It ain’t over ‘til the Cat lady sings
MANILA, Philippines - It’s a numbers game: the 9-lives analogy is apt for independent singer-songwriter Cattski Espina, who has certainly embodied longevity in the indie music scene — where musicians come and go.
This time, though, she goes back to zero as she puts forth her 4th studio album, “Zero” or “0:00:00” (like a digital music player’s marker of a new musical journey).
A self-described “do-it-yourself” musician, Cattski has been performing since the late '90s, when she started doing the rounds of bars and restaurants in Cebu. Over the course of her musical career, she has produced 3 studio albums with her eponymously named former band; a collaboration album; and an album of previously released singles.
This time, however, Cattski goes back to basics as she rediscovers the art of making music on her own, without the potentially divergent creative input of her peers and bandmates.
“I start from zero, from scratch and all that. I’m using the digital counter as my metaphor here which is really consistent with the sound that I’m putting to life in this record," Cattski shares with RAPPLER. "The music is built using the complex mix of real musical instruments and digital audio technology.”
Cattski calls this musical medley “digifolk” for its folk and electronica notes.
Going solo brings about a lot of creative freedom for Cattski. “I made 3 albums with my band. It was fun, but also limiting at one point," she shares. "A band functions as a unit and as a team. As a team member, one has to consider the other team members’ creative contribution."
She continues, "And because these are different people with different musical backgrounds — not to mention different levels in musicality — the result would sometimes be a ‘confused’ sound."
In "Zero," Cattski says she called all the shots. "It allowed me to be consistent in every aspect, and to fully tell the story of the songs, not just through the words and melody but with every little detail," she says. It is only with "Zero" that Cattski had absolute control as producer.
The album is as much a personal evolution as it is a musical one, where Cattski sheds off her “angry girl” persona and lends her resonant vocals to something else, something more.
“The songs in my previous albums showed a lot of questioning, self-doubt and some rebellious attitude…So, yes, I’ve changed — maybe even grown up a little," she says thoughtfully. "My music has evolved significantly.”
Hers is an evolution Cattski says every Filipino artist goes through; they all face the challenge of being stuck between a rock and a hard place at some point.
Her music today is one that has served as a catharsis of sorts; it has evolved into the acceptance of things that affront adulthood. It’s a sound that inspires listening by intention and perhaps with reflection, as only music from an independent artist can elicit. It’s music that expresses and engages, that probes towards a sense of finding purpose.
Cattski takes her listeners through the process of making the album online, having published a mini-documentary series on her website. Her album took a year to compose and another year to record. Then it stayed for month in California for mastering, in the hands of sound engineer Dave Donelly.
As Cattski would say, the moment you believe everything is finished, that is just the beginning.
Cattski’s album “0:00:00” is available in her website, Cattski.com. - Rappler.com