19 October 2022
KAT KOAN is a Berlin-based artist with a passion for expressing intense emotions through music and visuals. With her Belgian musical partner Raymond Rose she canned her second album COCOON and released it on 7 October.
A sonically versatile and compelling record with Koan speaking and singing her mind
and her heart out. Think Garbage‘s charismatic Amazon Shirly Manson. She’s backed by
lost souls when she hits the stage and her new-found motto is fuck it, you only live once. Following the awful pandemic and lockdowns, it’s definitely a reality-related state of mindset to face life in the future.
As usual, Turn Up The Volume starts an interview with
a piece of music to get us all in the right mood.
On your website, I read that making music is a great excuse to
escape real life. When/how did you start your musical journey, Kat?
“I studied Media Arts and TV production and work as a video producer by day.
It’s a pretty stressful job but I love it. During my time as a commercials producer
in London, I realized that I’m obsessed with the way music can elevate visuals.
So I started to make soundscapes from everyday sounds that I recorded on my phone, spending hours on end trying to put the sounds together in rhythmic ways. After a massive burn out I decided to just leave everything behind and make a drastic change, I moved to Berlin to start over- and to try new things.
The city is great. nobody here asks you that ‘what do you do?’ question so I suddenly felt
a lot less pressure to pretend to be ‘someone’ and less pressure to work like a maniac in order to make ends meet.
It’s less of a rat race, so I found more headspace to spend time on things I really love.
I found out that music is what makes me happy. It’s pretty much the only thing that makes me forget about the mad world we live in and allows me to dive into a place where I can be exactly who I want to be. It’s also the place where I don’t care about what people expect from me or whether I do something right or wrong or quickly or slowly or loud or quietly,
I just do whatever I feel in that moment.
That is liberating coz most other things in life like my family and jobs are subject to routines and rules and objectives. Making music takes me out of the structured results driven world and I am so happy that I have this outlet/ escape. I would probably be in a lunatic asylum if I didn’t have it.”
You’re a DIY artist. What does that really mean in practice?
“Well it means exactly what it says. Do It Yourself. I don’t have a label or publisher or Marketing team etc. I love being an independent artist. I’m free to do whatever I like whenever I feel like it. I don’t make the music by myself tho, I have really cool people in
my life that I partner up with.
I wouldn’t want to and I don’t have the skill to make music on my own. I’m a people’s person, I love to bounce ideas and collaborate with people who are on a similar planet.”
Which track would you pick to introduce your
music to people who do not know your work, Kat?
“This is hard coz they are all my babies and it’s tricky to pick a favorite coz all babies have different personalities. I don’t know how to pick one. I think the one that is closest to how
I am as a person is Silly Me from my first album Lustprinzip. Coz I love tackling dark topics.. some crappy experiences that affected me a lot, but turning that into a humorous story.
I find that super cathartic. To take the Mickey out of your own misfortunes.”
A couple of weeks you released your 2nd album called COCOON. Is there
a big picture/theme for the record or are all songs standing on their own?
“This record sounds like I’m schizophrenic in a way coz there are so many mad emotions in the songs. They are all very real, which took some guts to vocalize but I’m proud that we managed to bring it all across in a raw and real way. It’s not as sexually charged as my first album.
This new album COCOON was written during the lockdown, so many emotions that were pent up inside had time and space to surface and they sure came out with a vengeance. Anger, procrastination, questions about the way we C/O-exist in this society, and some new relationship issues like jealousy, infidelity, breakups. So it’s a more grown up album with more grown up topics.”
Who developed the blurry artwork of the LP?
And is there a story behind the image?
“The photo was taken by my husband Patrick Tichy and the artwork was designed
by Stefan Lucut, a good friend of mine. It’s blurred coz that’s how I felt during the time of the lockdowns. Confused and kinda loud in my head, with a huge urge to express it all. Not being able to go out and perform or even just to meet people made me feel like a caged up animal. So the motion blur felt like a good way to visualize that.”
Newest single STAY (featuring Freddie Dickson) has a melancholic
feel, so does the video’s performance. What’s the song about, Kat?
“I love Freddie. He’s the nicest dude and so very talented. He is making a new album
at the moment and I am VERY excited about it, it will sound amazing. I feel very lucky
that we met and collaborated on 3 songs on this album, Stay being one of them.
The question about the meaning is a very good one coz quite frankly I don’t know. I normally spend hours and days writing and re-writing lyrics. With this song something mad happened. My music partner Raymond Rose sent me a basic idea for a sound and I got goosebumps, sat down on my bed with a rubbish microphone and just recorded a take of whatever came into my head.
We ended up keeping that take coz the emotion in it was so right that we didn’t wanna mess with it. So it was literally a somewhat otherworldly outburst of an unintentional story. In the widest sense, I guess the song is about regretting not saying things when
I should have said something.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell a person how you feel
for fear of rejection or vulnerability or shame.”
Did you listen to records of other artists to inspire
yourself in the writing process of the album?
No, I don’t listen to anything else when I’m writing coz I don’t want to be influenced.
I wanna get into a zone and block out other people’s ideas. For me, it’s about expressing intense emotions. My partner Raymond Rose in Belgium is amazing at tuning into these emotions and expressing them musically.
I don’t think I’ve ever had that kind of ‘thing’ before, not to this extent.. where someone gets under your skin and revs you up in just the right ways. Sometimes I wonder how the hell it’s possible to be on the same creative wavelength with a person. It’s pretty rare and very precious.”
You covered KYLIE MINOGUE’s 2003 sensual hit SLOW.
Why did you pick this song to cover?
“We wanted to take a classic pop song and turn it into a darker, more badass version. Making this cover helped us to develop the overall sound of the album.
I love Kylie. She likes sparkly outfits, so do I. There isn’t a deeper meaning behind the song choice. I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s a really cool sound. Really enjoyed making the video for it too, it’s an ode to Berlin- the messy colorful creative haven I live in.
Is your band THE LOST SOULS involved in the songwriting and the recording?
“No, it’s all Raymond and me. But I love my band here in Berlin, great bunch of people.
We have started to play live and the energy is insane.
You should come and check it out sometime. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve recently adopted a
‘fuck it you only live once’ attitude which changed the way we perform. We just wanna
have a good time and connect with people. There’s no other agenda.
Suppose COCOON was the soundtrack of a movie.
Which one or what genre would it be?
It would be a dark comedy. Some anger, some sex, some sadness, some silliness.
Our songs have a soundtrack feel. I’m mostly inspired by visuals so our songs have
a kind of vibe that you could imagine on tv/ movie scenes as they are all built around
a mood, a place, a scent, or a taste that we had in mind when we wrote them.”
We’re nearing the end of 2022. What’s the best track and album you heard so far?
“My favorite new artist/ band I discovered this year is Lulu Van Trapp, a French artist/ band. She’s a firecracker. I believe every word she says and I love how liberated she is as a woman and how much energy she has and how much fun she is having.
I also saw the Viagra Boys live. Omg, so much power. Their sound is great and the lyrics resonate very much with me. I’ve mostly been enjoying going to live concerts. I’m a bit overloaded with all the music that’s coming out on streaming platforms every day.
Seeing bands play live is different tho, coz you experience it properly and have a bit more of a connection. I’m looking for realness, I like people who have something to say and hit the zeitgeist with their lyrics and their music.”
Next step for KAT KOAN & THE LOST SOULS?
“I wanna play live with the band as much as possible, it is so cool to finally bring
the songs to life and come up with creative ideas to put on a good show.
Raymond and I are also currently finishing up demos for a new album
and figuring out some new sound ideas. Can’t stop won’t stop.”
Thank you for this interview, Kat.
May the road rise with you.
Stream/buy COCOON here.