Katrina Leskanich – Across The Ocean

Katrina Leskanich

The smash hit Walking On Sunshine literally defined an era and had huge success right around the world for Katrina and The Waves. The band’s history is deep and extensive but Katrina Leskanich is solo these days still playing the hits and bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people. Katrina talks to Across The Ocean about the Totally 80s tour and how much the single Walking On Sunshine has influenced her life as she was ‘choking down my morning porridge and having chats with Aussies’ on the eve of the tour.


Touring Australia with the Totally 80s line up must be great and must feel like it has been way to long?

Oh my god I just can’t wait. I had a huge smile on my face when I was signing that contract because Australia is an epic place. It is a great line up and I know that they are going to have a fantastic band and it will be a hell of a night. A lot of people on the bill are my friends and I have worked with them a lot. I don’t know where the party is going to be? Is it in the audience or backstage? It is always a blast, I did the Countdown Spectacular with Molly Meldrum which had Samantha Fox a few years ago, which was completely crazy. My question is like what is the weather going to be like in July? Will it be like an English spring? Don’t make me go all that way for just one song!

Does it still amaze how much the song Walking On Sunshine means to so much people? It is one of those songs that hasn’t aged or grown tired.

It does carry with it a phenomenal amount of energy and it has been quite an amazing performer all on its own. It is at the point where the song doesn’t need me anymore. It is on its own, it sneaks around and gets in everywhere, gets in movies and commercials, Dolly Parton covered it, Beyonce covered it and Boy George covered it. It is a kind of crazy little song and it makes me smile as a proud parent would. It still always very, very lucky I suppose to be associated with a song that always brings a smile as long as there is a happy occasion, as long as there is a birthday or a New Year’s, things to celebrate, as long as there are plots in a movie that suddenly need to turn Walking On Sunshine will always be there. It is without a doubt that the band’s legacy that will never be topped. I have to think it is what it is and it serves me as you can well imagine being in the business as long as I have and being fifty five years old to still be associated with something that is very positive shines a lot of light on my life, brings me a lot of joy and sunshine as well.

It seems like the perfect pop song, it can’t be topped. Do wish that song was album number two or three as you will always be compared to Walking On Sunshine forever?

It was such a fluke the way that it came about. We recorded it once and it didn’t have any horns, didn’t have the drum intro and by the time we were signed by Capitol Records they took the smart decision to put us on to the Power Station Studio in New York City with Scott Lit who was a very talented, up and coming, Walking On Sunshine was his first gig. With the drums at the beginning he said ‘come on, DJ’s are going to love it’ and by the time we got the horns on it, it was sounding like the perfect pop song. Only the first time we heard it complete when we walked in to the studio we were absolutely beaming and laughing which felt so good. We didn’t realise that it was going to be that hard to beat and we didn’t realise it was going to go so big that it could never be touched by anything else we did ever again. I suppose, I’m involved and it’s great, the second most high profile things we did bizarrely was winning the Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom, which was a very strange move for the band and not even something we planned or necessarily wanted to do but it kind of just came about.

It is a bit of a challenge to be able to say to the rest of the world that I do have and have released other material?

Yes, you can’t really tell the world that because they are too busy and distracted with Walking On Sunshine. It is ok and hasn’t really stopped me putting out material, writing books or working on the radio or doing anything else I do. Walking on Sunshine has a career of its own and gets on with it and I don’t have to pay any attention to that. I think that’s wonderful, that’s fine and we’ll get on with other things. As soon as you start fighting with it or going against something thinking I wish that song would go away it will remain more. You have to put the right energy behind the stuff that you do and not interfere with the beauty and purity of that song. I just leave it and let it be, I don’t wake up in the morning and think about the song, just when I’m talking to you!

Is there the expectation that you’ll keep knocking out hits?

I think that the album that Walking On Sunshine was on was loaded with hits and we had a little bit of luck with Do You Want Crying as a follow up to Walking On Sunshine. As Walking On Sunshine started to take off and become a hit doing very well in Australia by the time we got to Australia it was about a year after it had hit in North America. I think it was at that point that I thought this song isn’t going away. Really what you have to do is hang in there and do a lot of tours playing a lot of material. People will think I like Walking On Sunshine and a lot of their other material was really good as well. Quietly you just have to get on with it as an artist would do, you do it because you love it and not necessarily because it is a popularity contest of one song against another.

Was that a tough decision for you to walk away from the band?

No, it was clear that me and the band had two different ideas about how the future was going to go. At the end of the day it did feel like a divorce with my three husbands who were The Waves but we couldn’t agree on what we were going to do with the rest of our career after the Eurovision Song Contest which changed a lot of things for the group. It meant that I was singled out more and started doing a lot of work on BBC Radio 2 which I enjoyed. So I said to the band I have been offered a show on BBC Radio 2 and I want to take it and they said that leaves us without a singer. We decided at that point to knock it on the head and let everyone go their own way calling it a great fifteen to twenty years or whatever it was. I had to be set free and it wasn’t my plan to be in Katrina and The Waves til the day that I die, there’s too much to do and see. When you are in a band you are restricted and there are a lot of things I wanted to do like write books, work on the radio and do some television work. I was lucky to be able to fulfil most of those dreams and I know that the band is in retirement now so I think they would have been finished anyway.

Do you still enjoy touring as much now as you did back then?

It was what I do and what I love! It is what I have to do, I didn’t write Walking On Sunshine so I have to work, it is my job. It is really lucky that I enjoy it and I’m also lucky that I can still do it. I take good care of my body and I make sure I’m always fit to do the job and I am lucky as a lot of singers my age have lost their voice. I’ll know when that day comes and I’ll walk away which will be the end of the story. In the mean time it is still an absolute blast.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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