Summer is here and the time for a new breakout pop-star is amongst us… Introducing Katja Glieson (katjaglieson.com)! The 18-year-old Australian superstar has now landed in the United States (watch out Iggy Azalea!) and is taking over the interwebs and radios with her latest hit, Look At Us. And while Katja may be a serious pop star, she also has a comedic side to her, proving that with her viral Princess Rap Battle video (where she of course played Elsa from Disney’s Frozen) that has racked up over 45 million views since it premiered online.
The Levity Ball got to hang out with Katja in her new hometown of Hollywood, California to find out more about her American exciting life…
How did you become interested in becoming a musician, and how old were you when you started?
I first fell in love with the idea of becoming a musician in elementary school. Music, in particular singing, was always there for me when I was having trouble fitting in at school, or being bullied. It had the ability to take me away from any bad situation in life and take me to a better place. I really wanted to be the facilitator of that experience. My school began a choir when I was 6 years old, so I jumped at the opportunity. From there, I just kept learning and growing.
Look At Us is blowing up the music charts! What do you hope people take away from the song after listening to it?
Thank you so much. Look At Us is very special to me. The song itself is representative of how we view a lot of people in the pop music category. At first, it seems shallow and egotistical, but then when you dig deeper, you find so much heart and a really positive message. I really first and foremost want the audience to enjoy the song. I hope it makes them bob their heads and sing along. I want people to feel good about themselves. There are so many things going on around us that bring us down. This song celebrates everyone just as they are. You can watch it here:
It’s funny; this song seems to have reached a really varied audience. I truly believe it will reach anyone that it needs to. I want it to reach anyone that has ever doubted themselves. Or anyone that is afraid to show the world how wonderful they really are.
Who are your biggest influences in music?
I absolutely adore Carlos Santana. His soul is music. You can feel his love and passion for it in his presence. I thank my family for introducing me to some of the greatest artists in music. I love Roy Orbison, Elton John, Bette Midler, Olivia Newton-John. I really could go on forever.
Which other artist have you enjoyed working with the most so far?
Last year on July 4th, I had the privilege to sing with After School Special. These guys are a covers band consisting of members from all different bands! There was guitarist/singer/songwriter Johnny Kaplan, drummer Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam), guitarist Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon), Rami Jaffee on Keys (Wallflowers & Foo Fighters), Jessy Greene on violin (Pink & Foo Fighters) and Jokin Salaverria on bass (Lazy Stars & Crusade). We also had Foo Fighters guitarist, Chris Shitflett who had his leg in a cast and on crutches guest perform. That was one of the best musical experiences I have ever had. These guys are absolute legends.
How do you define pop music these days, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Pop is thrown around a lot! I feel like anything can be defined as pop, as long as it hits mainstream. For me personally, it is a fusion of something originating organically, then is built up with modern beats and current trends mixed into one. I feel like my music really fits into that category. I love to mix real instruments, including my voice, with new and interesting sounds that are created technologically.
How has growing up originally in Australia influenced your sound today?
It’s funny; Australia is actually influenced a lot by American music. Many of our artists work with producers in LA and bring it back to Australia. I think that’s how I knew I wanted to be here. What’s great about music is it crosses borders and the individual decides what type of music resonates with them most. One of my favorite genres of music is Jazz. And although it came out of New Orleans, it was created by American and European Settlers. Music is a universal language and b rings different cultures together. I think what I bring from Australia is a different perspective and personality.
What tips would you give young artists coming up or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the music industry?
My biggest tip to anyone wanting to start out in the industry is to never expect someone to do something for you. Be willing to do everything. Including writing, producing, performing, collaborating. Even if you aren’t very good at it. I am a terrible music producer. But I taught myself well enough to attract other people to work with me and then you continue to grow. Another is always be a student. Even if you think you have mastered something, music is always evolving, so you have to be flexible and humble.
Are there any charity organizations, programs and/or causes that you support and hope to raise more awareness towards now that your fame is growing?
YES YES YES, and thank you so much for asking. I am extremely passionate about the Beagle Freedom Project. They began in 2010 when Shannon Keith learned that laboratories were testing on sweet, kind natured Beagles. When they were done with the Beagles, the laboratories would send the dogs away and they would usually end up being put to sleep. The Beagle Freedom Project takes the dogs and rehabilitates them, and finds them loving homes. Just watch one of their rescue videos, try not to cry.
Where do you see yourself in a year from now?
A year from now, I very much hope to be touring full time and performing live. That is probably my favorite thing to do. I love meeting new people and connecting with them through music and performance. I also hope to be creating more music that people enjoy. I have a few live shows coming up, I’ll soon be updating my events page here: http://www.katjaglieson.com/events/