[Interview] Getting To Know The Force That Is Catey Shaw

Catey Shaw is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and producer that unexpectedly garnered quite the buzz when her 2014 video for “Brooklyn Girls” went viral. She is currently gearing up for the release of her upcoming EP, The Ransom – out June 10 – and she’s ready for a change. With any creative endeavor, it’s often a fight to be taken seriously but Shaw isn’t backing down – making her a bad ass artist to watch in 2016!

We got some pretty rad insight on Shaw below as she dives into struggling as an artist, the biggest misconception about her, future plans and of course, Brooklyn.

You’re originally from Virginia Beach, moved to Brooklyn and now based in LA. What inspired the all the moves and have all of those cities made their way into your music/songwriting?

I grew up in Virginia Beach, with a rich community of musicians and artists. I went to a high school with a specialized program for the visual and performing arts, and really dove into painting. Growing up, visual art was really my thing.

I moved to New York to become a painter, attending SVA for 2 years until dropping out because of money. I busked for change to survive and lived for free in Astoria for a summer, before moving in with my girlfriend at the time in Jersey City. When I finally landed in Brooklyn my life was starting to make sense. I released my first EP, and started diving into writing music. I was loving life in Brooklyn, in a shitty Bushwick apartment with my new girlfriend, slowly busking less and recording more, and eventually scoring a publishing deal. Then the years went by and I spent time in that “community” of artists- it all just got to be too much of a thing for me. I got sick of not being cool enough, never being indie sounding enough. It’s really frustrating being told you sound too shiny or not indie enough by kids with trust funds- when you literally came into music begging for change. Honestly I was over being a martyr to the city- fighting tooth and nail to stay in my shoebox. I was over being told that who I was wasn’t cool enough for blogs. So I moved to LA. I can afford to live without ripping my hair out. And I have some space to breathe. I moved to New York to see if I could, to conquer the painter’s mecca in America, and I did it. I know I could survive. But survival alone isn’t enough anymore, and I didn’t move there to die there. So I’m trying LA now and I’m enjoying it sincerely.

Your video for “Brooklyn Girls” received mixed reviews when it was released. I’ve been a Brooklyn resident for about 21 years and growing up, being a Brooklyn girl wasn’t anything like that. I feel there’s a certain stigma when it comes to this borough nowadays. How did you perceive Brooklyn while living there and the culture it has grown to represent? Do you feel it accurately encompasses everything you’ve tried to convey with your music?

Does “The Girl From Ipanema” accurately portray the culture of Ipanema?? Does “California Gurls” encompass the history and people of the entire state of California?? Did the city of Detroit go into uproar when Kiss released “Detroit Rock City,” rioting in the streets because Detroit isn’t just about rock?? All I can do when I’m writing is follow through with the thought or idea that I’m on about- and the day I wrote “Brooklyn Girls” I was in LA having a conversation about how much hotter the girls were in Brooklyn- it’s not that deep. If it’s that big of an issue- me moving to Brooklyn coming from Virginia, seeing people that were different from where I’d been before, and writing a fun song about it- we should re-evaluate letting people move around in America. We should silence anyone who isn’t a certified expert on the zip code they’re standing in. The people who insisted on making my song about gentrification are the same ones who tore down a whole block of Williamsburg, displacing beloved mainstays of the area to build themselves a shiny new office building. I refuse to be the scapegoat for these assholes anymore. I love the song “Brooklyn Girls.” I love performing it in cities all over the continent. I also love my other 16 songs that I have released and the music I will be releasing over the next bit of time. And I loved Brooklyn and the hot-ass girls, with a special kind of demeanor, whether local or transplanted, walking around that borough.

Your upcoming EP, The Ransom, is set to be released this June. We’re loving the title track! What can you tell us about it? Are fans in for some surprises?

This year I’m trying something new- where I break free from the chains of the opinions of the peanut gallery. I’m losing the fear and charging full-force forward. The title track for the EP, “The Ransom,” really sparked this newfound freedom in me. I will no longer be walked all over and I don’t care who you tell. For my fans I think this body of work will seem like a natural progression for me. For those who only know “Brooklyn Girls” it could be surprising though- I’m actually a multifaceted, emotional human being and artist.

Aside from the EP release, are there any other summer 2016 plans in store? Maybe a tour?

This summer will be mostly spent writing more, hopefully releasing my first full length album at the end of the year. I would love to tour, but self-funding makes it really hard. I’ll definitely be playing shows though.

What would you say is the biggest misconception about you?

I know the misconception that bothers me the most- and that’s the one about me “coming from Ohio with my daddy’s checkbook.” I moved to New York with no money in my pocket, and no help from anyone. I lived on dollar dumplings and 2 Bros. paid for by stranger’s nickels and dimes for over a year before having any semblance of success and I am very proud of the work that I have made through the process.

We’re always asking everyone what they’re listening to lately. Give us your top 5 favorite tracks at the moment!

~ Beyoncé- Lemonade – the whole thing (except the song with The Weeknd, I always skip that one)
~ Marina and the Diamonds- “Are You Satisfied?”
~ Rihanna- “Desperado”
~ Charli XCX- “Vroom Vroom”
~ Looking Glass- “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”

Pre-order The Ransom here.

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina is the founding editor of The Daily Listening. She's also a professional music nerd for BUZZNET. You'll most likely find her where she finds most of her inspiration: introverting in her bedroom with her music collection and a pair of headphones.