The artist talks her creative process and her work as a human rights activist upon the release of Long Hot Summer.

Kat Graham
Kat Graham

Kat Graham’s stand-out track from her latest album Long Hot Summer, entitled Oprah Rich, is sure to put a snarl in your step as you navigate the pallid crowds of your commute. Kat’s unapologetic celebration of her success is the reverb-loaded, bass-laden anthem of an archetypal boss bitch.

When asked what her audience ought to take from her new track, Kat shared, “I really hope that people feel more unapologetically themselves. I hope that people see that they can be every colour that they dream of. The main message is to not just be yourself, but to be the loudest version of you.”

We sat down with Kat to discuss where she got her start in the performative world, the process behind her newest album, and her work as a human rights activist.

Hi Kat! How are you? How has this past year been with you?
Hi! 2022 has definitely been one of the most intense years I’ve had in a long time.

Can you take us back to the beginning of your music career?
My music career started at around age 15. I was taking my beats that I had made in a tiny Hollywood one-bedroom apartment with my mum around to labels in NYC to try and get artists to feature on them. I couldn’t get any artists to get on my beats so I started to record myself on them to demo. One night in Hollywood a few years later I met will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and he liked my work and invited me to get on a couple records with him on his Songs About Girls album. Shortly after that, I toured with him internationally in 2007. I continued making solo records as an artist, got the attention of Perez Hilton who took me on as an artist on his label, and we got a label deal with Interscope in 2010.

After having such a successful acting career, when did it become clear you wanted to pursue music?
I find that question funny because I was making music before I became successful as an actor. So I’m not quite sure how to answer it.

How did you find making that transition in your career? Did you have any reservations or doubts?
I’ve never transitioned out of acting, just like I’ve never transitioned out of music. I’ve always tried to do both simultaneously and the only reason I would ever not be able to do my acting is that I’d be touring my music and vice versa.

We want to hear all about the new album, Long Hot Summer. How did you find working on this project?
I wanted to do a record that focused on empowerment and human rights, centred around the LGBTQ community. I wanted to do a record that felt fun and liberating. There are so many different ways that as an activist I can give my voice to human rights issues internationally. Doing it in a pop record was never something that I thought I would be able to pull off.

What inspired the production of the album?
I was inspired by my early days running around West Hollywood performing at drag bars and really any Weho club that would have me. I had nothing to my name but a few records that I had self-produced. The only community that gave me the time of day and helped me find myself as an artist was the LGBTQ community.

And it has so many exciting tracks, including “Oprah Rich”. What was your creative process when producing the track “Oprah Rich”?
“Oprah Rich” was a record that I was working on back in 2013. I had a few of these kind of records, “Worth” being one of them where I never fully finished it. After the label system I went into 90s R&B with Babyface and then we eventually evolve that into a disco funk record inspired by Prince asking me to tour with him. After many years of pond hopping into different genres, I wanted to go back to these records that never got their due. My producer Jeeve, who also produces for Todrick, went through his crates and found the perfect beat to replace the old one for “Oprah Rich”. It was a match made in heaven.

What do you hope people can take away from the album as a whole?
I really hope that people feel more unapologetically themselves. I hope that people see that they can be every colour that they dream of.

Is there a certain message you are trying to put across?
Besides donating to GLAAD, the main message is to not just be yourself, but to be the loudest version of you.

In music or in general, who are your inspirations?
My greatest inspirations are Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Madonna, and Freddie Mercury. Stylistically Grace Jones and anything Jean Paul Gaultier.

You are a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency and on the council for GLAAD. Can you tell us what these organisations mean to you?
What they mean to me should mean the same for everyone. Human rights don’t just affect those oppressed but affect all of us in the end. Everyone should have the right to live a dignified life. Everyone deserves support, protection, and shelter. Regardless of your race religion sexuality and circumstances, everyone deserves the right to feel at home in this world.

Tell us one thing you’d like the world to know about you that they don’t already!
I own four ferrets and still drive a 2009 Prius!

And finally, what can we expect to see from you next?
My next projects are Netflix’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Love In The Villa as well as the independent feature Collide.