Prior to the Casual EP pool party launch, I had the pleasure of talking with Perth wunderkind Katie Campbell, a.k.a Catlips. The young, yet vastly experienced artist discussed her life as a modern day triple threat, her musical father and the local music scene.
Photos by Henry King.
You describe your sound as rhythmic house/experimental/dance, but if you were to paint a picture that embodies your sound and what it means to you, what would we see?
I think lots of plants, lots of shapes, tessellating patterns, which I think really links up with the rhythmic element of my music. Strong primary colours and plenty of gradients between colours, I guess lots of changing shapes and heaps of fruit and natural images.
You’re a producer, live performer and composer, a modern day triple threat if you will. Is there one that you prefer?
Producing. I feel like I’m in my element when I’m in the studio and I have total control with being able to explore everything. It’s super fun for me. I do really love performing live, it’s totally different, but yeah it’s pretty special because you get a lot of reflection time when you’re in the studio and you can get really involved in it. When you’re in the studio you can immediately envision how things should be performed live, I think performing and producing have that strong connection.
Hearing that an artist is a composer, especially at your age is quite unique, could you tell us about your composing experience?
I haven’t done much since Uni. I did a composition course and they really encouraged us to do composing for dance projects, short films and documentaries, spot more traditional scoring. I did music for a play recently, which was at the Blue Room, called Rabbit Head, which was fun because it was totally different. It’s a really different way of making music as it’s intended to be subtle and enhance what’s going on in front of you. At Uni it was super experimental, but we had to study opera and do classical theory as well.
Did you enjoy that?
Yeah, it’s definitely got a place in modern music, as the best thing I learnt was the broadness of music with so many different techniques and genres. There are so many elements I go back on from Uni when I’m making my tracks.
You’ve mentioned before your Dad was a musical man. Did he help you get into music and seeing it as a career path?
Yeah, my Dad is still a really good drummer; he used to be a Reggae drummer. He also makes some really cool down-tempo electronic music, and he gets all of his friends to come and play instruments. I grew up listening and playing tonnes of music and Dad taught me in high school how to use Logic, so how to record my own vocals and the whole interface of using a program, which helped me when I got to Uni as they don’t teach you how to use programs like Ableton. When I finished high school I was tossing up between doing law at UWA or going to WAAPA, and there’s a huge difference in the score you need for those, so my Dad, who’s a lawyer, said ‘don’t do law, do music.’
Being a Perth local, you must be proud of the scene here with the DeadWeight! boys, I.C.S.S.C run by Daniel Dalton, Methods of Movement, Fungle Club, among many others, pushing the boundaries and keeping the scene moving. What are your thoughts on the Perth music scene, the community and how it’s developed over the last few years?
For me, it’s been so helpful. Starting off a few years ago when I was making tracks and early gigs, everyone was really helpful. The people who I was friends with and partied with would ask me to send them tracks and I found it to be a really encouraging and welcoming scene. The electronic scene is really strong at the moment because everyone’s really passionate about it. There’s been so many great acts over the past two years, which has been really good, as it keeps me really motivated and makes me want to work on tracks.
I’ve got to ask, why ‘Catlips’?
It’s actually really boring. Quite a long time ago, when I was much younger, I had a photo blog and it was called Catlips because I was just putting words together. Then when I started making music I was putting them on the blog so the name kind of stuck. People were like ‘oh that’s such a naughty name’, but I honestly didn’t even think about it that way.
The Casual EP: where did you draw inspiration from and what did you hope to achieve in the process?
It’s probably my first proper release and it’s tracks that I’ve been working on for the past 8 months. I think for me it’s a combination of lots of styles and genres that are coming together to get closer to the sort of sound I want to be producing. I wanted to keep it varied because it’s my first big release and I didn’t want to set one style so that it’s not too weird when I try something different in the future. Ultimately for another release I’d hope to have it more dancefloor focused, as I listen to a lot of different genres so it was important in this process to refine my production skills and be able to isolate the elements that I liked from different genres and put them into tracks. All the tracks are quite different; they’ve got some similar elements that I keep going back to, so it was good to reflect on those and notice that these are the bits that seem to naturally come together. In terms of emotions that I’m trying to evoke, I’m trying to challenge the idea of a stereotype connected to electronic music, but you can still enjoy it in the same way if it we were a stereotypical dance track. You could be out listening to these tracks at a club, but then you also listen to them at home.
What are the details for the release? Where can we get our hands on it?
It’s coming out via iTunes, and RTR have had it as their feature record, so they’ve been giving away a few copies. Also there’s a limited 12″ that’s getting pressed and should be ready in time for the launch. I got Yoko Honda, who’s this amazing artist from Japan, to do the front and back covers for it to give the record that artistic element. I think it’s important to have the record; it makes it more personal and you can see the work that’s been put into it so it’s not just a file off the Internet.
Grab the Casual EP on iTunes