OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Katie Williams is a name that has already been floating around local music circles for years. With a powerful voice and an irrepressible earnestness in her songwriting, she made an easy home for herself within the acoustic singer/songwriter spaces of OKC and Norman, mostly as a solo act before assembling a solid backing band and lighting up festival stages in the pre-COVID days.
But as she began working with drummer, producer, and owner of Norman’s Breathing Rhythm Studio, Steve Boaz, Williams felt her wings really start to open, leading to a bold new musical direction and the formation of a new band built from pieces of some of Oklahoma’s most creative groups: Sisteria.
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“We were really just making music to please ourselves and then I think we were both surprised by how well it turned out,” Williams said of her early collaborations with Boaz. “I didn’t decide to form a band until about halfway through recording with Steve at Breathing Rhythm.”
As the new music began to take shape, it was easy to see it taking on a much darker, heavier, more psychedelic tone. Though seemingly out of character for fans of Williams’ prior work, she says that it’s the culmination of something that has been brewing within her for a long time.
“Living in Albuquerque definitely shifted my perspective on music entirely,” she explained. “I was immersed in nothing but psych-rock and heavy metal when I was there and those sounds really resonated with me. I finally felt like I found a frequency to match what I was feeling internally. Bands like Black Mountain and All Them Witches are still my go-to. They just hit the mark for me. I know growing up with the classics like Sabbath and Zeppelin definitely influenced me as well.”
Knowing that this new direction and the music it was spawning would require a new band, Williams and Boaz set about recruiting a collection of players that they could trust to nail the atmosphere and intensity needed. Matthew Jewell of rockers Merry Walkers, Matthew Knudson of Frequency Jones, and Boaz’s longtime friend, collaborator, and Magnificent Bird bandmate Nathan Lofties were all brought in, as was local psych-rock hero (and horror author) Richie Tarver of the almighty Rainbows Are Free.
“The crew just kind of naturally fell into place based on who we invited into the studio to play on the record,” Williams said. “We’ve got an incredibly talented group of musicians that have become close friends of mine as well.”
Now as Sisteria, the band is ready to make their official live debut, and they’ve chosen an appropriately dramatic and intense way to do it: on stage at the legendary Tower Theatre, opening for Tulsa’s Helen Kelter Skelter and Rainbows Are Free, two of Oklahoma’s most beloved hard-rock outfits.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of opening up for bands I admire on a stage like Tower Theatre, honestly,” said Boaz about this Saturday night’s upcoming slot. “I’ve been putting so much of myself into this, and now it’s time to show what it’s become.”
Of course, Tarver is working overtime to prepare for double duty as a part of both Sisteria and Rainbows.
“I’m as excited to watch this one as I am to play it,” he reassured me, “which is going to be a little challenging since I have the honor of playing guitar in both the opener and the headlining bands.”
For Williams, however, this show represents a particular kind of metamorphosis from singer/songwriter solo act to part of a real, collaborative band.
“The whole experience feels different to me than performing solo, or performing solo with a backing band,” she said. “These songs were born from mine and Steve’s undying need to express a backlog of emotions that we had stored in us. Everything from anger to unbridled joy. This is the first time that I don’t feel like I am ‘performing’ on stage. I feel like I am myself. I feel like I get to step into who I truly am now and not some persona who’s trying to get away with being a singer/songwriter. And having these particular musicians around me, actively creating this with me, is what makes the magic happen. When all six of us are making noise, it’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Be there to witness that force for yourself as Sisteria takes the stage for the first time at Tower Theatre this Saturday, September 18th at 8:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now at towertheatreokc.com.
And … this!
If only one night of crazy, psych-rock shenanigans isn’t enough, then head out to Blue Note on Friday for a night of serious fuzzed-out freak-metal with Dion Warlocke and Firebad. There’s about a 100% chance of things getting weird (in a good way!)
Last Updated September 14, 2021, 10:51 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor