Katja Glieson is an award winning popstar from Australia. She writes her own songs and music video concepts, often with a storyline inspired by her life experiences and struggles with obesity, bullying, abuse & low self-confidence. She is the star of the viral video ‘Princess Rap Battle’ where she raps as Elsa from Frozen (100+ million views on Facebook & YouTube). She also performed on the mainstage at various PRIDE festivals around the United States including LA PRIDE and CAPITAL PRIDE.
Entertwine: Katja, thanks for doing this interview with us – you have such an inspiring story, and you aren’t just a musician – you have dealt with personal setbacks, one prominent theme being bullying. What influence has that had on the music you write and record? What was it like to share your story with the world in the Terminium City documentary?
Yeah it is very very true. I was bullied. I was mostly bullied a lot for being overweight. Its unfortunate that a lot of kids (and adults) go through the experience. It sometimes still happens to this day which is very sad. As a result of being bullied, not only emotionally but physically, I had very very low self esteem and even though I loved music, I was too afraid to sing out in front of people. Music and singing became my best friend and confidant. But I only sang for myself. As I dealt with the emotions of being bullied, I discovered I really wanted to challenge myself and faced my fears and started doing singing and music theatre at school. It took a lot of courage, but now singing in front of an audience is where I feel most comfortable. I believe its because I discovered following my passion for music and singing, helped me heal all of the pain. And I really wanted to give back and help others heal through music and performance. I hoped that by doing a documentary I would better communicate my experiences and give people a better understanding of why I love music so much.
What inspired your new single ‘Hot Mess’? What was it like working on the music video for the song?
Hot Mess is simply true to its title. The first time I heard that beat I was inspired. At the time I was writing it, I was receiving a lot of feedback mainly by “old Hollywood Men” that I needed to act a certain way and compromise a lot of my morals in order to succeed in the industry. I also began observing other ladies who had succumbed to this stereotype and I decided it was an absolutely ridiculous notion. It was very clearly this fake sexual energy transaction of women pretending to be interested in a man that may help them further their career, and usually the man was just putting on a big performance. Both just as bad as each other. I wrote the lyrics as an observer. It was like the inner monologue I always had when I was observing these situations. It was very liberating shooting the music video because I was able to act like a complete idiot. I wanted to make it look like I was following the cliche, yet poking fun at it in a sarcastic satyrical way.
Both my dad and brother are construction workers so I wanted to do an ode to where I come from. I found this amazing place in Vegas called Dig-This and they taught me to drive a bulldozer and crane! It was so cool!
What was it like working with Whitney Avalon in the Snow White vs Elsa rap battle on YouTube? How did this opportunity come about?
Whitney is absolutely brilliant and hilarious! She is so very super talented and versatile. I loved working with her! Whitney had a fantastic idea of bringing these two princess’ together for an amazing rap battle! I thought it was a really awesome idea! It was interesting to me being able to compare the difference in how society portrays women in two completely different eras!
It is also absolutely hilarious! And I am so pleased it has brought people so much joy! I thought it would mostly be fun for those parents that must endure kiddie movies, but it’s become so much more than that. It makes people laugh, its inspired people to cover it and there was even a scientific study of the rap battle on the pitch of our voices (Snow White having a higher voice and Elsa having a deeper voice).
You’ve covered a number of songs by popular artists on your YouTube channel; how has this tactic allowed you to gain new fans and continue to promote the music you create? How have you been able to remain so consistent in regards to the videos you make and publish online?
As much as I love writing and recording my original content, it is also extremely costly. Especially to get the end result that I really want with my original work.
So I love to share with people my versions of songs that I enjoy or that inspire me in life, in my career or are just fun to cover! Its never quite a tactic, as I know there are so many covers out there, its just a way to keep expressing myself and putting my own flavor to songs that perhaps some of my fans have requested me to do. The only thing I want to help people do is feel something positive by my performance. Whether its to laugh, cry, dance, sing, face their fears or just keep pursuing their own passions
What does 2015 hold in store for Katja Glieson? Do you have any plans to write and record a full-length record/album in the near future?
Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhh yes I had to say (type) that because I simply cannot contain my excitement! I mean another year I have an opportunity to grow and keep doing what I love to do and share it with others? It’s amazing and I am so grateful. Of course it is nowhere near easy.
I have so much I want to achieve and a long way to go, but I have come this far despite having a lot against me. Where I am from, coming here alone, the kind of person I was and completely turning my life around after obesity, depression and bullying. I have some amazing music I have been recording and am about halfway through an album! I just cannot wait to share it with everyone.
I am always working on music and videos whether its a cover or an original, but these recent songs deserve a big chance at as much exposure as possible. I just want to make them an experience for everyone, because that is what changes peoples lives.
Thank you so much for talking to me. It has been such a pleasure.
Much Love, Katja