Kat Cunning Delivers “Wild Poppies”

Katrina Cunningham discusses her inspirations, hopes for the future, and her next move

kat cunning

Kat Cunning, aka Katrina Cunningham, may be somewhat of a new name in the music world, but she has been lighting up the stage for some time now. A Broadway actress and trained dancer, Kat performed as the only live component in Refinery29’s “29Rooms” Fashion week exhibit.

Cunning delivered her debut single “Baby” back in September, and now has returned with its follow up “Wild Poppies”. Her music weaves pop with soul and Baroque arrangements, and takes insight from her experience as a performer. Her debut EP is set to come out in 2018.

ARTISTdirect caught up with Kat Cunning to discuss her inspirations, hopes for the future, and her next move.

kat cunning interview

Hello – Please introduce yourself.

Kat Cunning from Portland, Oregon. Romantic, freak, and all around good guy.

Where are you right now?

In a car on the way to my show. Green Subaru. ; )

Please name your fellow band members and their roles… oh, and who has the best dance moves?

Band consists of Mickey Vershbow (drums), Cale Hawkins (keys/guitar) and I. With a BFA from Purchase Dance Conservatory, I take home the trophy for best dance moves. Mickey serves a fierce 2-step.

Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?

For this project, I had the pleasure of working with a number of U.K. based artists: Martin Terefe, Adj Buffone & Jim Duguid, and Nikolai Potthoff to name a few. The songs weave through themes of arousal, love, failure and power. I write what I find interesting to perform, and I like to explore the strength in vulnerability. Everything I write is personal, even when shrouded in metaphor.

How do you describe your music to new friends?

Scores of secrets. Little pop operas. Songs to have sad sex to. Alt Pop.

How did you first meet, and where exactly did you become a band?

We met in BK, performing in an all-female collab show called “The Hum.” It was a stormy night. We had negronis.

Other than Kat Cunning, what should your hometown be known for?

Other than ‘Portlandia’, Oregon should be known for ‘the beauty of a bright grey day, and the high of a cold dip in the Pacific.’

Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you (and that your relationship with it/them). Can we see a photo?

I have a series of dead flowers hanging from my wall. When I was in an off-broadway production of Nutcracker Rouge by Company XIV (equal parts burlesque, concert dance and opera), a gentleman sent 3 giant bouquet’s to my dressing room. He was an older man with the true character of the 30’s, which is an era that often resonates with me. Although his intention was to court me, we quickly became a surprising pair of friends. The flowers on my wall are from him on the night I first sold out Joe’s Pub with my own music. They remind me of my showgirl roots.

What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…

I always thought I would be a Backstreet Boy. I wrote them a personal letter as a kid denoting that I was “not a fan,” and “although I do not sing or play any instruments” I felt they would benefit from my presence. Larger Than Life is still one of my favorite songs to sing.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?

I had spaghetti with Macy Gray after she saw one of my shows, and I told her I was nervous to share my sound. She was in all denim (like a true princess) and she leaned in to say, “Just do it, girl.”

Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?

I would love to kiki with Issa Rae. Maybe she could get us through with her raps.

What song best sums up your life right now?

‘Champagne Taste’ by Eartha Kitt

What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?

That I’m like Barry White to their sex life.

Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?

I spend all my time dreaming. Selling out Kings Theater? Superbowl half time? Collab with Gaga? In a bathtub full of diamonds?

What’s your next step towards that dream?

Filming my first music video tomorrow! Look for ‘Wild Poppies!’

kat cunning wild poppies

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