Check out our recent interview with musical virtuoso – Katya Richardson!
For the unfortunate few who don’t know who you are, would you mind introducing yourself?
Katya Richardson: Hi! My name is Katya Richardson and I’m a musical artist based in Los Angeles. Although originally trained as a classical composer, I play jazz piano, sing, and produce for a synth-pop band. Collaboration is central to my work, and I regularly experiment with dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers, always pushing me to interact with genre and sound in explorative ways! I am most interested in blurring genres and exploring the boundaries of electronic and acoustic composition, whether it be through vocal loops or distorting traditional instruments.
In the effort of getting to know each other better – if you could be a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
Katya Richardson: Ooh I would be a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Vegetarian, resourceful, and a comforting classic, always there to keep you powered through your day. A weird combination when you think about it… but somehow it works!
Tell us about Left From Write…
Katya Richardson: Left From Write marks my first official release as an artist and I could not be more excited to share it! Thematically, it celebrates dyslexia and comments on issues that arise in a standardised education system. It was originally written as part of a dance production at The Royal Opera House in London, in collaboration with a choreographer, lighting designer, and animator to visually and sonically recreate the multi-layered experience of a dyslexic. Musically, it is inspired by Flying Lotus and the tactile electronica of SOPHIE.
The most challenging aspect was translating dyslexic thought-processes into musical ones. My choreographer, who has dyslexia, explained how she often wore orange-tinted glasses in elementary school. This immediately inspired me to think of the piece as “orange” and play with the idea of focus. For me, “orange” embodies a sort of 70’s energy, so my first instinct was to infect the music with a funky, hyperkinetic jazzy vibe – resembled by the tactile percussion, irregular phrases, and the liberated nature of the saxophone. Vocal loops also function to provide moments of clarity or alienation, either by locking into a glitchy groove or encircling the stereo space, as if getting lost in one’s inner monologue.
The 3 movements act as a narrative, looking at individuality as something both organised and chaotic, but ultimately liberating. While I would love for this piece to encourage more discussions about dyslexia, in the end I always strive to make music that is simply fun. Left From Write is a love letter to being groovy and human!
Have you had much chance to tour?
Katya Richardson: Originally, this dance production was supposed to tour Europe in March, but unfortunately was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although I am based in Los Angeles, the choreographer I work with lives in London, so I did travel to London for rehearsals during the course of this collaboration. My experience was incredible and it was so amazing getting to see my music come alive with movement, lights, and animation. I learned so much from this experience – specifically, that distance is never a boundary for creating art.
Have you got any crazy tour stories you can share with the world?
Katya Richardson: Nothing too crazy – I’d love to travel more. I met my (now) boyfriend in London though!
Here at Upside Down Shark we discuss a wide breadth of pop-culture, including music, movies, TV, video games and the like. So with that in mind, if you could have a track featured in anything, whether it be any of the above on even a wrestling theme, what would it be?
Katya Richardson: Great question! I primarily work as a film composer, having assisted for composers like Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer, and have idolised John Williams’ scores since I was a kid. So I’m quite the cinephile. Being featured in any form of media (from commercials to game soundtracks) would be a dream and an honour!
Name one thing on your bucket list…
Katya Richardson: I’ve always wanted to explore South America and the Amazon Rainforest. I’d like to try skydiving too, even though the thought terrifies me.
What would be your inspirational quote to share with the world?
Katya Richardson: I believe my mantra to be “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I like this quote because it applies both personally and professionally, inspiring me to think of life as active rather than up to chance. We control our own chances and fate! Not only should we take risks and lead a life without regrets, but I find that accepting failure as a necessary part of success leads to a happier mindset.
What does the rest of 2020 have in store for you?
Katya Richardson: Lots of new music and collaborations! I have a few film projects lined up, but I’m excited to get back into the studio and record with musicians once the pandemic allows. I’m working on a new dance piece and planning on releasing a classical album in the next year.
What’s your favourite shark?
Katya Richardson: My favourite shark would be Bruce from Finding Nemo. He has a really nice character arc, which is quite uncommon in movies with sharks.
Many thanks to Katya for sitting down to chat with us. Check out her work here!
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