Are music genres meant to remain the same forever? Not for Amparo Battagia, aka Catnapp. This hardcore but soft-heart girl comes from Buenos Aires and has settled in Berlin, a place known for its freedom. She runs away from conventional influences and styles that are fed by recording labels only because of their economic interests; instead, she bets on experimental, ethereal sounds more than ever. With a flawless fusion of rap, pop and electronic tunes, she has released her latest EP, Fear, to shatter the stereotypes that need to be broken.
Her fat beats will not only make your speakers boom, but also encourage you to start from different standpoints every time you seek for change. The Berlin-based and Buenos Aires-born artist is a producer, singer and performer that mixes breakbeat, rap, pop, drum and bass among other genres to create an inducing yet powerful sound. Emancipated from mainstream labels’ concerns, Amparo has been making her own way into music since 2010; already having released three EPs and LPs, she has lately signed with Monkeytown Records and already holds her own label, Napp Records.
For the ones who don’t know you, can you describe who is Amparo Battaglia and who is Catnapp?
Amparo Battaglia is a shy sentimental girl who likes folk and pop; her favourite band is The Prodigy and when she is sad, she listens to Juan Luis Guerra to lift up her mood. In contrast, Catnapp is not shy at all. She goes on stage and doesn’t care if she has to perform in front of a thousand people or if she strips down in the middle of the show. Amparo is shy to even play the guitar in front of her closest friends. Yet, over time, they got closer to each other until they stopped being two separate personalities and fused into one same person.
You moved to Berlin in 2015. What pushed you to move there from Argentina? Did you find the European scene hard to break in or just the opposite?
It is very hard to grow or to develop as an artist in Argentina if you’re not making straightforward national rock. Also, if your lyrics are not in Spanish, you’ll be (a little bit) judged and no one really will dare to invest in you. Furthermore, the country is currently in such a bad economic situation that, of course, people who can invest will only do so in ‘safe’ products. There’s also not a lot of public for the music I make. So I felt there was nothing more for me to learn there and needed to be inspired by new things, like fresh people and arts from other places.
It’s not particularly hard to get into the scene in Berlin; it’s mainly about oneself and the dedication you put into it and your own work. It is very easy to just get lost in this city – and most artists do. But if you stay focused and believe in what you do, you will be fine. It takes time like everywhere else, I guess. You have to get to know the people from scratch, the clubs, the vibe, etc. Everything. I started performing since the day I arrived, but it took me some time to scan the territory and start building up a ‘crew’ again.
So you really had to fight for what you craved for. Which was your biggest challenge then?
Having to kind of start my career all over again in a new place. All the work I had done in Argentina wasn’t useless, of course, but I had to build Catnapp up almost from zero in a different continent, with no one from my crew. There was no Facu Cruz (my producer), no Cisco (my organizer), no Undertones (the club I used to perform in), and not even my friends to come support me at a gig. I was alone and had to recreate all of this by myself all over again, and I barely knew anyone. I loved the challenge, though, but it was hard work.
Of course it was. But it was worth it, don’t you think? Your music is different from nearly all defined genres as it follows your own musical flow. What made you take this path?
I just do what I like and feel. I didn’t select a genre for any other reason than liking it and wanting to create music like that. That’s just who and how I am.
Fear, your latest EP, was launched in March. It brags a wild DIY appeal. What is the main difference you feel regarding your previous releases?
All my albums are different from one another, as when I created each of them I was going through different phases in life. I think Fear is a mix of the music I was doing at the beginning and some new influences. My music style tends to change and evolve, just like myself – or any other human being. I’m not afraid of exploring new horizons and trying new feelings out. And, naturally, anything I might discover that changes me personally will also change my music, as it is a direct expression of who I am and what I feel. In Fear, I explore new sounds and textures I was intrigued by. For example, Bring it Back to me was ninety per cent recorded with self-created samples with daily objects that came handy or that I had at home. I think the result is a nice mix of pop, rap, and experimental sounds.
Tell us about Fear Remixes. This special version of the EP combines groovy breakbeat vibes with smooth synth-lines, while other sounds speed your energetic bass, and some others bring you back to the ‘90s. Why did you want to offer this diversity to your audience?
I believe it’s nice to have super diverse remixes in that release. Personally, I enjoy almost every music genre, so we didn’t want to stick to just one. It’s very cool to have this sort of variety between ‘90s rave techno, super contemporary bassy breaks, and soft loving pads all in one same release. When I was younger and used to buy the remixes CDs, I was always fascinated by the differences between all of them. It’s good to give the audience variety.
It definitely makes it more interesting. And considering that your music is kind of different from most defined genres, tell us which is the best way for you to produce tracks?
Coffee or ‘mate’ in hand and seven hours of a non-stop flow of ideas. This special, glorious moment of overdriven creativity that suddenly manages to channel through my brain is the most enjoyable way of creating a song for me. I forget about eating and almost everything that concerned me before getting into it; I just focus completely on its creation for a full day. Then, I listen to it a billion times.
I read somewhere that you had some problems with an American record label that promised things it never accomplished. After that, you released your own record label, Napp Record. How did this go, exactly?
The idea of creating my own record label had been mingling at the back of my head for quite some time. When I finished the Back EP, I got it signed to a label that turned out to be the worst experience in my career till that moment. Luckily, I got the rights back and decided that I had to create my own platform for its release. I had to build something for myself and for all the other artists I admired who were in similar situations as mine. I wanted to create a company that would never put an artist through what I was put through. It was very clear for me that it was time to build Napp.
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So you are really offering a space for artists who don’t feel represented by the interests of many other recording companies. What future plans can you reveal?
I have my first artist’s – John Debt – release coming up very soon, and five other releases from different artists planned out for the rest of the year and beginning of 2019. I feel very happy to be able to support and push artists that I deeply admire, and also very grateful that they have chosen Napp to put their amazing music out. It’s an incredible feeling.
Anger, sadness and love are the main feelings through which your music goes, but still, energy is what I feel the most. Who do you think would be a great artist to portray your mood in a new way you still haven’t approached?
Definitely, Anton Tammi. He’s so creative in such a new and different way. I would love to see what he does with a Catnapp track.
Since your live performances are a unique part of your shows, what are your ideal places to perform?
For me, it’s not so much about the place but about the vibe of the audience and of the people who work at the venue. I enjoy performing at events where the crowd comes to listen to my music, feel it and enjoy it. I like to play at places where the people who make the party do it for the good reasons and value the artists.
So, as it’s clear that the audience’s interaction is relevant, where can you find your favourite crowds?
For now, my favourite ones were at Melt Festival in Berlin this year and La Fessee Festival in Belgium. Also, at the first gig of my last tour in Argentina in Niceto Club; that was explosive!
What is your message for all the young artists who are struggling to get into the musical scene they intend to?
You must believe in yourself first for everyone else to do it afterwards. This is the most important thing. Always create the music that you feel, even if it’s different. Actually, even more if it’s unalike or weird, don’t try to adjust to ‘what sells’. In the end, your particular style and what makes you different is what really makes you special and separates you from the ‘more of the same’ ocean, which is just a trend and will eventually evaporate. Unless that is what you want, of course! Just follow your heart and, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Summer is full of festivals. Which ones have you played already and in which ones are you still set to perform?
I performed in France and Belgium in June; on July, I played at Melt (Berlin) and Latitude (United Kingdom) festivals, and in August I’ll be performing at Yaga in Lituania, FRAC in Italy, and Sonica in Slovenia. Also, in the next months, there’s possibly a new Latin American tour?
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