When we were 17, we weren’t up anything constructive. Mostly getting in to gigs we strictly weren’t supposed to be at and asking the kids who looked oldest to go to the bar. Cathy Jain is far more artistically productive – dropping her brand new ‘artificial’ EP via so-hot-right-now label YALA! Records today (5th November). It’s absolutely bloody fan-fucking-tastic. There’s one for the stickers, eh?
Featuring the very cool and appropriately named single ‘cool kid’ – we asked Cathy to scribble down some of the thoughts, inspirations and ‘stuff’ behind the release for an Artist’s Guide. She did, and you can read it below.
The concept behind the ‘artificial’ EP came from the idea of “being your genuine self”. I heard this phrase as a young teen and wondered “what’s that supposed to mean?”. We all have an image of ourselves in our own minds but that can often be very different from the image that we project, or how others perceive us to be. We spend so much of our time in a virtual world, and so much more when the pandemic hit. It really got me thinking about how we tell the difference between what is ‘real’ in terms of our emotions and our idea of ourselves, and other people.
Each of the four songs on the EP are a snapshot of someone’s state of mind at a particular time and they reflect the ideas about what is ‘fake’ and what is ‘real’ but in different settings and different musical styles. A lot of my songs are influenced by the uncertainty that comes with being our age, that feeling of inexperience and nervousness we get despite having such a strong awareness of the world (thanks to social media). I think everyone feels these things sometimes but can find it hard to express, so my goal really is to give voice to those both universal and unique feelings.
I collaborated on the EP with Rob Heron remotely from my bedroom setup as he is based in Goa. This was way before lockdown so we were ahead of the trend!!!
The mellow opening track ‘artificial’ is about how we really shouldn’t worry too much about whether everything we experience is “authentic” or not. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly virtual but the song accepts this. The world is changing and that isn’t necessarily something to fear. Nevertheless, the song has an almost apocalyptic feel and starts off in a dreary and pessimistic way, yet by the end the character is fully accepting of this lifestyle. Some people have even related the song to plastic surgery and deeper sci-fi, fantastical topics where we all turn into robots programmed to be ‘perfect’. This is also a very interesting take. Sonically, the song makes me think of someone sitting in a cafe, scrolling through their phone with some light, jazzy piano music in the background.
‘cool kid’ also has a laid back sound but includes more of an R&B tinge to it. The song is about how we create a certain image of ourselves to present to other people in order to meet their expectations or simply fit in. Really it’s the question of, is this being fake? I don’t think so. Adapting your personality or how you behave depending on who you’re with is a very natural thing and instead of being fake, it’s just a different kind of authenticity. So the song again reflects this sense of acceptance. “Maybe I’m not my true self when I’m with you, but maybe that’s okay.” Like “artificial” this also suggests that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and I think the lulling melody and chilled beat really bring this out. Rob and I tried to emulate the feeling of a late summer afternoon with that wobbly synth you hear from the very beginning. From the second I heard it, the synth sound gave me such a strong feeling of nostalgia that I could almost picture the scene by the river. I got so much love for this song that I feel like it really resonated with people (especially those my age).
‘green screen’ is a different proposition. I’m really proud that this was playlisted on 6 Music because I think it has a unique sound that really reflects the feelings I was trying to get across. The song is about how we are searching for real human feelings and emotions in the virtual world that we spend most of our time in, but just because we find those feelings virtually, doesn’t mean that they are not genuine. The song is super harmonic and has psychedelic twists and turns that express how we can sometimes lose ourselves and our sense of what is real.
i see us in heaven
‘i see us in heaven’ is a little darker musically but really it’s kind of tongue in cheek. It’s a satire song about how we want our relationships to be complex and to be perceived as unique and mysterious. Sometimes we dream of living in a melodramatic, romanticised life where we are the mysterious protagonist. The whole meaning revolves around this idea of what we desire to be like and how we choose to appear to other people. It is the first song that I worked on with Rob and the dry, bit-crushed beats fit the theme so perfectly. It’s just really atmospheric and brings to mind a dark corner of a club somewhere.