Catching Dragons’ Kat Winkler follows a dream

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:59pm
Lisa Helene Bacalski

Kat Winkler performed in the Lamplighter Room opening weekend and returned to Artomatic on Saturday, June 9th on the Main Stage with Catching Dragons.  She answered a few questions about music and Artomatic before heading to rehearsal. 

[To find out about performances for this upcoming weekend, click here.]

You’ve played Artomatic twice and you uploaded your work, as well as that of Heather Mae and Sweetbread Jim’s, to the room. What do you like about the event?

I particularly like the feeling of inclusion, the level of community involvement and the diversity of artists who participate in Artomatic. I always enjoy meeting new people with common interests and I like having an opportunity to learn new things by viewing the world from a variety of perspectives that differ from my own.

What was it like to perform opening weekend?

It was very exciting to participate in Artomatic as a solo performer during opening weekend. As far as I’m concerned, there was no better place for a local performing artist to be. Since I first participated in Artomatic as a visual artist in 2000, I have watched Artomatic grow into an amazing vehicle for boosting the careers of so many local artists. There is no way I could pass up such a fantastic opportunity to put myself out there. All of the Artomatic volunteers who helped with load in, sound check and load out were so friendly too. The volunteers really made the whole experience even better!

How did you come together with Catching Dragons?

My friend, Rick Piel asked me to perform in a New Year’s Eve talent show he was producing in December 2011. I played the event solo a few times in previous years, and I really wanted to play with a band this time, so I invited my friends, Markus Rose, Wu Chow and Conrad Wimberly to play the show with me. We had such a great time and received so much positive feedback, we decided to keep it going. Conrad, who plays drums for Pity Rally, was eventually replaced by our current drummer, Johnny Dulles.

What drives you to be an experimental folk rock artist?

It is very important to me to be honest with myself about who I am, where I come from, what I know and don’t know, and in turn what I have to offer other people. I have always been driven to create music and to express and share my unique perspective on the human experience. In creative writing I was taught to write about what I know, so I thought it made sense to apply that philosophy to my music as well. I’ve spent most of my life listening to and playing folk, rock and experimental music, so I am very interested in discovering if there is anything new I might be able to contribute to what has already been done.

Make a conscious decision to do whatever it is you want to do and then take the necessary action.   It is a lot easier to accomplish something when you believe that it can happen. —Kat Winkler

It’s clear from your bio that you’ve loved music your whole life. What performers have really influenced you?

Yes, I have always loved music and I can thank my parents for that! I would say the first performer to really influence me was my dad. He used to sing all the time, and he would make up funny new lyrics to familiar songs. Every night when he tucked me in, he would ask me, “Do you want the long song or the short song?” Inevitably, I would respond, “The long song! The long song!” Really, the only difference between the “long song” and the “short song” was the amount of new lyrics my dad would have to invent. My favorite childhood song was, “The Muffin Man.” I grew up listening to folk, country and bluegrass, mainly. The whole family would sit in the living room and listen to “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor. When I was ten years old, I fell in love with The Beatles. I had every one of their albums, and I would irritate my sister to no end, listening to nothing but The Beatles. Fortunately for my sister, I grew out of that phase, but I learned a lot about composition and harmony from The Beatles.

What’s on your playlist this week?

This week I’ve been listening to Patsy Cline, Phil Ochs, and Queens of The Stone Age. I listen to Patsy every morning so I can sing along and warm up my voice, Phil Ochs specifically for a screenplay I am working on, and Queens of The Stone Age to study rhythm. I do listen to music for simple pleasure, but it can be difficult for me to leave my musician’s ear behind.

Do you have any advice for DC area performers?

Yes, I do. In my experience, it is really important to make a decision about what you are trying to achieve as a performer. This may sound simple enough, but I used to take this step for granted and wonder why I wasn’t getting anywhere. Make a conscious decision to do whatever it is you want to do and then take the necessary action. If you don’t know how to do something, talk to people who are successfully doing what it is you want to do. I also believe it is very important for performers to regularly attend performing arts events, not just for what can be learned from the performance itself, but for the networking opportunities such events provide. Finally, believe what you want to achieve as a performer is possible. It is a lot easier to accomplish something when you believe it can happen.

Photo above by Scot Barclay Gallion