About trajwani

Lover of words, cultures, art, magic moments, children, soulful endeavours, dance, and music, music, music.

Interview With Kathana- Born to Make Music!

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Your artist name- Kathana- is very unique. Where did it come from?

My mom originally wanted to name me Kathana because she wanted to honor my great-great grandmother Katherine and my grandmother Anna. My dad didn’t like Kathana as a name in everyday life. So I used it as a stage name instead.

That’s beautiful. From what I’ve read, you started music from a young age. Which instruments do you play?

I started singing at a very young age. My mom says I was singing ever since I could talk. I would go around the house singing “do do do do,” making up my own little melodies. I picked up the guitar and piano around the time I was in middle school, and just started playing by ear.

Wow! That’s amazing.  Do you have a favorite instrument?

Aside from my voice, it is hard to choose a favorite instrument. The piano is very calming to me and gives me a lot of creative freedom. It best allows me play what I’m feeling, and it’s therapeutic. With the acoustic guitar, overall, I just love the warm sound of it. I do a lot of my songwriting with the acoustic guitar.

We got connected through an online songwriting class. How did the class help you?

That songwriting class was my favorite! It definitely challenged me to approach songwriting from different ways that I had never previously thought about. I used to get stuck with writing songs when I didn’t have the inspiration first. My habit has always been to write a song in the very moment I found inspiration, which I still do. But now, I am able to write songs more consistently, using the tools I learned through that class.

You are a beautiful songwriter.  Do you have a particular way you approach your own writing? For example, do you start with melody or lyrics first?  Or is your process of songwriting always different?

Kathana4.JPGMy songwriting method varies. Sometimes, I’ll hear a melody in my head, so I’ll record it on my phone and put words to it later. Other times, I’ll just think of, or say, a phrase and realize it would work well as a lyric so I’ll write it down. I’ve also stumbled across great sounding chord progressions when just freely playing on the piano, and decided to find lyrics to fit to them. Sometimes I’ll journal how I’m feeling, especially in very emotional situations, and then I’ll pick apart my journal entry to find lyrical content.

That’s a good reminder- that going through journals can be a great source of ideas.  I need to do that more often.

Some singer songwriters learn by trial and error, just going out there and doing shows and learning from gigs and other musicians around them. What do you think are the benefits of actually taking a full degree program in music as you are? How does this compare to what you learn from gigging?

I have definitely learned through trial and error and through gigging experience. Learning new cover songs for the different bands I’ve been in has taught me how to really listen to and analyze popular songs. Now I can quickly learn a new song and pick up on song structure patterns. Performing live has made me much more comfortable in front of an audience. I started out very shy on stage, and now, being on stage is where I feel the most comfortable.

In comparison, taking a full degree program has given me structure to actually do my musical work. Classes and assignments always give me deadlines to work within, so I’ve had to learn to prioritize and not be lazy. The information and feedback I receive from my teachers has become incredibly valuable. These are people who have been in the music business for a long time and have become very successful musicians themselves.

What are some of your favorite classes?

My favorite classes have been all of my songwriting classes and music therapy class. I’ve always been interested in how music heals and how the mind and body respond to music. So music therapy was a very exciting course.

Oh, that’s great to know that music therapy classes are offered as part of the program too. This sounds very in line with the healing aspect behind Dance Me Free.

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You have some great new music coming out. Where did some of the inspiration for the songs and their messages come from?

I’m so excited to finally have new music out that feels true to my style. A lot of inspiration came from my past experiences with relationships that were THE WORST. Haha. Yeah, they weren’t healthy.  But inspiration came from learning about myself in the process of it all too. They are really personal experiences to me, but my goal is to make them something that others who have gone through similar experiences can resonate with.

Of course it’s not all about negative topics, and I have some cutesy summer songs in the works as well.

Oh, I can’t wait to hear them!

What are some challenges you go through with songwriting that people might not realize is part of the process?

Since a lot of my songs are based on similar ideas, one of the difficulties I’ve noticed is making each one unique to itself. It takes a lot of energy to put myself back in those situations when I’m recording my vocal tracks, but it really helps to come across genuinely and convey my true emotions in the recordings. The entire process of putting these songs together feels like a journey for each song. Sometimes Chris Gruchacz- my producer- and I are in the studio all day and all night just working on tiny details. We’ve even started over from scratch on mixes of songs a few times. Other times it goes really fast because we start with a lot of ideas and are able to implement them right away.

You mentioned that Kathana is a collaboration between you and your producer Chris.  What do you think makes a good collaborative partner?

A big thing I’ve noticed about collaborating is that it’s important to be willing to listen to the other person’s ideas and not be so attached to your own so much sometimes.

I feel so lucky to work with Chris, who is very patient. I tend to be more hyper during the process, so I think we balance each other out.

Also, it’s pretty crucial to have the same taste in music. Chris and I have a few differences in our music preference, but they aren’t so different that we can’t learn from one another and come up with interesting idea combinations that complement each other.

What are the benefits of collaborating?

To me, in our situation, it feels easier to work with another artist because it takes some of the responsibility off of both of us. This is because we each have our own strengths and can help each other out.

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What advice would you give to those who are new to collaboration and aren’t sure what to expect?

Our advice for those who are new to collaboration is to be very open minded to new perspectives and suggestions. It is also important to understand that creativity can take a long time and a lot of revision.

Dance Me Free is about the power of Dance, Music and other Arts to inspire, free and heal.  How do you think music and the making of music has benefited your life? 

Music has always helped me cope with stressful situations and anxiety, whether listening to it or writing it. Dancing is also a huge passion of mine and it goes hand in hand with music. Dancing allows me to be in the moment and not overthink things. Music has benefited me by connecting me with a lot of different people.

It is so inspiring that you are one of those rare individuals who actually has the courage to pursue your passion for music.  You have taught me so much just from listening to the development of some of your very creative and unique pieces throughout the course we took together.

It makes me feel really good that I can inspire you, as I’ve also always admired your passion for art and writing. So I’m honored as well to be featured on your blog. I definitely can’t imagine life without music. It’s the one thing I’ve always known I wanted to do, and I couldn’t see myself pursuing any other career.

It seems like something you were just meant to do, and I can’t wait to share your music with others. Where can people hear your music and find out more about you?

I post a lot of sneak peeks of my upcoming songs on my Insta story, so let’s be friends on Instagram and Facebook where you can keep up with my projects!

(Please click on the links below)

Instagram: @kathana.music
Facebook: Kathana
Spotify: Kathana
SoundCloud: Kathana
YouTube: Kathana

 

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Secret to Success 2- Keep Your Promises To Yourself

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I always thought of myself as reliable and true to my word. If I say I’m going to do something for someone- whether it’s as simple as a phone call or an errand to run, or a task to complete, I get it done. And if for some reason I fall a bit behind schedule, I do the responsible thing and let the person know. But I don’t give up on the task. I just set a new deadline.  Either way, it almost always gets finished.  This is because the job or friends or people for whom I am getting these jobs or errands or favors done are important to me.

So why is it that I don’t always place the same value or give as much commitment to myself? Why is it that when given the choice to get something done for someone else rather than something I promised I would get done for myself, I choose the other person first? Why is it easier to keep promises to others and not to ourselves?

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Secret to Success 1- Make It A Habit

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This morning, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and was about to make my usual scrambled eggs for breakfast, but I stopped.

Instead of turning anything on on the stove, I put down the frying pan I had just picked up, and put on my workout clothes. Without even thinking, I was soon out the door, heading downstairs to the gym.

I hate cardio. But my body just went straight to the stair master machine, and the 20 minutes on there felt like it went by fast. Don’t get me wrong, I was sweating. And I wanted to give up a few times into it. But my body overpowered my thoughts and just kept at it. It was strange, but also wonderful.

It made me wonder how I got to this place- not just to the gym, but to a place where going to the gym was not something I had to write down on a schedule, and force myself to do, or procrastinate over. I realized today that it had become something I craved, something that just felt right to do, something that had become a habit, almost as much as the brushing of my teeth just before it.

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Don’t Become A Workshop Tramp

workshop1Years ago, I was in New York taking a writing course. It had me inspired and excited so much so that when I found out that I could register for another workshop at the same school, I shared the news with my instructor.  I told her that I was originally planning to go on a trip to Argentina, but I wanted to stay committed to my writing and to learning so could put off the trip to another time.

She looked at me for a moment and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then she said one of the best pieces of advice she received from a former writing teacher herself was, “Don’t become a workshop tramp.”

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If He Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

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I’ve been trying to work out consistently for a long time. It wasn’t very successful before.  I’m so into it at the start.  But then bam, I’m back to not being motivated or just being frustrated with not seeing results. And then I stop.

Was is the problem, I kept asking myself? Why don’t I see results? Is it because I haven’t stuck with it long enough? Or is it that I’m not working out hard enough? Or am I working out too hard and then feeling too exhausted to go at it again? Or maybe I am just not using the right amount of weights? Maybe my workouts aren’t varied enough? Maybe the way that I’m working out is the problem, and even if I spend a couple of hours in the gym at a time over a long period of time, it wouldn’t make a difference?

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If The Shoe Fits, Buy More Pairs!

shoe shoppingI haven’t been dancing as regularly as I’d like, and haven’t been social dancing in a few months. This is partly due to a knee injury I am trying to sort out. But I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was missing dance, especially zouk, for so long. So the other night, I finally went back to our weekly zouk social.

As soon as I walked in and heard the music, my body did this kind of ahhhh like release. As if it was just waiting for me to get back, and now it could be free to be happy again.  It’s kind of crazy how dance can have that affect on you.  Zouk music- even the mixes that aren’t authentic zouk but carry that beat, make me feel that beat inside me. It enlivens something from within that only other dancers could understand.

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Piano As Therapy- Interview With Tyler Wilson

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How long have you been playing piano, and what is your preferred genre to play?

I’ve been playing piano now for about 18 years, ever since I was 6. After a few too many times banging on the keys of my grandma’s old upright, she sat me down and began teaching me classically, initially. This built a good technical foundation, but as I got older, I started getting into playing pop music. Eventually, I found my passion in jazz, specifically the old standards and swing!

I find sometimes it can be difficult to follow your artistic passion as an adult, especially with certain societal or cultural pressures to pursue something more “practical.”  Did you find those around you encouraging your music pursuits?

Luckily, the stigma against following the arts as a career path doesn’t seem as prominent in my generation. The rise of the entrepreneur/side gigs among millennials has made for a relatively accepting environment for people that are pursing their own path. But I would definitely agree that culture, upbringing, and environment have a heavy impact on people actually pursuing music and the arts as a sole source of income.

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“…But those unheard are sweeter”

Heard melodies are sweet,

but those unheard are sweeter.”

~John Keats

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Recently, I saw this quote from Ode to a Grecian Urn tattooed on a girl’s back shoulder.  I am glad there was a huge treble clef attached to it, which drew my attention to the words.

So many memories of English Literature class, and falling in love with Romantic poets were brought back to me in that moment. And Professor Lee Johnson, my favorite professor, who instilled such a passion for poetry and words in me, even though I was actually in sciences at that time.

Those words meant something in particular to me at that time, according to what was going on in my life then. I wasn’t dancing, and I definitely wasn’t singing when I first read those poets and Keats’ ode.  But I understood and got a taste of those “unheard melodies” in the form of pauses and breaths in the middle of certain sentences or poetry lines.  Writing and reading took on this whole other sensation for me because of this.   So did fine art, as I would notice not just the strokes and colours on the canvases I painted or drew on, but also the negative space within those creations.  I could see the beauty of the “unheard” melodies in the artwork I studied in art history classes as well. To me, they were the spots that the artist chose to purposely leave blank.   The blank spaces often said as much, if not more, than the ones full of swirling brushstrokes.

It’s amazing how now, the words take on another layer because of these newer passions of mine, especially dance.

Because it is the breaths and pauses in dancing and singing that I live for the most in these disciplines.  Very often, we concentrate on the hits, the strong beats, the parts in the music where your feet want to step the loudest or strongest.  But when someone breathes with me at the beginning of a dance, or when suddenly, there is a pause in the music, and we stop together to take in that moment, that’s what makes the hits and sharper, quicker movements so memorable.

It’s also what gives me goosebumps- those “unheard” melodies in between the musical notes, in between the dips and spins and waves.  I can name particular dancers over the course of my dancing experience who have made me feel those moments, those pauses, between the pulses and traveling sequences.  It is the leaders who have stopped me in my tracks to be so present in those moments, to experience the sweetness of what is not heard but felt so deeply, that remain in my memory forever.  Although those moments can never be replicated again exactly as they were, that is also what is beautiful about them.  They linger within us, long after they happen, because of their magic to bring us into that very instance.

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It’s like nothing else exists in those moments except for that feeling. And that is the part of dance that makes me crave more of it.  These captured moments of ‘stillness’ that we often don’t take the time for in our daily lives, these instances of total surrender to our senses- the feel of our partner’s hands or arms around us, the touch of our feet pushing through the floor, or the floor pushing back up into us to ground us and keep the motion flowing, or the deep breaths taken at the same time as the pause in the music.

It is this that draws me to the dance floor again and again, no matter how tired I might feel beforehand, no matter how many other life issues are on my mind.  Dance takes me out of this and into the moment.  It feels like something otherworldly, orchestrated not by us but by something divine. Or to remind us of our connection to Spirit and the Divine. We just have to be open to it, to allow ourselves to listen and believe in the “unheard” melodies that capture our hearts and let our souls soar. It is the pauses and the breaths in the dances that enliven me and convince me that we are connected to something so much greater than ourselves. We just have to let that connection flow to and from us.

Dance allows us to hear the unheard, to experience something out of this world while still remaining in it.

Dance is divine.

12 Lessons Learned From House Class

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Most people know me as a partner dancer. But from time to time, I’ve been sneaking away from the partner dance world to attend classes that I would have to do on my own.  I wanted a class in which I wouldn’t be able to cheat by relying on my partner for balance, energy or to just initiate the movements.  I wanted to improve my ability to find the feeling in my own body first, and to develop myself as an individual dancer. This was not to get away from the partner dancing world, but to help strengthen myself as a dancer, and bring this back into the dances I was already doing.  I was thrilled to be able to find all this, plus a great cardio workout, through House Dance classes!  And I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learned from them.

Of course, the concepts below can and should be learned throughout other dance styles, including the ones I was already doing. However, there was something about my taking myself out of the style and space I was used to that helped ingrain these lessons in me on a deeper and more conscious level.  The House Dance classes made the concepts I should already “know” clearer.  And this awareness has given me more confidence to understand them and apply them more intentionally to my other dances.  Thank you, to my instructor Kyle Vicente and iDance Vancouver Studios, for these great lessons!  Continue reading

Awakening to Your Dreams

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For the past few nights, I have fallen asleep with my guitar.

“Wait, you play the guitar?” those of you who know me might be asking.  Others of you might be thinking, “I think she needs a man.”  Yeah, that’s a topic for a whole other blog post.

But yes, I actually own three guitars now.   But I rarely play them. I thought I just couldn’t figure out HOW to. I would try every once in awhile, take a couple of lessons, but nothing would stick. If any of you have tried playing the guitar, especially as an adult, you know it’s not that easy.  Getting your fingers to coordinate and stretch enough but also be delicate enough to get right into the exact spots on the frets is pretty tricky stuff.

Each time I would pick up the guitar again, I would get frustrated and think that this whole guitar thing is so far from… well, who I am.  So I would give up.

But the universe has this way of bringing you back to something that you might need to give another chance to. Plus, there are guitars all around me- from the guitar paintings I did years ago, still hanging on my wall, to the guitar piggy bank I have in my kitchen, to the little guitar decoration on my bookshelf. Oh, and what about that guitar keychain I owned for a few years? Not to mention that one of the most inspiring and life changing movies I have ever seen is also, quite frankly, called The Guitar.

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