Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: KAT CUNNING

From working with James Franco to Jennifer Lopez, meet the rising star ready to take over.

Kat Cunnings Wonderland
Kat Cunnings Wonderland

Having wowed us during quarantine with her stunning livestream on Twitch Music, burgeoning singer and dancer Kat Cunning is showing no signs of slowing down with her new guitar-led ensemble “Supernova”. Charging forward with empowering vocals and lyrics that’ll have you feeling unstoppable, Kat’s new single reflects her boundless sound and will leave you completely mesmerised.

Speaking on the single, the singer said, “I wrote this song while I was falling for a girl who I knew would break my heart. She was beautiful to me like a Supernova (a big rainbow ball of gas exploding into iridescence) and I knew that my draw to her could only leave me with my face hair singed off.”

But music isn’t just a focal point for the singer as Kat has landed herself a role in Jennifer Lopez’s new film Marry Me – having starred opposite James Franco in The Deuce. While details have yet to be released, we caught up with the singer talking the film, her upcoming debut EP and early beginnings.

Check out the interview below…

Hi Kat, how has the pandemic and the uncertainty of this year impacted your music and art?
I took a selfie the day I signed to Lava Records that summates my whole quarantine experience. My manager and I sit on a park bench drinking Veuve Cliquot out of plastic cups, holding up the signed contract and smiling through our masks that somehow also reveal how swollen my face is from crying about a recent breakup. It’s been a myriad of unforgettable ups and downs smooshed together in unlikely places. I am writing songs about it all and I’m eager for the day I get to perform them for a real crowd again.

How did coming up in New York influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
I started by singing in nostalgic NY nightclubs, so I stuck to jazz and blues standards by the likes of Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, until I realized I had a chance at writing for myself. Beyoncé’s Beyoncé as a visual album made me realize popular music could encompass what I loved about dance, spoken word and storytelling, and Justin Timberlake has always been a multi hyphenate hero of mine. “Cry Me A River” changed my life. I feel like I experienced the extremes of art in NY and mainstream pop/folk in Oregon – my hometown. I am really from both places and I want that to come through in my music.

Your tunes are so empowering – how would you describe your genre?
Thank you! I’m gonna go with my instinct and say “I’m a popstar not a doctor.”

Congratulations on your new single “Supernova (tigers blud)” – what does the name mean and what was the song inspired by?
If you’ve never seen a supernova, it’s the gigantic rainbow explosion of a star which is pretty much the best (and gayest) metaphor for a girl I once loved. I knew she would leave me with my face hairs singed off and I walked into her atmosphere anyway. It’s about how love makes us want to be stronger than we are, and even if we can see that it’s not gonna end well, that moment of standing in the light of love is worth it.

What were the biggest challenges in putting it together, especially at a time like this?
The vocal on the record is the demo vocal, so that was finished a long time ago. I sang it the day I wrote it, about two years ago in a house with my co-writer Justin Parker. Getting the production finished was a bit of a challenge because I wrote it as a ballad, like most of my songs. It was hard to find the right tone that had energy and gumption without overpowering the story. Sir Nolan and Simon Says came in and did it justice when we were down to the wire. The video was an eruption of repressed quarantine energy. It was so fun to actually do the jiu-jitsu with the boys and act with Bri. We wore masks when we weren’t acting but I’m not gonna lie, it was awesome to be physically close and working with people again. I think that energy comes through in the video.

And it’s amazing that it was featured in Netflix series Trinkets – how did this come about?
I auditioned for the role like any other actor, but in my head I was like, “If they don’t choose me for this they are fools.” It’s not so often that you read a role and you know that you are the real-life version of the character. Like Sabine, I’m actually from Portland, I actually make music, and I’m actually queer. I followed up with songs I had already written and they vibed “King of Shadow” and “Birds” for Season 1, and continued with “Supernova” for season 2. I owe it to the iconic writer Kiwi Smith for being a huge champion of original music and actually watching my tape.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Adele and Florence Welch – how does that feel?
Compliments and criticism can equally fuck you up and that is a huge compliment, so I honestly try not to think about it much. Adele’s first album has definitely influenced me and everything about Big God by Florence is perfect. It’s an honour but I’m not trying to fill anybody’s shoes.

And you’ve got your debut EP in the works – can you tell us anything about it?
It’s sort of a chronological documentation of my relationship history starting with a portrait of how it felt to have my heart slowly broken by my first love. It’s going to be a journey of organic and inorganic instrumentation like my stuff before it, with a bit more of a pop edge. I’m so excited to finally release an EP –  instead of a single that tells a story from top to bottom. I hope my listeners treat it like an event.

You’ve been a hit on Broadway and acted alongside James Franco in HBO show The Deuce – is your first love acting or singing, or do both loves sit alongside each other?
One is my wife and one is my whore but I can’t tell them apart most days.

What do you hope listeners will take from the song?
That love is worth it.

What’s next for you and what are you excited about in 2020?
I’m in an upcoming J Lo movie called Marry Me, my EP is forthcoming, I’m releasing some iconic treats for you to deck the halls with, and I’m getting my Invisalign off.

NEW NOISE: KAT CUNNING

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