We associate the art with the artist in the case of Catnapp. The Berlin-based Argentinian producer puts an emphasis on the growth and development of an artist over the intended pursuit of creating music for albums, merchandising, and sales. Her unique approach makes Catnapp stand out from other artists in her field. With her newest release of Trust Remixes EP in late June, she’s sat for a candid talk about her evolution as a creator and musician since the drop of her 2018 Fear EP.
A record of experimenting, Catnapp creates for the fun and for the joy of music. She doesn’t aim to make music she thinks will sound good for others, but she wants to make music that appeals to her as a critic of her own work. That way, the sound of the EP is something fresh and attractive to all of Catnapp’s listeners, including herself. Stream Trust Remixes EP now.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. We last talked to you back in 2018 when you released the Fear EP. Since then, you’ve released quite a lot of music (original EPs, remix EPs, albums). Where do you feel you stand now?
I'm in a moment in which I am allowing myself to create music more freely, without aiming to produce an album (contrary to what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years or so). For a while there I was wondering if music was actually the career I wanted to pursue, if this was still for me, my thing. I had lost motivation for making music, touring. Going to the studio meant stress and pressure, not creativity, expression or art. I felt like I had to fulfil expectations, and music production slowly became a must instead of a want. Touring became unbearable, even though I was not touring with a super crazy frequency of 2 months in a row every day like some artists, but more like 1–2 days a week. But it was just too stressful. I had no energy to do it any more, nor (and this was the scariest feeling) motivation. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The shows were not going too well, I had put a lot of effort in the creation of special outfits, stage design, lots of money invested, and I felt like I was not getting anything in return. I felt really sad and empty. I even got physically ill because of tour related stress and had to cancel some gigs. For the first time. This was definitely a sign that something had to change.
After the whole 2022 tour year I travelled back to Argentina in December, like I do every year, to also tour, escape the Berlin winter, see family, work a bit there and take some time off, and now mostly to give all of this some real thought. Maybe it was time for a change in my career and to do something else. Fortunately after some time I realised that music is still what I love. I'm very passionate about it, I love making it, thinking of ideas, planning, experimenting. But it was the way I was doing it that had to change. I was lucky enough to be able to allow myself that change. That change meant not having to push myself to make another album right away this year or the next, allowing myself to experiment more, working with a manager, and changing plenty of the things regarding the way I navigate touring.
I also realised that it is important for me to keep on learning, studying, and also to take the constant focus from music. I was always interested in psychology, counselling, and somehow supporting artists with the knowledge I've gathered working in the music industry all this time. So, I started studying psychology a little, and doing some courses about lyric writing. This automatically woke me up and brought me back from that swampy empty place I was in. Doing something else allowed me to enjoy making music more. As well as not having to make it for a particular reason. Just because I wanted to. If an album comes out of this or doesn’t is not in my mind at all at the moment.
Congratulations on your newest EP, Trust Remixes. After a few months of its release, how are you feeling?
I always love a remix EP. It is very nice to get someone else’s take on your tracks, especially from artists you admire.
In the Trust EP, you collaborated with artists hailing from around the world, including Modeselecktor –the German duo who run Monkeytown Records–, Methone, Aamourocean, or Wilo. And now, the remixes are made by other artists too including Talpah, Kamixlo, Scratcha DVA, or Tufi Meme. What was the best part of collaborating with all of these people?
It’s great to be able to collaborate musically with people you look up to. Because I am producing everything by myself it can get a little bit lonely making music independently. It’s refreshing and inspiring to engage in a creative back and forth with someone else. The best part was being able to make a track with my brother Wilo.
Also, how do you choose what artists to collaborate with? What do you value in someone else’s craft and sound to invite them to collaborate with you or remix your songs?
It's different every time. For example, for the Damage Remixes EP I wanted to work with friends and underground producers I had recently listened to through SoundCloud. It’s important to me to stay connected with the authenticity and rawness of the underground, and to experiment. For the TRUST Remixes EP it was a mix of producers I had been listening to for a long time (like Kamixlo & Diessa), artists I had known for a long time but never collaborated with (Lila), artists I recently found playing at the same festivals like Talpah, and Scratchclart [aka Scratcha DVA] who was proposed by the label and I loved their music. We have been friends with Tufi Meme for around 15 years now, we always connect musically with each other, and I felt like the remix I wanted to do for Despierta would be fun for him to make as well. Et voilà. We both share a nostalgic love for 2000s electronic music, and that was the skin and skeleton for our remix.
Putting a record out is not an easy feat. What was the greatest challenge of creating TRUST?
I think the greatest challenge of putting out TRUST was that I was not in a place where I really wanted to put out music. I didn’t have the energy to make hits while producing it. I was in a moment of exploration and had to rush to finish tracks when I was not ready. The reason for having to hurry was mainly due to my own anxiety and fear because of how the music industry works. You need a new album every year to be booked, you need to be booked to make money. And of course I needed to pay rent, so I pushed myself to make more music when I was really not inspired to do it, I think. When you are trying to book gigs the promoters will ask you “what do you have coming up?” And you would have just released an album last month. But they need something new already. I wanted to do more experimental things, but this was not really album material I think. It is hard to keep up with the industry’s needs when I'm not that kind of producer or person. I'm not a banger producer, nor a producer that makes a lot of tracks all the time. I'm slow at making music. I take my time to feel things and create songs. Songs that maybe are not meant to be hits. But I feel like at the time I pushed myself to make the tracks into something they weren’t. This year for the first time I am not pushing myself to make an album, but to learn new things (musical and non-musical) and nurture my spirit. It feels fabulous. It is allowing me to feel closer to my deep artistic self.
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Club music is something most people don’t get into until their more formative years, or at least when they are actually old enough to go clubbing. What kind of music did you listen to growing up? And what made you want to become a DJ and create your own music?
I listened to a lot of pop and rock, folk and electronic (big beat, electro) music. The Chemical Brothers, Placebo, No Doubt, Garbage, Fat Boy Slim, all the DMode albums back in the 90s and 2000s. I also listened to Sublime a lot. I was a Kings of Leon and Band of Horses fan too. But my main favourite project was and will always be (I think) The Prodigy. Now getting outside the expected realm, I love Merengue and Bachata (Juan Luis Guerra never fails to put a smile upon my face), mambo like Perez Prado, and also I listened to a lot of Alternative National Rock (a term we have in Argentina. Basically alternative rock made in Argentina) like Boom Boom Kid and El Otro Yo. I was never a fan of the rest of the National Rock scene, but I started enjoying listening to it a bit more once I moved to Europe, and it was no longer banging on the radio every second of my existence.
Your music plays faster than the traditional 128bpm, which I can imagine riles up your audiences. Your beats are quick and rhythmic. After many years in the music industry, how would you say your style and sound have evolved with you?
I'm always aiming to experiment. In parallel, I'm kind of naturally drawn to quite a similar harmony every time. Additionally, I'm influenced by the new music I listen to every day. It opens up new paths or lights up new ideas. I believe the music I'm inclined to make shifts according to those variables. Kind of like a subconscious equation.
Every year that passes I notice some rhythms, lyrics, rhymes or melodies have been engraved very deep in my creative mind, and it’s hard to avoid them. They are the first option that always comes to my mind when I start producing. It's crazy. It’s a hard process to change that pattern, but I'm trying. (Laughs).
Other times I like to let that flow, and it even surprises me to find out that the first step that seemed to be again the same, took me on a completely different path in the end. Just allowing that first need to vomit those same chords and words then permits the appearance of new ideas.
In music, there is a great relationship between lyrics and melody, where the lyrics stand out above the melody in order to tell some sort of story or message. In your message, the lyrics act as another instrument, only being highlighted occasionally and being immersed with the rest of the track. How do you view lyrics in your music? And how do you create a cohesive sound among your tracks?
Lyrics are the hardest part for me most of the time. It’s the most direct connection between what I want to say and the audience. For this reason I try to always be very careful. And more than often I might even overthink them a little too much.
I like for lyrics to be immersed in the music more than standing out, on occasion. Other times I search for a more pop approach where the lyrics stand out a lot. When I'm performing live, I like them to be a bit hidden inside the beat and not too upfront. Nowadays, I am exploring a more beat oriented production, where the lyrics are in a kind of secondary place, or they don’t appear as often or as upfront. I'm presenting something like this on August 10th at Säule [in Berlin].
I’m curious. I’m a musician, but I’m not as familiar with the craft of DJing. How would you define what it means to be a DJ? What does your process look like?
I have not DJed for quite a few years (maybe since 2016). I think that it requires a lot of different talents. First, you have to have a good memory. Remembering the tracks that you have, before you start to hate them, there can be a lot of them to remember. Then you have to have the music taste, skill and knowledge to know what goes with what and when. Especially if you are mixing two tracks that create surprise, which are unexpected, two songs with different BPMs, genres, etc. Also, you need to be able to read people, to know what will make them dance, what won’t. That is so hard. At least for me.
Some DJs have all of those skills and DJ as if it was not hard at all (or at least that’s what it seems like). I recently went to a party where Dis Fig was DJing, and I was absolutely blown away. The way in which she checked all of the above boxes was incredible. She even made me want to go back to DJing, which I tried for a couple of days but yeah, I think it’s still fun and all but not my thing (laughs). My memory is horrible, I don’t know how to read people, and I'm always mixing weird shit together.
What is your opinion on sampling?
Sampling is amazing, as long as the proper necessary credits and royalties are given. It’s part of who we are as humans, I guess, to take existing things and remix them into new things. I just think that it’s important that you don’t call it 100% your own and are fair with the previous creators of those sounds.
You first made a splash in the underground scene in Buenos Aires and later branched out to Berlin where you’ve been based for almost a decade (you moved in 2015 if I’m not wrong). Do you have a favourite venue or city to perform in? Where would you like to bring your music to?
Nowadays, I have to say Brussels. There’s always a great energy from the crowd. I have even played in other cities or countries where I felt the energy was great, and it turned out most of the audience was from Brussels.
I would love to perform in Ireland because a part of my family is from there. I'm intrigued about how it would be received.
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