You Sing, I Write: Q&A with Kat from Hello Tokyo

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Q&A with Kat from Hello Tokyo

With their first full-length album, Sell The Stars, expected out in April, Kat explained how it all began – interestingly enough in a coffee shop and music store. She spotted John while in a coffee shop and eventually they started writing music together. Soon after, she met Sam at a music store and the three began playing shows and house parties before deciding to make Hello Tokyo a priority.

Below is my interview with Kat. I especially like her answer to how she describes her music. What do you think? Be sure to check out Hello Tokyo on MySpace and their latest music video for “Radio,” filmed at the infamous Sunset Sound in Hollywood.

Being a Jersey girl, did you decide to move to Brooklyn to start the band?
I am a Jersey girl and my band mates, at times, find me very annoying (especially when I tell them that no one drives better than Jersey drivers – I think only Jersey people understand this fact). I moved to a town in Maryland, right outside of DC, in ’98 with my entire family. I was in and out of school for about three years. Nothing I was doing with my life really made sense or mattered to me. I always looked to writing and singing as an outlet but never really took myself seriously until I hit a wall with my studies and family and just kind of stepped back and reassessed my priorities.

I started auditioning for any music projects I found in the classified ads around town and slowly found myself busier and busier with various musical endeavors. John really encouraged me to focus on writing more and so we just started working together and eventually Hello Tokyo was formed. John and Sam grew up together and reconnected soon after the band was formed. When we found out about his incredible drumming skills, we asked him to join. I decided to make a move to NYC in ’04. Living in NYC was something I wanted to do for a long time and it just seemed like the right time to do it. I continued to work with John and Sam and traveled back and forth from DC to NYC almost every weekend for two years until they both moved to NYC. The rest is history.

What can be expected from your first full-length CD?
A very different sound. We had the luxury of time and focused on a lot of things we never really had the chance to focus on before, like adding more keyboards, re-writing parts that we thought could sound better and just allowing each song to develop into something we felt 100% about. The songs were written without industry goals and really came from the heart, they’re honest and different and something we’re really proud of and can’t wait for all our fans to hear.

What was the process of recording your album?
We recorded half of the songs at Chicken Water Studios in Brooklyn, NY and the other half at Music Mania in Greensboro, NC. Originally this release was going to be another EP but we were encouraged to do a full length since we had a bunch of material to work with so our release date kept changing every time we added a new song to the album. It was kind of annoying but we couldn’t turn away from some of the songs we felt really good about so we stuck it out, worked our butts off and now it’s complete and sounding over and beyond what we had originally expected.

I read that you re-recorded “Radio” in the same studio as Maroon 5 and Goldfrapp, how was that?
I think for me personally, re-recording “Radio” at Sunset Sound in Hollywood was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Hello Tokyo. Greg Richling, a super amazing producer in Hollywood, heard about our band and asked if we’d be interested in recording “Radio” with him. We had originally recorded “Radio” a long time ago with a completely different line up at a low-budget studio. We were poor, unsure of ourselves and to be honest, not really ready to record.

Greg really loved “Radio” and wanted to re-record it at Sunset Sound so we jumped at the opportunity. We flew out to Los Angeles last summer and found ourselves in a really awesome situation recording in a studio that was built for Prince during his Purple Rain sessions and also where Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, to name a few, recorded. We said hello to Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, looked like a bunch of dorks, and some of the members of Maroon 5 were recording right next door.

What is the inspiration behind your music?
Most of the inspiration comes from basically living life, how sometimes it’s difficult to do even the simplest things, and the struggle to hold on to some form of hope. It also comes from our experiences while listening to our favorite bands and the emotions and memories, good and bad, they evoke. Music that makes my tummy leap. Blur, REM, U2, Oasis, Fugazi, Jesus Jones, Blondie, Metric, Muse and more recently Kings of Leon and Rilo Kiley are a few bands that have influenced Hello Tokyo’s musical direction.

What is the music writing process for Hello Tokyo?
We write all our songs and the process varies. John comes up with some sweet guitar parts or a funky bass line and I’ll put a melody to it, eventually lyrics. Sometimes, I’ll just freestyle like Jay-Z or Lil Kim or Run DMC or like Leslie Hall and start putting words together on a beat and just come up with a melody off the top of my head. John later adds some meat and Sam, of course, adds the sauce with his sweet drum skills.

Can you tell me a little bit about being featured in Fashion Fights Poverty's 2007 look-book?
The Fashion Fights Poverty Look Book is a style guide supporting a community development through ethical fashion. We were asked to represent the New York City edition of the 2007 Look Book which we were more than happy to be a part of. You can get more information about the organization and book here.

What are your plans for 2008?
We’re definitely planning to tour this spring/summer and also releasing a couple more music videos. We have tons of unreleased songs we’re planning on recording for our next album this year. Most importantly, we are going to keep the momentum and keep moving forward.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
It’s hard to describe, I think it falls along the pop/rock genres but it has its own place. I would say our music is like if The Big Bopper came back to life and had a kid with Fiona Apple, whose kindergarten teacher was Patsy Cline and school principal was Chewbacca.

12 comments:

Berg said...

Kickass!!!

Purple Rain said...

This is a really good interview! Kat has some really detailed answers- must be the Jersey school system?

Meghan Smyth said...

totally rad! can't wait to hear the album guys!!

Mina said...

cuuuute, im happy for you guys :)

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing group! I cannot stop listening to your CD!

neda said...

AWESOME I really love everything about Hello Tokyo and can't wait to hear the new album LIVE!!!!

Anonymous said...

I FUCKING LOVE YOU GUYS YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ST8ofPaniC said...

Hello Tokyo is going to explode on the music scene one day!
And then we will all be picking little bits of Kat and John and Sam out of our rock-filled ears!

wait... that's kinda gross.
Oh well, whooo! Go HT go!

Dani said...

Nice interview Kat! I've been waiting for that full length album and I'm starting to lose sleep over it! My dancing shoes are always on for you and John and Sam!

I'm new here. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha said...

Whoohoo! Rock on kat, rock on john and sam! xo

jeffro said...

Jersey drivers rule!

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