Out of brokenness can come true enlightenment. Holy Wars lead singer Kat Leon, broken down by tragedy, rises like a phoenix to soar in and out of the silvery clouds. With the help of bandmate Nicolas Perez, the duo uncover new layers to their existence. The pain will always inhabit a corner of their hearts, but today, they are much stronger than they could have imagined.
In the aftermath of their debut project, 2017’s Mother Father, a dedicated set to Leon’s late parents that weaves through grim realities littered with misery’s carnage, they continue to pick up the pieces and glue them back together. “I'm just happy to wake another day,” says Leon, whose voice is blistered and bruised with a new song called “Born Dark.” They remain nearly as gritty and electrifyingly sinister as before, but a new freedom is unlocked in being playfully macabre and rhythmic. “Turn me on with misery / Sweet poetry / Maybe, I was born dark / Bullet holes in my heart,” Leon sings.
“Born Dark” sees Leon go back to her literal roots, as she explores her moment of birth and the possibility she’s always been a bit devilish. Creatively, she was longing for a kind of release to break the shackles of the past, while fulfilling what her destiny could and should be. “We wrote a ton of songs, and all of them just didn't stick with Nick and me. It almost felt like we were starting over in some way,” Leon says.
The powerful emissions felt from Mother Fatherhave given them even more artillery to stoke the flames raging in their rib cages. “I’m not sure what was the reason that we decided to keep going, but I have a feeling it’s because we can’t stop creating.”
That fearlessness led to a myriad of breakthroughs in all areas of their art. Earlier this year, Leon and Perez were hired by FOX and various other networks to write for TV trailers, a task which opened up a whole new world of storytelling. “We had no idea how important this would be for us. Immediately, our writing got massively easier, and the ideas flowed for the band,” says Leon. “We didn't second guess anything anymore, and I didn't have that internal struggle of what to say now. We were so inspired by that cinematic feel we were asked to write. We started having fun writing again and pulling from different influences.”
The payoff is tremendous. “Born Dark” not only links the past with the present but allows for a stylistic and cerebral aftershock they have never before accomplished. Continuing their penchant for dark, tear-stained ruminations on life and death, often feeling eerily reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, Garbage and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the new music is bigger and badder. “We were striving for more balance this time in the music. When we perform, we can't help but play with so much energy, and it really is like a cathartic ride for us and the audience. So, we wanted to make sure there was a bridge between that live connection we make and the album.”
In their songwriting, Leon dug deeper to her core, as well as the decaying world around her, to uncover “things about our society, life, myself (myself before and myself today) and the human need for existence,” she says. “I've become obsessed with analyzing everything. Studying people and why we are the way we are, especially in this society we live in today.”
“Born Dark” is just the beginning of what’s next. After bringing in outside collaborator Hunter Burgan (AFI) to produce, the song instinctually cracks the shell of humanity with more naturally occurring rhythms and heart-ravaging tribal patterns. Mat Mitchell (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle) came in to engineer the clashing of guitars and the stunning vocal work, while Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, The Beta Machine) added drums and other essential components. Additional engineering came courtesy of Jeff Sahyoun (letlive).
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