Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Catey Shaw

Catey Shaw
Photo by Christopher White

In support of her brand-new release The Brooklyn EP, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Catey Shaw plays Toronto’s The Drake Underground on September 19th. Ahead of her performance, we caught up with Catey to discuss her love of the ukelele, painting and writing, Frank Sinatra, and operations. Enjoy!

AMBY: Hello Catey, welcome to our site and congrats on the release of The Brooklyn EP. What was the experience like recording it?

Catey Shaw: The Brooklyn EP was actually written over a long time lapse, so it really does capture little snapshots of how I was feeling over the course of 2 years. I feel like it has a lot of range because of that. Some of the writing/recording seemed too easy- Jay Levine and I wrote the lyrics to Show Up sitting on a bench in Chelsea in something like 30 minutes. Then when we sat at a grand piano all of the melodies just came out. It was so clear what it needed to be. Other songs weren’t so simple. We re-wrote the verses to Revolution multiple times before we landed on the current lyrics (that I love). It was all a process but in the end I learned so much and now I’m just ready to get going on what’s next!

AMBY: The EP features many ukelele-laced tracks. Take us back to when your love of the ukelele began.

Catey Shaw: Well someone had left a toy ukulele at my house when I was a senior in high school, and I just kind of picked it up (with the help of the internet, obvi). I had tried violin, keyboard, and guitar as a kid but never really had the passion of patience for playing an instrument. The ukulele was just there and I picked it up pretty quickly without much commitment. I mean it’s terribly easy, there are four strings and it’s tuned to a chord. I took it with me when I moved to NYC and its a good thing because when I ran out of money and had to start busking- that ukulele came in handy.

AMBY: How has living in Brooklyn had an influence on yourself as a songwriter?

Catey Shaw: More than anything it has influenced my confidence as a human. I know that I’m here because I worked my ass off to get here. So my crappy apartment in Bushwick is like the Taj Mahal to me. Having purpose- having self-worth, that confidence really puts me in a place to write openly and freely- with my whole heart, and without fear. Thanks, Brooklyn!

AMBY: You took a very hands on approach with this EP, like painting the single artwork for each track. How important is it for you to balance your love of music and painting?

Catey Shaw: When I got started working on songwriting, I thought of visual art and music as separate. It is now much more fluid to me. I’m not just a painter, or just a singer, or just a songwriter. I am an artist. As an artist I thirst for communication. I need to know that I am heard. That I am not an isolated incidence of emotion. The tools I use to communicate right now are visual art and music. I like to see it all as one thing.

AMBY: What was the first record you bought, and do you feel that album had an influence on your EP?

Catey Shaw: Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits. lol. I had a boombox and that one CD. Actually, I must have been in kindergarten and our house was burglarized (thankfully we weren’t home) and they took my boombox with the CD in it and I remember being devastated. I loved that CD so much. Frank Sinatra- I mean c’mon. That’s the good stuff. My dad was doing something right! haha

AMBY: If you could trade places with another artist in the music industry for one day, who would it be?

Catey Shaw: Jay-Z so I could hang with my two fav B’s – Beyoncé and Blue.

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about Catey Shaw that nobody knows yet?

Catey Shaw: I have had 3 dead guys inside me! haha Let me explain- I have had 4 operations on my right knee, 3 of which were ACL replacements. The ACL cannot be sewn back together when you tear it- it has to be replaced. So I elected to use cadaver ligaments to replace my ACL each time. Therefor, I have had three dead guys inside me. Is this too weird?

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Thank you Catey Shaw, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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