or years, Russian-born guitarist JAY KATANA has made it his mission to combine rip roaring electric guitar sounds with modern dance beats. While his instrumental approach wasn't likely to make a blip on pop music's radar, it was most definitely an intriguing sound that would feel right at home on this video game or that NETFLIX original. ROCKWIRED first became acquainted with KATANA in 2016 with the release of his debut EP BLEEDING BOYFRIEND VOLUME ONE where the man's musical ambitions were punctuated by a series of frantic, animated music videos. In 2018 he released the LP BRIGHTER THAN YOUR FUTURE which continued his alchemy of rock guitar and EDM beats. In September of this year, KATANA released the EP BLEEDING BOYFRIEND MIXTAPE (THE END 2012 -2019).
In speaking with KATANA this time, it sounds like the past year has been one full of creative twists and turns. How else do you explain the guy joining forces with vocalist CHRIS EDGE (formerly of the band A VERY LOUD DEATH) to form a two-piece electropunk band nicked VIOLATES/VIOLETS. With this new creative endeavor, KATANA has his work cut out for him bringing decadent guitar riffage to CHRIS EDGE's dark, soulful pop rock anthems such as the inspirational RETAKE/BELIEVE and the slow burn of SOFT CORE. Both KATANA and EDGE have toiled away in the studio with a little help from producer LUKE CAMPOLIETA and are eager to release their debut album in early 2020.
CHECK OUT THE ViDEO FOR RETAKE/BELiEVE!!!
ROCKWIRED had the chance to catch up with JAY KATANA regarding VIOLATES/VIOLETS and working with CHRIS EDGE. Here is how the interview went.
It is quite a a surprise to see yo stepping away from your solo work and stepping into a band situation with CHRIS EDGE. How does it feel being in a collaborative effort with a singer and songs with lyrics?
It feels exciting especially when I'm not producing things or doing anything. It was his songs and he booked the studio time to get these songs done. To be honest with you I had no idea about what he wanted me to play and I had no idea that right there and there we would be putting together the songs that are on this upcoming album. At first it felt difficult to connect right away but after hearing everything that we had laid down in the studio it was easy to hear that we had something. He liked it, I liked it and everyone else who heard it liked it. The whole process was actually pretty exciting.
How did something like VIOLATES/VIOLETS get off the ground in the first place? I understand that you and CHRIS have worked together in other bands in the past?
Last year CHRIS and I started hanging out again. It started happening suddenly. The music that he was putting together was inspired by events that were going on in both of our lives. He and I have known each other for a very long time but we never really started hanging out together until last year. He was just really inspired to write music so he wrote a bunch of songs - like six or seven songs. He showed them to me once but later I kind of forgot about then and then one day he called me up to tell me that he had booked some studio time with this award winning producer who had dome some work at PATCHWERK STUDIOS and that was it. That was how it all came together. He told me when I had to be at the studio and I showed up and I had to play.
Well that is quite a first step! You guys are working with producer LUKE CAMPOLIETA. What is it like working in the studio with him?
This was crazy! It was very exciting for me to just take a backseat and watch. LUKE is very professional and open-minded. You could tell at the very beginning that he wasn't quite getting what was going on because CHRIS had just recorded me on guitar with his voice and at first didn't quite know what to do but he came up with some amazing beats for these songs and it was these beats that really gave me something to improvise over as a guitar player. At first it didn't quite work out right away so I went home and concentrated a little bit and did my homework as they say and came up with some riffs that would really bring something to these songs. So I gave what I had to LUKE and he put everything together and sent CHRIS and I the completed versions.
You guys have an album coming out some time next year. So far, what songs from it have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
The two songs BELIEVE and SOFT CORE are like the soundtrack of the events of our lives over the past year. These resonate with everything that is going on with life. This year was full of really good moments but at the same time there were some moments where you are thinking "Is this over now?" All of that is reflected in the music of VIOLATES/VIOLETS. I remember one day in the studio we were like the happiest men int he world but then there was another session that happened two hours later where I just couldn't hold it together. My mood was really bad but that is how life works. That is what makes these songs like something that has its own soul and its own life because they were created in these very intense moments.
Describe collaborating with CHRIS EDGE.
He is a very creative person. I have nothing to compare the experience to because it is like nothing I've ever really experienced before. As a musician you talk chords and verses and choruses and everything having to do with song structure. When two musicians talk to each other using those terms there is an understanding of some kind. CHRIS is more of an artist than a musician. He will just hear you play something and he will describe to you in a weird way if you are doing right or wrong. He uses colors instead of musical terms. For example, he would play something and I would play over it and he would say some thing "No! That's too red for me! It should be yellow!" With directions like that you have to figure out what it is that he wants from you.
That sounds different.
Honestly, he has kind of opened up a new dimension for me. I stopped thinking of the guitar in terms of frets and chords. I started seeing all of these different musical layers as a picture and visualizing it with colors and now it is all starting to make sense to me. But in the beginning it was very challenging. The whole experience feels like you are making music out of something else and not just sound.
So it sounds to me like the formation of this duo was just a much a surprise for you as it was to me.
I felt like breaking away from my solo work but I definitely was missing being a part of a song where you have a singer and lyrics and an actual song and not just instrumental songs. VIOLATES/VIOLETS started to come together around the same time that I was finishing my album. This project is something that I really just walked into and I had not expectations about what would happen with it. CHRIS just called me up and told me that I had to be at the studio at 12:00 pm. So I went to the studio and I took it from there. When I got into the studio I was like "Can you tell me the chords or can you record yourself singing so I can prepare for this thing?" He was like "No, I believe in you! You just be JAY and everything will be fine." So he put me on the spot with this thing.
With your solo stuff, it wasn't always practical to do a lot of solo gigs. Is doing shows something that we can expect from VIOLATES/VIOLETS? Touring maybe?
Yes. Right now our goal is to put out music videos for the two songs. This is our priority right now. Besides that we will be booking some shows. We've started doing some open mics and some smaller acoustic gigs playing acoustic guitars but in the future we see ourselves playing louder shows. Hopefully, this thing will go beyond being a mere duo and will be fleshed out on stage with a full band or something. We're really looking forward to finishing the album and turning VIOLATES/VIOLETS into a full working band.
And when specifically can we expect the release of the album?
I would say in April or May of 2020.
What is the major takeaway with VIOLATES/VIOLETS? What would you like people to think about or feel after they've heard the music?
I think the biggest takeaway is CHRIS's voice and his lyrics. Our sound, as it was with my solo work, is the integration of rock guitar with modern beats and production. I see the music that we're doing as having a future just because nobody else is doing it in this kind of way so hopefully it will take off.
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