Deconstruct Your Mind with Kati J

Name: Kati J

Age: 35
Hometown: Seattle, WA.   Lives: Vancouver, B.C. CA
Nickname (s): Kati J
Current band( s ): Lié, SBDC, Dust Blaster, Pepper Spray
Favourite place for takeout: Oh hmm.. Let’s say Duffin’s Donuts is my all around favorite, but there are so many good ones.


 

Tom Tom Magazine covered Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada last summer. This is the seventh and final of several featured drummers from that festival.

 


Tom Tom: In your own words, write a brief description of your band( s )

Kati J:

Lié: Lately we fall into the Post-Punk genre. Originally we were No Wave, but will always be Cold Punk! Brittany West (ex-Koban, now Sigsaly) bass/vocals, Ash Luk (Minimal Violence) guitar/vocals and play drums. Formed in Vancouver, BC in 2012. Our 4th LP dropped in mid-February, check it out: You Want It Real. There are 2 videos by DeathBloopers. One for “Digging in the Desert” and one for “Drowning in Piss.”

SBDC: 4 piece power pop and roll outfit from Vancouver, BC since 2014. On hiatus until we can tour on the release of the new album “The Feeling of Winning.” Karmin (Brutal Poodle) guitar, Alicia bass, Cheryl (Love Cuts, Ruffle) rhythm guitar and I play drums. We are planning a Zoom Album Release/Karaoke Party soon!

Dust Blaster: A band named after dollar store drugs. Hardcore punk. We are about to record our second EP. 4 piece: Eris (Cloaca, Slamhogs, Bümflap) vocals, Megan (ex-Alien Boys, Cloaca) bass, Brennain (Munifex) guitar and I play drums.

Pepper Spray: 4 piece punk and roll dreamed up in 2019, 2020 is waiting for the roll out. Members of Jock Tears, Trula, Jody Glenham’s band and me!

When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

Probably with the rise in popularity of the Indie Garage Genre in the early 2000s. That whole punk mentality of “you don’t have to be a professional musician to make music that makes you feel something” really hit home with me and inspired me to start making music. My first band was called“Get Well Bomb” with Josh Lepeska and the next band was “No LA Kill” with Ash Luk from Lié and Sarah Charrouf.  Brittany joined later on when Sarah moved to Montreal, and we became Lié.

Have you ever taken lessons?

Yea, I took a few lessons at the local box music store. I also took a few lessons from friends. Best advice I received was to book yourself an alone jam every week when you are booking your practices with other groups and your teachers. Take that time to hone in on and work on mastering what is tickling your fancy of late. That will help you hit the ground running at all the practices you have during the week and will keep you primed for writing new material.

What was the first song you learned to play on drums?

I have always played originals but No LA Kill was asked to play a Hole cover-set for a friend’s birthday show and I distinctly remember learning a ton from that experience. The same thing happened when Lié learned a Nirvana cover set.

Describe your gear

5 piece drum kit, the bigger the toms the better. I like good gear but I’m not a gear head. Gear snobbery can be exclusionary and that’s not my vibe. My main quirk as a drummer is that I always have my DW500 kick pedal with me for shows. Even if it is not in tip-top shape, I always know how to fix it better than the house kick pedal mid-set. Oh, I also have a small fan to keep the sweat off when the intensity goes up and the crowd gets ​moist​!

 

Kati J with Lie’ at Sled Island Festival in Calgary Alberta

Would you like to eventually sponsor a brand as a drummer?

I have no idea, as no one has ever approached me about giving me gear to use. All of the bands I have been in have a strong DIY ethic. We do all of our own booking, art, music, writing and production.Maybe that scares them off? If anyone wants to send me a nice kit, I will definitely film videos of us using it at my jam space! Thanks in advance! ha ha.

Can you write music/ lyrics?

Everyone can.

Do you play other instruments or sing?

No, I haven’t sung besides some back up vocals on tracks for High Wasted at Little Red Sounds recording studio in Vancouver, BC many years ago. Currently, I have a drum machine and a synth that I toy with. I would love to live drum with a drum machine.

Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?

Lié: Sonic Youth, Wipers, Limp Wrist, Institute, Nitzer Ebb

Dust Blaster: kind of like Disorder, Chaos UK, Amebix with hardcore beat down breakdowns.

SBDC: made a special list of “things” that inspired our sound:
●Nicholas Cage
●Cats (the animals)
●Feelings
●The WWF
●Paranormal
●Sports
●Movies about submarines
●Dolphins

What have you taken away from playing live?

I dearly miss live performance; it’s really left a hole in my life right now. It’s how we take an abstract idea and share it. Lately, Lié would write a set list for each tour that would kind of make a mood from some of the newest songs to selections from older albums that complement each other via contrast or similarities, so there was a special touch to every iteration of the live show.

 

Lie' at Sled Island Festival . Calgary Alberta
Lie’ at Sled Island Festival . Calgary Alberta. Mint Records party.

What does pre-show preparation involve?

Ha! This makes me laugh because my mind immediately goes to “booking the show” as the answer. As I typed this, I realize that this may be all memories of how we used to play shows and a new version of performance might be taking shape, but this is my experience from the past 10 years. My answer as a drummer begins by making sure I have access to clothes and shoes that I can play drums in. Then I have to make sure my fan, cymbals, snare and kick pedal get to the venue, unless I need the whole kit, then I arrange those logistics with my band mates. My band will usually have a practice where we run through the set earlier in the week. Sometimes we time the set to see if it is the right length. After that, you just make sure you can get to the venue for load in and soundcheck, set up the gear and make sure everything is there. That’s when the fun begins and we start to write the final set list as we chill out, say hi to everyone at the venue and in the other bands. We might set up the merch table so that folks can come see what they might want to buy, but also to say hi and answer any questions. We will maybe start handing out fliers to the next show in the crowd. Then we wait for our set time. I usually do a few push ups or jumping jacks to warm up a little bit right before my band performs.

Are you exhausted after a show?

Yes, but also enlivened and invigorated on different levels. I usually chill with the merch after the set so I can calm down, gather myself and catch my breath. On long tours I sometimes have to go to a more private space, but not always. Mainly the energy of the crowd and the cool bands we play with give me power. Often going dancing to techno is really fun after a punk show!

What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?

Ha! Well we have lots of good stories… The first one that comes to mind was when I threw a little yellow smoke bomb into the pit at the show Lié played with Perfect Pussy in Phoenix, AZ. I think Heavy Breather was playing. It was at a storage facility and Jesse said it was cool to light up fireworks but it rolled into the guitar player’s pedal bag and lit it on fire. We all jumped on it and put it out. Britt and Ash said later at that show some folks started a fight in the pit while Lié was playing, so it was a memorable night all around. Ash reminded me of the house/backyard venue outside of San Luis Obispo where the people who lived in the house told us that they buried their meat underground because the refrigerator was not working. Or they didn’t have electricity, it was unclear. There was also a time machine next to the stage in the backyard.

In the interests of mobility and keeping cool, what are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?

I bring my own small fan with my breakables to every show. Often I have to wear a tank top and shorts if it’s not winter. I like Vans or a stiff soled, light tennis shoe with a smooth bottom. That’s just me!

Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming? (do you hit hard?)

Some hard strokes for accent, but I mainly try to hit for accuracy in the high tempo songs. I’m aiming for near equal intensity of the hits to kind of stay in the background and create a space for the tones from other instruments to have their full breadth of voice. There are times when I build up the volume of the drums by hitting harder.

Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer

I can remember the first show where I played 2 sets. That was when the Dead Babies Bicycle Art Collective had a workshop space at the Red Gate at 855 E Hastings in Vancouver. We had a party with bands and a garage side project I was in called “High Wasted” played our first show.

What are your goals as a musician?

I love that I live my goals as a musician. I play music I love with people I love and we get to meet other people that do the same. I consider myself successful because normally I get to keep doing this, but Covid has temporarily paused the live aspect of music. Maybe in the future we can start traveling on tour by trains exclusively.

How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?

It fluctuates. Usually Vancouver has local music and venues that thrive, even if the venues close and open often. This is a hard time to comment on the state of the scene because we are all staring into an abyss empty of future live music. The Lié album release tour for “You Want it Real,” our 4th LP released last February, was supposed to be in March and it was cancelled, and we don’t know when it will be rescheduled.

Where do you practice and how often?

I have a shared jam space for Dust Blaster. We do a weekly jam. I should have a personal practice scheduled as well. Lié jammed at the Red Gate in Vancouver for years until Ash moved to Berlin in September 2019. I really love being a part of that community because we could book shows in the main space of the building and I helped take part in almost all of the jobs associated with the venue as part of the collective. Red Gate has artist studios in the front of the building with a small gallery for local artists to hold openings. Truly an inclusive hub of arts activity. We hosted all kinds of events from raves to comedy nights. All of the staff take first aid courses and were trained how to administer Naloxone in case anyone on the premises (or in the neighborhood or city) starts overdosing on opioids, typically from fentanyl added as a filler. In case anyone is unaware, Vancouver has had a huge fentanyl crisis over the last 5 years with approximately 100 people dying per month from preventable deaths (May 2020 saw 170 deaths due to fentanyl). Please never use alone as the location and quantity of fentanyl can never be known. If anyone needs help obtaining a Naloxone kit and learning how to use it please, use this website: ​https://towardtheheart.com/naloxone

What is in your own musical collection?

I love collecting my friend’s albums! I love the album artwork and how it is a time capsule of a moment we shared. The new music I listen to seems to be techno with wild rhythms, really vibing on electro and break beats right now. I like music from Djs like Eris Drew, Clark Price, Conducta and Paramida. The other half of my time I listen to all kinds of classics; classic rock, soul music and classic soundtracks.

Format of the majority of your music is? (tape/CD/vinyl) and what do you prefer ?

I still have a bunch of vinyl, but I mainly stream music. I listen to a lot of Dj mix podcasts for variety like the weekly from Resident Advisor or Dekmantel. I also like to listen to community radio stations“No Fun Radio,” n.10as Radio out of Montreal, Berlin Community Radio  and NTS Radio from London. I love hearing the fresh takes of combining sounds. A recent crafted or guided experience for the hour is really eye opening.

What’s on your walls in your room?

Buncha stuff, some photo prints by my friend Lauren Ray and Yvonne Hatchkowsi (both work out of Vancouver), and some art prints by my friend Samantha Wendel from Austin, TX. Ashlee’s album insert from the Minimal Violence “In Dreams” album is the latest addition. Oh and my grad piece from the UBC Visual Arts Department. A “Sister Resister” poster from Other Wild in LA.

What should people know about you?

I’ve been playing drums for 10 years and I’m still lucky to be learning everyday!

Kati J with Lie' at Mint Records Party ( Sled Island Festival . Calgary Alberta )

 

What are your interests away from drumming?

I have a photography practice you can check out at katijenson.com . I am into outdoor sports like hiking, biking, motorcycles and climbing. I am a rope access technician so I rig and descend down skyscrapers for my day job.

Do you have musical idols?

Right now I am SO INSPIRED by Kiran Gandhi. I’ll scream her name in the streets, she is so amazing! . In Vancouver, there is a Collective called Nuzi that is doing great things, featuring black women artists. The parties they book really bring it raw.

What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?

It is a great community, resource and really validating for folks like us to know that so many people share our experience in different time zones, cultures, etc.

Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?

Keep at it! Plan to get really good at using calendars. Make sure that you spend a portion of your time on music, but also on other parts of your life. The balance is key. Yes, you can practice lots, but also remember it is okay to take a week off for a break. Often the band is stronger with a healthy amount of breaks to let our brains work on other problems before coming back to work on the next part of the new song! For promotion, try contacting your music scene peers . The Red Gate was a great community for this. See what other music community members are doing with their band, see what grants they are applying for, who they are making videos with and where they are recording.You’ll need to not just “get your foot in the door” but often, you have to build the whole damn house with the door! Work all connections, so you’ll need a good solid set of band mates to help.

What are your thoughts on streaming music and its effect on bands?

Music streaming has become a necessary evil by force. Lié is definitely enjoying a larger internet presence with Spotify and Apple Music, but having the most un-google-able name has defeated that otherwise (which is good and bad). If the old model of the music industry no longer works, then we need a newer model, but the new model doesn’t work either. I just try to buy an album directly from the band at their show if at all possible.

Your thoughts on arena shows versus smaller venues?

I’ve only been to a handful of arena shows. They seem to make people happy. I can burn out on crowds partially because I grew up attending Bumbershoot in Seattle which grew exponentially in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but I got to see the Pixies with Kim Deal and the Sun City Girls at the EMP! I  went to a few of the Sasquatch Festivals at the Gorge in Washington State. My parents took me to see BB King at the Gorge when I was really tiny, and I remember that he did a guitar solo behind his head and I lost my mind.

Has social media helped local music?

We’ve always used Facebook and Instagram to share our shows and promote. Usually the algorithms suppress our posts but I keep posting the show posters so that there is a place to reference what shows we have played in the past and are going to play in the future. If nothing else,it helps me remember the cool bands we played with and, if need be I can get in contact with them for the next time we visit their town.

What would be a ” dream bill ” for you? Who would you want to play with?

Wow! I love playing at art galleries. My dream show would have to do with playing a venue with an architecturally effected sound. I love discovering amazing local bands and projects when we play shows with friends, so I have to say that I probably haven’t heard of the bands I dream of playing with yet. I’d love to play with Special Interest and I’ve been hoping to book a tour to the American South. Lié was supposed to tour Europe this year, but we are hoping to book that for 2021.

What was one of the more memorable bills you’ve played on to date?

Right now I am thinking of how fun it was to play with Flipper. My old motorcycle mechanic from Motorama was in the crowd and seeing this old punker gush about loving the music of the evening was fun. Opening for Black Flag was really odd.

What’s in the future for you musically?

I’m not sure. I’m in a bit of a fragile stage where I can get burned out really easily, but I am also really into tours and writing music. I’m learning to be better at setting boundaries that help prevent burnout, and I recommend this to all!

What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?

Now I am lucky to say that I only know a life with playing drums. Not practicing over the last few months as we learn the best Covid-19 responses has dramatically changed my music involvement. I will probably only be able to be in one band at a time, moving forward in life. Other drummer friends have brought practicing home on electronic drum kits, but I have found researching drum programming and patch patterns for my Korg MS-20 is calling me right now.

At the end of the day; when all is said and done; you play the drums because?

I want to make challenging art to deconstruct your mind!

Any last thoughts?

Thanks a million for everything that the Tom Tom Mag crew does for the scene. Just having a place to be myself among peers is priceless.Anyone who is able, please make donations to Black run organizations fighting racial inequality right now. This is a crucial time in the history of the world to fight systematic racism by supporting our black community members and organizations. Lié donated all income from the June “Bandcamp Fridays” to ​www.nationalbailout.org​ . Lié’s record label Mint Records  also donated their income to a great group of organizations.

Great Organizations to Support NOW!

National Bail Out Fund 

Black Lives Matter Vancouver

Hogan’s Alley Society

Black in BC Mutual Support Fund

Aboriginal Front Door Society

 

Story/ Photographs : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography

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