New School and NYU Collide for Haiku

Kat Aman and Connor Sandstorm formed Haiku in 2017. (Courtesy of Haiku)

Today, fans may recognize musical outfit Haiku by their cohesive, syrupy sound — yet the alternative rhythm and blues collective originally sprouted from very different seeds. 

Haiku was formed in 2017 by Gallatin juniors Kat and Connor Sandstorm. From there, the band continued to grow adding pianist CAS junior Derin Calgar, bassist Morgan Guerin and drummer Jacob Patrone, both from the New School. The fabric of the band is held together by its unique marriage between NYU and The New School students, who recently released their latest single “Strawberry Honey.” 

Frontwoman Kat began taking voice lessons at age eight, focusing on classical music.

This led her to attend the Manhattan School of Music for her first year of college, until she realized a professional career in classical music would not fulfill her. 

“I love art and poetry and the way that classical music takes you to a different place and makes you feel a certain way, but it wasn’t hard to realize that that was not necessarily the world that I want to be in,” Kat said, whose transfer to NYU prompted her to begin making her own music. 

She finds the process of writing and producing music incredibly satisfying. “To be able to actually create a world for people to step into sonically is a gift that I will always be blessed to have,” she reflected. 

Finding her sound, however, was not easy, muddying the otherwise smooth transition away from classical music. Through the help of her guitarist and friend Connor Sandstorm, producer and boyfriend, Leke Ode and friend Josiah Valerius, Kat was guided through her musical journey — and her sound came naturally. While she credits the support of her friends, a two-month stint without music also proved invaluable to the evolution of her career. Kat confessed that unhealthy comparison definitely held her back in the past.

“Comparing yourself to other people is great in maturing your musical process, but over-comparison can ruin you,” Kat said. That’s why she decided to nix music from her life temporarily until her personal sound was locked in, instead listening only to podcasts.

However, this has not been her only challenge since joining the music industry. 

“Artists have a lot of trouble getting respect until you’re really popular and you’re making lots of money, and even then you have a lot of trouble,” she said. “Being a young black woman definitely does not help, although the music industry is a far more progressive workplace.” 

To combat this, Kat deems “thick skin, strong mindset and knowledge,” imperative weapons against the obstacles she may face down the road. Haiku’s newest single “Strawberry Honey,” released Nov. 16, has lent her more knowledge and strengthened her repertoire in the industry.

The track is sourced from a journal entry: A wave rushed over Kat, settling her in a deep mood of appreciation for women. The song chronicles how “f-cking dope and sweet and awesome” women are and, specifically, “the feelings of love for a beautiful lady.” The song combines Kat’s slick rap verses with sets of belting, heartfelt riffs. Layered with jazzy instruments, the song demands to be blared from any speaker.

‘‘Strawberry Honey” is available for streaming on all platforms. Catch Haiku at Rockwood Music Hall on Dec. 6.

Editor’s note: Kat requested her last name not be included in the piece for personal reasons.

Email Megan O’Brien at [email protected] 

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