Katherine Thomas - better known as The Great Kat - is like a force of nature in both her everyday life and in the music world. She tells Matt Chapman how a Judas Priest music video led her to become one of the fastest guitarists alive.
On the day we spoke to The Great Kat, AKA Katherine Thomas, it would have been the 244th birthday of Beethoven. Given that this super-speedy, uber-loud (in both her music and the shouty way she communicates with the world) musician has declared herself the reincarnation of Beethoven, we're keen to know if she's currently blowing out the 244 candles on a massive cake.
"The Great Kat is the reincarnation of Beethoven/the resurrector of Beethoven/the reinventor of Beethoven and the new Beethoven!" she replies so excitedly that we should really be printing it all in capitals. "Beethoven composed the '5th SYMPHONY' in 1804 and now The Great Kat shreds the '5th SYMPHONY'. Bow to the new Beethoven of the 21st century - The Great Kat!"
MyM: Please introduce yourself for those MyM readers who don't know you...
The Great Kat guitar goddess is one of the “Top 10 Fastest Shredders Of All Time” (Guitar One Magazine), a Juilliard grad violin virtuoso and the reincarnation of Beethoven!
How would you describe shredding to someone who’s never witnessed it?
Guitar Shredding means playing incredibly fast guitar solos at the highest speeds possible, with clarity and technical precision. They can witness insane guitar and violin shredding from The Great Kat on "The Flight Of The Bumble-Bee" at http://youtu.be/sGUQyKBMklA .
As well as being in Guitar One magazine's list of the Top 10 Fastest Shredders Of All Time, Guitar World magazine also named you one of the Top 50 Fastest Guitarists Of All Time. Was speed always your goal when you started playing the guitar?
Yes! Beethoven, Paganini, Bach, Vivaldi were all high-speed virtuoso! The Great Kat is the only high-speed guitar and violin virtuoso, making classical works from these geniuses even more exciting for the internet generation! As Jimmy Fallon Online said: "The Great Kat plays Beethoven's symphonies the way he always intended: incredibly fast and covered in blood."
What advice do you have for those looking to shred?
It helps to learn to read music (or guitar tablature), use a metronome, memorize your part and build speed slowly! It takes practice! Practice! Practice! Try Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto #3" with guitar tablature and music notation - see The Great Kat's version at http://youtu.be/9etszc4VjcQ.
Which was the first classical track you shredded?
Paganini's "Caprice #24" – The Great Kat shreds using the 'Paganini' technique on both guitar and violin, which requires that you take your fingers and you make them like claws. The vibrato is extremely tight and fast.
You trained at Juilliard as a classical violinist, but have since declared classical music dead. But aren’t you actually bringing classical music to a whole new audience in an exciting new way?
Yes! After graduating Juilliard as a violin soloist and solo touring, I realized that Classical music desperately needed to be updated in an exciting way. I happened to see a Judas Priest music video on TV one day and loved the metal guitars and operatic vocals! I began updating Classical Music with Speed Metal and transcribing intricate violin solos to the guitar.
Is there any song that can’t be shredded?
The Great Kat does not shred boring, long-winded Classical music from bores like Cage, Schoenberg, Glass and other non-virtuoso 'composers'!
The US advert for Call Of Duty: Ghosts used Eminem, the UK advert used your version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Who wins in a fight between Marshall Mathers and The Great Kat?
Of course, The Great Kat and Vivaldi win! Your readers can see for themselves, as The Great Kat's fast, furious and totally virtuosic “The Four Seasons” mixes with the power of Call Of Duty: Ghosts: http://youtu.be/6tW_ik2J000 .
How would you describe your look and is it inspired by anything or anyone?