Rocco Katastrophe on Working with Margaret Cho, Emotional Eating, and His Magazine, Original Plumbing
Ask Rocco Kayiatos, a.k.a. Katastrophe, a.k.a. Rocco Katastophe, what he does for a living and he'll tell you he's a rapper/producer/publisher/entertainer -- all of which is true. Since the 2004 album Let's Fuck, Then Talk About My Problems, Rocco has been beloved across the country, especially in his native Bay Area. As he prepares for the release of "Eat Everything," his song and video collaboration with the always-hilarious Margaret Cho -- which you can watch after the jump -- we spoke with the now-Brooklyn-based all-arounder to find out more about his up-and-coming fourth album, Second Hand Emotion, as well as his work on the hugely popular magazine for trans-males, Original Plumbing.
How did this collaboration with Margaret Cho come about?
Margaret and I met and became friends while she was in the process of finishing her first record, Cho Dependent. She liked my music and said she would be interested in collaborating in the future. So I kept that in mind, and this seemed like the right song.
Tell us about the song concept.
It was about 3:30 in the a.m. last summer and I had just gotten home from dancing. That summer was all about me nursing a broken heart from a bad break-up. I did a lot of dancing and late-night eating. I would come home about the same time most nights and eat a giant bowl of Cocoa Puffs and wash it down with literally everything in the fridge. I had never had such an intense bout of emotional eating. So, one night I was in it and started writing the song "Eat Everything". I knew that Margaret would be able to write to it, so I sent it to her as soon as I finished my verse and the hook. She wrote back almost immediately with her verse. Then we did a back-and-forth for the last verse. I also had De=MC2 spit a verse 'cause she made the beat and she has great flow.
You filmed the video in Margaret's house. Tell us about the day and how much food was consumed.
Yeah, she has a small soundstage in the yard that we shot most of it on, and then [went to] her dining room table. We didn't just eat that day, we picked some of the grossest food to eat. There was a moment when Pleasant Gehman was feeding me Easy Cheese while I had a mouth full of doughnuts. When me and Margaret were shooting a scene, I was cramming spaghetti in my mouth while she was gagged with a disgusting meatball. My friend Marina put a cheese log on a bun and did that, and Katz from Athens Boys Choir ate a summer sausage and washed it down with pickle juice.
Delightful. What can we expect from your upcoming album?
My fourth full-length is coming out this spring on 307 Knox Records. It's called Second Hand Emotion and all the songs are about love, loss, and heartbreak. I sing more on this album than I have on others, and I slowed down my flow. This is the first moment that I only rap about feelings, as opposed to thoughts and ideas. I put more of myself into this album than I ever have with anything. It's really personal. It's got a little bit of a '90s R&B throwback feel, too. It's definitely way more pop sounding than anything I have made before -- I think it's universally relatable.
Have you been surprised by the success of your magazine, Original Plumbing?
The magazine is good. Initially Amos Mac, the editor-in-chief, and I were incredibly surprised. But now we get that it filled a void and people were ready for it. We had no idea how successful it would be. We are in our third year and just sent the Entertainment Issue off to the printers. It's exciting.
How's life on the other side of the country?
I am loving N.Y. Feeling particularly homesick at this very moment, but it was a good move for me. I have lived in the Bay my entire life, and I think there really is something to moving away from where you were raised. I know I have to challenge myself and make new friends and connections. There are people doing stuff on a grander scale in NY. I mean, duh, it's New York! I don't know if I will live here forever, but I am glad I live here right now. I definitely left my heart in S.F.