Sometimes it’s not only the music I fall in love with, but also the story behind a person or band. A story you can relate to on a very personal level. And when I met Katja Glieson, I soon found out she’s one of those persons!
So, when you’re done reading my Q&A with her and entering the ‘Phrase That Pays’ giveaway, you’ll understand why I admire Katja’s courage to get so personal, so open, so honest with me. Without a doubt, one of the best Q&As I’ve done so far:
Katja Glieson (Katja): Of course you can borrow 20 bucks, but um hey, could you loan me 20 bucks? My mate Lex needs to borrow it
TDG: How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
Katja: I am a complete nutcase, always up for a laugh!
TDG: What are your roots?
Katja: I have dark blonde roots showing, I really need to get my hair done. Haha kidding. I come from Melbourne in Australia and I am the youngest of 4 children. My parents migrated to Australia from Germany when they were children…
TDG: How long have you been working on your debut EP?
Katja: Being a self funded indie artist, it took a couple of years to create and fund my EP. Once I had the funds in place, from working 3 jobs, the process was quite fast. I absolutely love creating. I have so many songs in demo form just waiting to get the attention they deserve. My EP can be heard on my website…
TDG: How would you describe your sound?
Katja: I would say my sound is modern, fresh, pop with a soulful jazzy undertone…
TDG: What’s involved in your songwriting process?
Katja: Ahh, the songwriting process is always a chicken and an egg experience! Sometimes a melody will just pop in my head, or I will make it up and it will not leave my thoughts until I get on a piano, or a recording device and get it down.
Other times I have an idea for a song, mainly expressed in lyrics or a poem. Then I build the music around the words. Sometimes other music artists send me samples of music, I listen and see how it makes me feel. Then words and melody begin to surface. Sometimes it is so organic. It seems effortless. Within minutes I can have a song.
And other times I get stuck or a problem arises where I can’t find the words to express the feeling. Those times are frustrating, but I usually come up with the most interesting songs when there was a obstacle to overcome in the writing process. Those songs take a lot longer… OR I’ll be stalking my ex’s Facebook and something on there will really piss me off and it comes out like word vomit…
TDG: Which aspect did you enjoy the most while working on your album?
Katja: Think my favorite part was coming up with the song ‘Commando‘. The concept is so silly and hilarious to me. It started as a song about finally becoming comfortable in your own skin and deciding to follow your dream.
But then I went off thinking bout my favorite dress. Wearing that dress, you can see any under garment lines, so you literally need to go ‘Commando‘ to pull it off. It was then I thought, wouldn’t it be so funny to have this powerful song with the cheeky theme of wearing no undies? Why the heck not? It is a song that is really great live. It requires audience participation!!! I also had my manager and sound engineer record some backing vocals to get the crowd sound you hear in there. It was so funny switching roles in the studio. I think we all found a new respect for each others jobs…
Katja: Witnessing the amazing positive effect music and art has on people is my biggest inspiration. Music is a language of the soul. It frees you from the oppression of fear and makes you feel like you aren’t alone. It can be used to unite people in celebration, or help you get through an emotionally traumatic experience. To be a facilitator of that is the greatest most inspiring thing ever.
My dog is also my inspiration. She is pure unconditional love. All I have to do is think of her and I am instantly happy. (Sad that I miss her, but happy that she is in my life)…
TDG: How important is connecting with fans for you? What kind of connection do you have or do you like to have with them?
Katja: I couldn’t do what I am doing without the people that love and support me and the music I create. I feel like I have a very close connection to the Special Agents. We love talking about the storyline of the series, and the connection with the music. But most of all we love to talk about how it all unites us.
I realise that they go through the same emotions I do. The music and art I have created has managed to allow me to connect with these wonderful people in all areas of the WORLD! And we have intelligent, thought provoking conversations, we offer mutual support, and we love having a laugh, usually at my expense, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are Special Agents, not fans, because each and every one of them is indeed special. They have this wonderful ability to contribute to my experience in life.
They are also not MY Special Agents as some artists refer to their fans as if they belong to them. NO! Each and every special agent is a unique and wonderful individual. They own themselves. And if anything, they own me! We are on a team that is there for each other and wants to create the world how we have always dreamed it would be. I am so lucky to have these people in my life.
My next video and song ‘Shooting Star‘ is all about the unification of humanity. We are allies. Over the course of history, humanity has done unspeakable things to one another. It still goes on today. ‘Shooting Star‘ is about being oppressed, or abused, or bullied and making the decision to not become an oppressor, abuser or bully. It’s about choosing love. Choosing to work together to create your dreams and make the world a better place. It is a message to encourage people to follow their passion and desires, to be a kind, giving person. And in turn just by doing that, others will follow…
TDG: And that’s a very personal topic to you, isn’t it? Bullying?
Katja: Bullying, even the word makes me cringe. Yes it is a very personal topic. I think most people can relate. Unfortunately I have fallen victim to extreme and extensive bullying in the very formidable years of my life. As a child I was overweight, and that left me open to being teased and taunted for years.
There was also a boy who would seek me out every morning and punch me in the face for simply “being a fat B!t*#”
The problem is, the bullying didn’t stop when I lost weight. I thought that was the answer. It was not. Now that I have gotten healthy and moved on, I have now become a victim of cyber bullying. My music videos have had some horrendous comments on them. Comments that don’t even make sense.
That’s the issue with the cyber bullying age. People that you would never expect, can make up an anonymous profile and say horrible things to another person and have no idea of the effects it truly has on someone. We have become so desensitised to the consequences of saying terrible things to or about another person.
But it is not enough to just try to stop bullying by demonising the bully. Also, just by being aware of something will not make it stop. People need to be educated on how to rise above bullying. Children need to understand that when they are being bullied, it actually has nothing to do with them. Its all about the abuser. The bully is the one in pain. The bully is the one who feels so down and bad about themselves that they must bring down someone else in order to maintain their ego’s identity. So despite the fact that the bully is the one committing the act that makes them hurt another, they need love and understanding too.
I have a documentary that delves a bit further into my experiences and thoughts on the topic:
TDG: Now there are enough artists out there who are also running some sort of anti-bullying campaign. But the thing that makes you stand out in my personal and humble opinion, is the fact you’ve experienced it all yourself. Where most artists don’t have clue how it really must have been like or where most people won’t talk about it, you’re very open about it and on top of that, very approachable! Is social media is a big help for you as an artist or for your campaign?
Katja: Thank you for recognising that. Yes I have been a victim off bullying. I know that celebrities these days obviously fall victim to cyber bullying as its become the social media norm. However, not many have experienced the complete manipulation, the segregation in social circles and even less have experienced physical bullying. Thats why it’s important I use my voice about the issue. I tend to not really listen to or take advice from people that haven’t experienced what they are speaking about. I am just very stubborn in that way.
Social Media is a fantastic tool at our disposal. I would not be able to achieve what I do without it. I come from a very low income family, so I can’t afford radio play or television advertising. I can only rely on the amazing resource of social media, word of mouth and the amazing people that work to support indie artists. The only unfortunate thing about social media is that is is so over-saturated, it is difficult to sift through the rubbish on the internet and find the amazing content available…
TDG: So, what do you do to stand out from all the rest on social media?
Katja: I still haven’t quite figured out any real way to stand out in social media, if you have any tips please let me know, ha! I just try to create engaging content and connect with as many people as possible on a real truthful level…
TDG: Is there anything I, or others, can do to help you with the campaign? Are you planning something for this year to give it an extra push?
Katja: There is absolutely so much people can do to help! Liking, sharing, commenting, signing up to the website, following on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, subscribing on YouTube…
I am about to launch a campaign for the new music video ‘Shooting Star‘, where I’d love people submitting photos of themselves, their friends and family being shooting stars. Anyone who is struggling with or overcome bullying, abuse, mental illness, or any adversity in life and wants to be the best they can be and make the world a better place. My website is being set up where they can upload their pictures or tag me and hashtag #shootingstar on Twitter. We might even have some special prizes to the most inventive and inspiring pic!
TDG: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
Katja: The biggest misconception people have about me is that I grew up an over privileged princess and have heaps of money behind me and my music. That has been the hardest thing for people to understand. There are so many other people out there in the industry who have had it a little easier than me. Be it the contacts they have, growing up in a wealthy family, or not having to overcome bullying, abuse and obesity at a young age.
The quality of my music and videos is a testament to dedication, sacrifice and hard work. I have written each song, funded the production and had very teeny tiny budgets per music video. All the people involved in my project pretty much donated their time and talents. Some were paid like my choreographer, but well below industry standard.
I am signed with a distribution label. They give me a chance to have my videos and music available worldwide digitally and take a percentage of any revenue. But I do not have any investors. Not that I ask for any handouts, but it’s imperative people know how much you can accomplish with barely anything! I think it’s pretty amazing…
TDG: Who is currently on repeat on your iPod or Spotify playlist?
Katja: On my iPod, Pandora, Spotify playlist- I have Tom Waits on repeat! I have been working on some new music and been listening to some inspiring artists…
TDG: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you started out and you think it would help other aspiring artists/bands?
Katja: The most special piece of advice I was ever given was from my uncle Milan who used to play in a band. He died when I was very young. But the last thing he told me was ‘Continue on your journey with music, it will never steer you down the wrong path and you have a chance to bring happiness to people you may never meet‘…
I will never forget what he told me and miss him so much. He inspired the lyrics in ‘Shooting Star‘: ‘When you realise nothing is ever lost, a rush comes over you. Those that came to pass they cheer you on, forever smiling over you.‘… I truly believe this with all my heart!
TDG: 2014 is funky fresh, but what do you have in store for us this year?
Katja: I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am for 2014!!!! It started off pretty rough. I had the flu for over a month and just recovered. I am really happy to be promoting my EP and getting some indie radio play, blog interviews and now some fantastic live opportunities coming up!
This includes performing with Go Girls music at SXSW in Austin Texas tomorrow (March 13th) at Austin Java at 9pm. In Los Angles I’ll be performing at Here Lounge in West Hollywood. I’ll be hosting and performing at this years Phoenix Comicon and many others.
The release of ‘Shooting Star‘ concludes the videos from my EP, but I am already recording and writing a whole lot of new tracks with a fresh new sound and inspiring messages. And putting some silly funny stuff in there too because we all love a laugh!
TDG: Got any last words of wisdom you wanna lay down on us before we wrap this up?
Katja: Yes I do. Seek to have experiences that challenge your fears and bring you closer the the person you always dreamed you would be. Not ‘believe in yourself‘ that is a blanket statement. But have a burning desire to have an experience where you truly feel you believe in yourself. Only then will you know the true meaning of the words. AND DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!!!
TDG: Being a Dad to a mild diagnosed autistic son, I know how cruel kids can be to each other. Because he’s a little different than others, he didn’t fit the popularity check-list. And although it isn’t as bad as it used to be, he had his share of being a victim of
When I asked Katja if we could work together to raise awareness, she immediately signed some photos and as grand prize, one of her ‘Peek-A-Boo’ T-shirts! So, if you want to have a chance to get your hands on Katja’s personally signed stuffs, all you gotta do is giving us ‘The Phrase That Pays‘ on Twitter:
I’m proud to be loud to stop the pain by supporting @KatjaGlieson’s Bullying Campaign! #PhraseThatPays @DutchGuyOnAir http://www.dutchguy.tv
And if you don’t feel like copy/pasting, I made it really easy!
Help us to take a stand against bullying! Get tweeting and Katja & I will randomly pick the winners next week! Good Luck!
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