Week in Pop: Louise Lemón, TOMKAT, Weird Bloom

Sjimon Gompers

The vocal pop arts, passions & fashions of Louise Lemón; photographed by Sophie Winberg Tyrfelt.

TOMKAT

Talking pop tones & tunes with TOMKAT; photographed by Mike Ferreira.

Featured off their recently released album Icarus; Denton electro-pop act TOMKAT presents the world premiere of the Travis Beverly video for “Drowning” that is displayed with the azure chromatic light motif that is cast on the entire group. Lead by vocal powerhouse Katrina Cain along with Andrew McMillan, Mike Luzecky, Trenton Hull & Jonny Harmon fashion expressive & serene sound vehicles for fantastic interstellar flights destined for the solar sectors of the cosmos. Feeling & dialogue becomes enraptured within electrified instrumental progressions that light up Katrina’s delivery in pop poetics that operate through experiences & feelings recalled with dialogues that intertwine both inner thought monologues to outwardly sung states of being.

The performance centered video for TOMKAT’S “Drowning” highlights the group locked into a synergistic groove where electric feels move freely & the blue light shines on everyone, on every amp & instrument seen in the moving frames directed by Travis Beverly. TOMKAT tackles the stages that lead toward the discontinuities of relationships with a sea of synths, rhythm chords, rumbling percussive thunder & digital touches that create the sonic expanse of oceanic outlands that stretch toward those alleged ends of the earth. As “Drowning” builds like tide swells from the restless & tireless sea, Beverly’s blue lit effects gradually increase in color saturation as the audience is pulled into an inexplicable undertow expressed in Katrina’s narrative, arrangement, gestures & under the sea essences that dive way out into the aquatic deep. TOMKAT’s Katrina Cain talked to us about tthe making of the new album Icarus featured right after the following video debut for “Drowning”:

Take us to the group’s inception while attending university in northern Texas.

All of us attended the University of North Texas, but we didn’t start the band until well after college. I had played gigs and been in classes with Jonny Harmon (drums) and Mike Luzecky (bass) before so I knew I wanted to have them in whatever project I was working on, but it wasn’t until I met Andrew McMillan (guitar) at a teaching job that I decided to start a band. Andrew was a huge driving force behind the band, always telling me, YES, we CAN do this. You just need to start. After I had written two song demos, Andrew and I started rehearsing with Mike and Jonny. Later, Trenton joined the band and completed the equation. Our sound really needed a synth player, and he was the missing link. We wouldn’t sound like we do now if any one of us wasn’t in the group.

What brought you all together as friends?

Initially, I was friends with Andrew separately from Mike, Jonny and Trenton. When we all came together as a band, there was definitely a period of getting to know each other and it took a bit of time to feel comfortable offering new musical ideas and being open with each other. As it turns out, all of the guys have a really ridiculous sense of humor, so we became good friends quickly.

When did you all realize that you had an intrinsic musical bond?

I knew all of the dudes’ musical abilities before the band was started, which was a huge part of why I asked them to be in it. I already knew how much I loved all of their playing, it just took getting everyone together in the same room and a general direction in what kind of sound we wanted to make. During the first few rehearsals and writing sessions we could all tell that the creative process in this band would be something special, as in, everyone brings something unique to the table without being too different. We’ve all learn a lot, musically speaking, from each other.

Tell us a bit about the making of Icarus and how that mythic legend lended it’s name as the title of the album.

The song “Icarus” is about dreaming of lofty goals and wanting so badly to accomplish your dreams, yet still being cautious to remember that if you fly too high and fall, the fall will be long and hard. That’s really how it felt making this entire album, so “Icarus” felt like an appropriate title for it. Every step of this album felt like another hurdle to get over. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but making an album is really difficult! Some of these songs were written three years ago and just now have been able to be recorded. We’ve dealt with scheduling issues, disagreements, creative differences, heartbreaks, deaths, job loss, musical disappointments, songs thrown in the trash, you name it. And on the opposite end, we’ve had some of our highest highs and best experiences- new love, engagements, incredible opportunities, some of the best writing sessions, and mostly, making this really great collection of music together. We all sort of felt like Icarus trying to get out of the labyrinth with dreams in his eyes.

There is a running theme of transcending situations, seeking safety, solace and escape from adversity and forces of darkness…interested in hearing about the arts of catharsis & life affirming inspiration that was underlying the making of this album.

My answer to this is really in the same vein as the last question, actually. We’ve had so many highs and lows throughout our lives, and especially the last three years, that it really helped inspire much of the album. Lyrically, almost all of this is inspired by my own experiences. I tend to write about a lot of dark topics, but it’s the best way I’ve found to deal with life and the darkness that tends to manifest itself in my head. A lot of lyrics have to do with “rising” from some sort of ocean or from the ashes, and that came from wanting to believe in myself, especially after countless people and experiences have told me I shouldn’t. It’s been really hard to continue sometimes, but I decided to write lyrics about having confidence in myself, and somehow I started to believe it. Right before we put out the album, I wanted to cut a lot of the songs, and even the ones that were left over I didn’t like. I thought, “well, we’ll do better next time. As it turns out, people have absolutely loved the album, and I am floored by the response! I didn’t expect it at all, but now it definitely feels like life is telling me that I can do this.

Current cool things about Denton that us non-locals should know about?

Everything! Denton is an awesome town. Its full of great creative people who all want to help each other out. You can walk into any bar on any weekend and hear great music, any restaurant and get great food, and any shop and find something nifty. With the University of North Texas here the arts scene is fantastic. Not only in music, but photography, film, fashion.

TOMKAT’s Katrina Cain; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Artists & activists that are currently inspiring you and the band?

This is a tough one to nail down because every member is really different in the art they love. Take music for example: If I asked Andrew I’m sure he would tell me about some new amazing math-rock band he’s been listening to. Jonny and Mike would keep me up-to-date on the latest and greatest Hip-Hop, Jazz, Fusion and Trenton would fill me in on the new R&B and Soul to follow. While everyone in the band appreciates and listens to all sorts of music we’re all very diverse in our daily musical intake.

As far as activists go, I’ve been incredibly inspired by Malala Yousafzai and Yeonmi Park. Their stories are just astonishing, and their strength is unfathomable. You’ll see a few songs on the next record inspired by these incredible women.

Tour van jams/mix tapes/albums that are essential for the road?

Little Dragon, Hiatus Kayote, Taylor Mcferrin, Polica, Radiohead. We all listen to a little of everything, but these are all on the top of our lists.

Hopes for 2018?

Tour! We’re so excited about the response to “Icarus,” that we can’t wait to get out on the road and share it with anyone that will listen! We’re currently working with some booking agents to get some dates together and will announce very soon! We also want to shoot a few more videos for songs off of Icarus and hit the studio to record sometime in 2018.

TOMKAT’s new album Icarus is available now.

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