Cathy's no wallflower
Cathy Davey tells Paul Byrne she’s a definite homebird. Which is why she recorded her new album in her bedroom.
MOST artists crave the limelight, but for some who live close to the public eye, the chance to live a life of normal routines holds a special allure.
For Cathy Davey, being bounced out of the comfort of her Monkstown bedroom into the merciless spotlight of a year-long tour was really her own dumb fault. She shouldn’t have recorded and released one of the best Irish albums of 2004, namely Something Ilk.
The fact that the young Dublin lass’s debut album was being released by one of the biggest record labels in the world meant that this warbling wallflower was going to have to stand centre stage. And sing her little heart out.
It was, the shy singer/songwriter now admits, a nightmare come through.
“I really didn’t know what I was doing,” says the Dublin-born 28-year-old singer.
“I just wanted to rush through a set and get off as soon as possible. Make it as painless as possible, and I wasn’t moved by any of the songs, and I didn’t feel like I deserved to be up there.”
Growing up in Monkstown the only child of musician father Shaun and sculptor mum Agnes, the young Cathy never imagined doing anything other than art.
Back then, she was going to be an artist who did music in her spare time, but an early record deal with EMI put paid to all that.
“When I was doing my first album I made a plan before we even started that, by the third album, I would be doing it on my own. And it was lovely,” she says.
“It was over a summer — actually, it was over a year — and it was me moving forward in a direction I had always wanted to go in.”
The results of that summer of love-in is Tales Of Silversleeve, due out later this year.
In the meantime, Davey is finally ready, willing and able to step up on that stage. For that early tour, Davey prepared by going to a hypnotist friend, in the hope that she could overcome her stage fright. It didn’t work.
“This time out though,” she smiles, “I’m actually looking forward to getting up there.
“The songs on the new album are much more live-friendly. I realised that on the first tour; I needed to write songs that I would enjoy playing live.”
In regard to downsizing operations from a swanky big studio in Wales for the first album to making her new album largely at home, what some might see as a step back Davey sees as a great leap forward.
“This album is much more me,” she nods.
“And that’s largely because it was pretty much just me. Did two songs in the studio, but the rest is all good homegrown stuff.”
And once again, the songs on Davey’s album are decidedly more Liz Phair than Shania Twain.
“I like commercial music as well, but yeah, the music I make doesn’t have that drive to sound competitive.
“Having said that, I do want to be successful with it, and I want to be able to do the things that I want to do with my music sooner rather than later.
“There are other kinds of music that I’d like to experiment with, so, I’m not doing it on purpose. I would like as many people as possible to enjoy it, but I just don’t want to do so in some sort of formulaic way.
It’s not that it’s obscure music, by any stretch. It’s all pretty simple.”
Of course, being young, pretty and talented isn’t always enough for an Irish girl to make it in this tough business. Just ask Luan Parle. Or Gemma Hayes. Or, hey, Cathy Davey “It’s a huge machine,” she offers, “and you can’t go into it blind thinking that if you write a good song, that’s the job done. It’s only the beginning.
“It’s been brilliant this time round, because I’m on top of it, and I’m really enjoying playing, so there’s no sort of, I don’t know, evil presence that’s waiting around the corner to scare me. I’m up for it now.”
Cathy’s album, Tales Of Silversleeve, is out on Regal soon