THE past couple of years have been exciting and productive…
for Sally Caitlin. The Manchester-based songwriter talks about her E.P., Experiments, and her latest track, Déjà Vu – it is a fun and memorable video that brings the song’s messages and story to life. Being such a talented, yet developing songwriter; I wonder how she got into music and whether there were any particular artists that inspired that choice.
Sally Caitlin discusses Manchester as a base and whether she feels rooted there; what gigs and plans are approaching and why she left a degree in Chemistry to record uplifting and deep Pop music – a revealing and passionate interview from one of Manchester’s bright young songwriting talents.
Hi, Sally. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! My week has been great, thank you.
I started filming the video for my next single - which was really fun!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer-songwriter from Manchester who makes Electronic-Pop music with a bit of an edge. I like to write about my own experiences - and use my music as a way to give my fans an insight into my emotions and experiences.
Tell me about the song, Déjà Vu. What inspired the track and was there a particular moment/person that was in your mind?
Déjà Vu is the third track on my Experiments E.P. and is, probably, the most summery and fun song (from the E.P.). I wrote it last summer after I found out that one of the people closest to me had been lying to me and hiding a lot of things. It was a total shock for me and came just after the breakdown of the relationship I had been in.
Writing the song was easy for me as I could use the conflict and the break up to draw from - and I was able to channel all my frustration and anger into my music. It was very therapeutic actually!
The video looked like it was a ball. Whose concept was it and is performance, in a video, something you took to pretty easily?
The video really was great fun to make: partly because of the concept but mainly due to the team I was working with! I was working with Cosmic Joke, a production company from Manchester, to film videos for all the tracks on my E.P. – so, they pitched all their concepts to me and I loved them! I’m obsessed with neon lighting and I have light-up shoes; so I was very excited to wear those for Déjà Vu.
I’m definitely not a natural in front of the camera, though, as it seems to take away all my confidence - making me feel very awkward! However, the guys at Cosmic Joke were so great with coaxing me out of my shell!
Déjà Vu is from the E.P., Experiments. Was it easy putting the songs together or was it quite emotional? How much of the music was inspired by relationships and the ups-and-downs of them?
Songwriting, for me, is a great way to release negative emotions and create something positive from them – so, although the songs are quite emotional, I found writing for the E.P. very enjoyable, not difficult. I always write about my own experiences and, for the Experiments E.P. (and the album that will follow); I wanted to do a concept record with a narrative running between the tracks.
The E.P. chronicles different stages in a toxic relationship - and is inspired by more than one person from my life.
Take It All and Lead Me Down are from the E.P. – and songs that really show your range and full talents. What has the reaction been like to those songs and is it quite confidence-boosting hearing great feedback?
Take It All and Lead Me Down were the first songs that I released with my new, more mature sound - so I was, originally, very nervous about the feedback. I knew this was the direction I wanted to take my music in but I didn’t know how the fans I already had would react.
Luckily, it seems like the response has been very positive - which is encouraging moving forwards. I’m always pushing myself to make better music and I use the feedback I get from fans and blogs to inform my decisions.
I have recently started to produce my own tracks; so I think the best is yet to come!
You released the single, Stuck in Limbo, not long after completing your degree in Chemistry (at the University of Nottingham). What promoted that drastic career move and, in a way, is there a link between what you learned in the degree and your songwriting process?
I made a deal with my parents about having a backup plan - and that’s where the degree came in. I never intended on pursuing a career in chemistry despite loving science - as my heart has always been set on music. It is great to have the security of a degree, though, and I learned a lot.
In terms of my songwriting process; I am very methodical and logical in the way I approach writing – which, most likely, came from pursuing music and science together for years.
Can you remember the artists that inspired you at a young age? What kind of music were you raised on?
When I was really young, I loved all the Pop princesses like Britney (Spears) and Christina (Aguilera) but, as I grew older, it was artists like Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac and Pendulum who shaped my tastes – very varied, I know!
I think I would credit John Mayer for my interest in songwriting though – as, when I discovered him at the age of fourteen, you couldn’t get me off the piano!
Manchester is where you are based. How important is the city and what is it like for a young songwriter there?
It’s obviously a hugely important city in terms of music and also industrial history...
It’s a great place to be based in general as the vibe is so vibrant and friendly I really love the city (not the weather) and feel very lucky to come from such a well-known music hub.
However, I think it is a better place to be for an Indie/Rock band than a Pop artist - which can be difficult as I don’t have what you’d call the typical ‘Manchester sound’.
You have gained a lot of exposure and love from stations there. How important is that local representation and do you think it is the most fertile and important music city in the U.K.?
Local representation is always key as it helps you build that home fanbase - which is essential!
I love radio interviews and performing live acoustic sessions and I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity quite a few times in the North West. I do think Manchester is an important music city and always will be, however, I think for my genre of music; I think London is where a lot of the exciting things are happening.
I’m looking at moving down in the near-future - which pains me, as I’m a Northern girl.
What tour dates are coming up? Where can we see you play?
I’m playing at Salford University’s Eco Africa event on 22nd September, and then, at Underbelly in Hoxton Square on October 11th. At the moment, I’m filming a lot of videos and working on a new stage set-up; so I am not gigging as much as usual - but I’m looking forward to booking as many as possible when everything is in place!
Already, you have achieved a lot and accrued thousands of fans. Are there dreams as-yet unfiled? Are there any big ambitions and plans ahead?
For me, it’s always been about reaching as many people as possible with my music; so there are huge ambitions that I haven’t even come to close to fulfilling yet.
My ‘end-goal’ is to be a major touring artist - but I am nowhere near there yet - so I make small targets and focus on completing those and keep pushing forward.
My next big event will be the release of my album next year - so that’s a big focus right now.
IN THIS PHOTO: China Lane
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
China Lane are a Manchester band I see busking on Market Street a lot and they are great! They have been played on BBC Introducing and are now supporting Sigma (so seem to be smashing it!).
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
John Mayer – Where the Light Is (Live in Los Angeles)
I love live albums and this one was how I discovered John Mayer and his amazing songs. It’s probably the reason I started writing more seriously and I credit where I am today to this album.
Pendulum – Immersion
I’m a huge Pendulum fan and I love the way they mix strong melodies with the heavy drops. They were amazing live (when I saw them) and I found this album was what got me more interested in more Electronic music.
BANKS – Goddess
I’m obsessed with BANKS: I think she is an actual songwriting genius. I like songwriters who see things in a different way to me and write lines I would never have thought of. I think BANKS is great at that - and the dark production on her tracks is just perfection to me. She has massively influenced my upcoming album and helped me solidify my identity as an artist.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Work out your end-goal and then work out the steps you need to take to get there - focus on the smaller steps instead. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach a goal and keep pushing.
Try and soak up knowledge from everyone around you – as I think learning from your mistakes and other people’s successes and failures is the key in this industry.
Finally, and for a being good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
It’s got to be BANKS – Beggin for Thread!
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