Interviewing The Great Kat is much like hurling through some Grand Guignol anime death match where you just barely survive a punch-up with flesh-shredding hell spawn, only to have a dump truck fall on your head as you’re resting and licking your wounds. If the preceding seems a little over-the-top, please consider that Webster’s offers no appropriate word or phrase to describe this woman’s intensity. She talks faster than she plays, and she can zoom up and down a fretboard faster than a hungry cheetah on steroids. She also yells a lot. And she demands attention—which means an interviewer can pretty much forget about interjecting, interrupting, or sucking in a breath or two.
The Great Kat’s ferocious passion is unleashed in the service of a divine mission: zapping her ultra-virtuosic, 22nd-century shred classical concept into the synapses of what she calls the “moron masses.” To accomplish this, the Juilliard-trained violinist and guitar shredder transforms classical masterworks into speed-metal songs, rages like a demented dominatrix, spews blood, bears arms, exposes her goodies, and indulges in both mental and dramatic castrations. (Check out greatkat.com for the visuals.)
Now, if you’re thinking about giggling—don’t. Some may feel The Great Kat looks and acts like a freak, but, if so, she’s a freak who can outplay just about every guitarist on the planet. (Go ahead and challenge her—she’ll prove it!) In addition, her work ethic would bring most players to their knees. She builds her meticulous shred-classical adaptations of Wagner, Vivaldi, and Beethoven by entering the original scores note-by-note into Sibelius music-notation software before rearranging the works for guitar.
“The guitar will not always match the sound quality of the violins, violas, and cellos, so you have to have to change the register, the [fingering] positions, and certain notes so that the score fits within the playing capabilities of the guitar,” she explains. “I work out the arrangements on violin first—which often requires six months of practice, going 12 hours a day to master one minute of music. Then I play the work on the guitar. I edit out the boring stuff, keep the main themes, and speed everything up. It’s an overwhelming task, but it’s the only way to get people who are used to listening to Bugs Bunny music to be excited and engaged by the works of geniuses.”
The Great Kat’s total commitment to her art and craft hasn’t left her much bandwidth for a supportive and nurturing presence. She’s not shy about dissing “lazy” women, badgering dilettantes of both sexes, or trumpeting her fearsome speed-power majesty. In The Great Kat’s world, lesser guitarists can get better, get out of her way, or bow in worship. Make your choice.
THIS IS THE WHOLE INTERVIEW RIGHT HERE! Guys have dicks, and therefore guys can be considered guitar heroes. Females have no dicks, and that means guys cannot worship them. Guys cannot say that The Great Kat FEMALE is a guitar hero. Because if they ever said, “Wow, that’s amazing—I love what she does on guitar,” their little dicks would shrivel off. ARE YOU GETTING THIS? This is the WHOLE POINT. All those other guitar magazines don’t want to write about The Great Kat, because if I come in and establish the protocol for powerful female guitarists, then all the other bitches behind me are going to come in—if they’re qualified and are technical virtuosos—and that pathetic one-inch penis WILL NOT define a guitar hero. It will mean NOTHING!
Well, this is a nice start...
Let me tell you something else: Women guitarists don’t want to get off their LAZY BITCH ASSES and practice their balls off! Women are not INTERESTED in competing with guys. They start these little bands with other women because THEY CAN’T HACK IT! They’re in their tiny little non-threatening groups that will NEVER EVER SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF MEN. You know why? Because they’re SCARED of what guys will think if they get TOO DAMN GOOD. Well, I’ll tell you what the guys will think. They’ll say, “You’re a ugly dog. We don’t want to have sex with you anymore. We hate your guts.”
But if a woman doesn’t have the capability to compete against men, THEN SHE CAN GO TO HELL! Why do you think some people love me, and some people hate me? The ones who love me say, “I accept the fact that I am influenced by The Great Kat, and I will kick ass.” But the haters can’t do what I can do, and they will never accept the fact they have to get WAY BETTER!
What inspired your concept of shred classical?
After studying at Juilliard, I realized classical music was dead. No one was listening to it. So I looked at what the moron masses were listening to, and I asked myself, “What’s the most exciting music?” Metal! Right then and there I decided to mix heavy metal with classical music. But you can’t just bring in metal styles and lay them on top of classical music, you must also maintain the virtuosity of true classical genius. This is what defines shred classical. I am systematically, single-handedly taking Juilliard morons to task, and all the classical composers after Beethoven who choked the life out of classical music because they were not virtuosos. And I’m not only resurrecting classical music, I’m resurrecting metal—which has been systematically destroyed by all those Metallica-style bands. You have to be able to PLAY, asshole!
At the risk of getting bludgeoned, I have to ask why you feel you need all the sex and gore to promote yourself, when you are quite obviously a brilliant guitarist?
If it takes The Great Kat wearing dominatrix outfits—and DRIPPING IN BLOOD with a whip in my hand—to get people to wake up to shred classical, that’s what The Great Kat will do, because The Great Kat is not only updating classical music for the 21st-century morons, I’m also being an entertainer. I’m mixing shred metal and classical music with operatic theater. This is why my ripping new DVD, Guitar Shred, is so insane, with torture and castration and slaves. I AM THE DOMINATRIX OF WAR!
The visual presentation is exciting, and I believe it appeals to people who normally wouldn’t get into something like shred classical. They are intrigued by the excitement, and then they get the virtuosity. If you make everything too technical and scholastic, people get bored. What I’m doing is, little by little, jamming the genius of Vivaldi and Wagner down their throats while I’m entertaining them with the blood and domination and castration.
Listen, people are stupid, and they want the easiest formula for their slow-thinking brains. If you give them one ounce of Beethoven, they will throw up. People would rather listen to Madonna’s crap than Mozart. Now if they were intelligent, they would say, “I need to hear the music of geniuses to make me more intelligent—not crap music that makes me stupid.” I’m trying to make musicians realize that to become brilliant players, you need brilliant music. We don’t have time for years and years to pass by while everybody is sitting around saying, “But I like old blues.” WAKE UP! It’s crap. It’s stupid.
You’re pretty down on musical conventions, aren’t you?
WELL, AREN’T YOU BORED? Listen, if you want to help resurrect guitar—well, first you have to read music. Then, you have to study violin books such as Sevcik’s The School of Bowing and Carl Flesch’s Basic Studies for Violin, because all the guitar books are doing is teaching you how to play traditional guitar. Now, guitarists don’t like me saying stuff like this. But I’m a violin virtuoso who plays guitar, and I also happen to be updating your instrument for you, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH, ASSHOLES! You also need to learn composition, and you have to be able to transcribe.
But you know what? Most guitarists won’t do this, because people want instantaneous gratification. If it takes them like two minutes to get a chord under their fingers, they’re not interested. We’ve created a world of amateurs and morons who have only learned enough about the guitar to finger some moronically simple riff and write an idiotic song. AREN’T YOU FED UP WITH ALL THIS INFERIORITY? Somebody has to STEP UP! If you want to do something brilliant, you’ve got to work for it. Doing something that will change the world requires AWESOME TECHNICAL ABILITY. To produce powerful and exciting music YOU MUST BE A VIRTUOSO.
Speaking of virtuousity, how did you develop your stunning speed?
Everyone knows that you practice stuff real slow, and then start speeding it up. But how I play is different from most guitarists who plop their fingers down flat across the guitar and move around in one position. The Great Kat uses the Paganini technique, which requires that you take your fingers and you make them perfectly perpendicular to the fretboard—like claws. It’s totally strict, and the vibrato is extremely tight and fast. It’s not like the wide, bend-y vibrato that rock and blues guitarists use. At the speeds I play, I don’t have time for that!
Also, my fingering is very light—which is critical to violin performance, because if you play, say, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and your fingering is aggressive and heavy, you’ll sound out of tune. You’ll also get behind the beat. It’s all about being fast and light.
While you are basically destroying old-school classical music by speeding it up and fusing it with metal, you also have a very sweet, sincere, and very deep respect for classical composers.
The reason I respect, admire, and draw strength from Paganini, Beethoven, and the classical masters is because they put up with CRUSHING GODDAMN CRITICISM and they still produced genius. Beethoven, for example, invented “romantic” classical music from a traditional classical music mold left by Mozart. He wasn’t afraid of people saying, “Boy, that’s noisy!” They said, “We want the calm, relaxing classical music that doesn’t insult our senses,” and Beethoven comes up with “BAH BAH BAH BAHHHHHH! F**K YOU!” Any musician who establishes a new protocol for music is going to get tortured, man. The fearless don’t care. They kick ass and move things forward while the COWARDS sit back and play it safe and collect compliments.