Liberty_C. releases new Soul-Pop single ‘Queen Of My Life. The 4-piece is led by Katja Cruz whose powerful arrangements are proof that age is just a number when it comes to exciting and creative music. Having previously featured in The New York City Jazz Record and worked with renowned saxophonist and composer Oliver Lake, Katja’s message of enjoying life and expressing yourself couldn’t be any more relevant to today's society. We caught up with Liberty_C. to find our more...

Hi Katja, how have you been?

Hi, thanks, I’m fine!
I’m very happy with the progress of my new single “Queen of My Life”, and further we started preparing for our next concert, which is a real pleasure, especially after these long lockdowns. For example, yesterday we worked out 3 new songs, and this was such joy! I really love my band. Ernesto, Sassi, and Markus are really wonderful musicians.

When did you fall in love with music, and how did you know it was the career for you?

Well, I definitely fell in love with music when I started playing the piano with the age of 5. But to know that this would be my career took a long time. I grew up in rural Austria, music and the arts seemed to be something so far away, that it was impossible to imagine being a part of this. Anyhow, girls were not meant to have a “career”. Fleeing home and landing in the arms of a musician was maybe not the best choice. My first husband was absolutely against me being a singer. HE was the musician and singer, and I definitely should not get in his way. Though I was “allowed” to do the management for his band.

So at this point I chose fine arts and worked – very successful for my young age – as a painter and sculptor while raising my first two kids, because, of course I divorced after a short time. Some of my most important artworks are still in the park of the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria. I created sculptures of steel and glass to the music of Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, the so-called 2nd Viennese School. I then continued collaborations with contemporary composers, always working on the idea to give their music kind of a material expression (through paintings, light compositions etc.). At some point I had a physical breakdown and for some reasons completely lost the power in my arms. This was the time when I turned to music. I realized that I was always working on music, trying to bring music to life – as band manager, and as a fine artist as well. Thus, I dared to change the position and became the musician and composer myself.

The following few years I worked in the field of avantgarde jazz. Within free improvised music I felt close to contemporary music which was part of my work for several years. I got on a British label and played on international stages. Most times in New York, also cooperating with great musicians like Oliver Lake, Warren Smith, Darius Jones etc.

It needed another breakdown to become a songwriter. Meanwhile I was a mother of 4 kids, divorced again, and thought to limit myself to only teaching singing. But you can’t stop the creative river floating within you. So, this time in my life I started writing songs. First out of a friendship with a German author. We were exchanging extremely long emails, and at some point, I answered through a song. Then through another one. And then I found my love for pop music, found singers I really appreciate like Alicia Keys, P!nk, Emeli Sandé etc. You have to understand that they are all much younger than I am. To say it with other words – there were no role models of my age for me. I only remember Joan Armatrading and Sade, and me as a teenager sitting in my room and transcribing her lyrics and her music. Also, I was dancing through the nights to the music of James Brown. But in a world without internet, the US and the UK were unreachably far away.

In short words: I first had to overcome the conditions of society and education, then had to overcome my husbands who didn’t want me to be a singer, and finally had to overcome my fear of doing something that one usually starts earlier in life.

And what’s kind of funny is, that one usually starts with pop music, and then maybe explores classical or contemporary music. In my case it was just the other way round. I started with classical and contemporary music and slowly found my way to soul and pop music.

But here I am.

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming single ‘Queen Of My Life’?

Yes, of course. I wrote “Queen of My Life” this January. The months before were kind of sad.
We were in another lockdown, and although I was fighting this crisis the 2 years before with positivity, this was a moment where I seemed to have lost my strength. I felt lonely (though I’m never lonesome), and there was heartache, and it was hard to find hold and an optimistic perspective.

So I sat on my piano, and lyrics and music arose within me, and I remembered all the strength I have, the long way I already went and all my achievements – my lovely kids and my home, but most of all the ability to do what I really love to do. Through all these hard times I have become the musician and songwriter I want to be.

People may shake their heads about me, but I created my own “kingdom”, and indeed I am the “Queen of My Life”. It’s me who decides what to do and where to go, what I want, and what I don’t want, what to accept, and what is not acceptable. I consider this to be a big force, and I wish everybody to be in this position.

There is a beautiful music video for your track. Can you explain the concept behind it?

Well, the video shows you everything I already talked about. Moreover, it gives you an impression of the gentle tenderness I give myself in uncertain situations. Sometimes it needs a lot of selfcare and selflove to continue walking your way. Being an artistic soul causes that most times you find yourself a little bit out of the usual boxes. You may be attacked for who you are, rejected and denied, but what YOU finally say and think about yourself is the most important thing at the end of the day. And I have come to the point to really love this woman I am – with her own head and thoughts and emotions, with a heart full of love for people and this world, and for the friendly warrior I am.

My young video team - Alexander Baumgartner and Nora Einwaller - perfectly understood the song and its message. Alexander and I had a brainstorming about scenes and situations on WhatsApp (true!), and within several hours we did the video shooting.

The themes of empowerment and finding your own voice runs through your track. Can you speak more about this?

Well, finding your own voice leads you to be who you truly are. You can find this theme also in some of my other songs like “I’m Complete” or “I Got It All”, also in “Shout and Scream” (the last two of them are not released yet). It clearly indicates that you are the one who tells you where to go and what to do and not let anybody else (or even a whole society) tell you Otherwise.

But there’s also another meaning concerning your real voice. Every person got his or her own voice. And accepting your voice as it sounds is already an act of selflove.

Who would you say are your biggest inspirations?

Wow, there are so many great people in this world... but, musically spoken, I love the music of P!nk and Alicia Keys, of Emeli Sandé and Björk, but also of Carole King, who is – in my eyes – the “mother” of female songwriting. Their voices and expressions are different, but they all sing about a self-determined life - and also live it. They are not “puppets” on the scene, or dolls made by labels, or lost in drugs or alcohol, no, they are tough, self-determined women,strong in message and in business. So they are really great role models.

What is some advice you would give to people who struggle to feel that they are the Queens of their own lives?

First: Love and accept yourself. With all your thoughts and emotions, highs and downs, wins and losses. And be radically honest with yourself.

Second: Become the best version of yourself. (This part usually includes some work...)

Third: Enjoy being yourself.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2022? Anything your fans can look forward to?

Yes! Getting back to playing concerts again! I also plan a tour in December in the UK. Further I will produce the one or other live video from our next concert. And then we are working towards a new album. Half of it is already recorded. So by the end of the year itshould be available. Its working title is “Sensual Revolutionary”.