Q&A: Cathy Davey
John Meagher meets Cathy Davey, a singer busy finding her true voice
What inspired the title of your album, Tales From Silversleeve?
"It was a childhood nickname and I promised my mother I wouldn't tell. (She makes an extravagant show of "wiping" her nose in her sleeve.) That's the clue -- I had a runny nose when I was a child and let's just say I didn't wipe it with a tissue. The name stuck and I like the sound of it."
The album sounds remarkably different from the debut?
"I'm really happy about that because I never liked Something Ilk [her debut album] at all. I think the record company [EMI's Regal Recordings] thought I was an indie rock chick when they signed me and that album is very much other people's idea of what I should sound like. I was working with a name producer, Ben Hillier, and I didn't have the confidence to say no to some of the things he suggested. I didn't trust my own instincts well enough."
Presumably you prefer recording at home than in a studio?
"I find it very difficult to record music in front of other people. I know that sounds odd, considering I'm not nervous about playing live. But when you're bringing songs to the table for the first time, I'm nervous about being judged. I could record at home with Pro Tools and I found that liberating."
Many of the tracks were written on drums, rather than guitar or piano. Why this unconventional approach?
"I was more interested in rhythm for this album. I wanted to write music that I enjoyed playing live. I didn't take that approach on the first album and that's why I despised playing those songs live."
You must have hated being on the road at that stage?
"I felt that I was contrived and everything about it was contrived -- the image as well. I think people can tell when they're being duped. I like the fact that my new album is all me, not somebody's idea of how I should sound. I'm proud of the fact that the songs all sound very different -- Moving was written on this massive Farfisa organ and Reuben was written on drums."
How are relations with your record company now?
"I know that I didn't turn out to sound like the way they wanted me to. To be honest, I didn't know my arse from my elbow when I signed for them. I don't have a huge amount of dealings with them because their focus is on artists that actually sell albums, people like Kylie."
Do you plan to stay in Dublin?
"I think I'll relocate to Birr. I lived there when I was younger and I liked it a lot -- the sessions working in a pub and riding horses. I like the people there and the sense of community. It's just proper living, isn't it?"
Tales From Silversleeve is released next Friday. Her nationwide tour starts at Whelan's, Dublin, on October 8