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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“…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.

Faith, Freedom and Truth- Interview With Andra Carmina

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Which styles of dance are you into?  Do you have a favorite?

​I started dancing in 2009 after taking some salsa and bachata lessons at McGill. My dancing journey eventually followed me to Toronto, where I got introduced to zouk, and from there on, no other dance has had my heart quite like zouk does. I’ve dabbled into other dances like bellyDancing, kizomba, and dancehall.  While they do bring out certain parts of me, zouk allows me to express myself in ways I almost can’t explain. Continue reading

Following Your Heart- An Interview with Madan Kumar

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Where do you live and what styles of dance do you dance?

I live in Mumbai and I dance Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba

What got you into dance?

Dancing was my hobby since childhood, but I never knew I would end up as a full time dancer, teacher and performer.

I remember being asked why, if I’m Indian, I dance Latin dances instead of Indian dance. I I love Indian dance, but it just wasn’t what I gravitated to. And I thought it was a bit of an ignorant question at the time. Haha. But now, here I am, asking you the same question (laughs). Since you are in India and Indian, what made you choose Latin dances instead of Indian dances?  Continue reading

Interview With Sia Kaskas- Revolutionizing Aging

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I really admire you for your strength and agility as a kickboxer, but also for being in a field that traditionally might have been thought more ‘suitable’ for men.  

Did you find it hard to work your way up in kickboxing, especially as a female, in terms of having support and being taken seriously?

Staying at Champions Martial Arts Academy for all the years that I did- from being a novice student to becoming an instructor and employee- had its challenges. I would say it made it easier having female role models around me- such as Master Ingrid Katzberg and Sensei Anita Katzberg. These two sisters own and run the school (along with Master Farid Dordar). Their strength was so inspiring and motivating for me and thousands of other female students in the city.

Yes. I remember them being highly regarded throughout the school and community. 

Yes, and Master Ingrid and Master Farid welcomed all genders to train and compete. I never felt any judgement from either one of them. The only challenges I encountered were from a minority of younger males who felt uncomfortable around me. I competed early on in my training years in eight tournaments and in five ring-fights and I was always the oldest female among the fight team. So that was tough in terms of judgment. And I later faced another challenge when I began instructing. Once again, some males found it difficult to be instructed by a female. This led me to train harder and to show them I am not as limited as they think. Of course now, after fifteen years of instructing, one builds a reputation and I have not had any issues with this in a long time.

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World Dance- by Ryan Morrissette

“My goal is

just to make

the whole world

dance”

~ Ryan Morisette

 

 

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Strength in Diversity- Interview with Gabriel El Huracán- Part 2

In Part 1 of this interview- “Why Tango?” Gabriel El Huracán  discusses what it was about Tango that drew him into the dance so deeply.   I have begun this second half of the interview with some of the words Gabriel left us off with at the end of Part 1. They just seemed so fitting to the theme of Part 2 of this interview:  celebrating the beauty of differences, the strength of diversity.

Gabriel:   In tango, you’ll have a kid who is twenty years old who is still in college or university and he’s beginning his life. And in the same room, you will have this older tanguero who might be eighty years old, dancing right next to him.

And you might meet a lawyer and a plumber and a stay at home mom all in the same room doing the same dance, sharing the same passion. You have people from all social classes in the same space. You have people from all ages, and people of all different cultures connecting through this common passion.

Tango allows me to make these unlikely encounters that I never would have made in my daily life otherwise. Continue reading

Why Tango?- Interview with Gabriel El Huracan- Part 1

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I am really impressed at how quickly it seems you have picked up tango and to such a high level. Do you feel that there is something about your life before tango which contributed to this?

For as long as I can remember, I was always more of a physical person.  I was into basketball and into movement in general.  I think if you’re an active person and just more physical in your life in general, you’re used to telling your body to move in certain ways.  You’re used to isolating certain parts of your body and just having more body awareness.  And this is really important, especially in tango.  So perhaps that gave me an ‘advantage’ in terms of learning tango quicker.

And you used to be a bartender before, right?  I think bartending is an art in itself.  A bartender friend of mine even described her job as a dance on some nights.  Do you see any parallels between your life as a bartender and the way you teach or dance now?

I never thought about it before, but probably the social skills I developed while being a bartender helped me with my teaching in some ways.   I mean, I was already used to expressing myself around many people, through bartending.  I was already dealing with so many different types of personalities on a daily basis and in a very busy environment. And I was used to keeping people entertained with humor and stories, and learning how to read what people wanted. It also got me into the habit of navigating around a room full of people. Continue reading

La Época Interview- Part 2

Part 2- Josué Joseph- On Family, Freedom and Inspiration

(Click here to read La Época Interview Part 1- Josué Joseph- On Faith, Music and Talent)

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In Part 1 of this interview, you talked about growing up with the influence of your father- the great bassist Alfonso Panamá. You mentioned how he was always practising and surrounding you with music, making it just a part of your everyday life.   But did you ever go through that stage of NOT wanting to be a musician BECAUSE your father was one?  Often, kids try to purposely get away from doing what their parents did.  Did you ever go through that or was it always just something that you wanted to do?

I feel like I’m in that movie Slumdog Millionaire, because every answer that I give you comes from a story (laughs).  So here’s another one:

When I was growing up, my parents did not force any of us to study music.  But when I was four years old, we moved to a new house. And in this new house, there was a piano already there.  So music just came to us.  Taking piano lessons was just normal. My brother did it, my other brother did it, and it passed down to me. It became something that I thought was just something you do.

Continue reading