Idealistically music is an uncorrupted expression of truth, free from the generic outcome of image-conscious marketing or the compromise of commerce.
So when a musical act shifts direction from crafting off-beat challenging tracks and begins making inoffensive commercially viable tunes, listeners often assume the quest for dollars has overridden the assertion of self.
For Catherine Kelleher, now more commonly known as Catcall, it’s this kind of scrutiny that the young songstress has undergone even before the release of her debut LP The Warmest Place.
Having first come to people’s attention as part of the sonically messy Sydney punk trio Kiosk, Kelleher’s shift to a more digestible brand of potentially chart-friendly pop, full of catchy hooks and straightforward delivery, has certain sectors of the musical community second-guessing the motives of the fresh solo artist.
In a previous interview with Polaroids of Androids, Kelleher singles out one particularly scathing review, which suggests Catcall values currency over credibility.
When speaking with Music Feeds, Kelleher explains that, although she understands people’s apprehension, her transition to upbeat pop has nothing to do with money.
“I never think it’s going to be anything successful, I’m just doing this because I really love this music. I can understand that people get suspicious if they’ve seen the journey that’s gone from the EPs,” Kelleher admits.
“I can definitely understand it, but obviously I know my intentions and I know that I really genuinely love this music and have loved it for quite a while now. It’s just my project…criticisms will happen, but I know where it comes from…it comes from a positive good place, so that’s all that really matters.”
Where Catcall’s new music comes from is the most personal of places. The passing of Kelleher’s father informed not only the record’s title but also much of it’s content. Most would assume such a tragic event would lead to the creation of downtrodden sombre music, but Kelleher instead decided to emulate the musical refuge that sheltered her during troubled times.
“When my father passed away, the music that I retreated to was really fun escapist music. It was really bizarre – I mean I guess not really, it kind of makes sense – but I kind of listened to, for some reason, a lot of Kanye West and a lot of that Justin Timberlake record and that Nelly Furtado album that came out in 2006.”
“It made me feel happy, so I kind of got this appreciation for fun pop music…and I really wanted to make it I guess because it helped me not escape, I didn’t want to escape what was going on but it helped me feel better about everything. I could put in on and go for a walk and just really zone out about the really intense grief that I was going through,” Kelleher reveals.
All this talk of ‘fun pop music’ may give the impression that The Warmest Place has little substance; fortunately that’s not the case. The record opens up in a somewhat unusual way via an a cappella title track that displays the power of Catcall’s vocals.
“I kind of wanted the record to be instantly personal,” Kelleher explains.
“When I was sequencing songs, I just kind of thought it would be cool just to start something off like that and I like the way that it goes straight into August and it kind of connects to that song.”
August is titled after the month in which Kelleher’s father passed. The song is also a personal triumph for Catcall, one which signifies deep personal expression without being emotionally manipulative or overly earnest.
“For me writing August signified a personal milestone in writing. It was the first time I felt like I wrote something that was, I guess, emotional and personal without being kind of earnest,” Kelleher affirms.
“Earnest I think is a feeling I get when it feels insincere. Like…it’s trying too hard to elicit emotion from a listener, but there’s songs that can be emotional without being earnest…that’s what I felt like I achieved with August.”
Catcall’s debut record The Warmest Place is out now…
Watch: Catcall – The World is Ours
Watch: Catcall – Satellites
CATCALL – NATIONAL TOUR – MAY 2012
Fri 11 May Edinburgh Castle, Adelaide, SA
Sat 12 May The Toff, Melbourne, VIC
Thu 17 May Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane, QLD
Fri 18 May Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Sat 19 May Northern Star, Newcastle, NSW
Sat 26 May Amplifier, Perth, WA