Katja Glieson Chases The Dream
Katja Glieson is an Australian-German recording artist, actress and social media personality. She began pursuing music at an early age and now calls Los Angeles home. Her latest single, “California Dream” is semi-autobiographical about coming here and how not everything exactly as she fantasized. While the message is serious, the music is a stark contrast as the music and pace of the song are upbeat as is the fun accompanying video. Katja took a quick break to tall about her California dream, her difficult childhood, and what she would like to do moving forward.
First, I have to admit, I have developed the first earworm in a very long time with your new single and video, “California Dream”. Thanks, now I can’t get it out of my head. (laughs)
Wait what? NO WAY ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? You have absolutely no idea what that means to me. Being the only songwriter on this track, I drive myself crazy, so I’m just very thankful that you resonated with the lil Cali worm.
The video is very bright with fast paced scene changes; almost a stark comparison to the lyrics. How well do you feel the visuals convey your lyrics?
Very perceptive of you. Lyrically, “California Dream” is pretty blatant. There are some cryptic moments but for the most part, I don’t hide the truth when I speak. And just like my experience with those who reside in California, chasing the “California Dream” I thought it was a great opportunity to say one thing yet keep portraying the stark contrast of the industry and life in California in the visuals. It is literally the California experience. You know the truth, yet everyone is playing a role. I got the opportunity to film at Pinktree Studios in Downtown LA, and that amazing space is for creating content. It was the PERFECT backdrop for a visualizer.
Being from Australia, how did your California dreams compare to your California reality?
Just like I say in the first line it’s definitely “not what it seemed like when I stood on the outside”. There are two kinds of experiences of chasing the California Dream. One is if you are lucky enough to be born into it, marry (or sleep your way in) or come in with a truck load of money. Or, if you are like me, from a poor background that sacrificed everything to come here, and are absolutely not interested in playing the sex/power game, you are going to be hit with a huge reality check. You begin at the lowest level. In my experience, the good guy never wins, the good guy is used, abused, objectified and spat out. You really need to keep your head screwed on, or someone will take advantage of you.
I’m not sure of your writing process. Did the music inspire your lyrics or did your lyrics inspire how to compose the music?
My writing process changes every time, but for this song, the music came first. It just began as chords. And like magic, one line came to mind “California Dream” not what it seemed like”. I loved how the words “dream” and “seemed” both rhyme but they weren’t in separate lines like conventional songwriting would dictate. That tiny detail was so interesting to me it just created the entire vibe of the song.
The video for “California Dream” is a stark comparison in style to your previous single, “Better View” that you released only last month. “Better View” has a very cinematic feel to it – almost a mini movie. One thing I noticed (and I may be the only one) about the video for “Better View” is the use of the color and shades of blues in the video from the blue across your face to the blue tint in at least one scene. Does the color blue or the use of the color signify anything in particular?
I love that you noticed this! I am very interested in healing. In fact, before being a musician, I am a healer. I made comedy content for a long time and now I am studying and working on music that is specifically designed to resolve. I add a lot of healing instruments such as crystal bowls to achieve a sense of harmony for the spirit and soul. Part of all this is symbolism so BLUE represents depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity and intelligence. The color blue can invoke a sense of calm and exudes feelings of tranquility. The song “Better View” is about taking a break from all the noise and seeing how far you have come in life, in relationships and having gratitude for the journey. It’s about taking pause and appreciating those that love you even when they drive you mad.
From what I’ve read, you have been very candid and open about being bullied when you were young. I realize that is one of the reasons you turned to music. What I’d like to ask you is was there a particular song or artist you listened to that helped you through those troubling times?
OH MY GOODNESS! People are so mean!!! Am I right? So when I was in primary school (elementary school) I had a big issue with my weight. I got to about 200 pounds by the time I was in grade 6. Just to be clear it doesn’t matter what size you are, but you need to be healthy. 200 pounds was just very unhealthy for a person my size. Being physically different to all the girls, and desperate to be included and have people like me left me open to being hurt by bullies. Where I come from, it’s not just taunting or social media trolling. I was physically abused by multiple kids on a daily basis. I HATED SCHOOL so much that I used to pretend I was sick to get out of it. Not because I hated learning, but my peers were so cruel, I just couldn’t handle it. So I would stay in classrooms during lunchtime and play out movie musicals. Grease, Viva Las Vegas, My Fair Lady, etc. I could recite them by heart and play all the characters. It got me through those horrible times and now I have a great skill where I can entertain anyone at any time.
What do you feel your goals are now both professionally and personally with your music?
I honestly just want to keep growing and bettering myself. Nothing feels better than accomplishing something on your own. It would be amazing to have billions of streams and win accolades and have the opportunity to create live shows and tour, but I accept that all I can control is myself. I always do the very best I can with what is available to me.
How has that changed since you first started pursuing music professionally?
I was always the girl that said “do or die”. I saw the world as very black and white. I thought if I don’t achieve x amount of validation from the industry or my peers I am worthless and should give up. That little voice still tries to creep in, but I kick it in the butt as soon as I am aware that I am spiraling out of control.
You have a nice body of work out there. Is there a style or genre you would like to experiment with or try in the future that is completely different than what you have done to date?
Cheers! That means so much to me. Trust me, there is plenty of my work people do not see, but I would absolutely love to collab on a bit of country or rock music. I am obsessed with Florida Georgia Line and Nelly’s collab on “Just A Little Bit”. And I love Latin American music. Bachata and Reggaeton can get it!
Are there any plans to tour and what can one expect at a live Katja Glieson show?
I wish! Haha, unfortunately a lot of us artists were booked before the big Covid lockdown for two or three years. (How long has it been?) So a lot of us that were postponed were just kinda ghosted as everything started back up again. But I am always on the lookout for the vibe tribe of my music and I know that it will unfold when it’s ready, so I just work on being ready.
– Dave Weinthal