Kat Leon talks about new Holy Wars single, “TV Dinner”

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Holy Wars is the dark pop-rock project of vocalist/songwriter Kat Leon and guitarist/producer Nicolas Perez, who are also accomplished writers/composers for TV and film.  However, with increased attention garnered by WWE using the Holy Wars track “Welcome To My Hell” and the success of the subsequent “Little Godz” single,  the duo is striving to make Holy Wars more of a focus. They’ve just released a new single, “TV Dinner” and plan to release the debut Holy Wars full-length album this summer. In a phone interview, Leon discussed the single and the band’s other recent activities.

You’ve just released a new single, “TV Dinner.” Could you tell us about the song?

Kat Leon: So we wrote it as a follow-up to our song ‘Little Godz.’ That was our first single off the album, and we had such great success around that song. It got on a CW show. Alison Hagendorf, who’s head of rock at Spotify, loved it so much that they featured it in such a major way. We really wanted to write a song to follow ‘Little Godz’ that has had as much punch and piss and vinegar, to really kind of give it the same grit that ‘Little Godz’ had. And at that time, at the end of 2020, it was so easy to feel all these different emotions.  And so many important matters were at the forefront. You had Black Lives Matter and, not too long ago, there was Me Too. And all these things were constantly circulating in my head.

But I really wanted ‘TV dinner’ to kind of show what is sold to us and what reality is. And I take the song on a journey that goes through all stages of what that could mean. So it starts with, like a 1955 Norman Rockwell American family, where through TV you’re told what to eat, and how to dress. And that is still very much today. I wanted to show the duality of …  in certain lyrics where I say, ‘don’t turn the dial this episode sponsored by your mother while your daddy’s watching naked girls he’s eating TV dinners.’ It’s just showing that there’s another side to everybody that people are afraid to reveal.

That is very apparent today in social media, where we only show our highlight reels. We only show our best faces, or we now have Facetune that can like change [appearances] and show you something isn’t real. So ‘TV Dinner’ takes you on that journey from home to the American dream where I say things like, ‘now we got artists on streets because they’re giving it free.’ And that just also touches upon how social media now has made art worthy of a ‘like,’ versus people getting paid for their art, and I experienced as a musician. I also see photographer friends who experience where people just want free photos all the time. They’ve spent so much money on their equipment and their experience and schooling. And I really wanted to showcase how everything is getting so diluted, and the value of things are getting so, I mean, fucked, for lack of a better word.

And the chorus is to simplify everything by saying, ‘Eat it up, spit it out. How do you like it now choking down that TV dinner,’ where it’s pretty much telling the audience you are literally digesting what you don’t even realize is being sold to us; myself included, with having a cell phone that really dictates my whole life.  I hate social media apps, but I stay on them as long as I have a band to promote music. So I call attention to a very real thing that I feel everybody can relate to. But I also shine a light on myself saying, I’m just as a part of this, I’m no better. Like I’m choking down the TV dinner, knowing exactly what I’m chewing, and I’m choking it, smiling through the pain.

The video is really effective.  As you were writing and recording the song, were you thinking about how you might portray it visually?

Kat Leon: Every time we write a song, I think because I come from a filmmaking background, I cannot not see the video. I always have it in my head as I’m even writing the lyrics. And with this video, we kind of did it with, like a hip hop approach. If you look at a lot of hip-hop music videos, a lot of the lyrics dictate the visuals. And in my former work, I would make it a lot more abstract. Even though there’s definitely parts of this video that are considered more abstract than maybe some videos, I definitely wanted to kind of model it after a hip-hop video where every line you see visually what I’m saying. So when I say ‘we got artists on streets because they’re giving it free,’ I’m literally holding up a for sale sign, and then I cross off sale, and I just say for likes. So I’m really pinpointing; you can’t miss the point here.

I’ve seen in the comments from fans; they think this was inspired by ‘Wandavision,’ which, full disclosure, I’ve never seen it because I don’t have Disney+, but I plan to. It was actually inspired by a 1955 Swanson TV dinner commercial.  I parody the first part. The first 30 seconds of the video is a commercial that I make a parody of an actual 1955 TV dinner commercial, where it reeks of misogyny. And I barely changed any lines. Like I kept it as true to form as possible. The only difference is I became the wife in this scenario where in the TV dinner commercial, it was two men speaking about it. And that really dictated the whole video, between me wanting to have visual imagery to every single line delivered and the TV dinner commercial kind of to showcase how that world was. And in many ways, I feel how it still is today. Even as far as we’ve come, we still have a lot of this 1955 Puritan and everything, all of it. I can waste your day with hours of this conversation, but that’s where it came from. It came from the 1955 Swanson TV dinner commercial, and every single lyric of the song dictated that video.

How did you come to find that commercial?

Kat Leon: It’s on YouTube. Actually, it was our guitarist, who’s also the producer. Nick, he’s my co-pilot in this band, and he actually stumbled upon it. I usually take more of the front part of the role of the band’s imagery, but I was so excited when he brought this to me. He was like, ‘you’re not going to believe what I just found.’ And I think he just Googled ‘TV dinner’ to see what would come up because we even use in the song a real microwave bell, like ‘ding.’ So I think he was looking for sounds. In our music, some sounds are more like Easter eggs for people.  We use a lot of weird sounds or instruments that might not be at the forefront. Still, it’s so in there that it creates the song’s vibe, and he stumbled upon the TV dinner commercial, hoping to find something vintage. But he didn’t realize he would find gold for me personally. And that totally inspired this whole beginning of the video.

So you’ll be releasing a full album later this year?

Kat Leon: We were going to split it up into two parts. It would be “Eat It Up.” And then the second half, “Spit It Out,” which are obviously the lyrics of “TV Dinner.” And at the end of the year, we will combine them as a full length because we have yet to have a debut album and because the fans have been asking. Personally, it’s a milestone for us. We just decided to combine those two and just make it a full length. So we have about seven songs ready to release now, and we’re taking off next month and finishing the album. So by late fall, we expect the album will be out.

Were these the first two songs completely finished? Or what other factors led to “LITTLE GODZ” being the first single?

Kat Leon: I think the blessing of social media is you can get a temperature check of what people are liking. Last October, 2020, our song “Welcome to My Hell” became the theme song for “Hell in a Cell” for the WWE. For a band of our size, it’s huge. We were up there with The Weeknd and Metallica, so it was so huge for us. So we had “LITTLE GODZ” sitting for almost a year because like every artist, 2020, we were just like, well, we’re going to hold our album. So we were building this album in 2019, but we didn’t expect the success of “LITTLE GODZ.” When we did “Welcome to My Hell,” we really wanted to have a song debut right after. So fans of WWE can see the new song coming. Just to keep it fresh for them. So we released “LITTLE GODZ” as like a Hail Mary after “Welcome to My Hell.” We were like, let’s try this. It’s got the same type of energy, and see let’s see what happens. But it was the fan reaction, and it was Spotify. It was pretty much the doors really flew open after that song, and that dictated the album. And then we’ve already had a couple of songs that were previously recorded that will come out, but we wanted to write a brand new song to follow “LITTLE GODZ.” So in December, we wrote three brand new songs, and “TV Dinner” was the first completed of the songs. But by choice, because we knew “TV Dinner” had the essence of “LITTLE GODZ” that we wanted to follow with that. Plus, the societal message that I wrote in the lyrics, you know, “LITTLE GODZ” is all about social media and today’s society; “TV Dinner” follows up with its broadened scope.

So you’ll be releasing a full album later this year?

Kat Leon: We were going to split it up into two parts. It would be “Eat It Up.” And then the second half, “Spit It Out,” which are obviously the lyrics of “TV Dinner.” And at the end of the year, we will combine them as a full length because we have yet to have a debut album and because the fans have been asking. Personally, it’s a milestone for us. We just decided to combine those two and just make it a full length. So we have about seven songs ready to release now, and we’re taking off next month and finishing the album. So by late fall, we expect the album will be out.

Were these the first two songs completely finished? Or what other factors led to “LITTLE GODZ” being the first single?

Kat Leon: I think the blessing of social media is you can get a temperature check of what people are liking. Last October, 2020, our song “Welcome to My Hell” became the theme song for “Hell in a Cell” for the WWE. For a band of our size, it’s huge. We were up there with The Weeknd and Metallica, so it was so huge for us. So we had “LITTLE GODZ” sitting for almost a year because like every artist, 2020, we were just like, well, we’re going to hold our album. So we were building this album in 2019, but we didn’t expect the success of “LITTLE GODZ.” When we did “Welcome to My Hell,” we really wanted to have a song debut right after. So fans of WWE can see the new song coming. Just to keep it fresh for them. So we released “LITTLE GODZ” as like a Hail Mary after “Welcome to My Hell.” We were like, let’s try this. It’s got the same type of energy, and see let’s see what happens. But it was the fan reaction, and it was Spotify. It was pretty much the doors really flew open after that song, and that dictated the album. And then we’ve already had a couple of songs that were previously recorded that will come out, but we wanted to write a brand new song to follow “LITTLE GODZ.” So in December, we wrote three brand new songs, and “TV Dinner” was the first completed of the songs. But by choice, because we knew “TV Dinner” had the essence of “LITTLE GODZ” that we wanted to follow with that. Plus, the societal message that I wrote in the lyrics, you know, “LITTLE GODZ” is all about social media and today’s society; “TV Dinner” follows up with its broadened scope.

Earlier this year, you released a cover of “Tainted Love.” How did that come about?

Kat Leon: We always have a plan, but always leave room for reassessing and just try something new. I did a cover of “Tainted Love” with an incredible producer going by Nocturn. And aside from Holy Wars, Nick and I, we have a great career writing for music for sync licensing. Our music has been on various trailers, but we keep Holy Wars very much our artist project. So early 2020, “Tainted Love” was up for a trailer. We did it for a trailer, and it was up for two different trailers. And at first, it was going to be under Cat Leone, but there was something about “Tainted Love” that I just love so much. I love the production. I even felt Holy Wars fans haven’t had a chance to hear my vocal like that. I usually keep it very rock, very energetic, but when I heard the song come back to me from Nocturne, I fell in love with it instantly. And every time I shared it with friends or other people in the business, I always got this incredible reaction from it. So I kept it in my back pocket. It was up for a “Fatale” trailer with Hilary Swank. And it looked really close. I think it was down to us and K-Ci & JoJo, but they wanted to use one of their original songs, their iconic songs. So I decided, “oh, let’s do a music video for this.” I brought in some friends that brought that incredible cinematic video. I wanted it to be Holy Wars, and Nick added some guitars to it. So we made that decision just because I loved it so much. And then, of course, you can never really always count on a trailer coming through. We ended up not getting the trailer, but we still had this incredible music video, and I didn’t know what to do with it. We thought Valentine’s Day was the best way to bring it out. And before we really started to hammer down this release … I mean, it wasn’t ideal that we brought it out after “LITTLE GODZ”, but I did feel we needed to kind of show our fans, “Hey, we’re still doing stuff. We took some time off for the holidays, but now we’re back.” Which for us, we really just took some time off to write. We wrote and recorded through the holidays. But the fans went crazy over it, which is so great. There are so many covers of “Tainted Love” out there. So to see people excited about a song that has been covered so many times, it was just an incredible feeling. So that was more just like candy for people. Like I wanted to do it. The fans seem to really love it, but now we’re back on the album scope.

How do you balance your time between Holy Wars and other music?

Kat Leon: It’s always a juggling act. And because Nick and I do a lot of the sync music together. We also work with others; I work with a producer, and he’ll work with other artists, but it is kind of what is needed at the time. And that is why, up until now, we would release maybe two songs a year for our Holy Wars catalog because we would be getting a lot more requests for sync under my personal name or a side project. So it wasn’t until “Welcome to My Hell” on WWE and “LITTLE GODZ” that we were like, “you know, we’re going to start saying no to some other things and put our focus on Holy Wars,” and that’s continued now. So most of the time, we’re working towards Holy Wars, whether it’s writing new music, recording or doing videos, or even just creating fun content to support the album.

And then we’re taking all of next month off to just finish the album. So we’re balancing it better now. But to be honest, it’s been quite difficult to navigate, you know, like how much time to give. Everybody wants to be the priority. And obviously, everyone’s been so great and patient with us, but we’re just two people, and we do everything ourselves. We’re starting to figure out what balance means. I’m trying to figure out hours that I even clock out for myself.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Kat Leon: Just how this is our debut album, and we’re just incredibly excited. We were so fortunate to be able to do this. So get ready. “TV Dinner” is the beginning of a lot more songs to come.

Purchase or stream “TV Dinner”: https://ps.onerpm.com/tvdinner

CONNECT WITH HOLY WARS: Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram  | YouTube   | Spotify  | SoundCloud

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