Better Know an Artist (Vol 34): Katrina Cain (TOMKAT)

TOMKAT is a band out of Denton, Texas, making dreamy electro pop with touches of jazz and soul. They’re fronted by the golden-tressed and golden-piped Katrina (AKA Kat) Cain. Her voice melts on top of the textured electronics to create a slicked up pop dreamscape. Katrina took the time out from dying her hair to answer our questions. Enjoy!

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

KC: The first time I performed in public, I was four years old. I knew pretty much immediately that I wanted to be a professional musician, and specifically a vocalist. I’ve always known it’s what I wanted to do. Throughout my childhood, I played quite a few different instruments and sang everywhere I could (I was a band, orchestra, choir nerd). I eventually majored in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas, which is how I started actually gigging and making money. It’s also where I met all the guys in the band. All of us moved to Texas to study music at UNT, and we’ve ended up staying here because of the DFW music scene.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

KC:  I’ve always had trouble classifying our music because I feel like it could fall into several genres. I like to say it’s electro groove pop. We hope people can dance and chill out to our music.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

KC: My early songwriter self was influenced by artists like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple. But this current band, TOMKAT, is a mix of all of our influences. I would say we are influenced by artists like Little Dragon, Banks, Polica, and Haitus Kaiyote.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

KC: Our song, “Big Love”, means the most to me because it’s the first song I wrote for this band. Well, the first song I wrote for us that ended up recorded and performed. It’s actually not about love and not about drugs (like it seems), but it’s a metaphor for the music industry. Basically, an obsession or addiction that I can’t stay away from, but sometimes it feels like it’s killing me. My current favorite song is “Icarus”, which we haven’t recorded yet, but we open every show with it. It’s pretty much the story of Icarus, and again just a huge metaphor for being excited/scared to pursue your dreams. The last lines of the song are, “What if I fly, and if I fly too high, what if I fall?”

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

KC: Oh, damn. “Dead or alive” makes it hard to narrow down…if we could open for Little Dragon one day, I would be on top of the world. That’s when I’ll have achieved my definition of success. They’ve been one of my favorite bands since I first heard them…I was maybe 18 or 19 when a friend told me to check them out. It’s great to see their progress and how far they have come. In my opinion, they are one of the freshest, most innovative bands out there– without being so “out” that it drives the mainstream listeners away. They do a great job of balancing unique sounds and concepts with feel good grooves. Everything they release just blows me away.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

KC: Our guitarist’s new band, Terra Collective, is blowing us away recently. Sorry for the plug, but they’re doing some cool things. Polica is a band from the twin cities up in Minnesota. They’ve been around for a few years, but don’t get as much credit as they should. I’m excited to see where they go. I look up to them a lot.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

KC: I honestly don’t want to answer this question, because there are so many records I could name.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

KC: I love how different each scene is- I truly feel like Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth each have a unique vibe and their own unique fan bases to offer. I love Deep Ellum. I love how much studio work there is here. Any negative experiences I have had here, I have also had in every other city we’ve played, so I’m not sure that there are any negatives about the DFW scene in particular. Houston has so far been the least welcoming city as far as other bands/artists, venues, booking shows, etc.

I will say in general: I wish more people were willing to go out and see live music, to tip the musicians and/or just pay the cover charge. I’m a big spoiled because my “day job” is also playing music (at swanky restaurants and weddings), but honestly it’s a bit ridiculous to think that we should offer our profession for free anywhere. Even when it’s original music….especially when it’s original music! No one ever says, “Oh, I thought that haircut and dye would be free. No thanks, then.” So why do people turn back around when they get to the club door and there’s a small cover charge? I promise you it will be worth the $5!

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

KC: So far, Trees takes the cake. We had the opportunity to play during the Pin Show’s preview event at Trees in December of 2015 and it was amazing. Really hoping we can play there again. Every show I’ve seen there has been incredible. They book some of my favorite acts, and the sound is always fantastic. I also want to give a shoutout to Jimmy at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton for being the best sound guy I’ve ever worked with. He’s also the crankiest, and you can tell him I said that, he knows I love him.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

KC: Absolutely in love with the band Relick, and have always loved hearing Isaac Hoskins play. We also adore playing shows with Rat Rios and Sudie, so check them out as well!

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

KC: My name is Kat, but I like dogs. I am left-handed. I have never done karaoke.

Many thanks to Kat for taking the time to do this for us. I don’t think TomKat has any local dates upcoming. They’re in Houston and Austin the next couple days. For now, you can listen to their track, “Big Love”, below, and pick up the EP here. Keep an eye out for TomKat dates here.

 

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