Dancing with Fire – an interview with Katra

You are a beautiful, young lady, taking part in many projects. You have your band Katra, you are a fire-dance in the group Flamma, and you have a 9 years old daughter. How do you have the energy to do so many things, what gives you inspiration and power?

Thank you! My power comes from many different things. I love working out: I train with my hoops, poi and then I dance, run, go to gym, do yoga.. All those things give me power and satisfaction. Inspiration comes true life: I need to express myself some how. Singing, dancing etc are channels for me to be creative and they help me to stay connected with myself; If I’m sad, I find consolation.  If I’m happy, I can express it with my body or trough singing.
And well, I work as professional musician and fire artist, of course the fact that I get my bill payed with what I love, gives me inspiration as well. Although it may sound harsh.

How was „Katra” born? Tell us please some words about the band members and about your style. Do you also sing in other bands?

It was year 2006 when we started to work together. I knew all the guys from Tampere music scene. Things evolved quite quickly.  In the end of 2006 we already had record deal from Edel music Finland and our first single ’Sahara’ was released.

At the moment our band members are: Johannes, our bass player (member from the beginning)  Johannes is a storyteller. He has a story about everything and he keeps us amused during travel. He is also an excellent bass player. At the moment he studies ethnomusicology at the University. Johannes plays bass in many different bands, also in our Coverstone.

Kristian is our guitarist (also a member from the beginning). Kristian is talented quitar player and really warmhearted and caring.

Teemu started playing guitar with us in 2008. A really funny guy. We share similar kind of humor, especially when it comes to old Finnish bands.  Teemu also plays in Coverstone.

Matti started playing with us also 2008. Plays drums all they long… doesn’t need to sleep. He plays also other instruments as well. He is drummer, guitarist and singer… depending on the band.

Nowadays I sing in Coverstone (which is a cover band). We mainly perform in private events, like corporate parties, galas etc. Then I do different kinds of singing gigs from acoustic covers to co-production gigs for example I was a singer in a circus production in Mexico, 6 weeks in January 2012 and all together 75 shows.

I’m also graduating  from University of applied sciences program Theatre music and music drama and singing as my major this Christmas (2013).
Your name is quite unusual for a Finnish girl and you seem to have a connection to fire. I think of the album’s name „Out Of The Ashes” It reminds me of a phoenix, the legendary bird, which upon dying burns itself, and resurrects from its own ashes. There is also your first single „Sahara”, a hot, dry desert under the sun. Quite surprising in a land which is known about the snow and cold melancholy. How do people accept there your music?

I have kind of always felt that I was born in wrong country. Don’t get me wrong, I love Finland. But for me personally, it’s really hard to cope with the cold, snow, darkness, too long winter, too long summer. My heart yearns sun and warm. That’s why I travel a lot and perform gladly in a places like Mexico, Turkey, Thailand etc.

In Finland metal music is so called marginal music. Although Finland may have the image of ’the land of metal’. Fact is that the radios and television are full of mainstream stuff like Idols, X-factor, the voice, Lady Gaga etc. Metal music has it’s own small listener world, but strong support.

You are a fire-dancer as well. In the video „One Wish Away” you were dancing with the fire-group „Flamma” in which you are a member. How did fire-dancing come?

I started practicing fire spinning in Flamma 6 years ago. I used to be in gymnastics for 10 years, so it all made sense to use similar equipment (like hoop, clubs), but now in fire. I love fire and it has always been my element.  Nowadays I perform in our own fire group called Uniflow.  We perform in different events trough Finland and we’ve performed a lot in abroad too, like in San Francisco, Israel, Dubai, Kiev etc..  Then I have worked as an fire/light artist with Phoenix Firedancers in different show productions like this last one in Antalya, Turkey that took three months.

Recently you’ve spent 3 months in Turkey for a series of performances. How did you feel there? Which was your best experience? How was it like to be away from home for so long?

I loved it. Although we had just one free day in a week.  We had our own villas with private pools. Normally I woke up around 9 am, then I just swam and relaxed by the pool. Around 4-5 pm we went to ’working-mode’ and left to the venue place. We were back at the villas around midnight.
Best experience was the boat trip to Kekova. In our day off, we took 5 hours boat trip to Kekova. We saw the sunken city, dolphins, turtles, really old fortress. Then in the evening we hiked in pitch black night our ways to eternal flames.  Fire burned trough the cracks of the mountain. It has been burning hundreds of years. It was amazing.
It was easy for me to be away from home. I got my dose of sun and warm air!

You have beautiful, long red hair. Can you give the readers some tips upon how to keep long, dyed hair healthy? 😉

Heh, remember to use good conditioner! I use just normal market shampoo, but I spent a little extra money for the conditioner. I use two types of conditioner. The first one is the one you rinse out and after shower I use the leave-in conditioner.
If I spend long period of time in a sunny place, then I also use silk-drops, hair masks and do olive oil treatments.

You sing different styles in  „One Wish Away” and „Beast Within” Which singing style is easier for you, which one do you prefer?

It depends on the song and the mood. In theatre music we’ve been taught to choose the style depending on the story and the character. Like in One wish away.. I use kind of child-like voice. Since the story is about childen abuse and what happens when imagination is not there to help you, when you get older.

For the sake of non-Finnish speaking fans; what is your song Tietäjä about?

Tietäjä means shaman/wise man, that loses his beloved one. It’s a song about faith and love, does it last beyond and what if the religion was ’wrong’ one.
What do you do in your free time?

What is free time? =D Well, I train. The best way for me to relax, is to spend free days with my friends. I love dining out.. and well, partying sometimes as well. Oh, and I love reading and I tend to read a lot.

Your last album came out in 2010. Quite a long time ago if we consider that from 2007 there were 3 singles and 3 albums. What has caused this stop and is there a new album coming out anytime soon?

Can’t promise anything. All the member of the band are really busy at the moment in their own lives for example in the spring first Teemu was in USA for 2 months and when he came back I left to Turkey for 3 months.  Johannes plays in many bands. I have my productions and now the final exams in school etc. Creative process needs time and it’s hard to find time that fits to everybody.
But I have composed a lot of new stuff,  just wondering a way to let it out =D

How do you prepare for a performance with Flamma? Do you suffer from stage fright, have you ever experienced it? Checking upon the photos and videos of the performance, it is a bit fearful to see how several of you dance around with fire. Aren’t you afraid of setting each other on fire?
No, no stage fright.  Just the lovely feeling in my stomach just before hitting the stage, the adrenal rush. Thought it’s a different story when it comes to singing exams. Those one I hate and I’m extremely nervous.
with fire we work professionals. We have been doing it so many years, that really like setting each other on fire would definately affect in our bookings. When one starts to learn the fire spinnign the first thing is to learn to do everything well and perfectly without fire and after that learn  to do the same tricks in fire rehearseals. But still from that point to the point one really can perform with fire.. takes a lot of time, devotion and PRACTISE.

There is a beautiful video on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X58oC4JvbSY What is exactly a poi dance?

Poi was a ritual dance equipment of Maori people in New Zealand.  Poi is around 60 cm chain, which ends to fire head. You held the other end. And to spinning you need pois in both hands.  Poi spinning has its own theory, moves, brakes, pleins, plein changes.. is has a lot to do with mathematics. So just graping two chains with weights in the ends and start spinning isn’t really proper poi spinning. To learn the basics and more advanced stuff you can check out for example www.homeofpoi.com tutorials.

Several months ago you had a small accident when the chair jumped on your foot and ripped off your toenail. In your update you posted: tonight dancing gig with wooden leg style. How were you able to dance afterwards? I can’t think even of walking with such a wound…

It was SOOOOO painful. It hurt a lot to use a shoe, since there was no toenail at all. It took like one week before I was able to walk properly and then it got infected.. and hurt again like 2 weeks.
Well, luckily the gig was inside so I got to took my shoes off… But still my movement was a bit awkward.