interview by Damon Locks
The members of the Baltimore based band Celebration have been making music for quite some time. The two founding members (Katrina Ford and Sean Antanaitis) were once youths in the group JAKS. The JAKS were an explosive, horror inspired group whose songs had a wonderfully exciting energy that was furious and entertaining (and often bloodied by the end of the set). The frayed edges of early adulthood made their music bristle with electricity. Issues of relationships, feelings of desperation and the trials and tribulations that come hand in hand were filtered through the urban vampire, mummy and werewolf-like sensibilities that the JAKS had adorned. After the dissolution of JAKS Katrina and Sean, older and wiser, join forces with future Celebration member David Bergander to address issues head on in a band called Lovelife. Was the name a command or referencing the subject of everyone’s personal obsession? The birth of Celebration’s aesthetics is found here but the band doesn’t survive long enough to reach its goals. We now find Katrina, Sean and David in the form of Celebration making music that speaks volumes on personal growth, artist integrity and creative energy. Full fledged yet still growing adults Celebration makes a noise that strives to communicate that there is a collective notion out there somewhere. Age has done wonders for these musicians. They incorporate experiences into their artist endeavors so that they may grow as the band does. The band is a conversation with friends that goes on through the night about health, nature, politics, the colors of the sky, life on other planets, and ends as the sun rises. This is Celebration.
The music that Celebration makes seems to have a generous spirit, an unselfishness that want to be inclusive with its listeners. There is a sense that Celebration has a secret that should be obvious to everyone but it is not and Celebration was to share the knowledge. It is an attitude that shows maturity and a sense of responsibility. Do you think that musicians have an obligation to their audiences or should they just be concerned with their own artist vision and the audience can take what they will? That might be a mute point depending if you believe that musicians today are dealing with an artistic vision.
I believe some people are artists working with music as their medium, and some people are musicians. There is really no middle ground. Musicians are heart and soul giving entertainers. Artists may give you heart & soul and they may entertain you, but their main concern is their vision, their art. Both schools are valid and enriching. “Obligation” is a hard word for me to use with music. I think I like the first word you used, the word “responsibility”, better, because feels like it’s committed not forced. I think both are responsible for audience journey but in different ways. Artists seem to just show their vision and musicians seem to share their vision…big difference
The previous bands that you guys were in (JAKS & Lovelife) had strong themes and motifs. Does Celebration have a motif?
JAKS and Love Life did indeed have strong motifs. It was easy to stay within those confines. Motif is premeditated, sculpted and pruned. Celebration has no motif, except be who you are and give all you got. That gives us so much freedom for growth.
Has your outlook on making music changed since the days of JAKS?
YES. On every level. Personally, I never considered myself a musician until this band. Before, I think I was an artist making music. With this band, I switched schools. Secondly, the really big one for me is that my worldview changed on September 11th 2001. Until then I can say I was in a self-centered but happy state of oblivion. I had little concern for politics, world news or anything much of social importance. I would read the news and complain about the state of things, but that’s as far as it went. That one event slowly destroyed who I was but made me grow up. It turned my attention outside of my fantasy world and made me realize what a selfish and sheltered life I was leading. And as an artist and a musician, what a shallow pallet of inspiration I was drawing from. I had been before, very drawn to “dark” things, in a tongue and cheek playful arty kind of way. That day and every day since has shown me what true dark energy is and what it does. I want nothing to do with that. In an effort to balance that darkness, I have been on a quest to find the human spirit, to redeem humanity in my eyes and to take responsibility for the energy that I put into the world. Over the last 6 years I have made a conscious choice to filter what I am exposed to. I have been reading positive books, I stopped watching TV (I get my world news from reputable unbiased sources on line), and I began meditating three years ago. Those changes have definitely effected my expression, what I want to say and how I want to spend my time. With that change I realized I wanted to share rather than show. Sharing the light with others has become my life mission. I think we can all make a change in this world. I refuse to feel powerless music can be such a powerful tool for change.
The act of being in a band is an uphill battle that sees few victories. What inspires you to keep being a band and making music?
It can be a battle…a battle to stay positive and to keep sharing amidst the barrage of this cynical climate. Since the advent of the BLOG everyone has become a critic. It’s much easier to sit and eat cheetos in your shorts in front of your computer and tell people what you didn’t like about somebody’s record, than it is to get off your ass and give your heart. I have no choice. I’m a lover. I am, even in my 15 years of experience as an active musician, not qualified to quantify and destroy the intent of someone’s hard work with the click of a mouse. For the people who do do that, I don’t believe they are qualified either. We need people doing creative positive things. Let the audience hear/see for themselves. Go do something good for this world. I love what a friend of mine once said. He said, “Do something magical or disappear.””
Life is short. List and review the records you love all you want, share the awesome stuff. If you don’t believe in something don’t waste your time even mentioning it. And please come up with a more creative way to describe music rather than to define by outmoded genre categories and slanderously dropping other band names as if to insult! NO man is an island. Musicians all listen to music and we are all connected and inspired by each other’s music past, present and the future(eternal).
What keeps me inspired is music. I love music. I love listening to music, writing, playing, recording, sharing. And also my band keeps me inspired, I love working with Sean and David. They are such amazing people. They write music that makes me want to sing. One day I may decide not to take “it up to the mountain” anymore but, I will never stop making music it is my bliss.
How do you feel that Celebration fits into the current music stream?
I don’t know, how we fit or if we fit.
As musicians for many years what do you think of the state of music these days?
Since the days of JAKS, I think the face of independent music has changed so much. Counterculture has become commercialized. It is trackable and marketable, which is/was against its creed. But there is definitely still integrity out there. There are just more cooks in the kitchen. If you are a music lover, it’s great for you, more bands more music, more shows to choose from. If your in a band on tour in October, It’s hard!! You’ve got 4 other shows to compete with, on any given night, in any given town. Back when we started touring in JAKS in the mid 90’s people were really thankful you came to town because they only had maybe 2 shows a month or something. Now it’s so saturated. But, like I said, as a music lover I’m thrilled. I think there are some really good people, making some really good music right now. As far as my thoughts on the industry ie. downloading and such, I embrace the future and I curiously await to see how the dinosaurs of the industry will survive. EVOLVE OR DISSOLVE !
Who do you admire?
My husband Sean, his courage. He has been fighting a painful crippling disease for 10 years. Psoriatic Arthritis has damaged his hands and feet. Through it all, he manages to play 4 instruments at once, and make music that astounds and impresses me. I feel so lucky to work with someone so talented. I sometimes forget he has arthritis. He never once complains or feels sorry for himself. Regardless, we are confident, we will find a way to rid him of this and heal his body. Until then…I know he will forever be a trooper and my hero.