If you could take the spirit of Lana Del Rey, the angst of Soundgarden, the tragically poetic turns of phrase of Fiona Apple, and the commanding stage presence of Lita Ford, you would have the …
If you could take the spirit of Lana Del Rey, the angst of Soundgarden, the tragically poetic turns of phrase of Fiona Apple, and the commanding stage presence of Lita Ford, you would have the best approximation of the music that is Kate van Dorn.
A Sayville native who has played in venues throughout the South Shore, van Dorn is a seasoned musician, despite her 25 years. Starting at the age of 16, van Dorn began performing at local bars and festivals. Working on her upcoming album throughout the ongoing pandemic has proved challenging with Zoom calls, but nevertheless, the art has persisted and van Dorn has made strides in her music.
“I write when I need to say something... something not in my life. No pressure. Fully cathartic,” said van Dorn.
For the past two years, van Dorn has been writing songs continuously to produce the raw sound that is emblematic of her repertory. Considering herself a very internal person, she focuses inward before telling the story outward.
“I explore my relationship with myself and how a situation affects me instead of the actual thing that happened,” said van Dorn, whose lyricism is often Virginia Woolf-like in its ruminations and gnawing sensibility of a protracted emotion.
In her single, “Grain of Salt,” written in the first person of an obliquely mirrored expression of self, van Dorn croons about a woman “going alone” on a hard path ahead. Accompanied with stark black-and-white drawing artwork, “Grain of Salt” is evocative of experimental ‘90s animation videos that remove the actual band members from the footage to belie a deeper meaning.
The dark alternative rock mixed with an Americana vibe is the result of a carefully put together band that includes musicians who toured with the likes of Bauhaus, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Billy Idol and Paul McCartney.
“My band members bring so much experience and I fell in love with the process,” explained van Dorn.
Koudi Wyoming is van Dorn’s guitarist who also has played with Fawkes. “The most important thing about working with Kate was spending the time to find a sound that complements her style, both lyrically and vocally. We spent over a year developing that sound,” said Wyoming.
Among her favorite venues are local hotspots, including 89 North in Patchogue, which van Dorn considers a bit of a home base for her performances.
Originally scheduled to tour in March throughout Texas, the pandemic has put those plans on hold for at least a year.
But van Dorn is making the most of the time and working on her signature style, which she laments, “is a different type of music that won’t get played on the radio,” as it is not the studio concoctions of late.
With a long list of influences, van Dorn runs the gamut, from the early days of Black Sabbath to PJ Harvey (brought to her attention by a manager who told her of Kurt Cobain’s love of the musician) to Beth Hart.
Performing live is where van Dorn comes alive, with an impressive and alluring stage presence that draws the audience directly to her ice-blue eyes, as she often struts in vintage clothing she finds locally.
“A lot of music on the radio is good; it has a solid melody, a good hook, but really what makes great music is relatable, personal lyrics, soul more than anything,” said Van Dorn of popular music that “people don’t really know what they like” and are fed music that they “ought” to like.