When discussing witch house, one artist belongs at the forefront with all the other major players: OKKVLT KɅTT. This prodigy began in 2012 by MiKe dA kAtt, in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. It was a solo project until September, 2015, when Emily Acid joined up to produce the split single Shiver Inside//Places. However, we gotta go back and take a brief look at some of MiKe’s seven solid digital releases, beginning with the first full length album )O( (Triple Goddess), September 2012, which set the groundwork for the cerebral machine KɅTT has become; noticeable tracks on )O( are “TRIPLE GODDESS” and “LOST”.
OKKVLT KɅTT has defiantly evolved from their debut release, albeit not without going through an onslaught of social barriers and self-realization. The second release by MiKe is uniquely entitled MMXII//ΞИDØF†HΞWØRLD (Dec. 2012); which builds upon notes presented in the “Triple Goddess” release – track “MMXII (Prophecy)” is a downright monster! Elixir arrives August 9, 2013, with a noticeable difference in the sound dynamic and vocal production, such as with “elixir” and “mask”. I have always been drawn to KɅTT because of their dualistic nature, mixing street-life grit with phrenic depth.
Homonym is one of KɅTT’s most solid releases, which came to the surface in November, 2014. Shine Brida, rap/witch artist from Seattle, along with the infamous SHINTAI, from Russia, both guest collaborated with dA kAtt, contributing to Homonym’s overall dark ataxia. “Oceans” and “Severed Twin“ will permeate your mental experience, while “Life After Life” and “Urban Witch x $HiNE BRiDA” feeds the more distressed aspects of disunity.
I have had the chance to chat with MiKe and get to know him a bit through social networking. He is chill and humble and never asks for free handouts no matter how hard things get; definitely a street shaman. I recognize his personal struggle as a musical artist in todays mecca of digital recording and downloading (often times free or through torrents). Witch House is such a diverse genre, bringing together a generation of talented producers and musicians, often times underappreciated from all but the underground scene. I want to also add that every KɅTT release is FREE on bandcamp.com – the generosity is not overlooked.
With the inclusion of Emily Acid in their latest EP, SHIVER INSIDE//PLACES, OKKVLT KɅTT dominates new territories of sound. I am proud to have Mike and Emily on CTC – thank you both for joining me, now let’s peel the fucking skin back!
Jared: First off, MiKe, how did OKKVLT KɅTTget started? And what led you down the path to witch house?
MiKe: OKKVLT KɅTT started pretty organically, really. I’ve always said ‘the witch found me’, not the other way round. I just randomly saw Salem’s King Night in the recommended list on YouTube and was drawn to it. 4-hours later and I was hooked on witch house. I decided a bit later to start making my own stuff.
Jared: “The witch found me”, I like that. When I think of KɅTT one word echoes through my head: ‘cerebral’. How would you explain your music, and why the overall sound is so different from other WH artists?
MiKe: The music itself has always been a reaction to my surroundings. I don’t know if the sound is that different to what other witch house producers make, I live in a very urban area on the outskirts of London where nothing happens. It’s like there’s no escape from the grey, just walls, drinking beer in parks till 4am, no real hope for the future, I guess that comes through in the music.
Jared: How did you two meet?
MiKe: We started talking in the witch house group on facebook first, realized we had shit loads in common and just instantly connected. Then, we met at a witch house night in London and everything just went crazy from there [laughs].
Jared: [Laughs] Nice! So, Emily, can you tell us a bit of your musical background? What position(s) do you play in OKKVLT KɅTT?
Emily: Musical background includes being in bands whilst being in relationships; 3rd time lucky eh? I’d say in OKKVLT KɅTT i’m involved in lyric writing, collaborating on the synth occasionally, improvising things with Mike e.g. “Hush Hush”, which came from an improvised jam.
Jared: Awesome! I would have to say that KɅTT is a successful group in terms of being known in the WH scene, wouldn’t you agree?
MiKe: I guess so, I don’t know. I just wanna make the music I love and see if people connect. It’s definitely not as big as some other projects in the witch crowd, sometimes that depresses me tbh, but I can only do what comes naturally to me and if people get it, that’s awesome. There’s a story behind everything I do, I don’t just churn shit out cuz I can.
Jared: Yeah, I get that. What have been the biggest struggles that have challenged OKKVLT KɅTT?
Emily: Struggling to pay bills let alone paying for gigs/equipment has challenged us. Also living far apart from each other can also be an issue, being that we don’t crack on with the music so much when we’re together, but on the other hand embracing the time we have with each other whilst we’re around.
MiKe: Yeeh, money really holds you back when you ain’t got a lot of it, people can say ‘get a job’ till they’re blue in the face, but it just ain’t that easy, especially when the only options are zero contract bullshit, minimum wage and all that… It makes ya think whats the point? Distance between me and Emz is a big issue, personally as well as with the music, but we do our best. Over the years since starting OKKVLT KɅTT, there have been obstacles yeeh, but music is my release, so whatever happens, I’ll always be making music, probably some dark, depressing shit of some kind or another [laughs].
Jared: Money eats the world, artists of all kinds are a saving grace in my eyes. I Know that KɅTT has played a handful of live shows in the UK, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find much online videos. How has the experience been? And are there a lot of newcomers in the audience or do you come across fans?
MiKe: So far, only two shows. My solo one back in 2012 and in Wales with †rials last October.
Emily: Yeah we had one crazy couple come up to us in wales, I think their names were Zack & Shannon? [laughs] (( †rials )).
MiKe: I had a cool experience in London at an Eyeshadows gig one time. Saw a girl who I kinda knew about on facebook and introduced myself as MiKe from OKKVLT KɅTT, she was like “omfg its OKKVLT KɅTT’ [laughs], that’s about as crazy as it’s got as far as audience, fans or whatever so far.
Jared: Any plans on touring? I know WH isn’t big, and I am glad it’s underground – I presume this makes it more difficult to travel around, however.
MiKe: Yeeh, we would love to tour. We’ve got a few shows lined up hopefully, just gotta finalise stuff, so we’ll see where that takes us.
Jared: Cool, man, would love to see you guys out here (USA) one day. I, personally, like when WH artists have female vocals – ranging from melodic to ghostly to skrewed and rapped, Emily, are their other female WH singers that inspire you, that you particularly like?
Emily: I think it was CRIM3S who got me started, the contrast between the bass heavy synths and Sadie’s vocals really got me hooked, after exploring more witch house though, i’d say most of it varies so much that it’s good to stand out after all it’s what the genre’s all about and in result to that, makes WH such a diverse genre.
Jared: Yeah, well said. And building on this, what sources of inspiration have you guys drawn from – music, psychology, film, art, porn [laughs] etc.?
Emily: My music taste varies from the likes of Bjork, Pixies, Modest Mouse, The Smiths, Warpaint, Yheti, Aphex Twin including various other genres such as Djent, Shoegaze and most up and coming new internet based electronic genres. A big inspiration for me would be when I was in my teen years, when I was going through a lot of mental ‘trouble’ but i’d be very philosophical in my writing at the time drawing from the ideas and imagery of Plato and converting that into song. For example, by singing about something basic with a hidden meaning..
MiKe: For me, life itself is always the main inspiration. Yeeh, you can categorize what I did and now what we do as ‘witch house’, but that’s only cuz all the ingredients in that style connect with me and I find that the clearest way of getting what I’m feeling out, much more than making other styles. A lot of what I do is born out of total disillusionment with what we’re supposed to aspire to be with this precious life we’ve been given, it all just seems a waste to aspire to be part of a soul destroying system where you exhaust yourself to the point of mental, emotional and physical breakdown, all just to eat and have a roof over your head. The only time anyone can chill and be ‘well off’ enough is when you’re too old to do anything with it. This planet is sacred and beautiful, but the way we’re expected to exist on it is just totally fuckin crazy to me.
Jared: Damn, thats good shit, and I can relate to both of you on your viewpoints —
You guys just released a single with Phantasma Disques, contributing to the Succubus soundtrack, is this a prelude to an upcoming full length album with Emily Acid in the mix?
Emily: Me and MiKe have so many ideas and plans that sometimes we have so many ‘practice run’ ideas that it detracts from the main goal, however I hope so!
MiKe: Yeeh, Emily’s the full-time vocalist now, so all future releases will feature Mz (Emily) Acid. We’re always fuckin around with new ideas, try’na get that majick out, but like Emz says, it’s difficult to get shit together cuz of the distance and it always gets majick when we write physically together, but an EP release is in the works for later this year definitely. Also, massive thanks to Cosmotropia De Xam for that one, we got there after the deadline, but he loved the track and decided to include it anyway, so hi-5’s for that!
Jared: That’s rad, man, I’m glad KɅTT made it on the list – such a great line -up! Succubus is such a wicked project!
I gotta ask, does occultism mean anything to either of you? I always feel WH is closely tied with dark metaphysics, and since there is an alternation of “occult” in the name, I thought I would ask. Where did the name come from?
MiKe: Personally, I don’t adhere to one strict rule. I think many people have ideas on how the world and the universe works, but I don’t think we’ll ever truly know and even if someone did, who would take that dood seriously? If Jesus really did come back, he’d be chucked in a mental asylum these days. But anyway, I definitely believe there’s shit out there we aren’t told about, I’ve always been interested in what would be defined as the ‘occult’, but it’s not something I think about constantly, maybe cuz for me that mentality is a way of life and ‘normality’ seems ignorant and pretty dull tbh. The name, for me, symbolizes the everyday struggles try’na get through life and the hollow expectancies of what society and the system tries it’s hardest to drill out of you. Literally, it means ‘hidden beast’, invoking that strength from within to continue getting through each day; the name OKKVLT KATT was a name for a folder on my facebook page, with all the old triangles, crosses and shit and I thought, yeeh, thats a cool name, so I started to use it.
Jared: Is there anything you two feel has been left unsaid, anything you guys would like to add?
MiKe: Just that our generation is in desperate need of a voice. We can’t let them keep us down and filling us with fear all the time and it seems there’s no cultural movement happening, ya know like punk in the 70’s or whatever. No one’s got anything to say. Remember, we outnumber the governments who do this crazy shit and expect us to play along, so let’s start shouting.
Jared: I totally agree. from the 70’s to the late 90’s, Punk Rock, Goth and Metal as well as other genres challenged social, political and religious normalities. I can’t say that there is a music genre that challenges any kind of establishment in our status quo with the same affect. I feel WH is made up of so many genres that it is a bag of trix for artists to different elements into the cauldron, however I don’t feel WH challenges any one thing in particular, rather challenges all genres to unite – it’s the embrace of B-sides, all things trippy, witchy and forgotten. Perhaps it challenges the system by uniting an underground movement.
MiKe: I think witch house challenges the system, like every other of internet based form of expression in art. We have the artistic freedom to do what we like and I think lots of people can take that for granted sometimes. It’s pretty much our equivalent of pirate radio in the 60’s.
Jared: Yeah, I feel you… I’d like to say thank you again, for all the music and for taking the time to chat with me. I look forward to more OKKVLTISM! This has been an honor!
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