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The Reckoning of Montreal Banjo-Witch Ka√Įa Kater

Jun 13, 2024

The Reckoning of Montreal Banjo-Witch Ka√Įa Kater

After banjo player Ka√Įa Kater attended AmericanaFest in 2016, the music industry started telling her she was a part of the genre, which encompasses all kinds of roots, acoustic, folk, singer-songwriter and alternative country music. She was singing about heavy themes like historical trauma, her cultural heritage (her father is from the Caribbean country of Grenada) and her music history. She confesses in our interview that she never felt comfortable in Americana, that she was always just on the outside, never fully feeling accepted by this mostly white world. Kater has declared that her new album, Strange Medicine, comes from a place that lies beyond the white gaze of Americana. This music is filled with emotional healing, with production that sonically ‚Äčreflects the vulnerability she is expressing so deeply for the first time in her career. It’s also the first time she’s avoiding metaphors and really letting her most raw feelings about colonialism, sexism, racism, and misogyny rip. These songs see her using violent language and releasing emotions she‚Äôd previously kept frozen, like anger and revenge.

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While creating Strange Medicine, she listened ‚Äčto ‚Äča ‚Äčlot ‚Äčof ‚Äčinstrumental ‚Äčmusic, allowing her ears ‚Äčto be bigger ‚Äčthan ‚Äčthey ‚Äčhad ‚Äčbeen ‚Äčon ‚Äčprevious ‚Äčrecords. Which translated to her being ‚Äčmore ‚Äčwilling ‚Äčto ‚Äčtake ‚Äčbig ‚Äčswings ‚Äčand ‚Äčrisks. Kater ‚Äčattended school ‚Äčto ‚Äčlearn film ‚Äčcomposition, ‚Äčallowing her to be more ‚Äčcomfortable ‚Äčwith being ‚Äča ‚Äčlittle ‚Äčbit ‚Äčmore ‚Äčoverstated ‚Äčin ‚Äčher ‚Äčsongs, which certainly proves true on the new record. Another good piece of news is that the banjo is back! After using it very minimally on her last release, Ka√Įa picked it up again after listening ‚Äčto ‚Äča ‚Äčlot ‚Äčof ‚ÄčSteve ‚ÄčReich, a composer who developed a groundbreaking minimalist style in the 1960’s that’s marked by repetition. His work ‚Äčhelped ‚ÄčKater ‚Äčconceive ‚Äčof ‚Äčthe ‚Äčbanjo ‚Äčas ‚Äčan ‚Äčinstrument ‚Äčthat ‚Äčcould ‚Äčhypnotically play ‚Äčpatterns ‚Äčover ‚Äčand ‚Äčover. We go through this monumental album track by track and unwind songs with topics from Tituba’s revenge (the first to be accused during the Salem witch trials) to getting the critic out of the room, to realizing the critic is you. She also recounts her history in her hometown of Montreal and what the Internet was like when she first logged on in the 2000’s.


Photo Credit: Janice Reid

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The Reckoning of Montreal Banjo-Witch Ka√Įa Kater
The Reckoning of Montreal Banjo-Witch Ka√Įa Kater