by Bianca Valentino
Catcall is the latest musical project from Sydney-based musician Catherine Kelleher. Kelleher first performed as frontwoman for Australian DIY punk band Kiosk in the early 00s. Upon returning home from a 2006 Kiosk US tour Kelleher had a life changing moment (which she talks about here) and after much soul searching decided to create Catcall — an electro hip-pop delight.
I noticed on Twitter today you posted a photo of contents from a box you’d been going through that your mum had kept from when you were younger.
[Laughs] Oh yeah! I’m at my mum’s at the moment. My sister told me that she had discovered this box of things mum had — there’s all these letters we’d written mum and dad. The letters to Santa are so funny!
I noticed that. I know you grew you listening to a lot of the same music I have like Fugazi and other punk bands. Your Christmas wish list/letter to Santa featured requests for a Bush CD and a Michael Flatley Lord Of The Dance CD!
[Laughs] Yeah I was 11 or 12, and I was really confused. There was a Reef CD on that list as well. Around that time I was listening to a lot of chart stuff like Bush and bands like Everclear and Australian stuff like early 90s Powderfinger and Grinspoon. It was a funny time [laughs].
A request for your first concert ticket was also on the list.
Yeah, Homebake festival! It was when I was 12. I didn’t actually get to Homebake until I was 14 because my mum wouldn’t let me go. My first concert ended up being a Killing Heidi concert when I was 12; it was an all-ages show.
I found out about Catcall and what you do from Nathan (Howdeshell) of The Gossip. I thought it funny that I found out about an Australian artist via someone from overseas!
[Laughs] That’s cool! My first band [Kiosk] toured with The Gossip. In 2007 Catcall — a really early stage of the project – played with them. When I was in Kiosk we ended up playing Nathan’s parties in Portland when we got to tour America. Portland is really fun. Nathan used to run this night called Dunes at a disco. Portland is awesome, all the kids that he’s friends with are awesome and it’s so beautiful there. There’s so much going on for artists. Every two weeks they have a Thursday night where all the art galleries open and everyone moves from gallery to gallery.
Can you tell me about the feeling that you get on stage when you perform?
It’s happy. It’s my happy place. I’d rather be onstage or in my bed sleeping [laughs]. It’s almost like a meditation place for me. I kind of just zone out when I’m onstage. It’s where I’m having the most fun and I’m also at my most peaceful. Sometimes it might be different. It depends, if I’m having a bad show I’m not in that peaceful place, I’m really aware of things not going well — the show feels like it’s going on for an eternity. Most of the time I’m having a really great time and the show feels over in like five seconds.
As a solo artist, being right out the front, are you comfortable out there?
Definitely! I feel really comfortable on stage. The early stages of the project when I was playing live were really under-formed. When I look back on it now I can’t believe that I did that because that show wasn’t very prepared or strong. I think I can get through any show though now that I’ve had the experience of forming something in front of people. It was the same with Kiosk, I felt we grew up in front of people. The Catcall show has grown up in front of people; there was a clear progression between the early under-formed stage of it to what it is now. I feel that confidence has been maintained maybe the whole time and now I just draw on the fact that I had it earlier on and did what I did to feel even more confident now — I feel a lot stronger now.
How old where you when you first started making music?
I was 17. I was in Kiosk. I’d never played anything before we started the band. I brought a keyboard and then we got a drum kit and guitars somehow, we had a jam and that’s how everything started – we put together some songs. Since then I’ve been pretty consistent for the last six or seven years.
What musicians did you idolize growing up? You were a fan of Hole and The Go-Go’s?
Yeah, yeah, I was a big fan of Sonic Youth growing up! I only became obsessed with The Go-Go’s in the last four or five years, when I was 20. Hole … you know how at the time you probably wouldn’t admit that you’re into Hole but then looking back you go, “Oh my god they were awesome!”
I’ve been a big Hole fan since the 90s. I’m actually sitting in my office right now looking at a 1995 Hole Australian tour poster that’s got a Barbie kind of image on it.
Wow! That’s awesome. I also started getting into Bikini Kill — that was pretty inspirational. Then there’s all the punk bands I like: The Germs, Black Flag — they were all exciting to me. Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon was really inspiring. Fleetwood Mac and Christine McVie have been really influential recently. I’m obsessed with Fleetwood Mac.