TQ Nation had the opportunity to squeeze into the busy schedule of San Francisco based rapper and producer, Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos for an exclusive interview.
Katastrophe got his start in 1997 doing poetry slams which led to rapping and making beats in 2002. He has taken hip-hop to the next level by traveling down the ultra-lyrics highway. He can spit about education, gender, culture and do it all with musical emotions ranging from pounding-reality rage to flirty shake-yer-booty tunes.
He has created three solo cd’s, toured the US and Europe multiple times and has been featured everywhere from Showtime’s “The L Word” to several documentary films. He was named “Producer of the Year” by Out Music Awards and his video for the song “The Life” was on MTV networks LOGO top ten hit list for twelve weeks.
Last year, Rocco teamed up with renowed photographer, Amos Mac, and together they have successfully produced the FTM quarterly magazine, Original Plumbing. Rocco holds the title of Assistant Editor.
Want more? I suggest you dive into his amazing talent for yourself by checking out his website HERE, becoming his fan on Facebook and friending his a$$ on Myspace. Of course, you also need to see him in person so make sure to keep informed of his next scheduled tour. You can also meet him at an Original Plumbing release party which happens every quarter.
Not to mention, he is also a TQ Nation citizen! *wink, wink*
TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?
RK: I don’t know if I know what has had the most impact. I was one of the first transguys making music and discussing my transition from a stage. I figured out I was trans in 2002 and performed the entire time I transitioned. My first CD dealt heavily with issues of early transition, some of those ftm specific songs were featured on the L Word. I know that I reached a lot of young trans guys looking for their reflection in culture during that moment. That felt important and cool. A bunch of young dudes wrote to me during that time about how they used a couple of those songs to come out to their parents. I never set out with the goal of affecting the community, I just want to be real about my life and struggles and if people relate or get something from it, that is a big bonus.
TQ: What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done to get your attention?
RK: Nothing too out of the norm I think. Had a couple bras tossed my way, sweet fan letters etc.
TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
RK: God, I can barely see ten days from now. I try to just think about each day and not worry about the future too much. This has served me well so far.
TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?
(Photo Credit: Jessica Miller)
RK: Only get to pick one? Well, I can’t, there have been too many. I would say direct influences have been my sister and my mom and dad, for all believing in me and pushing me to do anything and everything I felt inspired to do. My parents really accepted me for exactly who I am and supported me every step of the way. Even when I told them I wanted to be the worlds most famous Transsexual rapper!
My girlfriend, writer Michelle Tea, when she said “jobs are for quitting” meaning I never needed to find a career path other than the artistic one I am on. James Kass, director of Youth Speak! He gave me my first job right out of high school, teaching and performing poetry. All the queer artists brave enough to put their identities and art out there and create space for others to follow suit. And most currently Amos Mac for conceptualizing and bringing me on board with Original Plumbing. This project is changing my life and the world forever. The project is magical and so is Amos!
TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?
RK: I can’t quantify. Maybe surviving adolescence and thriving in adulthood. Making money as an artist!
TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?
RK: I was offered a spot on VH1’s “The White Rapper Show” and declined because I wanted to keep a certain level of anonymity. I like being gaymous or sublebrity. I think the hardest part is having people feel like they know me without knowing me. It feels a little imbalanced. Overall it’s cool though.
TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
RK: Do what you are driven to do and worry about the result later. If you get caught up in wondering what will happen, you will never just make stuff. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you can’t. And everyone has an opinion, but what other people think of you is ultimately none of your business.
TQ: How did Original Plumbing magazine get created? Tell us the story.
RK: Amos was going to create a zine to showcase his pictures of the guys in our community he’d shot and he told me about it. The more we talked about it the more inspired we both got about it. I asked if I could help and we decided to run it as more of a real magazine than a zine and to commit to making it for a full year and see how it went. Well, the response was immediately overwhelmingly good. And now we are committed to doing it forever. Neither of us is short in ideas or inspiration and the world is full of guys that are willing to model, so we are set.
TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)
RK: I think the only thing on my mind that I want to rant about right now is how big the world is, and how in our small communities, sometimes we forget this. I think queers spend a lot of time fighting for space with each other, and that energy would be better spent making space in the larger world. We don’t have enough of a voice outside our community. I think we forget this and tear each other apart. As an artist, my voice gets heard a bit more, so then people are sometimes bummed when they feel like I am speaking for them. I can never speak for anyone but myself, I hope to speak to people and make more space for more voices to be heard. Also, I think if you don’t see yourself reflected in the larger world, do something about it. We don’t have enough time to spend it thinking or saying negative things about other people. Let’s all assume everyone is doing their best and try to love and understand one another. It is just as easy, if not easier, to see the similarities than the differences. Try a little tenderness. There is enough room for everyone. Let’s not step on each others toes.
TQ: What upcoming events, appearances or movies can your fans look forward to?
RK: I just finished a month long tour. I will be back on the east coast and midwest in April and May, look out for those dates. And support queer art, buy my new cd its good. If you buy my cd, I can keep making music about our lives.
Written by TQ Nation President, Tristan Skye
Join the Revolution: www.TQnation.com