On Castle, Stana Katic plays Kate Beckett, a no-nonsense detective who often has to reign in partner and paramour Rick Castle.
In her life outside of network procedurals, however, Katic is a little more footloose—she regularly travels the world in search of new culture, and spends a great deal of that time on the road listening to and collecting new music.
She also got an education in punk rock history for her upcoming film CBGB, in which she plays producer and club mainstay Genya Ravan. Check out some of Katic’s favorites below, and spin them all on the Spotify playlist at the bottom:
Queen, “I Want to Break Free”
“F— yeah. I never knew about until very recently. There are just these classic rock songs that for some reason weren’t on my radar growing up. It speaks to me on so many levels. Everyone around me was like, ‘How do you not know this song?’ And then I watched the video and was even more in love with it. Freddie Mercury is incredible. He’s an amazing vocalist, and his story was really wonderful as well. It’s that amazing mix of classical ballad vocals with rock, and I see that happening a lot now. The lead singer for fun. or Neon Trees—these guys have voices that could fit elegantly and comfortably on any Broadway stage, but here they are entertaining us with rock music. Their vocals are so complex and capable of inspiring a lot. Freddie Mercury, I think in so many ways led that path. He’s an incredible performer. I like this song because it’s got a great beat, it’s got a lot of fun going for it, but it speaks to my restlessness, my wanderlust right now. I feel like a caged cheetah sometimes.”
Led Zeppelin, “When The Levee Breaks”
“Best make out song on the planet! That rhythm is so dirty and free. Led Zeppelin mixed all the best of international music in their years of working together. The whole band was phenomenal. When they came together, like Jimmy Page said, there’s a magical fifth. This song speaks to their influences from the blues and honky tonk and music from the Orient, just a phenomenal mixture. And it comes from a real Southern song, but the way they twisted it and the way that Robert Plant wails on it—it’s awesome. It’s really sexy and really dirty and I love it. It’s really honest. And it can be taken in so many ways, of course.”
Jack White, “Love Is Blindness”
“I love him as an artist, because he’s unafraid of the mistakes. He’s so present and honest. I’ve seen him perform live a few times now, and there’s an outlaw quality to him that I really respond to. As a performer, he’s playing on stage and is very present and truthful, and it’s really extraordinary. U2 is fantastic, but he took this song and made it nuclear. He definitely gave it a darkness. It’s a similar thing that goes on with Led Zeppelin, where there’s a rusticity to the music, and a possibility for something that’s a little bit more primordial, and maybe a little bit more genuine because it’s that much closer to an animal-like existence. It’s exciting, it’s a little bit earthier and dirtier. There’s possibility—possibility to jump into something exciting and soaring, and the possibility that there’s something very dark and dangerous. The music is erotic because it’s creative in that way.”
Teddybears feat. Iggy Pop, “Punkrocker”
“Everybody on that song is grabbing punk rock music. Iggy’s got a real wonderful dance on that fringe, and I really like that. That made sense for the character that I play in the CBGB movie. That’s not a safe and clean and milky world. It’s dangerous.”
First Aid Kit, “Wolf”
“It’s a little girly for this list, but I am a girl. I love it. I love the drums. There’s this kind of nod to a lot of that late ‘60s, early ‘70s folk quality in this song. It’s a little bit shamanistic in a way. I don’t think there’s a single person on the planet that is impermeable to that part of music. Drums are primal. It’s beyond our current DNA. That’s something we’ve had in our existence since the rise of humanity. It affects everybody. There’s also a feeling of freedom and weightlessness in their little dance. It’s softer than the other songs, but it maintains a certain kind of earthy grace.”
The Band, The Last Waltz
“Some songs don’t mean the same thing that they did when you were 16, but then again there are some songs that for some reason just never leave you. I remember I had just moved to L.A., and I knew the Band, I love their music—Robbie Robertson, Danko, everybody. But I never saw The Last Waltz, and my buddy who is this amazing artist had the DVD that he just grabbed, and he gave it to me, and it blew open a whole new version of the Band for me. Watching these guys go round after round after round with all of the greats of that era—that music is never going to leave me. It’s always going to be an inspiration and a source of refuge. You go through life, and sometimes it’s more inspiring and sometimes it’s less inspiring. But music always acts as a good kind of access point.”
Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey & His International Brothers, “Ajoyio”
“This is a mellower song. It’s really beautiful. There’s a point of dissonance that I find really interesting because it’s OK. I don’t know if it’s purposeful or a mistake, but I find it interesting. Then it resolves back out of the dissonance, and it’s a really interesting piece. I love that it’s African-based music. Folk music is really appealing to me, and I try to collect as much of that as possible, especially when I’m in a country that is more isolated. This is just so sweet and simple. The warbling voices are so powerful and free and uninhibited. I’m constantly collecting new music. I travel, and I try to keep my focus as far-reaching as possible. So I’ll head off to Mongolia, or I just got back from Argentina. When I’m out there in these places and I’ll meet people, and one of the things we do is share music. In Argentina, I was in a car with these guys and we just started throwing music back and forth. I’m always listening to different music stations on the Internet. It’s just a part of who I am. I really enjoy music and music making and sharing it. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me present on the planet, because it’s awesome and inspirational.”
Niki & the Dove, “DJ Ease My Mind”
“I do love music you can dance to. One of the favorite sounds is chants—like people cheering for a soccer team. There’s one version of it that can be really nerve racking—that’s in protest. But there’s another version of it that’s so powerful, when people are in ecstasy in a wonderful, supportive way. I don’t know if you can communicate that feeling to people who haven’t been exposed to those kinds of sounds, but it’s powerful. Even if you’re not cheering for the team, just to listen to that chant is really exciting. It does suspend you for a bit and connects everybody. There’s a bit of that in this song, a bit of ‘We’re all in it together.’ She’s singing about lost love. It’s pretty powerful stuff.”
Buika, “La Falsa Moneda”
“This is again about reaching out for music from across the globe. I’m always curious about other cultures and what it is they have available to them. This music is very simple, it’s very quiet, it’s got a piano bar feel, but when her voice comes in, it’s so smokey and so strong. There’s a real toughness to her sound that I find appealing. It sounds metallic, like a rusty pipe that you blow wind through. There’s a great grit. Her voice is so special and unique. I picked this up while traveling. It’s one of the many.”
Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris, “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby”
“It’s a tough lyric. It’s just honest to the time—people were losing children, losing spouses, things like that. Some of these old folk songs have a real haunting edge. They’re beautiful songs to sing and hear, but when you listen to them it’s a little darker than it first seems. This is one of those songs I sing with my sister sometimes, and she always gets really burned because I always screw up the lyrics. But we share the song, and it’s one of the ones that when we see each other we always sing, and I always get the lyric wrong. And she gets mad every time!
I just love the way it sounds, and I love the way Alison Krauss’ voice mixes together with the other two. They’ve just got really beautiful folk music voices. Growing up we had a really interesting choir director who exposed us to a lot of music from around the world, like Shaker songs and Latin music. I grew up with folk music, and I had a lot of relatives that played things that were inspired by folk music. And classic rock is really an extension of folk music, and the blues. There’s something that’s really nice about the simplicity of that music. You don’t need a lot of instruments. You can create it in your own space.”