Meet KAT LEONARD of Wonder Women LA!
( Hey, that’s me! 🙂 )
Kat Leonard in third person is a dare duel between Madonna and k.d. lang, madcap and profound. Kat is a feisty performance pop dynamo whose music oscillates unpredictably between heartfelt and hilarious, leaving you with the drunken joy of a sugar rush. Kat & The Mp3’s debut CD, A Depper Kind Of Love, was released June 9, 2011 (Johnny Depp’s birthday!) in conjunction with the one-hour live multimedia live show inspired by loving and losing Johnny Depp. Kat is Artistic Director of Let’s Make Good Productions and WonderFest, the festival of workshops and concerts spreading empowerment through art. At the first ever Wonder Women LA on Sept 7, 2014, Kat performs a few ditties and co-hosts along with the lovely April Snow.
An interview with myself:
What is empowerment to you? Realizing that empowerment is actually a commodity available to us at all times and we just need to take a good hold. “Poor is the man whose pleasure depends on the permission of another.” -Madonna
What does being an artist mean to you? Being an artist means it’s difficult to settle for the average. It is being constantly exposed to and fed by an open, abundant and sometimes chaotic channel with an insight that allows one to see and feel things before they are pointed out by someone else, with a force that is electric and compoundable. It is a physical need to analyze and express. It is a gift that keeps giving that you cannot keep in its box. It feels like a physical responsibility to share it, like a helpful beast roaring out of ones soul to explode, to share, to sooth and engage others in a similar power.
What is your career? What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? Advice to others embarking on similar career? I have made a career out of doing my art on the side and holding down a job to pay the bills. The greatest challenges of this are the time away from my art and the nagging question to myself, “What if I did my art full time all these years? Would I have made it bigger than my pants by now?” The rewards of this are that I don’t feel desperate to make my art to pay the bills and I can say no to projects that don’t serve the art. It also allows me to live daily in a moderate world meeting characters and experiencing life to later analyze and electrify in a song or standup bit. Advice to others: Just like investing money, when you invest in your career, decide for yourself how much risk you can bear and how much security you require to feel fulfilled on an average daily basis. Feeling stifled is just as painful as feeling vulnerable and we need to balance these in a way we can live with. Taking risks and getting out of our comfort zones is absolutely crucial but needs to be balanced with a sense of calm so that our energy can be focussed on higher endeavours than mere survival.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? Eat whatever you like but stop when you’re no longer hungry.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? Pass the chips! We don’t have much time!
What would people be surprised to know about you? I have a degree in Science, Biology. I am sometimes prone to panic attacks in crowds and noise.
What is your favourite quote? “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I have always been drawn to the balance between light and dark and also to the pensive and tired. This is a picture of me that I feel exudes both.
I’ve been noticing of late that my bottom lip is quite asymmetrical.
This is one of my favourite videos of me– it will be a long time before I do another one like this because I almost barfed after shooting it. For real!
DANCEFLASH: My version of Flashdance 🙂
You can discover more of my musings, music and dancing all over this blog, actually! Go ahead, click about! 🙂
Come to Wonder Women LA on September 7th at Arcadia Blues Club!
We promise you a good time! You can pick up CDs there too!
You can find out more about the show and the rest of the Wonder Women LA lineup here!
Meet APRIL SNOW of Wonder Women LA!
April Snow is the driving force behind Wonder Women LA and a soul singer, songwriter and recording artist. She has opened for Isaac Hayes, and 5-time Grammy nominee Marcia Ball, and has performed back-up vocals for Chaka Khan. April is a 2013 inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame, and sings lead vocals with Lookin’ for Trouble Blues Band.
What is empowerment to you? As a woman and as an artist, I feel that “empowerment” is keeping informed about my communities, activities, and groups, then using the information I collect to form opinions about issues in those environments, and lastly, feeling that I possess the strength and voice to speak up in regards to those issues.
What does being an artist mean to you? I think that if you define yourself as an artist you are committing to using your voice via the arts. This can mean painting, poetry, music, dance, comedy, any artistic outlet. I believe that artists have a responsibility to inspire people, communicate with people, and to change and touch other individuals and their surrounding environment. I can tell you that some of the toughest moments in my life have inspired art, and I can tell you that experiencing someone else’s art has also had the ability to make me feel understood or moved in those moments. It’s powerful stuff.
What is your career? What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? Advice to others embarking on similar career? My career in the arts is as a singer-songwriter. I also work in event production and marketing.Some of the greatest challenges to me as a singer-songwriter are to stay inspired and creative, and to keep my integrity about what my time and talents are worth.
On the other hand, the rewards are amazing. There’s the impact that singing and songwriting has on my mental health and well-being. It’s so therapeutic to channel my emotions into writing, or blow off stress and steam by belting out a song. Aside from the psychological benefits, the biggest reward has to be making an impact on people. Touching someone’s heart or soul with my art, that’s a pretty awesome feeling.
My advice to aspiring singer-songwriters would be to make music every day. Don’t let a day go by that you’re not playing, or singing, or writing, or at least listening. Listen to everything; other music, sounds, lyrics, poetry, and your instincts and heart. Don’t be concerned with what is popular or marketable, just make what you like.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? I would tell her not to listen to negativity. When I was around that age I loved to sing but I had someone make me feel as though I was not any good at it. It didn’t stop me from singing but it did prevent me from pursuing it as a career when I was younger. I would also tell her, you are beautiful just the way you are, with your crooked pinkies, and your freckles, and even though your brother calls you fat. It’s not your outside that makes you beautiful anyway so focus on your character not your body, and those little things that make you different don’t make you ugly, they make you human.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? I think I’d just want to know what advice she had to give me!
What would people be surprised to know about you? I have three little-known facts to share with you: 1. I am a recovering alcoholic, and have been sober for over 5 years. 2. When I was 20 years old, I weighed approximately 250 pounds, I lost over 80 pounds for my wedding in 2005. 3. I dropped out of school at age 15 and got my GED. I went back to school in my late 20’s and I am working toward a law degree.
What is your favourite quote? I don’t have one favorite quote, but this is one I often quote in regards to art: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
Here’s a link to a song. It’s called “Look Out” and I wrote it with the help of my guitarist Greg Conte. This recording means a lot to me because it is the first original song that I ever got to record, and I happen to really love this song. Look Out
I just think the world of April! What a positive force in the world she be! 🙂
Find more sights and sounds from April here:
And see her at Wonder Women LA on September 7th at Arcadia Blues Club!
You can find out more about the show and the rest of the Wonder Women LA lineup here!
Chelsea Bayouth is an artist and poet residing in Los Angeles. After graduating CalArts in 2008 she broke into the physical effects industry where she worked creating specialty costumes and puppets for various feature films and stage plays such as, Spiderman, Man of Steel and Wicked. She currently is the host of the Los Angeles ‘Foxhole’ event where she showcases local songwriting and poetic talent against a seasonally themed installation. She is also the co-founder of Reign of Diamonds Press which publishes poetry and art books and is employed at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios where she creates puppets for the Cartoon Network show Robot Chicken. As of February 2014 she released her debut book of poetry, Beaus & Eros which is available for purchase on Amazon or her website http://www.ChelseaBayouth.com.
What does empowerment mean to you? Empowerment to me means the freedom to act without fear or hesitation. No matter who you are or what your circumstances, when we are free in our mind and body, we are empowered,
What does being an artist mean to you? Being an artist means allowing myself to act as a vessel for creative thought. My ‘art’ takes many forms. I sculpt, paint, write, cook, sew…anything I become curious about I learn. And when I am in the art making mindset I feel very much like I am channeling something from somewhere far away. Sometimes the morning after I make a mask or a painting I look at it and am struck. Did I make that? Its like being in a trance. Its meditative. I relate a lot to the idea of Daemons.
What is your career? My career….is a horse of a different color. Currently I make my living as a Character Fabricator on the Cartoon Network show Robot Chicken. But I also sell my art and am a writer! I guess you could sum it all up and say that I am an artist. That seems to be the point of it all at the end of the day.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? The greatest challenges, if we are talking about my day job, are probably the hours. While I love my job, it is difficult sometimes to balance the demanding hours of a fast-paced entertainment job and the ideas of my own that I want to give attention to. The greatest reward is that I get to do what I absolutely love! While most things I create with the studio are not of my own, it is a far cry from administrative assisting. Which I was miserable at.
Advice to others embarking on similar career? Am I giving advice to the Artist or Character Fabricator? For Artists it would be, be true to yourself. Don’t forget to take alone time. Write in a journal. Know who you are. Open the channel in your mind and let it flow. For Fabricators, or anyone trying to thrive in entertainment it would be, be someone people want to hire. Your skills are only half the equation. Always be the student no matter how much you know. There is nothing to be learned when you’re at the top of the mountain where nothing grows.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? That’s a hard one. I still feel 8. I would say don’t be afraid I guess. That and “Start saving money now!” Oh wait. I know what I would say. I would say If you want something you have to work to get there. Most Millennials were raised in the time of fairytales and Jewel. Up until recently I was just waiting around for my dreams to come true. Then a little lightning bolt landed on me and I got working. Now the doors are opening to me. The sooner you learn to work towards your goals the sooner they will manifest!
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? Good job and I love you.
What would people be surprised to know about you? Hmmm. How intimate do I want to get here? People always seem surprised when I tell them I was a car model. When I was 19 I got paid to wear a rubber dress and sit on car hoods and walk around in heels at race tracks. It was another life. And it paid for art supplies.
What is your favourite quote? Now THAT is a hard one. There are so many I could pick. I am entirely in love with words. I have been thinking about this ever since this interview was sent to me. But I keep coming back to Conor Oberst’s quote from the song Bowl of Oranges,”If the world could remain within a frame like a painting on the wall, then I think we’d see the beauty and we would stand staring in awe, at our still lives posed, like a bowl of oranges, like a story told, by the fault lines in the soil.” I just love it. To me it is the exact reason people love art and music and movies. For some reason we can always see the beauty in other peoples lives. But ours are just as beautiful, no matter where you are in your story.
<– I love this picture. I was a sarcastic, precocious kid and It sums up the essence of who I am pretty well. I never want to take myself too seriously. And in most situations I usually want to be wearing a hunting hat with a boar oar and some airy shorts.
And a link to a piece of art I absolutely love. –>
Olivier de Sagazan 2008
Chelsea’s Smoke Women, published, Literary Orphans:
How many times did I wish for a suede cheeked Nana?
A grandmother with a house in a landlocked state
where I would summer unruly and come of age gracefully,
shaped by her wisety and love of the land?
Who’s ears would hear the secrets that my parents ears would not.
Who would tell me about brassieres
and men and peeling apples.
Who would understand my rages.
I didn’t have an apple Nana.
They were both women born of an era of smoke.
Smoke that stuck to the grain in the wood.
And in the sky of the burning valleys.
Smoke settled and green at the foot of the hills in the time before hybrids.
Smoke that came only on birthdays
and lingered briefly when the candles were out.
I always heard about the broken things.
Broken front teeth of a cheating grandfather.
The broken farm of a death too soon.
Broken china in the sea of a kitchen.
Broken hips and tubes.
They were skinny and hard.
White old women of an aging white Hollywood.
Painters and writers. Always donning sunglasses,
always ice in their rum. Always lipstick. Always jewelry.
Liz Taylor and Vivienne Leigh.
Never knowing what to say to me or why.
I wanted needlepoint. And cookies.
A soft belly and a heaving bosom.
I yearned to be bossed in way I would listen.
Wanted stories of the war and how they fell in love.
To know about the time of non-essentials.
And where their parents came from.
My curiosity made me uncharacteristically shy.
Who cares about the ficus in the living room the shape of a girl?
Which is why I needlessly adjusted my training bra
by her hospital bedside one broken hip ago.
And she noticed before she died that I would be a woman soon, like her.
Which made me rage inside with pride.
I was a timeline on fire of her past and my future,
all from a comment, raised eyebrows and a tip of her head.
But before I could get there, before I could show them, they died.
Their habits eclipsing their life.
I was left dumb, a grandmotherless girl with no history,
who knew nothing of casseroles or welping boxes.
I carried on.
Feeling bitter towards Werthers commercials.
Frequently I wonder if like in the Simpsons,
their heads are lined up on puffs of clouds and looking down.
To see me cleaning paintbrushes. To see me typing this.
To see me wear lipstick and gold and turn down cigarettes.
And to watch me secretly break porcelain when I’m angry.
If there is a booze soaked cork dance floor in death, they are there.
But also, they are here. Not in the stories I heard from them
or the summer picked peaches of wisdom, but in me.
This artist. This woman.
Ambivalence. This furious body.
Growing exhaustion of expectation.
A timeline smoking
I know this was just a tease, so for more Chealsea Bayouth, go here!!!! www.chelseabayouth.com
And see her live at Wonder Women LA on September 7th at Arcadia Blues Club!
You can find out more about the show and the rest of the Wonder Women LA lineup here!
Meet NIAMBI SIMS of Wonder Women LA!
Niambi Sims is a singer, songwriter and actress who has performed on stages throughout the world. It is her mission to uplift, inspire and educate others through her talents, gifts and service. She accomplishes this through her music, performance and her company Integrated Wellness Concepts. Her music is an exploration of the heart expressed through a diverse mixture of genres.
What does empowerment mean to you? The freedom and confidence to give voice and action to the source within me. All that supports the manifestation of my BEST self!
What does being an artist mean to you? Always listening and giving life to that quiet inner voice. Allowing myself to be a vessel for the most high. Being an outward expression of my inner inspiration.
What is your career? My career is a Singer, Songwriter, Actress.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? The rewards are getting compensated to do something that I would do for free! My art keeps me juicy and alive! The freedom to direct my own course. The challenges are: I consistently have to validate myself and my own work. I am walking on faith more than not (faith that I can do it, faith that I will be supported, faith that the resources will come etc.) and the FREEDOM TO DIRECT MY OWN COURSE! (LOL)
Advice to others embarking on similar career? Follow your own GPS and surround yourself with those that support you.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? Keep GOing! Failure is a Part of the process not the End of the process. You will fall. You will hurt. You will recover. Learning how to lose is just as important as learning how to win.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? GIRL YOU DID THAT!! (slaps high five)
What would people be surprised to know about you? I am a Yoga Therapist and a Reiki Healer.
What is your favorite quote? Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
Niambi is excited to be sharing some of her new music with us at Wonder Women LA on September 7th at Arcadia Blues Club!
You can find out more about the show and the rest of the Wonder Women LA lineup here!
Meet CRYSTAL FABOS of Wonder Women LA!
Crystal is a visual artist who has studied at Mission Renaissance, and taken painting lessons from Julie Snyder. In her words, “I began taking classes with Julie and in 6 months time my passion and joy and understanding for what I wanted to create was right there staring me in the face, it was so close, closer then I had ever seen it before! I was a professional artist not just a student and I will draw and paint till I’m old, on my porch in the country. I continue to practice and learn more every day as the key to perfection is practice and the key to happiness is persistence and working towards your dreams!”
I took a gander at Crystal’s work on her website and fell in love with her style! It’s tangible art in a chunky colourful approach that makes you feel the artist’s presence in each stroke of paint. Here are a few samples:
I asked Crystal:
What does empowerment mean to you? It is having a voice and have the strength to tell others what you can do and feeling the pride of actually doing what you wanted to accomplish.
What does being an artist mean to you? It means being able to reach out and touch your audience and them feeling what you are feeling and getting them to see what you see.
What is your career? I am a Fine Artist, I paint portraits, landscapes, still life and I work at Mission Renaissance Fine Art Classes.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? As an Artist my greatest challenge is making sure I set time aside to draw and paint and keeping discipline in enough so that I keep myself on track. I have to stay very organized with time management and priorities everything.The rewards come from the working hard and patients, when I have an idea in my head and it comes out better. That is my greatest reward with art.
Advice to others embarking on similar career? If you want something you have to keep working towards it, persist and don’t be afraid to mess up. When you can see your mistakes and work through till the end that’s when you win.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? Keep drawing and don’t be afraid what people are going to say, you will only get better with practice! (I quit drawing when I was 9 or 10 because I was made fun of; I picked it back up when I was in my 20s)
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? You are only as old as you believe you are. So go outside and paint, the beautiful day is calling you!
What would people be surprised to know about you? Nothing really I’m a pretty open book.
What is your favorite quote? “An Artist can change the world through their creativity” I heard this on a movie trailer a while back not sure who the originator was but I loved it!
Please do yourself a favour and head over to Crystal’s website for her BEAUTIFUL art!
You can also find out more about the show and the rest of the Wonder Women LA lineup here!
Hope to see you there in sunny LA! 🙂
A series of Artist Features
In an effort to recommence my series of feature artists, I begin by highlighting artists I featured in my column East End Artists that existed in the late local paper etc… news.
(Actor, improviser, businesswoman)
Ayumi Iizuka is a magnetic personality as she engages with a stunning smile and electrifying twinkle of the eye. She’s smart, funny, multi-talented and extremely generous in laughter and spirit. In addition to a busy career in the arts, Ayumi also opens her heart and home to dogs waiting for adoption, through a dog-fostering program. She is a true lover of life and an active dream chaser.
She has an Honours Joint Specialist Degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and also a diploma in Computer Graphics. She worked as a 3D computer animator doing special effects for commercials and movies but knew the entire time that she belonged on the other side of the camera.
Since my initial interview with Ayumi in 2008, Ayumi has moved to LA, bought a house, and taken up ownership of Connect Studios LA, casting director workshops studios, while she continues to act, write, improvise and foster dogs.
Live show highlights:
-Second City National Touring Company, Canada
-Teaching at The Second City Toronto and Hollywood
-Topological Theatre and Kageboushi Theatre of Japan’s touring co- production of Lulie The Iceberg
–Inconvenient Musical and SARSical by the Rumoli Brothers
-Numerous nominations and wins for Canadian Comedy Awards
-Winning ‘Best of the Fest’ at the LA Comedy Fest with the Canadian Second City alumni improv troupe ‘The Eh Team’
Toronto: Ken Finkelman’s Foreign Objects, Sue Thomas FBEye, Earth Final Conflict, Degrassi TNG, Hollywoodland
LA: 90210, Parenthood, Ben and Kate, Harry’s Law, The Middle, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mobbed, Destination Fear, Scare Tactics, Extreme Focus (CBC pilot), Office Ninja (feature film), SOLO – web series
Ayumi’s early interview:
KAT: What are some high points in your career?
AYUMI: Playing Bob Hoskins’ mistress in Hollywoodland. The role was small but it was exciting to sit at a table with Bob Hoskins, Ben Affleck and Diane Lane.
KAT: Challenges and rewards of your career?
AYUMI: Rejection and money come to mind immediately to answer the first part of the question. Rejection and money come to mind for the second part of the question.
KAT: Any words of advice to someone embarking on same career?
AYUMI: As everyone in the business told me when I decided to get into it, “If there’s something else you would be just as happy doing, do that instead.” I think that once you decide to do it, though, it’s important to persevere. Stay busy and create your own opportunities if they aren’t finding you.
KAT: In your opinion, what makes a person an artist?
AYUMI: Parental condemnation and a burning desire to do what you want in spite of the odds of success.
KAT: What is your favourite quote?
AYUMI: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
KAT: What amuses you?
AYUMI: Guitar Hero 3 and cuteoverload.com
KAT: What makes you laugh hysterically?
AYUMI: Doug Morency (Stay tuned for East End Artist Doug Morency edition!)
KAT: What makes you sad?
AYUMI: Homeless or abused animals… actually, that makes me angry. I care about homeless and abused people too, but aren’t we all animals?
KAT: What makes you worry?
AYUMI: The overall state of the planet and the people who are in charge.
KAT: What is your most simple delight?
AYUMI: Hanging out with my man and my dogs.
KAT: What are your pet peeves?
AYUMI: Zero tolerance, tyranny of the majority, and people who don’t signal.
KAT: Would you rather: be too hot or too cold? AYUMI: Too HOT! KAT: Be thirsty or hungry? AYUMI: Thirsty. KAT: Be hungry or stuffed? AYUMI: Stuffed, any day! KAT: Live hectic or bored? AYUMI: That’s a toughy! Probably hectic. KAT: Read or write? AYUMI: This writer says read. KAT: Make dinner or clean up after? AYUMI: Make dinner. KAT: Eat sweet or savoury? AYUMI: Can’t the world have both at once? KAT: Watch sunset or sunrise? AYUMI: Sunset. Do you know what ungodly hour the sunrise happens?! How can you enjoy it if you’re still asleep or still pissed off at someone for making you wake up so early?!
It is a true pleasure to be in the company of Ayumi Iizuka, a successful and enthusiastic artist who is also a big-hearted and inspired person. You can find out more about Ayumi on her website: www.aiizuka.com
Happy month leading into springtime!
I just returned from my first (but not last) trip to LA, where it’s springtime or better all year round! For years I considered LA to be this mystical land of lights and action. I couldn’t quite resolve a clear visualization. It was like I was trying to make out a grey cloud on an overcast day. What a pleasant surprise when I arrived! The people of LA look just like us and the sun is shining! I immediately felt like I belonged in LA and that I may bump into Britney Spears. Why Britney spears? I dunno! In the land where dreams come true, there’s no interrogating the dreamer. I love my home, but I think I could fill a good many buoyant days in LA!
For much of the entertainment industry, LA is the last stop: the mecca which many actors, musicians and other storytellers work toward and pilgrimage to. And you can feel that. Everyone in LA seems happy to be there. They’ve got a dream and they’re enthusiastically pursuing it. My dream is to entertain and inspire with my music and comedy. My LA traveling companion and BFF Arlene Paculan is well on her way. Hearing her spirit soar through her music is enough to send you to a place where dreams are alive. You can check her out at www.arlenepaculan.com. What are your dreams? Where will we be a year from now?
LA inspired and invigorated me. A year from now I vow to be back in the mecca of dreams, if not sooner! If you’d like to follow my expedition in “Kat’s Return To LA”, and read about my preparation, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter here! www.KatLeonard.com. You’ll also receive a song download. 🙂
Go forth and keep those dreams alive, everybuddy!