Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Festive Treat # 1 Landslide

<a href="http://catherinead.bandcamp.com/track/landslide">Landslide by Catherine A.D.</a>

UPDATE: This track is Lauren Laverne's 6 Music track of the day today - huge thanks to the show for their support. If you're new here, please sign up to the mailing list and we'll send you some more free tracks! x

As a little Christmas gift I've home-spun some songs that you can listen to and download. The first is my version of the ever-glorious Stevie Nicks' song Landslide. I was lucky enough to get to see Fleetwood Mac play this year and this was sooooo incredible live (I am literally obsessed with the whole Buckingham-Nicks saga).  My good friend Padraig Whelan lent his voice too, singing backup (which you'll be hearing a lot more of next year when his album will be released).

Hope you enjoy xox
Track Credits:
Catherine AD: Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Synths, Programming
Guest Vocals by Padraig Whelan - www.myspace.com/theholysamanas
Photo by Rick Morris Pushinsky - www.pushinsky.com

Monday, 21 December 2009

Tracks of the Year

You can listen to my playlist on Spotify here :
Polly Scattergood - Breathe In Breathe Out
Stripped to its bare bones, this is a gorgeously simple piano song with a stunningly stripped breaking vocal that sounds right at the edge of everything.

"lived such a little but loved such a lot"

 St Vincent - The Strangers
One of the albums of the year that had me simultaneously enraptured and jealous in equal parts. A huge talent. So much wit and wisdom in her lyrics.

"paint the blackhole blacker" 

Manic Street Preachers - Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
Hard to pick a favourite from this album which lyrically, for me,  has no equal this year. I got to talk to Nicky Wire about how much the lyric made me laugh too... Reminds me of the best bits of Larkin and it makes me sad that we won't get to hear any more new songs with lyrics by Richey James Edwards...

"situationist sisterhood of jackie and joan"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Zero
Winner in the huge fucking anthemic chorus category. Saw them at Reading this year. Would probably turn for Karen O.

Fever Ray - When I Grow Up
Haunting and hugely inventive. Winner in the best lighting category. Her laser show is fantastic. I really can't recommend this whole album enough as it feels like cutting off an arm to isolate one track.

"I put my soul in what I do / Last night I drew a funny man with dark eyes and a hanging tongue / It goes way bad, I never liked a sad look /From someone who wants to be loved by you"

Black Hearted Love / A Women A Man Walked By - PJ Harvey and John Parish
Winner in the best use of a bouncy castle in a music video. Love this first track for the slo-mo PJ jumping Chapman Brothers' video alone. PJ & JP's first album is one of my favourite records EVER so have been playing this quite a lot and had to put the second track on too because you just won't hear anything like this anymore (outside of a Capt. Beefheart convention).

"I wanted to explore the damp alleyways of his soul"

Sit Down By The Fire - The Veils

Ok. Kinda cheating cos I sang on this one but they are just so hugely underrated and I'm so glad I got asked to do this otherwise I would never have discovered my new favourite band (MNFB). Beautifully dark stuff. Also check out 'Lavinia' and 'The Letter': Equal parts raving Tom Waits lunatic and fragile Buckleyesque beauty.

"It's hard to say but I think you'd better / Just say you don't love me you don't love me anymore"

Tara Busch - Pour the Bottle Pt. 1
An uncompromising independent talent, Tara came to my attention through her Bat For Lashes Remix and I've been listening to her so much ever since. She's so inventive with her soundscapes but this track showcases her more experimental side (oh and she did a brilliant job remixing me too here)

Wild Beasts -  Hooting & Howling
Just adore the vocal on this. Reminds me of the amazing Billy Mackenzie and I'm a sucker for a falsetto...

Paramore -
All I Wanted
A guilty pleasure that has turned into a full on obsession.

"I could follow you to the beginning   / just to relive the start"

Moon and Moon - Bat For Lashes

First heard this on The Culture Show a year or so ago. My favourite from the new album.

"I'd be boy and you'd be girl"

Tori Amos - Give / Flavor
Back to her sultry best, this first song is a metaphorical narrative about the vampiric nature of being a musician... or so I think I suggested when I was lucky enough to interview her earlier this year!
'Flavor' is just spectacular so I had to put that on as well.

Sufjan Stevens - Movement II Linear Tableau With Intersecting Surprise
I don't think Phillip Glass had an album out his year but this is almost as good.


These were my tracks of 2009... now tell me yours


Thursday, 17 December 2009

PEACE Amnesty Compilation

I'm really pleased to be involved with BuffetLibre's PEACE project.

Brought together by Barcelona DJs Buffetlibre and co-produced by Amnesty International, artists from over 50 countries are donating exclusive songs for a very special compilation. The resulting collection of songs will be digitally available worldwide on March 1st 2010, letting listeners pick their own price for the album, with a minimum donation of €2. All proceeds will go to Amnesty International's humanitarian aid projects in areas of conflict.

The PEACE lineup includes: Marc Almond, Mogwai, 4hero, Patrick Wolf, The Durutii Column, Micachu & The Shapes, A Certain Ratio, Catherine AD, Darren Hayman, Dubstar, Ed Harcourt, frYars, Frankmusik, GoldieLocks, The Boy Least Likely To, Micah P Hinson, Dan Deacon,Voxtrot, Marissa Nadler, Girls, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Antlers, Asobi Seksu, Spinto Band, Ra Ra Riot, Jeffrey Lewis, The Veils, The Vines, Fennesz, Amiina, múm  and many many more!

For the full line-up see: http://www.buffetlibredjs.net/peace.html

Once Upon A Lie

A sneak peak of one of the tracks from the recent studio sessions...

<a href="http://catherinead.bandcamp.com/track/once-upon-a-lie">Once Upon A Lie by Catherine A.D.</a>

Monday, 16 November 2009

MISSING: one picture of kingfisher by small child

Jean Genet wrote "Our Lady of the Flowers" entirely in pencil while he was imprisoned, scribbling on the rough surface of the brown paper that the inmates were given to make paper bags from. The story goes that, whilst exercising in the yard one day a prison guard noticed Genet's make-shift manuscript and took it away and had it burned.

And so, Genet began his novel over again.

"Why?", "For whom?", Jean-Paul Sartre asks: "There was small chance of his keeping the work until his release, and even less of it getting printed...Yet he wrote on, he persisted in writing. Nothing in the world mattered to him except those sheets of brown paper which a match could reduce to ashes."

And so it is that I find myself sometimes, on those darker days, wondering what it's all for, if anyone will ever get to hear all the hours, all the words. Most of the time I think it doesn't matter; it shouldn't matter if what you create ever sees the light of the day. You write at least for your 'imagined audience', for all the people you hope it might touch or make a small dent in their universe. There's a line in a song I wrote recently that goes "I'm tired of writing love songs / Never heard by anyone". But it's not nearly true.

I wrote as a eleven year old child who didn't know the white from the black keys on the piano after my parents sold it. I wrote as a fourteen year old girl surrounded by people who laughed every time she picked up a guitar and told her to stop trying to be one of the boys... I wrote through this final year at University when I needed to say too many things that couldn't be spoken. And I write now because it still comes out of my fingertips. I just can't seem to stop spitting out my heart.

I can't understand the band I saw on Orange Unsigned that blamed the lack of coherence in their music on the fact that they didn't know what it was that the record companies were looking for... Emily Haines from Metric puts it pretty well here - when she talks about the need to release yourself from the expectations of scenes. You get the simplest, clearest and most genuine songs when you remove yourself from the gridlock and paralysis where nothing can ever be cool enough, referential enough, or it doesn't sound enough like someone else (or it sounds too much like someone else).


When I was six my teacher lost my picture of a kingfisher that I had taken four days to draw for the school parents' assembly and made me hold up a painting of a hedgehog done by some other child instead... I was mortified and spent the whole assembly mouthing silently but persistently to my Mother that it wasn't my picture. I didn't want anyone thinking I was responsible for the primitive finger splodges of some visually challenged peer...

I hope I will never hold up a song here or anywhere else that I don't feel proud to put my name to. I want to do more than mouth along the words.

It's too easy to criticise the wealth of constructed 'artists' churned out by certain corners of the industry - sure, there's a place for everything that means something to someone - but what is more scary to me is this trend towards what you might call 'fabricated authenticity' - the simulacra of the Artist (and their five co-writers...) and the slow erosion of the corner of the world where we can say what we want when we want.

So, I've been laying the foundations slowly with some other like minded and concerned individuals to carve out a place to do such a thing. A place that can bring together a diverse number of voices through music, art, film, thought that all want to reach up and beyond the merely consumable. As I think Stephen Fry said (paraphrasing Oscar Wilde), yes, all Art is useless. But then so is love. It's the little things that help you rise above the awfulness and the banality of life. And it is also its uselessness that makes it so very valuable...

Children In Need

Just a quick note to say that the BBC Children in Need song 'All You Need is Love' and the album 'Bandaged Together' (both of which I recorded vocals for this summer at Abbey Rd studios) are out now!

They are available to buy from HMV, Tescos and lots of online stores here:


We had a great day recording it at Abbey Road - Please support this great cause and let's make some money for Children In Need!

Catherine xox

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Bedroom Sessions: giving away a track a day

The Bedroom Sessions: giving away a track a day
"and I'm tired of writing love songs never heard by anyone..."

<a href="http://catherinead.bandcamp.com/track/missiveh-demo">Missiveh (demo) by Catherine A.D.</a>

If you've heard the previews of some of my new tracks you might have guessed that having access to studio trickery has sent me head first into a love affair with the epic and the multi-layered (I think we racked up 32 backing vocal tracks on my most recently recorded song...)

But it wasn't always so.

For my 18th birthday I asked my parents to buy me a multitrack recorder instead of the driving lessons they suggested I should have (ever the pragmatist... I am now probably doomed to living only in London or New York). So, whilst finishing university I have spent a lot of my time recording primitive demos in noisy flats, trying to screen out the sound of sirens or neighbours arguing, coiling cables around washing racks and using duvets as makeshift vocal booths. I like this process - it forces you to expose the song in the most brutal way possible - you can't hide behind production when all you have are the rawest of materials.

In the past year I've been lucky enough to be able to record in some incredible studios and with some amazing producers but it seems a shame that some of these home-grown tracks I've been recording in my own time haven't yet been heard or have been taken down for fear of 'misrepresenting'. There is nothing that quite compares to the experience of waking at 3am with an idea and trying to sing quietly enough into the mic so as not to wake up your flatmates. These are songs in the key of winter: stripped down to bare branches, raw and seedling-like.

So, it seems the apt season to give away a track a day as part of what I'm calling the Bedroom Sessions series. All these tracks were recorded in my bedroom whilst I was supposed to be finishing my English Literature degree. Some of you might have heard a few of them already if you bought one of the thousand or so limited edition ribbon wrapped EPs I started selling in Rough Trade shops in London (until I gave myself RSI from all the threading...). There's some new/unheard songs amongst them too, so, don't worry, the loyal amongst you have something to look forward to as well : )

The first track is called 'Missiveh' - a neologism I coined thinking about what a god of ill-communication might be called... and writing a parable of the 'submissive heart'. I like to think of it as the story of a women broken down by her existentialist husband and baking.... It was written and recorded on my sister's nylon string Spanish guitar (which I have now permanently 'borrowed') and I added in some twinkly piano afterwards. You can download it here: http://catherinead.bandcamp.com/track/missiveh-demo

and I'll be adding more tracks all week at http://catherinead.bandcamp.com

The tracks are totally free but towards the end of the week I'll add a tip box if you want to make a contribution to the cause of my continued creative existence : ) If you like the tracks and want to share them please direct people to http://catherinead.bandcamp.com

Thanks for all your continued support and kind words. I'm playing some support shows with Nerina Pallot in October and then disappearing into the studio for most of the winter. The apocalypse of the music industry pending, there will be an album next year

Stay Beautiful

Catherine xox

Friday, 25 September 2009

I have been to hell and back. And let me tell you, it was wonderful

(my favourite louise bourgeois)

I keep getting asked at the moment about why I make music; why I started to write songs. People want to know what oils the cogs or billows the cobwebs… It's odd the things which remind you why you do what you do.

So I've been thinking a lot today about forgiveness and the downside of so-called 'social networking sites'. How these sites mean that it's easier and easier for people from your past to pop their heads into your life again, uninvited. And this morning I heard from someone who contributed to making my life a living hell at school (but ironically seems to have no recollection at all of the years of misery they inflicted).

Of course, I'm not the only kid who ever got bullied in school. My Dad even suggested that I may not be the person I am today if it hadn't happened. Perhaps, but maybe I would have liked the chance to have found that out... But it's not just our trials that shape us. What is strangest to me is that something that impressed itself upon me for so many years could have had such little impact upon one of those inflicting it. I've not thought about it for a few years now but a two line email brings it all back fresh, like a newly ironed school shirt.

You only have to look at the events of yesterday in Finland, Columbine, the murder of Sophie Lancaster etc. to see that outsiderhood doesn't always lead to university degrees and keep-your-head-down attitudes. It's hard to be the tallest/gawkiest/smartest/oddest kid in the class. I spent three years on the inside of the in-crowd only to be ostracised to a year of not one person uttering a single word to me.

Too many of my friends have been kicked and stabbed with biro pens; thrown down stairs in metal boxes with a brick inside; hit full in the face with cricket bats, been called ugly and stupid (and believed it), suffered in silence; waited for the best revenge of a life better lived; an escape successfully orchestrated, a triumph delayed by ten years.

Perhaps these are the very foundations upon which songs are written and instruments are learned. You make shapes in the staves so as to keep from cutting holes in yourself.

Yet, I keep getting asked, as if it's not obvious, why I make music, why I started to write songs, who they're for, what I want to be… In one record company office the other day I found myself inarticulate and waving cliched signposts to Nirvana and teenage angst when perhaps I should have directed them to a playground fifty miles away….

The only thing I got right was the glitter.

So, Mr. Recordman: I write for catharsis, yes, but also for hope. I want to send satellites out to every thirteen year-old (girl) who might be dieing a slow death in Suburbia, nowheresville. Sending messages to all of those who can't help but think there must be something more to life than THIS? I want to get someone somewhere to read Anais Nin's "A Spy In The House of Love" and see themselves in Sabina and ditch their checkout job and move to Paris. I want to be scratched into the door of some boy's locker as a reminder of why he has to move to London in the next two years.

And I want to be the uplifting last thing you listen to as your fall asleep in the dark with your headphones on thinking of how the constellations are the same here as they are on the next planet. I want to make someone remember their first love so that they walk out on the half-life they are not living with the boyfriend they are not loving. I want to be the hope that there's a light at the end of the tunnel vision, the blusher for the shadow, the cake for the ache...

The only thing I can get right is the glitter.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Latitude Photos

All photos by Loraine Ross

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Latitude & good omens

Have just about recovered from the being drenched and stuck in an eternal traffic jam that dove-tailed my Latitude experience. The day was quite an odd one with alternate sunshine/rain for Thom Yorke and torrential downpours in between. My rain dance worked to get everyone into the tent for my set ; ) obviously.

We had to get a little boat with all the equipment on it across a lake to get to the Sunrise Arena where I was playing which is by far one of the stranger pre-gig experiences I have had. Saw Thom Yorke play 'Videotape' and 'True Love Waits' through sleepy eyes ("True Love lives on lollipops and crisps") and topped it off by dribbling over Nick Cave on the main stage.

I did a little interview with The Quietus here just before Latitude which you can read here: http://thequietus.com

The week was topped off by hearing that my good friend Mr. Sweet Billy Pilgrim has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. A long time coming... and some well deserved attention coming his way I hope... You can download the remix he did for me just last week from here if you haven't already done so. I can vouch for the fact that he recorded the entire album in his shed. It is a very nice shed though with lots of musical oddities and goodies stashed in it.

So, good omens for good music and those who take their time. I am reminded of the fable of the tortoise and the hare and patrick wolf's complaint from 'The Libertine'  that "whoever shouts the loudest gets the most attention". Maybe it's the quiet ones you should always watch out for...


Saturday, 11 July 2009


Hello again!

Here is the second free remix in the series, this time from the very talented Tara Busch who tackles "Carry Your Heart".

<a href="http://catherinead.bandcamp.com/track/carry-your-heart-tara-busch-analog-suicide-mix">Carry Your Heart (Tara Busch Analog Suicide Mix) by Catherine A.D.</a>

Tara's remix credits include Annie Lennox and Polly Scattergood and the recent stunning reworking of Bat For Lashes 'Daniel'. She is renowned for the use of classic analog synthesizers and beautiful backing vocal arrangements in the style of 1940's Disney movies and Pet Sounds - era Beach Boys. I just feel in love with her reinterpretation of 'Carry Your Heart' which just makes me feel like I've fallen inside a Disney film soundtracked by The Carpenters : )

Her debut album, Pilfershire Lane will be released in July 2009 on Tummy Touch Records - I urge you to check it out!


p.s. For those of you heading to Latitude next week my stage time is 5pm on Sunday in the Sunrise Arena. X

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

That time I got locked in a dressing room with Nicky Wire...

All this week Drowned in Sound have been running my epic three part interview with Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers which took place earlier this month backstage at the London Roundhouse. It all came about as part of the series of Artist on Artist interviews that they've been running and they pitched for Tori Amos and the Manics for me (which I didn't dream I'd ever get to interview...) and I got to interview both!

I'd prepared this huge sheaf of questions for James Dean Bradfield (who I had thought I was interviewing) and then when I got there, in walks Nicky Wire and I nearly had a heart attack... You see, this band pretty much changed my life (as I talked about with Nicky but cut out a huge chunk of the transcript as it felt a little personal and self-indulgent...) I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university after using The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth.. as a make-shift "reading list" where I'd go and order stuff like Andrea Dworkin, Sylvia Plath, Henry Miller, Primo Levi from my local lending library to the point where, years later, I got into a university my school told me I'd never have a chance at winning a place at... which has led to here ; )

All thanks to a rock and roll band. 

Which, as Nicky said, is "a
pretty lovely thing".

So, after getting locked in the dressing room with Nicky we talked about bad backs, chiropractors, yoga, libraries, champagne and sugar lumps, and Balzac. And then we got onto the important stuff of the surprisingly (for some) incredible new album, Journal For Plague Lovers, which has made me remember all over again why I started doing this in the first place.

Here are the links to read the three different interviews:

Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.

c x

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Davd Gilmour Crisis Show

Last Monday I was invited to open the show for David Gilmour's special collaboration with Amadou & Mariam in aid of CRISIS. Someone had seen the show at the Great Escape in Brighton the previous week and I guess they wanted to facilitate my dream of only playing shows in churches : )

We had a wonderful day getting lost in the labyrinthine back corridors of the Union Chapel where the amazingly helpful production team set up a make-shift rehearsal space for us as we were down a band member and trying to fill in the gaps with Mr. Mackintosh the IV. Also met some lovely people in the queue on our many food runs including one guy who had flown all the way from California to see the show! (to see Mr. Gilmour of course).

Thank you to everyone who's sent messages since the show and bought the EP. I feel most at home playing churches because of how much you get back from the acoustics. We were made to feel really welcome by all of Mr. Gilmour's admirers too and it was truly incredible to watch Amadou and Mariam and their band from the side of the stage- they are some seriously impressive musicians.

You can find out more about the CRISIS and the great work that they do here

Photo taken by @gashead


Saturday, 30 May 2009

Unitarian Chapel Photos

All photos by Holly Erskine




Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Talking Sin & Pianos with Tori Amos...

This is a longer version of an artist-on-artist interview I did for www.drownedinsound.com

Catherine AD meets Tori Amos
Waiting in the lobby of the designated Kensington hotel, the concierge asks me again if there's anyone they can call. The interviews are running late and I am conspicuously out of place amidst the beige on beige. It's like sitting in a room made of mashed potato. Which only serves to make me more hungry. I surreptitiously sneak bites from a Crunchie from my bag - I haven't eaten lunch yet and I don't want to pass out mid-interview. I’m trying not to get chocolatey crumbs all over The Beige but then think I might need to follow the crumb trail later to find my way out of the neutral labyrinth of endless, uniformly buff corridors... Finally the PR arrives to take me upstairs and the Sunday Times photographer is busy setting up shots in the adjoining room with one scary-ass freakishly-real looking baby-doll as a mooted prop. There is more beige. I am feeling like I might vomit up a chocolatey mess any moment. And then, suddenly, there is Tori Amos. Resplendently red and orange, and immediately intuiting how out-of-place I feel here.

"You are very artistic - you are the most artistic person I've met.. I've had the BBC here this morning and trust me, it's a very different look... this is gorgeous...you are a walking art piece - that's what you are - it does show and that is a positive thing and it's got to make you feel good - that's who you are and you are doing the right job" 

And this is Tori: generous, intuitive, warm and welcoming. Putting you at ease with her languid, almost meditative, way of talking, unravelling each answer with nothing of the polished PR babble we have come to expect from today's generation of stars. We decide to up sticks from the (beige) sofa and armchairs and both end up perched on the huge windowsill that overlooks Kensington Gardens and the gathering crowds of lunchtime picnickers and Princess Diana pilgrims. I enquire about how she's feeling after having to postpone her show two days previously, only to find myself in the unexpected position of discussing the joys of food poisoning with Tori Amos... We try to figure out the finer points of the acoustics of the room and where the best position for the dictaphone might be - both laughing that you can never escape the producer and the musician in you. Perched on a book, atop wood for the best resonance is the solution decided upon and so I dive in... 


CAD: The new record is called Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Are there any particular ones you’re attracted to more than others? Could you expound upon the title? – obviously it’s a quotation from some Guys & Dolls dialogue...  
TA: I’m sort of attracted to… figuring out why people are attracted to what they are... because… you know, I have a sister that’s a doctor, and sometimes she’ll talk to me about… “This is not an emotional conversation – there’s something within the body and the brain that’s attracting somebody to something.” It’s this whole [Lacuna, implying Emotion, the Unknown human element, etc.] “Versus Genetics and Sociology question”, and I’m fascinated by... why people choose a self-destructive path.  
CAD: And so that’s being drawn to the Dark Side as it were? That it’s maybe not a choice, but perhaps it’s something genetically inbuilt, or predisposed?

TA: Well, I don’t know. I think we’re all drawn to [it]. There’s so many answers in the dark, but it doesn’t have to be malevolent; it can be a place where Shadow exists [the Jungian Shadow, presumably], and you find… you bring your candle, and you bring your flashlight with you, and you try to find consciousness in the unconscious. I kinda see the darkness as the unconscious; a metaphor. It doesn’t have to be about… again, violent behaviour towards another creature – it doesn’t have to be about harm – and I’ve always sort of seen a different definition of Lucifer, the Light-bringer, as… it’s a tough job to hold, but a consciousness that holds all of that – of Humanity – that we don’t collect into ourselves, the sides of ourselves that we don’t claim; the things we do, how we manipulate, that we kind of lie to ourselves. Because, you know, nobody wants to really think – most people anyway that are sort of walking my line, that I am going to intentionally belittle somebody but it's sometimes from friends... it’s sometimes the people we pull into our circle, [when] they don’t say “God, you did a great job today", or "Congratulations or I support you or those things”. [Instead] they leave you with very little, so you start to crave… and you’re attracted to their acceptance, approval, support… that they Just-Never-Give-You, and the way they keep you there is by withholding it. And so in ‘Ophelia’ [a track from the new album] which is the classic song, it's like, “Why would you want people like that in your life”?  
CAD: So, in a way, seeking approval from those who withhold it most, rather than accepting and embracing the approval that we already have in our lives…?

TA: That’s right – and why aren’t we attracted to people who want to support us and who like us? Instead of being attracted to people who don’t see our light? Thinking, “Oh God, if I can turn this person around, then I must be onto something here…”” 
CAD: It’s a really good question! Very personally resonant as well as a musician… But on the other side of that, I wanted to talk about the single ‘Welcome to England’ which seems to me in some ways to be an ode to your husband, as well as – obviously – about England and estrangement. I wondered whether it’s harder for you than it was to write what you might call “a positive lovesong”, than  the songs from Boys for Pele, like ‘Putting the Damage On’ or ‘Hey Jupiter’?

TA: Well, I think…… to be positive about a man, and yet ambivalent about a place, was the desired goal for ‘Welcome to England’, because I really wanted the story to be about a woman who left her life, and her family, and her job, to follow her love – to follow her heart. It could be leaving North Carolina to move to New York – it could be anything – or leaving Manchester to come to London. Then you come to realize that His world is becoming Your world, and yet maybe you’ve taken on so much of His world… but it isn’t Your world, and you have to retain yourself in it. And she just lost that. Somehow. She lost parts of herself – whether she should have gone back more, or whether she… you know, sometimes when you leave a place, you cut those cords, and you think “Okay, fresh start – roll my sleeves up…” and yet… there was something, or maybe many things, that you didn’t really want to leave behind. That you do begin to miss. Sometimes it’s the mountains. Sometimes it’s the earth. And I think that ultimately – in this story she’s an American, and Yes, the parallels are very close – but it could be… I know so many people who’ve left, especially in the last 2 years because of jobs, and getting work. One of them had work [that was] going somewhere, that they'd had to leave. One of them has had to let go to move with the other, and so, “how to not lose yourself, when you don’t fit into your lover’s world” [is the message] – maybe that’s a good thing, because I don't think you necessarily should. 
CAD: There seems to be a lot of songs on the record about this idea of Giving – this almost quasi-vampiric relationship, maybe. Especially in the first song, ‘Give’-

TA: Yes... 
CAD: ...And all the mothers 'giving' on the record too... and so I wondered if maybe you saw your songs in that way? There were a lot of songs on this record that strongly suggested this idea of “giving” through the songs, and using them as a way to connect to people, and as a way to love. I can’t remember the exact lines, but you say something like: “some people give blood / I give love”. Could you elaborate on that idea?

TA: Well, I guess it’s the polar opposite of the vampire concept, where you don’t need to take from somebody, but… there’s a fine line in giving, and… being a watercolour that just runs off a canvas, where you give… so much that you don’t allow people to give back. Sometimes, there’s a fear of Receiving, because… that’s a strange place to put yourself in, but I’ve seen this and walked into this at different points in my life, where I’ve said “I don’t need anything from anybody”, then when you do receive something from somebody, it’s a lovely gift… but in being the only giver sometimes, you take away the other person’s opportunity to want to offer something up of themselves as well; and so, there’s a fine line. How far do you take this? There’s a danger element to it, like anything that can be taken too far. But I think that it was a really sexy idea, I thought, that to survive a time now [when] nothing’s abundant, everything is bleak, everybody’s pennypinching, that the way to survive destruction is to “out-create” it, so I think the idea was when everybody wants to take, “No, don’t don't try to take – you give”.  
CAD: So, it’s about trying to reverse the order of things? To me, hearing you talk about that, it’s a very nice link on to the other idea that runs so strongly throughout the new album, of Motherhood, especially on ‘Maybe California’. How has motherhood has impacted not only your relationship with music, but also your life, and your "job" as a musician and a creator. How has that changed?

TA: I think as Tash gets older – she’s 8 now – she’s got to a place where she has her own ideas, and they’re very exciting and independent of mine and her Dad's. She’s in a new phase now, and I’m having to grow with it. I think… because she’s more independent, I’ve been able to give more attention to The Art, in the last few years. And so, I’m changed forever, being a Mom, because I think – my body changed, first of all, and I could see what a woman’s body can do… and when I was at my biggest, I think I was most freed of all those demons – there were so many! They just got kicked out of my being… maybe with her feet! [both laugh] Even though she was a Caesarean birth, for medical reasons… I believe that… by accepting my physicality, that was a huge shift… for me, as a Creator, and as a Woman, and there’s more of a… a sensuality I think in some ways, to the work… that is there, where[as] the work prior to Tash, has other elements that you can only have before you’ve carried life… I can’t… I don’t know that consciousness anymore, because once your body takes on another person, you can’t be a maiden anymore. 
CAD: There is no going back is there?

TA: There’s no going back. You can’t know that emptiness anymore – and I don’t mean “emptiness” as a negative, I mean: you’ve been filled with another creature, and so… always & forever, that cord is real, and it’s pulling at you, and your consciousness shifts. The question is: how do you walk the line of Mother and Woman… independent of Mother, and that’s a challenge because I think some mothers, they can look back, and as much as they love their children… there’s something very sensual when your body’s your own. 
CAD: Something that seemed to come through in the story of ‘Maybe California’ is this kind of tension about a woman being driven to such a point where she wants to leave her children, she wants to leave the world even… and the responsibilities... and the damage she could do if she did chose to take that route, and [so] the question of 'Giving' comes up again.

TA: It keeps coming up... I mean.. there’s a selfishness, and there’s a battle of selfishness, and a battle between… not selflessness… but the question of “what is self”. If you’re a Mother-Creator, then self has to include the Other. “Mother” includes the word “Other”, and… I don’t think I really realized that until recently. I mean it’s staring at us in the face. Whereas “Woman”… the word “Man” is included – and “Wo” is included… [unclear whether Tori means “Woe” or “Whoa” here...] it’s a different kind of Other. I think “Mother” can embrace what it took to get her there, which is sexuality. 
CAD:...which is quite a radical way of thinking – this idea of sexualizing the mother, or even being a sexualized woman after you’ve given birth, or whilst you’re pregnant even, is taboo, isn’t it?

TA: It is taboo. And I think, with the new record, and the artwork, it’s very much about the idea of erotic spirituality. You know, I think when we were creating the photographs, they were being created while the music was playing, and the conversation… was very much with an Other, and the songs themselves, and what was behind that… and I think… sometimes as Mothers, you’re kind of amputated from the idea of the “Erotic”. Because, just the idea that “that woman that is holding that whip” [say], the idea that in two hours that woman can be sitting down, at a Haagen-Dazs, or (Tasha’s favourite) is Gladstone’s in the States, where they make the little ice-cream. But, the truth of the matter is that it depends on the temple – the temple of the Holy Spirit – and inside of that whip, and what's on the other side of that whip because that’s really metaphorical. To me, the pictures – the handcuffs, the whip – it’s very much about a mental-emotional conversation with… herself, or with this… Lover. 
CAD: So, it’s saying that we must tend to ourselves as Women in order to be good mothers, to retain our integrity?

TA: You have to do both - there’s a balance. It really is about a balance, and when you let the woman go, then sometimes you find as the children are growing up, that we go back to ‘Welcome to England’ [the song] – you're that woman again – who, if you don’t give to yourself, but you are giving to everybody else, that you turn around, and you recognize but "I have nobody to give to anymore, and i haven't nurtured myself while I've been nurturing everybody else". 


CAD: Thinking about this idea of the Mother figure, how has your relationship with your fans changed over the last 10 records in terms of your role for them? Do you see that as another kind of Giving?”

TA: Well, they’re changing too. There are so many different people, who have different relationships with the songs themselves… because the songs, when they get put into different compartments, they rebel, because they mean different things to different people. And they’re all Media [people] right now. It’s so amazing to me, when people are looking at these photographs, and [I get] such opposite reactions to them. And for me, it’s very telling… about them  
CAD: It’s like a Rorschach test…  
TA:  Well yes, one woman saw the whip shot, and said to me, “How can you be holding a whip?...”. It’s as if – as one of my favourite people in the world, Karen Binns, said – unless you are topshelf on a magazine, being a cliché, everything that is so obvious – unless it’s that – [this woman who objected] couldn’t understand. It was the men who understood… And it’s the men – gay or straight, both – who understand that. It’s a much more dangerous line, an involvement, to not just being going through the motions but to have the conversation before the tools are implemented, because the tools are only just… the tools; it’s the user behind them. And the fact that there’s compassion… and how are you using them? 

 CAD: I haven’t seen these images yet, so that’s probably a whole new interview…!

TA: I don’t think they’re meant to hurt! It depends on the user. It’s not necessarily about that! Some people are able to use these things as poetry, as metaphors.   
CAD: You’ve always been very interested in that. The visual side of your work has always been about challenging people’s concept of “What Woman Is” and “What Mother Is”

TA: That’s right, and what is Sacred, what is Profane…   
CAD: Going back to the Boys for Pele cover… [Tori with a gun, on her porch, showing a lot of leg; and on the back cover, suckling a pig]

TA:  That’s right, and the idea that why should Elegance, Seduction, and Eroticism be… closed to Mothers, who work very hard, and then at the end of the day lose their husband to fantasy images on the computer.  
CAD:  We’re always stifling ourselves, and putting ourselves into boxes… [alluding to Tori’s early comment, but also the cover of Little Earthquakes with Tori photographed in a wooden box]

TA: ...and pushing them to find it somewhere else… because we go back to [the idea of] Mother and Other, and the responsibility of that [relationship implied by the one word containing the other]. It’s a huge responsibility, and the woman in ‘Maybe California’ can't bear it anymore. That came from real stories from women, at the end of their ropes, who came to me and stopped me, over the last year, and told me about their lovers or husbands losing their jobs, and they hadn’t, and then everything was deteriorating… because the male is so defined by being a Provider, and so when they couldn’t do that anymore, they couldn’t provide in the bedroom anymore, and so the whole relationship would break down. And one particular woman said, “if I take myself out of the equation, then they’d have to give him a job… and if I could take myself out, it would all be okay… and he would find someone else again” – and you’re watching the mind turning, and you have to say “Stop! In order to give so much, you’re destroying. In order to give, and give yourself away, you’re taking.” So that was what that was about.  
CAD: You’ve long fought against certain sections the Church, and it's propensity to push guilt or shame on women and their sexuality, and I guess this follows on from what you’re saying… Do you think that things have got better in the last ten years?

TA: I think with Prop. 8 [Californian legislation that outlaws same sex marriage] it’s really up in everyone’s face. With that you push people back into secrecy. Probably the thing staring in everybody’s face – the biggest crime – is the human slave trade; woman and children. Yes, there are men, agreed – but it’s mostly women and then young children, and you think… what pushes us, in a society, to needing a slave-trade? The worker bee (in me) goes back to the hive, to the queen bee, who are the songs. I’d say I don’t understand. How can we fill ourselves, and our desires, with people in the professional sexual trade. Some people are driven to that, but some choose that – I know some – and it’s not for me to judge why, and they’re not just there for the money. Who made me God, to figure this out? I’m not talking [with this record, and it’s artwork] about a society that’s not consenting. What I’m really questioning is that the sexual slave trade that is so expansive, and everywhere that the secrecy to sexuality… Clearly, if we’re in a free society, what are we attracted to? Having power over another human, that has no power?  
CAD: Very possibly…

TA: And that’s what I think – [with] Abnormally Attracted to Sin [as a title] – you get to decide what the stories being told, with the songs, and the visualettes, and the pictures, what they represent. But, not for one minute do I believe that Tori [the character] is in the sexual slave trade and there because she doesn’t want to be. She’s choosing to be there for some kind of reason, and I think… the whole thing just baffles me, and so – when you ask me “Is sexuality an issue?” – well, when the biggest crime we have is sexual abuse, with the trading of human… flesh. Then, clearly, there’s a big problem. 
CAD: That leads me on to my final question. Does it concern you with this new crop of female pop artists that you see coming through, that there’s very little space for saying anything of value or having a voice to talk critically about femininity? It seems to me that in too many cases it's just a simulacra of quirkiness and kookiness but in fact it’s all so packaged and sanitized...

TA: Well, I don’t get concerned about that, because I think that… voices will demand to be heard. When the Muse grabs you by the hand, you know, you serve the creative force. The songs are independent of me, and yet we’re intertwined. (You know how it is! It's a very strange thing). The fact that the public enjoys all kinds of entertainment and expression… that has to be respected. And then there are those of us who talk about other things, and when you want to have another kind of conversation. There are those of us who want to sit down with that… wine that’s been aged a bit…rather than wine from, you know, 2006. There’s always room for a unique perspective But sometimes if you’re one of those artists, the truth is, you have to work really hard to be heard and you can’t stop. You have to keep fighting and you can’t say “Oh, the world seems to want this kind of music, so they don’t want me.” Well you just can't. You have to keep going.  
CAD: So, you’re hopeful there will be another generation…? Pushing through…

TA: There must be! There has to be. Otherwise… we’re doomed.   
CAD: Lastly, the impact of iTunes, and the way people are consuming songs in individual packages…does that worry you when you've spent such a lot of time and effort putting together this conceptual package with the visualettes?

TA: I can’t spout off about control…I know i am a control freak. Doug Morris told me to go and be a great one! The thing is - you can’t fight the Patriarchy - I use that term for a controlling system that doesn’t open itself up to other new ways of solving issues. How can I demand the public consumes it the way I've laid it out? It exists. I have a whole installation there – Visual-Sonic; it’s there – and some people will just come along for the post-show party, but that’s okay…


Abnormally Attracted to Sin is out now on Island Records. The deluxe edition of the album features a bonus DVD containing 16 “visualettes” directed by Christian Lamb.


Thursday, 26 February 2009

Update from the plague

I'm writing this to you from day 4 of 'The Plague', where I've been ignoring all advice from vocal coaches and steaming with tea tree oil to try and disinfect my body from the inside... So... between coughing up my pleura I thought it was about time I updated you all on what's been going on as a lot of people asked me at the EP launch when is the album coming out and what the hell have I been doing keeping you waiting for so long...

I start recording again with the very talented mr. bernard butler and the wonderful mr. liam howe in a few weeks time after a month or so of being locked in a room with an orchestral score. They are both very busy and super in demand people so we're putting it all together bit by bit rather than having the luxury of intensive recording blocks at the moment. This past month and a half I have been completely immersed in preparing for the show at the Royal Festival Hall (which is tomorrow night, 27th Feb). Who could know just how long it would take to score two songs for an entire orchestra....? The show is almost sold out now (2000 people - eeek!) and there's going to be some hugely talented musicians sharing the
stage who I've had the pleasure of working and collaborating with during my time as an Artist In Residence at the Southbank.

So back to the album... At this rate I may have enough tracks to fill three albums but I want it to be as perfect as possible rather than something I'm rushing out. Only having left University just over a year and a half ago this is the first time in my life I've been able to immerse myself so completely in writing and got to work with some of the people that I've admired for a long time. I've also been playing with some other musicians - you can hear me singing on the forthcoming single 'Sit Down By The Fire' by The Veils (which you can hear at their myspace) and I also got to go down to the last ever day that Olympic studios was open, and sang for The Holy Samanas in the huge orchestral room. Amazingly scary.

A huge thank you to everyone who has bought he EP so far and an especially big shout out to Steve Lamacq who has been giving it huge support on Radio 2. The EPs been really well received with some lovely pieces in the Daily Mirror, Dazed and Confused, Music Week, London Paper, Q... too. The cogs and wheels are already turning on the next mini release so you won't have to wait until the album is done to hear more. I'm going to be doing a video and everything and will be asking for your participation in this very shortly....

Right, I'm off to go and make another echinaecea cocktail.

Will let you know soon of my success in my mission to bring stage diving to the RFH...

xo catherine xo

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine's Massacre

Thank you to everyone who made it down to the EP launch.

Sorry if you got turned away at the door - we didn't expect it to be so full!

If you didn't manage to make it down, you missed:

* Frederick Blood-Royale's tribute to Lady Di.. via Elton John... genius.
* Jeremy Warmsley forgetting the words to 'Time After Time' and being helped out by some very kind members of the audience
*The theme to The Never Ending Story. No song better.
*My mic cutting out for the last two lines of mine and Jeremy's duet of 'Yeah Oh Yeah' so the wife didn't actually get stabbed in the end..
*People stealing the paper hearts and balloons from the walls as they left...

Thank you all for singing loud and proud to 'Turn Back Time', 'China In Your Hand' and  'Since You've Been Gone'.


My Valentine's Mixtape

Jeremy and I pretending to murder each other Magnetic Fields style...

Fred showing Lady Di & Elton some love...

Thank you to everyone who came to play and DJ
much Valentine's love x

Saturday, 3 January 2009

this year/next year

this year I:

-wrote 56 songs mostly about ------ and ----- and recorded (most of) them with Paul draper and Nitin Sawhney and blue may and some by myself
- sold 500 copies of my ep on pre-order and make my fingers bleed stamping each and everyone by hand. Then had to make 500 more.
- felt a little bit weird about getting reviewed in the daily mirror. felt better when i read the review.
-promised myself i would learn how to play banjo PROPERLY. Failed miserably. spent too much time emailing instead
-got asked to be artist in residence at the southbank centre and got to see Brian Wilson sing "god only knows"
- finally succumbed to the mac and got myself a proper pro tools set-up so i can join in the geeky boy-conversations
- gave the old dark side a chance and fell in love with the shins, didn't fall in love again but carried on torturing myself (mostly) about the same old same old, reinventing the contemporary malcontent
- continued to successfully abstain from drinking until may, then august. fell into a vat of rum in December and drank myself through the entire tom waits back catalogue, watched five movies without actually watching them and made my left eye bleed,
- went deaf in one ear for a day
- played islington academy and drunk so much baileys before i even got on stage that it seemed like the room was swaying in time with each rush of blood
- supported scout niblett in Brighton and tried to stop looking puzzled every time someone called her "Emma"
- visited two aquariums and fell in love with a skate called mister ray.
- got three buses to play a gig in hackney and got accidentally hit in the face with a flying guitar amp
- got lost on hampstead heath
- got lost in little venice
- stood on a train platform in harrow wanting to die
- didn't get invited to your birthday (you know who you are)
- shouted and swore at some guys in the audience for talking only to find out later that they were actually shouting about how much they loved the music...
- danced like a fool to old suede songs at "feeling gloomy" and gave myself whiplash whilst scaring the life out of Tim (probably)
- cried so much i lost my voice but acquired two more tones in my upper range
- played in front of a bazilion people with nitin sawhney at the royal festival hall
- got to take a shower in the rfh dressing rooms before the builders had really finished...
- acquired mysterious bruises but stopped feeling sick every time i ate.
- had a terrible birthday (again)
- played at the bbc electric proms
- got my first national radio play and won the bbc introducing listeners' vote
- felt disappointed in patrick wolf and the dresden dolls but played "videotape" by radiohead on repeat and became addicted to the shins
- bought another piano even though i shouldn't/couldn't/will live to regret it
- lusted after too many guitars and not enough boys
- cried at the rufus wainwright old vic show when he played "the art teacher"
- spent 15 days in hospital waiting rooms, waiting.
- thought about dyeing my hair blonde at least four times then accidentally dyed it blonde by leaving in the highlighting lotion too long the day my dad's father died and it no longer seemed important to wash it off.
- spent around a month of my time travelling on trains, mostly travelling backwards.
- got given an iPod but never used it
- hoped it would be fatal
- thought about starting an emo super-group comprising solely of female musicians
- listened too much and didn't demand enough
- drank too much white wine in the sun at reading and became fixated by trent reznor's leather gloves and enjoyed lost prophets a little bit too much.
- took too many taxis
- spent an amazing and exhausting two weeks writing and rehearsing ten completely original compositions for the re-opening of the royal festival hall. almost learnt to love reggae.
- got asked by Courtney Love to join her band. got scared and turned it down.
- recorded a cover of The Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love" on Christmas Eve and tried not to laugh too much whilst playing sleigh bells and making my friend Duncan sing really low backing vocals.
- read about 250 books whilst finishing my doctorate. Felt old about finally leaving university but kept getting ID'd in the supermarket anyhow.
- didn't get a proper job
- wore fake eyelashes whilst holding imaginary cigarette holders that leave trace a ladder of smoke that leads to the stars...
- nearly broke my guitar whilst wearing ridiculously high heels at the Jazz Cafe. because i could.
- finally impressed my parents by being on the same album as Paul McCartney (out next year)
- got addicted to rum and ginger beer which surpassed the cream soda and martini cocktail of the winter of 2004.
- thought about emigrating to America, Iceland, Poland, Paris, the end of the garden.
- didn't leave the country once
- finally made it to iTunes.
- blagged a comprehensive knowledge of the life and works of Sylvia Plath after being invited to sing and talk about her at the ICA not having read "The Bell Jar" for nearly 10 years because it made me feel so ghastly.
- ran around in the butterfly house at London Zoo
- got terrible skin for 3 months and finally empathized a little too late with all those girls at school...
- started making mixtapes again

next year-

- i want to be in technicolor...