born after 1989, you're probably not going to know what the hell this blog is about. It follows the tale of a platinum-blonde haired, crimson lipped, Orange County pop starlet named Katalina.
If in 1996, you were in your mother's womb, I won't hold out any hope that you heard Katalina's single "DJ's Girl" through the uterin wall. Although such was it's ubiquity, the possibilty is a stretch.
Basically, it was a song featuring a pulsating techno rhythm and valley-girl style narration chronicling the attempts of a comely young lass attempting to get inside the hallowed walls of a club. The wayward girl's strategy to get past the gatekeeper is to persistently plug her association with the DJ.
Here's the scoop: Katalina's actual name is Kara Wethington. The former Fullerton resident, now a 33-year-old publicist for designer Calleen Cordero currently lives in Los Angeles. I know this not because I read her Wikipedia page or Googled her, but because we both went to the city of La Habra's "other school," Sonora high. We've maintained contact through Facebook. I'm also old enough to remember when her song briefly experienced the dance floor equivalent of the unveiling of the first piece of sliced bread.
Her album, Sonic Groove, was recorded by producer John St. James (of Stacy Q fame) and she was signed to Thump records, a label operated under the auspices of Lowrider Magazine. But Wethington was so much more than a glorified club kid. She also sang on Warped Tour stages with the likes of the Vandals as well as the Bouncing Souls out of New Jersey.
Ever listen to the Soul's song "Wish Me Well (You Can Go Go to Hell)"? That's Wethington's voice on the track. I recently asked her for the opportunity to hear her reminisce a little about those days and she gladly obliged.
How did you end up recording a pop single?
F1 Music was located next to Sonora. During lunch time I would walk over to the studio and I would see gold records hanging from the window. I'd look inside and be "Oh my God there's Stacy Q records, Candy Man and Berlin."
All these songs that were big during the '80s and '90s. I went in there one afternoon and met John (St. James) and was "like I'm a singer" and he was laughing and all the Vandals guys were in there and he goes "Well why don't you come back tomorrow and bring a couple CDs and we'll see you sing."
What happened when you went back?
John even told me 'We were planning on having you come in and having a total laugh at you." He put me in the sound room and closed the door and I was singing as loud as I could in the mic, but I didn't know what they had done outside was turn down all the sound so it was just me a cappella. But I guess they were like "Wait. Whoa. This girl can actually sing."
Who Wrote "DJ's Girl"?
John said, "I've got this concept for a song." He told me it was about a girl trying to get into a club. He gave me a piece of paper and a pen and I went upstairs for half an hour. He wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics.
Tell us about performing on stage.
I did all the Lowrider car tour shows all over the country which were huge shows. Within a few weeks I was being coached for interviews...My first show was in Nogales Texas. I had this three or four song-show and I remember going out on stage and the audience was singing. It was so surreal.
But it didn't last very long...
It started in '96 which was a crazy point in the music industry as a whole. We didn't have Myspace, Facebook. There were no social media sites to self promote. You relied solely on the label and their A&R and promotions department. And I kind of sat around. And that's what happened when I signed [to Restless Records] after I had my success. I recorded this album and had all these great people play on the album and hung out for a couple months and waited and waited and left it up to them and wasn't proactive. I was just so young. I had no idea.
Tell me about playing with punk bands. Did people ever tease you about your alter ego?
I don't think a lot of people knew because I went by Katalina and Kara Wethington. It's so funny, if you Google each name, different things come up. If you google Kara a lot of the Vandals and Bouncing Souls comes up.
So what was it like switching between these two worlds?
I was so blessed to be able to do something outside of the dance music element. That was more of my style. The poppy punk. It allowed me to produce something and show everyone that I'm not that cheesy little dance singer you know? The DJ girl. It was good to do something different.
You were on Fear of a Punk Planet, how did that happen?
(Joe Escalante) created this series. It was the first series on the Internet and it was called the Digital Entertainment Network, DEN. You couldn't even watch streaming video back then for more than a few seconds--there were tons of glitches still being worked out.
But that was wonderful. I was a little punk rock girl. I hung out at the Showcase Theater which was legendary. I saw all my favorite bands and to be working on the show with some of those bands I grew up listening to. It was so much fun...I actually started out on the show as a stylist...and something happened with the girl who played Bradie and they asked me if I wanted to play Bradie."
What was that character like?
There were all these punker kids trying to keep (this club) from being shut down because the local fire department were jerks. There were all of these different characters. And part of this group of friends, I was that person that speaks what she wants and doesn't care what people think...I was definitely the one who spoke my mind and was kind of the tomboy of the group. Which I totally got. I could totally play that. I was part of her.
You played Bamboozle with the Bouncing Souls a few years back.
Mind you I would always go to the Warped Tour shows and sing that song with them...I think when I got up there girls knew it was me cause they would introduce me as Kara Wethington...I went on stage and there was a lot of kids there. I think were maybe 8,000 10,000 kids. I got on stage and got the same response I got the first time I sang it. ...Whether it's Katalina, or singing on stage with the Bouncing Souls, it's the same feeling.
It sounds like you were bitten by the bug twice. Is fame something you would want to pursue again?
You know I still struggle with that. Now I'm in LA and I'm exactly where I should have been and it never leaves me. I don't think you ever lose that. I've had people find me on Facebook,...I've had people send me Facebook messages from Russia and Germany, and have had DJs ask me to do shows again. I'm kind of like "wow." I don't know where to begin honestly because dance music is so different in terms of putting together a show. You don't go with DAT tapes anymore. I'm kind of out of touch with how the whole thing works. But I'd love to if there was the right opportunity to collaborate on music. I don't necessarily need to tour or sign a record label but there's definitely a little void in my heart still.