Neptune Blue and Beige: An Interview with KATHLEEN

by - September 29, 2022

Photo courtesy of Chimera Singer

Just as Kathleen Brady Ross was preparing to finish a batch of songs - which she releases under the moniker Katheen - the world seemingly closed up shop. Locked down in her home by herself, she was feeling a sense of claustrophobia that she swears she felt before.

Looking back on the last two years, as well as a few years before that, she can pinpoint that the feeling was exactly like the codependent relationship she had based that batch of songs off of. Those feelings of being trapped came back, inspiring newer songs that still correlate with one central theme.

She first released “Fever Dream” and “How Long Will This Last” together as she thinks of them as ‘dark sisters’.

“‘Fever Dream’ is this extroverted, trapped, frustrated, anxious, way-too-engaged-with-the-news sister,” she said. “‘How Long Will This Last’ is the introverted, lonely, pensive, poet-in-a-room-thinking-about-things sister. They felt important to release together in some way.”

Both were written during lockdown while the next single, “Phantom Love”, was written about four years prior. It was the first song she wrote fresh from a breakup, giving it a feeling of really being in the throes of heartbreak.

“I felt like I had to get out because I felt so pent up and so claustrophobic, so trapped, but also felt like I love this person,” she said. “Looking back, that was really toxic. I should have been able to move around and feel free in some capacity.”

Her upcoming single, “Beautiful Waters”, carries some of the same energy as “Fever Dream” but is a completely different mood. It was first written as a poem, meant more as a diary entry of self-loathing. She remembers a conversation with her sister where she was asked, “If you walked into a room and saw your friend in this state, what would you do for that friend?”

“I was feeling like everything was my fault, like I was this rain cloud that was depressing the whole relationship,” she said. “It became very clear that I had to be, if not kind, at least accepting of myself.”

Not only are these songs highly personal, but Ross wanted visual components to be just as telling. She has always loved the visual aspect as much as the writing and recording, from concept to creation and everything in between.

She has also developed a sense of synesthesia, where she hears music but can also see color. For “Phantom Love”, she pictures Neptune blue against the blackness of space.

“It felt like this beautiful isolation in some way, so I was really trying to get that across in the single cover,” she said.

For its visual component, she worked with digital artist Peter Curet via an AI Generator called Disco Diffusion. Ross self-shot footage on her iPhone by cutting holes into a plastic bag and setting it on her ceiling fan, honing in on a beige color scheme. Beige reminded her of a sense of nothingness, as if all the disaster around her was normal.

“It also felt like the only color I could handle,” she said. “I was so overstimulated that it was this color that I could wrap my mind around. It had this crazy complexity and duality; it’s soft but it's also numb.”

Ironically, when beige is inverted, it is a shade of Neptune blue, keeping on brand of the original colors she saw when creating the song.

For the “Fever Dream” visuals, she worked with director Jackie Radinsky and Creative Director Chimera Singer to bring to life the bizarreness that is mundane advertisements. While Singer focused on body positioning and comparing it to paralysis of all the information that is thrown at a person on a daily basis, Radinsky focused on the self-awareness that the information will most likely show before, during or after the video.

Body positioning was also the focus of the “How Long Will This Last” visual, inspired by one of the only known portraits of poet Emily Dickinson. It is speculated that Dickinson spent her life as a recluse, writing poems in secret from her bedroom that overlooked a dilapidated garden. Ross felt similar as she was locked down in her home, unable to communicate in person.

Performing as Kathleen, as well as creating art to coincide with the music, has brought on an entirely new sense of inspiration for Ross.

“Lately I think it's practicing and being more involved in the arts,” she said. “The deeper you put your feet in a pool, the more you feel it. I'm feeling so inspired visually now.”

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