Friday, March 16, 2018

"The Love We Make" - Interview with Kat Dyson

"We have to make our energy. We have to lay in the bed that we make with our minds and our mouths and our bodies and our actions."

Photo courtesy of Kat Dyson

That is guitarist Kat Dyson's interpretation of Prince's song "The Love We Make" from the 1996 Emancipation album.

"He ended up keeping my guitar part [and] taking his off," Dyson said, "which I felt was very generous."

Dyson said the song was also indicative of the types of spiritual discussions she had with Prince. Though he began studying the Jehovah's Witness faith shortly after she arrived, that religion never came up.

"It was very much metaphysical, very much karma," she said. "It wasn't dogmatic at all. So I guess I was out of there before that happened."

Dyson left in 1998, and worked with Sheila E. on "The Magic Hour" talk show. She also went on to play for artists like Cyndi Lauper and Italian artist Zucchero (Adelmo Fornaciari), with whom she recently toured.

Dyson and Sheila E. rejoined with Prince in 2005 for, in my opinion, one of this greatest TV performances ever: The NAACP Awards show.

"He sent us the medley and we performed it exactly the way he sent it to us," Dyson said. "He was very much at ease. But that's the energy between him and Sheila. She knew what he wanted and there was a trust there."

I remember being so excited for that performance. I still have it recorded on a VHS tape:

But I digress.

My discussion with Dyson touched on everything from Prince's "creative restlessness" and humor, to how she addressed him, given his name change to the unpronounceable symbol.

"I'd be like, 'Hey, how you doing?' As long as we made eye contact, I never had any problems," she said.

When addressing her, Prince chose to say "Kathleen" or use her last name.

"He didn't ever want to call me Kat because of the other Cat that was there," she said, referring to dancer Cat Glover, who worked with Prince in the '80s.

We also talked about what it means to be a guitar player for Prince: how she supported him musically, and how she ordered him a guitar from Montreal, Canada (after he kept borrowing her guitar). It made me wonder why some of Prince's musicians get more recognition than others.

Of course the players who were there for the hit/iconic albums are going to be well-known. But beyond that, what roles do image, gender and race play in approval and appreciation?

Whatever the case, I was glad to learn more about Dyson, who considered the possibility that, because she played guitar--his primary instrument--and grew up with four brothers, she had a more amicable relationship with Prince than others.

"It was all jokes," she said. "I never got the [warnings]: 'Don't say that, don't do this, this is bad.' I never got any of those memos."

But when it came to his art, he was "relentless," Dyson said. "Always thinking, always listening always reading, always pushing himself forward."

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  1. Thank you for this! It's surprising to hear that he didn't call her Kat because of... well, Cat. She was long gone by this point; I wonder if he had any negative feelings about her. Other than that, Kat's awesome!

  2. I don't think he had negative feelings, probably just memories that he didn't want to mesh