“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” says Katharine Kadenacy (better known by her stage name, XMeKate). “Life will throw you sh*t regardless, [but] it’s what you make of hardship that determines who you are as a human.”
This philosophy drives the heart of XMeKate, an American singer-songwriter of Greek and Italian descent. Her lyrical style is known for being meticulous and layered, mining artful prose directly from her life – a life that’s had its fair share of heartbreak, loss and discovery. For Kate, music did more than save her soul; it became her soul.
She began writing folk music as a young girl. “I grew up watching my dad writing songs,” she says. “I wanted to be like him.” Her childhood was split between following her father’s footsteps in Los Angeles and caring for her mother in Rome. This resulted in a worldly wisdom, well beyond her years.
Kadenacy’s bicultural upbringing was a major influence in developing her aesthetic, which draws from Greek mythology and classic literature. She chose her name, ‘XMeKate,’ to honor the sharp and uncompromising Kate from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. “I grew up with Shakespeare,” she says. “I went to acting school. [Kate] was one of the strongest female characters of Shakespeare.”
XMeKate is strong, indeed.
Like her namesake, Kate's tenacity grew from hardship. Pain led to power when she infused it with her music. For her, destruction inspired creation. Survival strengthened her resolve to honor those who face similar obstacles.
It all began with Kate + Sarah, her first acoustic collaboration with Sarah Peterson. The duo gained a steady following and drew crowds at venues such as The Viper Room and House of Blues. They eventually parted ways when Peterson relocated to another city. Kadenacy remained in Los Angeles, on track to succeed as a solo artist.
But tragedy struck: After enduring the loss of her mother to cancer, Kadenacy suffered a mental breakdown and a brief stint on involuntary suicide watch.
“There was a moment a few months after my mom died,” she says, “Where I went through a huge shock...mentally and physically.”
This was the end of the only life she knew...and the beginning of a new one. Through healing, Kadenacy’s lyrics ascended from passion to purpose.
“I met Andrés, my producer, who became a really good friend of mine,” she says. “I realized I had really changed as a human.”
When the world went dark, XMeKate was born.
XMeKate’s self-written debut album (set for release in 2017) will be her first
collaboration with Colombian producer Andrés Rebellón (Marina & The Diamonds).
However, this success might never have come about if it wasn’t for reaching rock bottom. “During my mental breakdown, I wrote a lot of music...but I was full of self-doubt and hatred when I was writing.”
With the help of her producer, Kate sifted through her music and resurrected gems she once believed were lost forever. “Some [songs] I brought to Andrés and he helped me add music,” she says. “And some of the really magical tracks like Ten and Clementine came by starting completely from scratch, with him just playing some chords and me throwing some lyrics over it. These are some of my favorite songs on the record.”
Many of the songs are entirely autobiographical, written for healing and comfort in the hardest part of her life. The song 51-50 actually originated from XMeKate’s time on suicide watch.
“51-50 is the code that cops use when someone calls them thinking you’re going to kill yourself,” she relates. “Even if they aren’t actually suicidal, you can call the cops on anybody and they’ll hospitalize them for three days.”
XMeKate says that she never intended to commit suicide, but someone called to have her committed against her will. “It was sort of a slap in the face,” she says.
“I had such a will to live, it was insane.”
The record explores a life in two parts: the first EP, Expectation, centers on intimacy, love and heartbreak. The second EP, Too Much, is a triumphant expression of life after loss. The two installments blend seamlessly with one another, forming a cohesive story of love, death and breakthrough.
“There’s more than meets the eye, when you hear the record,” XMeKate says. “There’s a surprise each time you listen.”
The album’s first single, Cigarettes, will be released in November – followed by a music video in December.
Some might be surprised by XMeKate’s on-screen prowess, but she’s been a star from the beginning. In addition to her musical talents, XMeKate is a gifted actress. She even pursued a career in film, before music stole her heart. “I always knew I wanted to write songs,” she says, “but it didn’t become my primary goal until I went to acting school...I saw how much I really loved making music, how people responded to it. It highlighted what I should be doing.” Her performance education in Hollywood added greatly to her vibrant music videos. A series of highly anticipated film installments are set to premiere in conjunction with her songs.
Moving forward, XMeKate is a force to be reckoned with. Her look is striking, and her sound is entirely unique. Her voice has a distinct vulnerability and ethereal tone, resulting in a unique blend of electro pop, Indie and alternative genres. She is reminiscent of artists such as St Vincent and Fiona Apple. Her heavy, haunting lyrics float within the lightness of her melodies. XMeKate’s music is both universal and achingly personal, reframing harsh reality within the vivid joy of dreams.
XMeKate’s eclectic spirit draws from her bicultural roots, ancient mythology and classic literature. Her fiery, flowing hair and ethereal sound suggest a goddess-like spirit, born from nature. The sound may strike listeners as otherworldly, but humanity breathes through every song.
When asked about the future of her music, Kadenacy smiles. “I write every day. There are a million songs in my head.” She has overcome all obstacles, with no sign of slowing down.
In both music and life, XMeKate is unstoppable.