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Cathy Davey

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Cathy Davey
Edgy singer/songwriter from Dublin released her debut album 'Something Ilk' in 2004

About Cathy Davey

Bio from Cathy's web-site:

"I'm not spiteful but I like the way spite comes across. Spite has more of an impact than la la la love. There's a nasty undertone to everything I do, emphasised by the pretty bits and the grit underneath".

Dublin girl Cathy Davey has got the counterpoint between nasty and nice just right. The 25-year old singer and writer, who appeared on Elbow"s Grace Under Pressure? mines a seam of hardcore love and hate, then turns them into stylistically broad songs which reference PJ Harvey and Bjork as well as a young Kate Bush. Whilst Davey admits a love of the latter, "I love Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill. They're so abstract and atmospheric which is always good" she purposefully avoids soaking herself in too much music.

"I don't listen to a lot of music, because if I do, it goes in deep. I get very influenced. The only one really love is Tom Waits. He has these primal, tribal beats which get to the dark side, and his words are always beautifully put together", Aimee Mann and Badly Drawn Boy also get a nod. On the latter: "He's shambolic but personal. Noises and mistakes give character. They make your songs sound alive".

It's a good thing Davey kept the songs on Something Ilk raw. In doing so, she has created a debut album which is powered by spiky guitars, even spikier lyrics and a powerful exuberance. Strange noises hide underneath songs which are carried by both Davey"s pop hooks and her remarkable voice. April's EP Come Over contained songs which nodded at the breathtaking power of her album. Take EP highlight and fiercely strong title track, which sounded like a howling, 21st century Stone Roses song, if they were fronted by a fireball frontwoman. "I didn't want to flower up the words," she explains. "It's about just really fancying someone and I wanted it to be that simple." Something Ilk is crammed with atmospheric and memorable songs, like Hammerhead? which has the kind of creeping sonic and lyrical power that The Doors or Radiohead would be proud of. Or the narcotically optimistic future pop hit Go Make It, which she wrote as an exercise in mainlined pop perfection. Or the gorgeously barbed love song, Mine For Keeps which bookends Davey's remarkable debut.

You might wonder where her songs come from. Perhaps it's her musician father or her sculptress mother, or the sleep paralysis hallucinations that Davey suffered from for years, or simply her commitment to writing. She never reads at night, instead filling book after book with lyrics and ideas. It's not just songs, though. Davey, who completed a fine art foundation course in County Kilkenny, is also working on a long-term art/book project called The Book Of Normality, which provided the images and ideas for the video to soaring single Clean And Neat and inspired both the photography and illustration that appear on the album artwork and website.

Most artists are signed after endless months or years of touring. Not Davey. She performed four gigs in Dublin before retiring to the country to write Something Ilk . "I literally stayed in my room and wrote," she says. Added to that, she refused to play live for the labels who courted her after hearing her compelling demos. Why? It's all down to Davey's wholesale rejection of that dreaded label, singer songwriter. "That whole thing is so po-faced. It gives me the willies," she says. "I'm not interested in being self-analytical or fey because it makes me feel like a knob. Yes, I write my own songs, but I write bitter, nasty, ballsy songs. I want them to come across as sinister because any of my songs that seem nice are usually about something nasty."

Something Ilk was recorded with Blur producer Ben Hillier at Rockfield Studio in Wales during the 2003 heat wave. Davey and her band stayed for seven weeks, experimenting with natural sounds, swimming, and making the most of Hillier's selection of pre-war Russian mics and old synths. Sometimes they would sit in a circle and record the sound of a Scalextric, an electric helicopter and a blender for background ambience on a track, other times would literally record with the doors open. "We'd put the mic in the middle of the courtyard and swing open the doors, so we got a lovely, deep, faraway sound," she says. "It was pretty unorthodox, but the result is a record that doesn't sound like anything else in your collection." You'd better believe it.

Video


Cathy Davey - Clean and Neat

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