Wyrd Question Daze: Kat Bryan
My name is Kat Bryan, I’m a singer-songwriter and producer based out of Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been writing songs since I was 14, but picked up on production at the beginning of the pandemic. For a long time I would write and perform solely on my acoustic guitar and the songs would always sound a bit folky, which is fine if you love folk, but it wasn’t me. I dreamed of taking the sounds in my head and creating something far more complex and modern sounding. When I started writing I dreamed of being in an experimental rock band like Garbage or Stabbing Westward or Incubus (I’m old, I know). Today I’m inspired by artists like Imogen Heap and Nils Frahm and Moderat who use keys, pads, synths and strings to create these really atmospheric worlds. In all cases, I wanted that for myself. So when I suddenly found myself bound to my home and no longer having to face the corporate commute, it seemed like the perfect time to learn.
Since then I’ve found my voice and written a ton of new material. I am sublimely grateful to have caught the attention of AnalogueTrash, a UK-based indie label and I’m now working with them to release my first full-length album this October, with single releases coming out this summer. The first single is called “Circus of the Living” and it’s a dark, synth-filled electro-pop number that has been called a “goth Bond theme”, which I take as the highest compliment. It was released on June 3rd.
You can follow me all of the places for updates and details:
Twitter / IG / Facebook / TikTok @KatBryanMusic
Where did you come from and where are you going?
There are so many ways to answer this. Literally speaking, I come from Vancouver and I’m going whereever this career takes me. I’m not tethered to any one specific place and I’m open to whatever comes my way. Metaphorically however, I like to think I’ve come from a place of fear and doubt and I’m going to a place of beligerent faith in myself.
What preoccupies your mind these days?
Music. I’ve realized as of late that I’m probably a very boring person to someone who isn’t into music and production. If I’m not thinking about my own work, or things I want to try or correct or improve in, I’m dissecting music out in the wild. I’m listening for things I like, and then trying to figure out what about it specifically I’m enjoying. Is it the tone, the bpm, the style of synth used, something in the low end…In my defense I’ve spent the last 2 years solely focused on creating a place for myself in the music industry. This required a singular focus, but now that I’m in weaselling my way in, I seem to be having a hard time returning to anything else.
Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell
I was trying to think of one thing that would cleverly encapsulate all of these, but I’ve got nothing. So favourite taste is that first sip of coffee. The rest are never quite as good, but that first one is magical.
Favourite touch…I have this weird habit of brushing my fingers along plants and bushes whenever I’m out walking. I don’t know why but I really love how different types of green things feel on my fingers. I probably get it from my mom. She’s really into nature and moss and snails, so I think that rubbed off on me. But I like that here in Vancouver, you can walk down a road and touch all the plants and they will all have their own texture, and will respond to being disturbed differently. Some yield and bend and others are stubborn and pokey and won’t give at all. I just love it.
My favourite sight is really hard to pin down. Two come to mind, one being super cheesy, but my cat. She has this bed perched in a window in my living room and sometimes she rests her chin on its raised edge and watches birds out the window. She just looks so content and it brings me so much joy. The other is open water. I think being a west coast girl I’ve come to rely on the ocean for sanctuary. I deal with anxiety but sitting next to the ocean always calms my mind. I guess that could be a favourite sound too.
Favourite sound…well I could talk about this for days. But I do get a giddy joy out of really heavy bass elements. I am completely obsessed with really deep strings and big, crunchy, dark and epic bass lines. When Marvel’s Loki series came out last year I could not contain my excitement over the Green Theme that Natalie Holt created. I almost instantly bought the Epic Low Strings VST from Spitfire just so I could play it at home.
And lastly, favourite smell. Some instantly come to mind, like coffee and cinnamon rolls, but I think my absolute favourite is evergreen trees. If you think about how tree yards during the holidays smell, I grew up with that. My parents took us camping every year and we’d always go in the spring when it rained incessantly. So those trips always smelt like wet fir trees. I’m not big on scented candles or that kind of thing, but I had this one candle called Balsam that smelled like a wet forest and it was just so amazing. I wish I could remember what shop it came from!
Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares
Oh boy. So I have very vivid, very weird dreams. Actually someone told me that most people dream in black and white, which I cannot wrap my head around because every dream I’ve ever had has been in full colour. Anyway, I had this recurring one for years where I was running from a forest fire, and being chased by someone who wanted to murder me at the same time. The dream always ended with the guy catching up with me and, you know…winning I guess we’ll call it. I also had insanely violent nightmares for a long time, which I hated because I can’t stand gore or violence, like in movies or tv. But It turns out I had a ton of unprocessed trauma from my childhood and after a couple years of therapy the murder and violence in my dreams went away. But I lived with those for at least 20 years.
As a far less traumatic counterpoint to that, I also once dreamed that I was following Ian McKellen who was running some kind of secret operation out of a house we shared. I knew he was up to no good so I was sneaking around behind him, hoping he didn’t see me, and when he did turn I hid under a crochet blanket with a bunch of holes in it. It sounds like a ridiculous SNL skit and I still have no idea how to interpret it. I like to think my brain got bored and decided to make up some mad caper to keep it occupied while I slept.
Have you ever had an uncanny experience?
All the time. I don’t talk about it too much, because most people tend to look at me funny when I do, but I’ve always had this strange predictive, synchronistic ability. Some call it psychic or whatever, I don’t know that I’d label it that way, but I think my manifestation ability is pretty strong. Often in seemingly useless ways though. Like, it sounds like a super power that I can think about things and they’ll appear, but really it’s just seeing repeating numbers everywhere. Or, for example, a name like Alexander will pop into my head and suddenly everywhere I go there are people named Alexander, and signs with that name, and streets and restaurants and I’m basically being stalked by the Alexanders of the world. I know there are ways to explain the phenomenon, but it happens to me every single day.
It also comes up in dreams though too, going back to that question. I had this nightmare once where I was trapped under massive steel girders and everything was on fire. There was smoke and dust in the air, and some kind of liquid dripping down. I woke up from that nightmare to find out that planes had crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York. To top it off, a couple of days prior I had forced my mom to call everyone we knew and make sure they were okay because I had this sense that something was wrong but I couldn’t figure out what specifically or why I felt that way. I would have been 18 or 19 at the time, and I really freaked my poor mother out that day.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
I don’t know that I have a sense of place, if I’m honest. I’ve always struggled with feeling a sense of belonging or attachment to a city or building or other physical place. I’m aware of my place in the universe, but I think anything more tangible than that is harder for me to identify with. As far as expressing myself because of that…well I think I’m becoming more comfortable with accepting my spiritual side. I tend to judge myself rather harshly and assume everyone will think I’m “one of those” left coast people with their incense and their crystals and their patchouli. I have nothing but love for those who walk that path, but it isn’t mine and I suppose I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “type” that doesn’t fit me. So I know my timeline, but I have a hard time expressing it. Although you can’t control what others think of you anyway, so why do I worry about it!
What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?
I’ve become a bit of a heart-on-sleeve person, and I’m publicly quite honest about my journey and experience. I’ve been recently touched by a few people both online and in person who, I think in response to my sharing, have told me that witnessing my journey has inspired them to change their own path, or go after that thing they’ve dreamed about. I don’t relay this as bragging, but more confirmation because my therapist told me years ago when I felt a lot of shame for doing or wanting anything for myself, that doing what makes you a happier more fulfilled person is only good for the world. At the time I don’t know that I believed her, but I see now that following your intuition and doing what feels right for you can not only open your own doors, but the doors of others.
Tell us a good story, anecdote or joke
I’ve told a lot of stories and talked a lot, so I’ll end with my favourite truly stupid joke. Where did the Great Ceaser keep his armies? In his sleevies. Thank you and good night.