#30. A Conversation with Katie Waissel

Jason Anders: So let's talk cartoons; do you have an all-time favorite piece of animation?

Katie Waissel: Wow, now that's a hard one! I had to spend a lot of time thinking about this! I would definitely have to go with the Betty Boop shorts. She was known as the first, and one of the most famous, iconic sex symbols on the animated screen, and is a reminder to all of the carefree days of the Jazz Age Flappers! I adored her cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit!

JA: Which cartoons did you grow up watching, and how do you think they compare with what is being made today?

KW: I grew up watching The Clangers, Rhubarb and Custard and Fraggle Rock; these shows are so old school, but such classics! My mum would put the tapes on, and I would be addicted to the music and sound effects, I just loved the simpleness of them!

JA: Who is your favorite animated character?

KW: As well as Betty Boop, of course, I just love Jessica Rabbit! Her famous 'Peek-A-Boo' hairstyle is just fabulous, and her curvaceous look should be promoted more! I think we should have more Jessica Rabbits than stick men! One of her famous quotes that always makes me giggle is when she claims to Eddie Valiant, "Im not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

JA: If you had to make a list of three animated films that everyone should see, which ones would they be?

KW: Again, there are just so many that I could say. I love all of the Disney animations, from Dumbo to Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. I'm a sucker for a love story, especially when it's animated, it makes it that much more special! If we are talking more recently, I absolutely loved Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and Ice Age. It is just fantastic how these films are created, made, and produced. It takes a lot of talent to be able to create films such as these, and it's so wonderful that their creativity can inspire so many people!

JA: Do you have a favorite artist?

KW: I must say that Disney's legendary 'Nine Old Men' are the top of my list! From Les Clarke, who specialized in animating Mickey Mouse through the decades, and drawing such classics as The Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia, to Ward Kimball, who combined his love of music and animation for the acclaimed The Firehouse Five Plus Two, and for the crows in Dumbo.
JA: Do you remember what first inspired you to start writing songs and performing?

KW: Wow, this story goes quite a while back! My Grandpa, Jimmy Vogel, had a huge influence on me when I was little. We used to stay up for hours and listen to all sorts of music, he would sing to me, I would sing back. He loved listening to jazz, and Louis Armstrong was our favourite! My mum bought me my first Casio keyboard when I was just five, and my grandpa sent me song lyrics such as the famous song K-K-K-Katy, and we would make up our own version too! I carried on my passion for the piano and music all through school, and started composing around the age of fourteen. You see, my grandpa passed away when i was just ten, which was heartbreaking. I made a promise to him that i would carry on singing and playing, and that one day our name will be in lights! He has been my drive, my determination, and my rock ever since.

JA: Your music is inspired by 1940's, 50's, and 60's swing and jazz; who are your favorite music artists from those periods that have influenced your style?

KW: Well Louis Armstrong, for sure! I grew up on his wonderful sachmo voice and incredible talent, and just adored his lyrics. One of my favorite songs by him is A Kiss To Build A Dream On. Ella Fitzgerald captured my heart with Someone to Watch Over Me, and Etta James raspy soul voice is so powerful that I couldn't help but listen to what she had to say! I had a big record collection growing up, thanks to my dad, which consisted of The Ronettes, The Supremes, Sinatra, and Louis Jordan. There were just so many, so they all play such a huge part when it comes to me writing my songs.
JA: You have been playing piano since the age of five, and have since performed from New York to London, including The Royal Albert Hall and The Shepherds Bush Empire; what is it like to see your career unfolding in such a big way at the age of 22?

KW: To be honest, it's breathtaking. I have put such hard work into my music and have never given up. I have worked three jobs at a time to put myself through vocal coaching school, cried a thousand tears through my songs, and smiled so brightly when playing them live. It has been a huge challenge which will ever continue, and I can guarantee there will be even more ups and downs to come. For now, I can say I've reached my goals so far by never giving up, and will always love what I do.

JA: You have written material with Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, Chaz Jankel of Ian Dury and The Blockheads, and Grammy Award winning Gordon Commissioner Williams; Glen Matlock has even been quoted as saying, "Along with her raw talent, Katie brings a breath of fresh air to the industry." What is it like to have the support of so many established artists so early in your career?

KW: It is amazing! I never expected the support i have been given and i am just so grateful for it! they are all such wonderful talented people and i feel honoured to have the opportunity to work with them!

JA: If you had to sum up the feeling of your music in one word, what would it be?

KW: Animated! (Hehe, do you like what I did there?)