Eat it up / Spit it out… Choking down that TV dinner. Birthday Betsy is not too happy. Perhaps it’s her aversion to those frozen meals on a tray, first introduced in the 1950s to help busy “housewives.” Living through some warped alter ego, Kat Leon is no modest housewife, thrashing the house—and those freezer-burned bites—in Holy Wars’ latest video, directed by Erin Naifeh, for new single “TV Dinner,” off the band’s debut full length album, Eat It Up / Spit It Out, out this summer.
Following previous single “Little Godz,” on “TV Dinner,” Holy Wars continue poking the core of social injustices, the consumption of twisted truths, and the “American Dream” (whatever that means these days).
“I wanted to write a song that conveys the message ‘we are what we eat’ and at times regurgitate mindlessly, touching upon brainwashing, misogyny, social injustice, a masked religion, the empty promise of an American Dream, and death of the paid artist where art and music is valued by a ‘like’ on a fleeting app,” says Leon, who also also pays homage to her late parents, singing Dad was an auto mechanic, Mom was a tarot reader, I got blue blood in the veins, sick heart, we got a bleeder. “I was inspired to write this message as everyday we consume what is given to us via all media—news, social apps, television, and yes, food.”
For Leon, along with Holy Wars co-creator—and former Sad Robot bandmate—Nicolas Perez, who both also compose for TV and film, and drummer Greg Garman, the past year has been a reflective one. “It sucks not to perform live, but I found love for it in other areas,” says Leon. “The climate that we live in right now, if you’re a writer who writes from a very personal place, or even as an observer, you can’t help but feed off of what’s happening in the world.”
Recently releasing their eruptive rendition of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” Leon says she has a tendency to go directly to music, poetry, and past words when writing. “I’ll look at journal entries that were never a song but may become one. I write from the subconscious, so if I still connect to something over time, it will become song.”
Leon, who lost both of her parents six months apart in 2015, which she later poured into Holy Wars’ 2017 debut EP Mother Father, shares that music and writing help her cope through life shifts. “It heals me personally, things that I can’t control,” says Leon. “Losing my parents, obviously, I had no control over that, and you get so much anger around something you don’t have control of… When it’s life and death, when it’s a pandemic, and even political issues, you see this collective of things that we don’t have control over.”
She adds, “I definitely need to write to express how I’m feeling, and I learn a lot about myself when I’m writing. I learned so much about where I’m at in my life, as a person and what I need to work on by writing music and all the music I’ve written—even some of the stuff for TV and film—still comes from me. There’s still some truth in that.”
Even thinking back to her Sad Robot days, and releasing two albums with Perez, feels like a completely different time, and person, to Leon. “It feels like a totally different life,” shares Leon. “I don’t know that person. I do think it also has a lot to do with when my parents died. Chronologically, I look at 2015 like before and after Christ, or before and after death. It’s literally before and after they died, and anything that existed before 2015 I can’t connect to. It’s not in my heart. It’s not in my head. It’s existing in some other parallel dimension. It’s me from a life that I dreamt in some way. There’s no way to describe it.”
Writing more as an observer now, in 2020, Leon recently collaborated with the Michael Ciravolo-fronted project Beauty in Chaos on single “Stranger,” and released her second solo EP Strange Paradise, a follow up to 2019 debut This Is How The World Ends, all allowing her space to explore her other sides.
“People thought I only had this one side of myself, but I tend to shift in whatever space I’m in,” says Leon. “It’s kind of like putting on a different hat, but it’s choosing to pull from a different side of myself. Holy Wars is still my heartbeat, but I do like to explore other shapes, then go back to my home in Holy Wars.”