Kat Leon of Holy Wars Opens Up About "Mother Father" & New Single, "Born Dark": "I Wrote Music to Heal Me"
In the aftermath of their emotional debut EP Mother Father in 2017, Holy Wars have been hard at work picking up the pieces and forming the next chapter in their career. The first taste came back in October in the form of the duo’s (made up of brainchild of Kat Leon and bandmate Nicholas Perez) striking new anthem, “Born Dark.” The track, which can be heard now below, finds Leon addressing those who ask why she doesn’t write “happier” music and finds her embracing her darker, more vulnerable side more than ever.
“Born Dark” signifies a new start for Holy Wars, who are currently hard at work on their next EP and even have a debut album in their sights. Until then, though, you can get to know a little bit more about Holy Wars and listen to the new track now below!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about Holy Wars for anyone who might not be familiar?
Holy Wars is my sophomore project that was birthed from a personal loss I experienced in 2015. I lost both my parents only 6 months apart and after taking some time to heal and figure out who I was after that, Holy Wars became my rebirth. Our sound is Dark Pop / Alternative. Pulling vibes from the 90's but yet modern. I write very emotionally and my collection is an autobiography.
As a relatively young project, what goals did you have in mind for Holy Wars when you were first starting out?
I guess I didn't know this what I wanted when we first created the band. It came from such a deep and painful place that putting a goal on it was unnatural for me. I wrote music to heal me and found that that same music that was a lifeline for me would inspire and heal others. Once I saw this then I realized a purpose and a need to keep sharing my truth with my music as it could help someone in need of hearing it.
Last year, you released your debut EP, Mother Father. Now that it has been out for a while, what are some of your favorite things about the EP?
"Back To Life" was the first song we ever wrote for Holy Wars and I didn't realize it's power at first but it definitely has become a favorite of mine. However, my favorite from the beginning and even now is "Orphan." There is something so sad and yet happy about that song. Almost whimsical with distorted buzzing guitars and a sing-along melancholy chorus. I have seen this one be a fan favorite even if "Back To Life" or "I Can't Feel A Thing" were the songs to get your attention first. "Mother Father" will always have a special place in my heart, I can't even play that one live. It's too special to me and I'll only perform it at a very special show.
How do you feel you’ve grown or evolved since the writing and recording of Mother Father?
I feel like we have grown with our sounds and melody choices. I have a more clear vision of what I am going for this time around and how to make it even more universal for those who might not have experienced loss in such a major way. I still write from an aware and honest place, always saying something important to me whether it's about life, mortality, or society... but we are experimenting with other genres as way to layer in our Dark Pop rock sound.
More recently, you released your new single, “Born Dark.” Can you tell us a little bit about the track? What inspired it?
It was my answer to the statement or question I would hear from either certain friends or even some strangers. I would get asked why I didn't write happier tunes or they think I am and/or the music is so dark. I would always be taken back from that statement. I was never going for dark or sad, I wrote what I felt and sure I have always been drawn to more experimental alternative music that wasn't a straight pop tune but I never labeled myself or music. "Born Dark" was inspired by that. I originally wrote in the song "Everyone says to write a happy song...I'll never write you one" as a comeback but eventually changed it to "Turn me on with misery, sweet poetry". I wanted this song to be an anthem for those who felt different from the norm. Those who might've been a little more attracted to the darker side. I also mention my birth and how I always felt a little broken my whole life.
“Born Dark” was crafted with the help of quite a few people, including AFI’s Hunter Burgan. How do you feel he impacted the track?
He definitely helped shape our song with the arrangement, enhanced parts of the vocal melody and influenced our bass line which I fell in love with. It’s got this sexy and driving quality to it and when paired with the tribal drums it really elevated the song and gave it this life I originally didn't hear in our demo of it. Hunter was really great to work with and has become a close friend. It was such a great experience for us to work with someone outside of ourselves with a fresh, unbiased ear who we trusted and respected.
You also recently released a video for “Born Dark” - what did you want to accomplish with the visuals for this one?
I was inspired by this photo shoot by Mel Castro (who directed Born Dark with me) where she had a Barbie doll in bondage. I instantly thought this has to be the video... this doll with a dark secret. As a child, you are given these fashion dolls made in the image of women, however I never saw for many years... a dark , occult doll, or biker doll ...it was always something blonde, long hair... nurse or pageant queen etc... I wanted this video to comment on a societal flaw. I also come from a filmmaking background and so I enjoy a good storyline with engaging imagery and the fun challenge with this video was bending the lines between doll and human seamlessly.
With “Born Dark” out now, can fans expect to hear any more new music soon? Possibly another EP or even a full-length?
We are working on an EP and plan to release in the spring with a couple singles leading to its release. We have the songs for a full length but feel it may be better to release an EP first before our debut album. We have a new single we have been holding close to us for a few months and are excited to share that very soon!
Do you have any other big plans or goals for the end of 2018 and new year?
We plan to write more music for tv and movie trailers, releasing a couple of them in the new year and are hoping to do our first international tour plus a few festivals. Will be posting our new show schedule soon!