Today’s edition of Balkan Express dives into the work of K.A.T. And no, for all of you Polish expats out there, this is not the Polish heavy metal band KAT. Rather, it is a Slovenian musical project of the more or less the same name. After all, this is the Balkan Express, not the Silesia Express. To be honest, Slovenian K.A.T. don’t necessarily merit appearance on this here esteemed radio programme of high standing. But as ‘tis the season and everyone is allowed to have a crush on Katarina Čas, so be it.
K.A.T. is a musical project rather than a full blown band. The sort of thing celebrities and acclaimed artists do when they get bored but don’t really want to open a pub or have a TV show. Although Katarina Čas, the band’s vocalist, did have a TV show once upon a time. Not sure if she ever owned a bar. She did, however, appear as a barkeep in a recent Slovenian crime series. But more on that later. Point is, Katarina Čas was joined by composer/producer Martin Štibernik – MisterMarsh and film director Mitja Novljan as author of the lyrics to put together a musical experiment.
Martin Štibernik – MisterMarsh is Slovenian producer and composer with considerable mileage. While he mostly works with other people’s material, he did manage to produce three solo albums over the course of his career. They all got approving nods from the critics, even if none of them were actual hitmakers. But while MisterMash was in his element when he joined the project, director Mitja Novljan was outside his comfort zone when he took up to writing lyrics. He directed videos for the songs, though. Naturally.
And now for the main attraction. Katarina Čas is a Slovenian actress and TV hostess. She started out as a local teenage movie star in the late 80s. She really burst on the scene as a hostess of several influential and popular TV entertainment and music shows. This earned her an avid following and a local celebrity status. But she never stopped auditioning and looking for bigger roles and 2013 was the year she had really made it.
That year Katarina Čas landed a supporting role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese. You know, Leo biting his first attempting to control his hormones, and all that. This obviously led to more Hollywood appearances, including a role in Danny Collins, where she appeared alongside Anette Benning, Christopher Plummer and Al Pacino. And finally, we should mention her recurring role in the third season of Berlin Station, a promising spy thriller series that was much more relevant than it seemed at the time. Shortly after Berlin station was cancelled the plague struck and Katarina found lockdowns just as oppressing and difficult as the rest of us. Which is how K.A.T. came about. And since the whole project is “experimental” there’s not even a whole albums-worth of music out there.
Now, releasing four singles is not a whole lot. K.A.T. have the luxury of making music when it suits them or – more likely – when they are not busy doing other things. But the trio will cobble together a proper album one of these days. It would be right and just to do so. Not in the least, music by KAT also appears in Paradise, a recent Italian film directed Davide del Degan. Because now we know that Katarina Čas can sing as well. In English, no less, with an accent that is as barely noticeable as it is lovely. And thus, an entire generation of Slovenians feels validated once more for having a major crush on Katarina Čas before it was cool to have a crush on Katarina Čas.
Check her out your favourite streaming service and check out K.A.T on Youtube, Spotify or wherever you get you music from and Balkan Express will be back next week.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget the gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.