus in their songs, aside from the closing moments of Sunday Bloody Sunday (As a related side note, I still vividly recall listening to King’s X’s then new self-titled album in 1992,doing my best discern whether or not they mentioned God or Jesus in their lyrics. Ugh.). The irony for me, however, was that I actually did hear Jesus in U2’s words. I heard Jesus tell me to love my enemies. I heard the apostle Paul’s words about how, in Jesus, all racial, social, and economic barriers between us are demolished. I heard Paul’s reminder that followers of Jesus are “citizens of heaven.” I heard Jesus’ definition of the kingdom of God… captives going free, the sick being healed, valleys being raised up and mountains being humbled… U2 taught me to go beneath the surface, to let myself be challenged by new ways of expressing important things, to weave my intellect and my emotions together, to go deeper. And I am the better for it.

I will be forever grateful for Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen. God has used those four guys to grow me and challenge me in profound ways. It is no overstatement for me to say that he used their music and what they are about to make me more like Jesus.

Photo by Colm Henry

 

 

 

 

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Artist Focus

Kat Meoz: Still Gritty Without the GRIT

Photo above by Angela So

Every once in a while, everyone needs to push the “Reset” button. Maybe things got a little stale… maybe the current course isn’t really working… maybe you’re feeling more a part of the crowd than you really are, or want to be. Recently, L.A.-based rocker Kat Meoz decided it was time for such a reset. She didn’t want to be lost in the crowd.

I first discovered Kat’s music before this “reset,” when she made music under the name GRIT. Admittedly, that’s a pretty commonly used word/name in the music world. However, it was a fitting name, because her music is FULL of grit. In fact, it’s pretty dang BA. Under her former moniker, Kat released an EP on Noisetrade some time ago, which included a couple of songs that would make their way onto TS10 weekly playlists (New Car and Look Away). There’s no way this music should be lost in the midst of multiple “grits”, so Kat recently decided to make a change.

Recently, I caught up with Kat to ask her about this change, as well as discuss other aspects of her musical journey.

 

Ed

You recently changed your “brand” from GRIT to Kat Meoz. Why did you make that change?

Kat

I made the change because “grit” was unsearchable, there are countless projects entitled “grit” or some variation of the word. I trademarked the name for the US but it could still be challenged, and I didn’t really want to spend money or energy on taking people to court over it once it became clear how many there actually were. After years of pushing the band name and even after getting some recognition… if you typed GRIT into itunes/Spotify/Soundcloud or wherever, I’d be the 45th person to come up and that just wasn’t cool. In early 2017 a Grit in France got written up in a French Rolling Stone blog at the same time that a Grit in Scotland was dominating Hype Machine. I wasn’t about to file for an international trademark so it was time. Countless conversations were had and I was admittedly over-thinking it, but by the time the decision was processed it felt right. I’ll always have grit and be tenacious; nothing’s changed there. If anything, going by my name has given me freedom as far as playing with different band members goes.

Ed

Who are your musical/artistic inspirations?

Kat

I’ve always been inspired by songwriting in general, so I am a lover of all types of music. A hit song is a hit song to me no matter what the genre. From Radiohead to Raffy, if a song is undeniably catchy I will listen to it on repeat until I’ve dissected it. I (was) influenced initially at a young age by what my father listened to: Nat King Cole, Willie Nelson, Gloria Estefan, Harry Belafonte, Steve Lawrence, Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, The Beatles. Later in life he introduced me to The Rolling Stones and I have vivid memories of my mom singing along with all her heart to Jim Croce or Billy Joel on rides home from school. I watched Yellow Submarine and A Very Chipmunk Adventure a thousand times as a kid.  I didn’t love every single song in those movies, but I did love the anticipation of “oh here comes the part with the song I don’t like,”  watching the scene again and picking apart why that specific piece didn’t work for me. The songs I’ve put out are a mix of influences from blues, classic rock, grunge, alternative, punk and pop writers.  I’m probably the most inspired by John Lee Hooker, CCR, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis,  Johnny Cash, Yes, Metric, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Joan Jett, The Sex Pistols, The Strokes, Oasis, Jack White’s various projects, Neil Young, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Eddie Money, early Kings of Leon, early Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Sheryl Crow, The Young Rascals, The Stooges, John Denver, Don McLean, Cream, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.  I could keep going on that list, truly, but all those artists have at least one hit song that heavily influenced my songwriting and desire for quality recordings.

 

Ed

There is a fair portion of angst in your music. Where does that angst come from? Also, how important is it for you to express this angst musically?

Kat

I’ve been angsty since childhood, I’m super sensitive and a sponge for negative energy. I axe people out of my life the moment I feel I can’t trust or count on them, and the uncontrollable reflex to do that year after year is something that brings me a lot of pain and spins me into self doubt. I live life by the intuitive directions I receive, and though I question them endlessly, the butterfly effect of my losses and gains up to this point have led me down a path that ultimately I feel lucky to be living. In the past and sometimes still, looking forward without certainty is daunting. The intense feelings that accompany unfulfilled desires play the biggest role in my music. As far as how important it is to express myself, making loud music with a band is my medicine. Banging a guitar while screaming and losing myself in the moment for an audience is a prescription I am constantly looking to refill. I’d be lost if I didn’t have a musical outlet, every time something paralyzing in my life has happened it’s been music or a musical opportunity that coaxed me back on my feet. 

Photo by Erik Jensen

Ed

Do you have any tours planned that would take you away from L.A. any time soon? Upper Midwest?

Kat

I just added a second guitar player to the mix, and I’m happy because the new band I play with is open to touring which hasn’t been a real possibility until now. We will probably do a Texas run first but when we make it to the Upper Midwest, Tomme Suab will be the first to know. 

 

Of course, that last response made me smile. Come on up here, Ms. Meoz! However, her response to the “angst” question warmed my heart. I’m not a musician, but I have personally experienced the healing power of music. And, it was a privilege to hear a musician pull back the curtain on how music is her medication. There is power in music, artistry, and creativity.

You can check out Kat’s music in the following spaces:

Official Website

Spotify

Connect with Kat on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

 

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