INTERVIEW: Kathryn Colina

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Novocaine”?

This song is extremely close to me in so many aspects. When I first met my producer, Kevin Leach, we began sifting through about 200 of my songs to narrow it down to 6 for the upcoming release of my EP, Recovery. I kept returning to “Novocaine” in particular insisting that it had to make the cut. I wrote the song after a close friend of mine passed away in July of 2015. Writing this song was a unique experience because the lyrics came to me so quickly it was as if my hand couldn’t keep up with the tune inside my head. This friend meant so much to our entire friend group at Vanderbilt University and we felt incomplete without him. My favorite line in the song is “to you a stranger was just a friend you’d never met.” He truly embodied kindness and lives on in everyone whose life he touched. I was so honored to have two of our best friends come to Nashville and sing background vocals on “Novocaine.” This song is entirely for him and I only wish he were still around to hear it.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Losing a dear college friend before my senior year at Vanderbilt was a shocking and disheartening experience. It was the first time in my life that I began to realize how short life is, how we need to hold our loved ones close, and just how necessary it is to remind the people around us how much they mean to us. Pat was the type of person to bring people together. He was magnetic, constantly spreading love to people of all backgrounds and making sure that everyone felt included. Returning to school after losing him that summer, our entire friend group could feel the missing piece that was his presence. We held a service at school where his family, hometown friends, college friends, fellow volunteers from his work with TAP, and classmates attended to honor of his life. I would say the entire gathering brought close to 1,000 people together to celebrate who he was. We walked around campus that year missing him, feeling his absence everywhere we went, and celebrating him as much as we could. I wrote this song a week before his service but couldn’t bring myself to play it for our friends until about a year later. Many of them still haven’t heard it, and I am so looking forward to sharing this song with all of them to once again celebrate his life.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I am currently working on a an animated lyrics video to coincide with the song’s release. I am new to animation and am definitely still learning how to make it run smoothly, but the story begins with a girl walking down a path and then running into someone who makes her day a little better. From there, she grows up and gets bogged down by work and everyday life. When the chorus hits, she is in her dreams and everything is back to how it was before she lost her friend. The scenes get more colorful and bright throughout the second verse. The bridge is where life gets more complicated as time moves on. The final scene is a car moving through a map and eventually returning home. My plans are to film another music video in New York City with a group of friends who all knew Pat and have everyone together for the shoot.

The single comes off your new album recovery – what’s the story behind the title?

After graduating from Vanderbilt in 2016, I enrolled in Audio Engineering school in Nashville with the plans of becoming a music producer. During my studies there, I was in a car accident in January 2017 that really changed the course of my life. I developed leg tremors and was prescribed opioids for the pain. After a year of misdiagnosis and countless doctor appointments, I began to lose hope that I would ever function normally again in society. I lost all confidence in myself, in my ability to create music, and truly lost sight of who I was as a person. By January, 2018, I found a holistic doctor who helped get me off all of my meds and through a lot of physical therapy, I began walking again. Even though I was physically getting better, my mind was still stuck in this mentality of fear. I remember thinking and even wrote down in my journal that I needed to lean into my passion for music to somehow find a way to fit in this world. It wasn’t until I met my producer in July of that year that I began to see a brighter future. Being in the studio, immersing myself in music everyday, I began to find my purpose again. It wasn’t immediate but, little by little, I began to feel my mind wake up again and everything felt a little easier, more manageable. I truly attribute my ability to recover to the unknown way in which music magically enters our brains and heals whats broken. This album saved me in more ways than I could count and I am so grateful that I am now able to share these songs as a message of hope to anyone out there who may be going through a tough time.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote all 6 songs on my EP before my car accident. They sat dormant in my notebook and on voice memos for over a year and I truly didn’t give them much thought. I call 2017 “my dark year” and during that time, my mind was so focused on survival mode that my creativity entirely disappeared. The recording process seemed to open a box inside my brain that I never thought I’d be able to access again. We began by recording scratch takes of just acoustic guitar and vocals and I remember being so scared and nervous every time I picked up my guitar. My producer, Kevin Leach aka Sonic Pilot, was incredibly encouraging throughout the entire process and, at times, I felt like he believed in me more than I believed in myself. I am forever grateful to him for that. As we got further along in the recording process, I became amazed with how we were able to turn my acoustic versions of each song into something I could have never predicted. Kevin brought in incredible session musicians including Wanda Vick Burchfield on violin and mandolin, Lester Estelle II on drums, Sci-fy on keys, and Rahsaan Barber on saxophone to color my songs in ways that blew my mind. Kevin let me observe every step of the recording, mixing, and mastering process, which I know is rare. I had a foundation of audio engineering from my time in school, but after a year of being on so many meds, I thought those techniques has been erased from my memory. Watching the process of making my own songs taught me more than I could have ever imagined and help me gain confidence in my ability to produce again.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

Nashville has some of the best musicians around the world and having access to that greatly enhanced my appreciation for how much time people dedicate to their craft and inspired me daily to work harder. Going out to live music inspires me constantly and I’ve met countless musicians who I am now lucky enough to call friends. They have helped me understand the marketing and promotion side of the music business and are also the best people to talk to about the anxiety and fears that come along with putting yourself out there as a musician.

What aspect of life as a whole and anxiety did you get to explore on this record?

I have a song “Take Care” on this EP that is entirely about anxiety. I wrote it as a reminder to anyone going through a hard time that “this too shall pass”. We all go through the ups and downs of life, but knowing that the sun will shine again after a rainy day or week or month is an important practice to learn in life. I truly believe that we never know what someone is going through until we listen to their struggles and having that belief has helped me understand why people act the way they do and helps me practice empathy towards anyone I encounter. In a big way, going through what I went through after the car accident has helped me connect to people on a deeper level and understand that everyone has their own anxieties and problems that we may not be aware of.

Was it easy for you to open yourself in this way?

Writing a song about my own struggles is probably one of the easiest things for me to do. Whenever I am going through a hard time, songs seem to pour out of me faster and more naturally than they ever would if I were in a peaceful or even excited state. That being said, sharing my songs with others is one of the scariest things I have ever done. It’s like opening my journal for the whole world see and letting anyone’s judgements or critiques cut through me harder than anything else could. Releasing this project truly terrifies me, but that’s why I’ve decided to do it. I hope it gets easier, since this is my first release. But, even if it gets harder, I know I will continue to share my music because it’s really all I know about myself and it brings me more joy than anything else in the world.

How did you go on balancing the dark aspect with the much uplifting tone?

I didn’t want “Novocaine” to be solely a sad song. I wrote this song for Pat and he was anything but sad. Sure, I was devastated while writing the song and even cried as the lyrics came together, but I felt I owed it to Pat to focus on the joy he brought to people’s lives. Whenever I played the song on my guitar, I would speed up the tempo after the first chorus. When recording the song, my producer asked, “are you sure you want a tempo change in the middle of the song? That’s not really normal.” I was insistent. I needed the song to pick up because this song wasn’t just a ballad about how much I missed my friend, but rather an anthem celebrating what he meant to every single life he touched.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

My song “Love Affair” was inspired by a friend who had pulled away from the group and was isolating himself. Whenever we saw him, he was alone smoking a cigarette. I began to see a correlation between his love for being alone and his addiction to smoking. My favorite line in that song is “All the company you keep fits in your fingertips.”

My song “Stars” is an upbeat pop song that I wrote about misfit teens living in NYC who didn’t seem to belong. The chorus of that song came to me first and I wanted to build the rest of the song around the sentiment that they were “Stars”. My favorite line in that song is “I’ve found that imperfections happen to make perfect flaws.” We are all imperfect in our own ways and it isn’t until we embrace that fact that we can truly shine.

My song “Space Between” is about a long distance relationship and it is one of my favorite storylines on this EP. The couple is so happy when they are together on the weekends, which I showcase in the verse. The lyrics in the verse fall on top of each other to show the couple’s closeness. The juxtaposition in the distance of phrasing in the chorus shows the weekdays where the couple is apart as the line reads “The space between is killing me.”

Any plans to hit the road?

I am currently putting together a band in Nashville with a couple of friends and practicing for live gigs in town.

What else is happening next in Kathryn Colina’s world?

I am working with a new producer, Jason Haag, who went to Berklee College of Music and is teaching me how to produce my own songs. We have already completed my next single, “Somebody Find Me” which will drop after my EP is fully released and we are starting production on another song next week. It’s really fun because he sends me home each week with homework and I will time-edit vocals or guitar riffs and I’ve even gotten to Melodyne my own vocals on this new single. Eventually, I want to be completely self sufficient and self produce my own music.


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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