interview. Katja Macabre unleashes ‘Brains’ – Fun, feminist and unapologetic!

"Being a massive horror movie buff, I just had to create something that combined my music with my love of horror, and the theme of the song sort of revealed itself as I wrote it"
23 January 2024

Emerging from the realm of ‘bitch rock,’ Katja Macabre stands as an unapologetic bisexual artist, fearlessly crafting potent feminist metal anthems aimed at empowering individuals across the gender spectrum. Her musical style is a vibrant fusion, seamlessly blending punk, rock, rap, and metal elements to create a distinctive ‘angry girl’ sound that resonates deeply and lingers long after the music fades.

Katja Macabre’s latest release, Brains, is a stimulating experience for those who like artists like Delilah Bon and Cassyette. Johnny and Barbara, two fictional characters, take listeners on a spine-tingling journey in this lushly strange composition​, drawing inspiration from the timeless classic Night of the Living Dead. While delving into the harrowing topic of sexual assault, the song is accompanied by visuals paying homage to iconic horror films like Shaun of The Dead, Night of The Living Dead, and Sam Rami’s Evil Dead.

BBC Radio 1’s Alyx Holcombe accurately describes Katja Macabre’s music as “an invigorating slap in the face.” With an unwavering commitment to addressing societal injustices, Katja’s music becomes a call to action for those who may have felt marginalized. Tracks like Mother of God (2023) and Compliments (2022) boldly confront the patriarchy and challenge societal norms, providing empowerment and solace to women and LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the core of Katja Macabre’s music, uncovering her unyielding and audacious essence, her potent message, and her resolute commitment to making an impact through her artistic endeavors, ultimately transforming the ‘bitch rock’ genre.

My gigs are a safe space to be true to who you are and to curate a space for people to be themselves and be understood for that

Can you share the inspiration behind your unique genre, ‘bitch rock,’ and how it plays a role in your music?

I came up with the term after my obsession with the idea of reclaiming negative language. “Bitch” is such a stereotypically misogynistic and derogatory term for women, so I thought why not make it mine and give the women who get called “bitches” the perfect music to reclaim that term to!

Your music has been described as “angry girl” sound. How do you navigate blending punk, rock, rap, and metal elements to create this distinctive sonic palette?

I just blend my favourite things together. I love so many genres and styles of music, so I think it would be a shame to not tap into all my influences. It just so happens that I have the most joy in using music as a place to voice my own emotions, and it helps me process the anger I have. And if I can give anyone else that joy or space to feel their emotions in the same way, that’s a win in my book.

BBC Radio 1’s Alyx Holcombe characterized your music as delivering a powerful message. How do you approach incorporating messages into your songs, and what themes do you find most crucial to express?

As someone who comes under a number of marginalised categories, I feel like it’s my duty as a musician to create a safe sonic space for my peers who are also in those places and in need of a voice. If I feel like I’ve written something that might make others uncomfortable because of how dark or difficult the subject matter might be to understand or tackle in a normal conversation, maybe my message will be better understood as a piece of music with a chunky bass line.

Your singles, Mother of God and Compliments, are known for challenging societal norms. How do you see your role as an artist in addressing issues such as patriarchy and empowering marginalized communities?

Speaking out about women’s rights, queer people’s issues, being disabled, being bullied for being those things, I feel like it’s something I always wished I had growing up, and now I’m the one creating it. Whether I’m singing from the perspective of being the victim of sexual assault or what it’s like being disabled, I feel like it’s important to give a voice to those uncomfortable subject matters, because someone out there might need it, whether that reason is cathartic or educational.

Brains follows a gruesome storyline while addressing sexual assault and paying homage to classic horror movies. Do you have any insight into the creative process behind this song and its visual elements?

Being a massive horror movie buff, I just had to create something that combined my music with my love of horror, and the theme of the song sort of revealed itself as I wrote it. It was all a happy accident that built itself up the more I worked on it and with the help of my producer and videographer, Ed – we were able to create what we did.

Your music aims to give a voice to those who feel alone. Can you share a specific instance where you felt your music had a significant impact on someone?

I wrote a song called S.E.L.F. H.A.R.M back in 2013, and all you need to do is go to the comments section of the video on YouTube. Over 100 comments from people telling me how much my song has helped them. That, right there, is why I do this.

What musical influences do you have and how do they contribute to the development of your own sound?

Haha, I have too many to count on one hand. I was brought up by two contemporary dancers, so my music taste ranges from Busi Mhlongo to KT Tunstall to Ashnikko.

I have a love of creating and i think my music is driven by all kinds of things, not just music I’m listening to, but things in my life as well.

What can fans expect from your upcoming projects, and how do they build upon the themes explored in your previous work?

I’m in the studio at the moment, recording some really awesome stuff right now! We’re taking steps to get out of Brighton and make a bit of a trip round the UK, as well and we’ve got something really exciting happening in London really soon, too! So keep your eyes peeled!

For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe your live performances, and what kind of experience do you aim to create for your audience?

My gigs are a safe space to be true to who you are and to curate a space for people to be themselves and be understood for that.

If you had to describe your sound in three words what would they be?

Fun, feminist and unapologetic!