Holy Wars was founded in early 2017 by front woman Kat Leon (Sad Robot) and co- creator Nicolas Perez (The Beta Machine, Kitten, Sad Robot). The feel and sound of Holy Wars is intense, dark and romantically honest. This nature was spawned by Leon whose thoughts and work had always been informed by the spectre of death, but mainly inspired by her personal loss of both parents in short order in 2015. It was after that, in 2017, Holy Wars would erupt with 6 songs described as a letter of grief. Dark Beauty spoke with vocalist Kat Leon to give us more insight on all that is holy…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
Born in Bristol, CT but I grew up in Wolcott, Ct and now live in Los Angeles, CA.
How was this project formed?
Holy Wars was formed after the death of both my parents (6months apart) in 2015. During my time to process and grieve, I wrote a lot but mostly journal entries and poems as my creative way to heal through the worst time of my life. Sometimes the deepest pain can inspire the greatest beauty. My life was changed as well as my point of view and my musical expression. Holy Wars was then created after putting some of these writings to sounds and songs. I felt I would then share this experience of loss and rebirth with the world and hopefully help anyone along the way. I wanted to share what pain and healing is, and encourage others to feel and not numb themselves from pain for in pain there is growth.
Who are the members and what are their musical roles?
The band is Nicolas Perez who does all the music and production, and myself (Kat Leon). I mainly focus on lyrics / vocal melodies and then together we fine tune the song, sounds, and instruments. We have a group of incredibly talented musicians we call on when we perform. For our most recent single “Born Dark” and the one to follow, we collaborated with Hunter Burgan (guitarist of AFI) for production assistance as we wanted to have a fresh ear on the next phase of Holy Wars’ release post Mother Father debut EP.
Describe your sound?
Our music is emotional, raw, heavy, and yet projects strength and embracing your own power ladened with hooks over distorted guitars and synths. We love exploring the quietest moments and contrast to chaos in other moments. Genre speaking, we are considered to be Alternative Dark Pop but we are always exploring different elements from other genres and evolving adding in new layers of sounds and melodies.
What is your song writing process?
I come up with a concept for the song then work with Nicolas Perez to discuss the arrangement and instruments to pair with the emotion of the song and build it from my lyrics and melody. We have also been writing music for TV/movie trailers lately with fast turn around deadlines. This has been such a great influence on our current songwriting for Holy Wars as it keeps us in the flow of songwriting without overthinking or staying on a song for too long. This has proven to be a better workflow for us to produce music we are excited to share.
What does music mean to you and how has it changed your life?
Music has become everything to me. It has always been a huge part of my life since I was a child whether through dancing, or playing my dad’s records from generations ago to classical piano to now with singing and songwriting. It has given me an identity through various stages of my life. It has healed me through my grief, through depression and break ups. Some albums have been such a part of my growth that it is almost now in my DNA. When I am on stage for that brief moment, I feel alive through the music completely connected to the purest side of myself. No pretense or judgement, just raw honesty. I guess I never stop thinking about music. It’s always there in a melody or a lyric in brain always.
Tell us about the Cloak & Dagger event:
The Cloak & Dagger show was so special. The place had oversold and was also packed out with members and first time guests of the club. It was the single release for our song “Born Dark” which was absolutely fitting. We presented footage during the show about our society and what we are told subliminally. As a director, I love creating a visual expression to the music we make. Every song we played that night had a specific tone and feeling projected as we performed. It was a perfect night – we love the Cloak & Dagger community and Adam Bravin (She Wants Revenge) has been very supportive of us.
Top 3 favorite albums:
Ok Computer – Radiohead
Abyss – Chelsea Wolfe
Fantastic Planet – Failure
What was your best live performance and why?
There are a couple shows that are at the top for us but I would say the Cloak & Dagger show simply because I was able to do what I had visualized. It went off perfectly plus the love in that room was infectious. That community is all about love, non-judgement, and being your truest self. I really felt a deep connection to everyone in that room and afterwards talked to so many fans about their lives and struggles, how they are overcoming challenges, and being badasses today. It was really special to witness and be a part of it all.
We have a lot of new music coming that we are very excited about. We have written a ton of music for film and tv that we are working into our discography but we are most looking forward to getting on the road.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
I have always been attracted to the darker side since I was a child. My tarot card reading mother probably had something to do with that though she would never admit it since originally she wanted to be a nun… life is a funny trickster. I always loved witchcraft and was fascinated by it. I know we have the capability in our brains to be powerful, we are just all so closed off and blind to it… even myself most of my life.
Photo Credits: Mel Hummel – House of Vivian