Indie On The Rise: Notes From Vivace Interviews Holy Wars

Holy Wars Kat Leon - PPhoto by Notes From Vivace
Holy Wars Kat Leon - Photo by Notes From Vivace


LONG BEACH – Happy Sundays in Long Beach’s Zaferia District was a free festival that took place along a 1.5 mile stretch of Anaheim Street. It spread across 8 venues. The third installment of this festival took place on August 26th.

For Los Angeles fans of the local music scene, a number of bands playing the event would be familiar like Death Valley Girls, The Paranoyds and YIP-YOPS, to name a few.

There was also a gallery of photos by the late photographer Emery Becker who died in a highway crash.

One of most well-regarded bands playing the fest was Holy Wars and we were fortunate enough to get a few minutes with lead singer Kat Leon.

Holy Wars - Photo by Notes From Vivace
Holy Wars – Photo by Notes From Vivace

NFV: Why the name Holy Wars?

Kat Leon: The name was inspired by our lyric “Now there’s a Holy War in me” in our song ‘Mother Father.’ When we wrote the first few songs, there was still no name for the band, and once that lyric was written it was apparent that would be the best way to describe this whole collection of music. That lyric originally came to me when people would ask me how I was doing shortly after my parents’ passing and eventually I would just start to tell them, “every day feels like a holy war in me” to sum it all up.

NFV: Why do you go by the name Kat Leon?

Kat Leon: I also took on the name Kat Leon as my personal name in the band since who I was now felt so different than when my parents were alive.  I had an unfortunate rebirth and even though I still have my birth given name, I look at it like a chronological BC/AD situation. And so when we started Holy Wars and I knew I was about to be on stage again and express my vulnerability to the public, I needed a suit of armor. A visual name-expression of the music that I would now create.  The name Leon was inspired by my father.  It’s like a suit I can zip on and off. That was the best way for my mental health while singing songs that are so heartbreakingly personal to my actual life.

Holy Wars - Photo by Notes From Vivace
Holy Wars – Photo by Notes From Vivace

NFV: The band has been around for a little over a year (correct me if I’m wrong). How has the band come together as a group?

Kat Leon: The band has been together for over a year now. During that time the live show has continued to develop but even more so the sound has. We’re working on our next two single releases in 2018 following up with an LP in 2019. We brought in our close friends for these recordings: produced by Hunter Burgan (AFI), drums by Jeff Friedl (APC, Puscifer, The Beta Machine, EODM) as well as Matt Mcjunkins (APC, Puscifer, The Beta Machine, EODM) guesting on a song and engineered by Mat Micthell (APC, Puscifer, NIN and more) and Jeff Sahyoun (Let Live). All talented humans we respect and admire so much.   We are excited to share with everyone where the band plans to go next.

Holy Wars - Photo by Notes From Vivace
Holy Wars – Photo by Notes From Vivace

NFV: Any final thoughts?

Kat Leon: I always love to talk about the album cover for Mother Father. It was a personal family photo of my mother and my father when they were teenagers. We had their handwriting recreated in the ‘Mother Father’ title. Something most people don’t know. That jacket in the photo that my mom is wearing, I still have and wear today. The most amazing thing I see at our shows are people walking away with our vinyl with my parents on the cover. They are in the homes of people they’ve never met. And I feel like in some small way I’m helping them live on. Every show we play, I wear my mom’s socks and I have a token key chain of my dad’s on my pedal board. Every stage I play, they come with me and in some small way I feel safe.

About Notes From Vivace: NFV started shooting blurry music photos on a Canon Powershot SD200. The DIY club Kiss or Kill is where NFV’s first shots were taken of bands like Automatic Music Explosion, Bang Sugar Bang, The Mulhollands and The Randies.  As that scene started to fade away, NFV started following Family of the Year and Local Natives and got hooked into the Echo Park/Silverlake music scene.