Katrina (ex-Katrina & The Waves) (2014)
'The Retro Futura Sunshine Still Shines Brightly For Katrina!'
Grammy nominee, Katrina Leskanich was born in Topeka, Kansas, one of 6 children, and in her own words an 'airforce brat'. After living in 8 different states in America, Katrina and her family were stationed in Germany, Holland and England in 1976.
Katrina & The Waves formed in the early 80's, and were signed by Capitol Records for a worldwide deal. 'Walking on Sunshine' was the breakthrough single from the band's first album, followed by 'Do You Want Crying', 'Sun Street', 'Love Shine A Light' and 'That's The Way.'
The band toured worldwide and supported Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Don Henley, The Kinks, Wham, and many more. Katrina was also featured on Natalie Imbruglio's 'Torn', sang a duet with Eric Burdon on 'We've Gotta Get Out of This Place', a featured vocalist on Rick Wakeman's 'Journey To the Centre of the Earth', and performed at The Mall, Washington DC in front of 750,000 people!
She recently published a photographic guide called 'Peggy Lee Loves London', about cool places in London, featuring her poodle, Peggy Lee! And June of this year saw the release of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ the film – a musical featuring ‘Walking on Sunshine’ as well as other upbeat 80's tracks.
Sitting down recently with the lovely lady herself, Katrina Leskanich, I first wondered when touring today, especially now as part of this Retro Futura tour that recently came to the US, what had she quickly discovered to be the biggest differences from touring back in the ‘80s and ‘90s? "The Retro Futura Tour was a blast combined with an incredible amount of miles and time spent on the tour bus. I found one 23 hour journey from Chicago to LA both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. We flew a lot more in the 80's when I was touring with The Waves and I was making loads of whistle stops to do radio and TV. With the event of the social media we have today I spend more time tapping answers into my iPad! Touring is always about the big build up to that precious show time and the performance. And the time and effort it takes just to get to that point and be your very best for the audience is sometimes challenging, but that's all part of the job."
The Retro Futra Tour of the US kicked-off in New York a month ago, so what were your immediate impressions of how British 80’s music was received by the American crowds? " I am very relieved to find a general acceptance, respect and high regard for the artists on Retro Futura. As an American I felt on pretty solid ground, but I think the audiences were quite sophisticated and really appreciated the music for what it was. And for what it meant to them in the past and the role it played in their lives."
Being the only lead girl on the tour, did you chum up to any of the male artists and found yourself bonding, perhaps? "Ha ha! I laugh because the first thing my manager, a woman, Ado Coker ... a woman and keyboard player with the backing band ... and I did was claim the back area lounge of the tour bus and called it a no man zone! We knew the amount of time we were going to spend on that bus and it was important to establish a few boundaries. The guys appreciate a little space too so they can watch some "special films" about nature I think ...! I got on very well with Tom and Howard and Midge Ure as we work together a fair bit in the UK and the boys in China Crisis were always a hoot to be around."
On this tour you are promoting your new album, Blisland, so please do tell us more about how Blisland came about - especially as your last album came out a decade ago! "Blisland is lovely little village in Cornwall, South West England. I spend a lot time there and love it and used it as inspiration for this album. Once I made up my mind to record an album I didn't have long to turn it around. Some writing needed to be done and I just let it flow and kept thinking about the songs I loved when I was growing up. Melodies and guitar solos and themes. My parents record collection played a big part when I reminisced on some of the songs and artists I heard of an evening when they would get out their records and dance around the living room. Carol King, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Mama Cass etc."
Growing up you were a self-proclaimed "air force brat," but being that you are also one of six kids, do you all get together as much as you would like? "Sadly, two of my sisters and my parents have passed so we who remain do our best to get together. You can't relive the past and I don't try to any more. I might get another Poodle tho!"
Taking you back for a hot second to 'Walking On Sunshine,' what was it like to have such a monster hit off your debut album back at that time? "Unexpected, thrilling and a novelty for the whole band as we were a bunch of raggedy misfits just loving being in a band and traveling around playing music. 'WOS' did rather thrust us into an alien situation of big corporations and major record labels. They were Kelloggs and we were Corn Flakes!"
And then in 1997 Katrina and the Waves won the coveted Eurovision Song Contest with 'Love Shine A Light.' What are your memories of that night? "I wanted it to be over with! The pressure of representing your country and not wanting to let anybody down was overwhelming. We were so honoured and relieved to win, it was exhilarating and changed everything for the band. We soon split up!," she laughs.
As you say, with all that fame you guys broke up the following year. In reflection, could that have been handled better or was the writing on the wall regardless for the band? "Eurovision changed it all. Once you win that your career takes a very different turn and it didn't suit the whole band. I was offered a show on BBC Radio 2 and did that for a year and then got into a musical Theater show about the life of Ellie Greenwich."
What do you miss most about those days riding the 80's charts with The Waves? "It was a safe bubble to be in for nearly 20 years, but life is not always about playing it safe."
And talking of The Waves, what are they up to these days? "I'm not really sure. We all drifted apart."
And now there's 'Walking On Sunshine' the film, a musical featuring your hit song as well as other 80's tracks! Did you have any hand in this film though? "No hand in this film!"
In 2013 you released a book entitled, 'Peggy Lee Loves London'! A great title, but why choose her and what's the book about? "She's a lot cuter than me. If you are thinking about a trip to London buy my book. I show you all the coolest and best places and things to do, like cafés, pubs, parks etc."
Finally, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins, so do you also, perhaps?! "Yes! When I toured with Fleetwood Mac, John McVie had a penguin tattoo and we spoke at length about them regularly!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED Katrina Blisland CD, just answer this question about the lady herself: In 1997, Katrina & The Waves won the Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom with 'Love Shine a Light'. Reacting to the win, Katrina said it was the second landslide victory in a week; the song won by a record points margin, and ... what was the other "landslide victory" at around that time in the UK?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED Katrina Blisland CD! Just send us an e:mail here before January 1st, 2015 with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: KATRINA SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
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