Biography

Rarely anything but unorthodox, Dubliner Cathy Davey's musical development has been almost as atypical as her listening habits. Having initiated a major-label bidding war before she'd ever performed live, Davey took her time assembling a group of musicians who would not only realize her own ideas, but add their own influences to her bare-bones alternative pop. In her spare time, she admits she prefers not to listen to music, instead taking pleasure in reading, drawing, and watching television. Suffice to say, it's difficult to pick out too many of the usual influences in her music. Stock comparisons to PJ Harvey, Björk, and Kate Bush are somewhat useful, in the sense that she inhabits the same sphere of left-field female pop artists, but her use of blues and ambient electronic music sets her apart as an artist, as does her purposeful, playful obtuseness directly recalls her noted idol Tom Waits and contemporaries Radiohead.

Cathy Davey was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1979. Claiming to be too poor to buy her own records while growing up, Davey instead latched onto the music of friends, experiencing Guns N' Roses, the Stone Roses, and Radiohead as they reached their creative peaks. Noting that she could never adequately express herself by conventional means, Davey instead turned to the arts, developing interests in composing poetry, music, and art. Through her teenage years and early twenties, Davey composed in private, preferring not to perform in a live setting until she had the financial backing to employ musicians. In 2002, she put together a four-song, self-produced demo tape which she began to shop to record labels. The response to the tape was astounding, and a bidding war ensued between a number of Irish and British labels, with EMI eventually pipping Rough Trade to her signature.

Davey took time out in 2002 to add guest vocals to "Jellyman" from Wicklow electronic act Autamata's debut album My Sanctuary, and in 2003 joined Jimi Goodwin of Doves to lend backing vocals to Elbow's "Grace Under Pressure." She spent 2003 assembling a band, which included the then ex-the Verve bassist Simon Jones and keyboardist Diana Gutkind, a longtime member of Blur's touring band, and made her live debut in support of Dublin songwriter David Kitt. In January of 2004, she completed recording Something Ilk, whetting the public's appetite with the hungrily received Come Over EP in April. Something Ilk saw release in the U.K. and Ireland in late August via EMI's Regal Recordings imprint and debuted at number 28 in the Irish Album Chart, buoyed by the hit single "Clean and Neat." Successful tours opening for Elbow, Supergrass, and Graham Coxon followed, as did another single titled "Cold Man's Nightmare."

Davey moved toward a more electronic sound for her second studio album, Tales of Silversleeve, although lead single "Reuben" became her most successful single to date on the strength of its Bo Diddley blues beat. "Reuben" spent seven weeks in the Irish Singles Chart, debuting at number 42 in September of 2007. Tales of Silversleeve peaked at number 24 upon its release in October, and had spent 14 weeks in the Top 50 as of January 2008.

 

Biography

CATHY DAVEY Come Over EP - released on Regal on April 19th. "I'm not spiteful but I like the way spite comes across. Spite has more of an impact than la la la love. There's a nasty undertone to everything I do, emphasised by the pretty bits and the grit underneath."

Dublin girl Cathy Davey has got the counterpoint between nasty and nice just right. The 25-year old singer and writer, who appeared on Elbow's "Grace Under Pressure" mines a seam of hardcore love and hate, then turns them into stylistically broad songs which reference PJ Harvey and Bjork as well as a young Kate Bush. Whilst Davey admits a love of the latter "I love Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill. They're so abstract and cold Moor-ish, which is always good" ,she purposefully avoids soaking herself in too much music. "I don't listen to a lot of music, because if I do, it goes in deep. I get very influenced. I only recently came across PJ Harvey's To Bring You My Love and I wish I'd come across it before. But I guess that if I had, I would have done things differently."

It's a good thing she didn't: Come Over contains songs which nod at the breathtaking power of her forthcoming album. The title track is fiercely strong, sounding like a howling, 21st century Stone Roses song, if they were fronted by a fireball front woman. "I didn't want to flower up the words," she explains. "It's about just really fancying someone and I wanted it to be that simple." "Hammerhead" has the kind of creeping sonic and lyrical power that Radiohead would be proud of. So where does it all come from? Perhaps it's her musician father or her sculptress mother, or the sleep paralysis hallucinations that Davey suffered from for years, or simply her commitment to writing , she never reads at night, instead filling book after book with lyrics and ideas.

The album was recorded with Blur producer Ben Hillier at Rockfield Studio in Wales during the 2003 heatwave. Davey and her band stayed for seven weeks, recording, swimming, and making the most of Hillier's selection of pre-war Russian mics and old synths. "We'd put the mic in the middle of the courtyard and record with the doors open, so we got a lovely, deep, faraway sound," she says. "It was pretty unorthodox, but the result is a record that doesn't sound like anything else in your collection." You'd better believe it.

 

Biography 1997:

"I'm not spiteful but I like the way spite comes across. Spite has more of an impact than la la la love. There's a nasty undertone to everything I do, emphasised by the pretty bits and the grit underneath".

Dublin girl Cathy Davey has got the counterpoint between nasty and nice just right. The 25-year old singer and writer, who appeared on Elbow"s Grace Under Pressure‚ mines a seam of hardcore love and hate, then turns them into stylistically broad songs which reference PJ Harvey and Bjork as well as a young Kate Bush. Whilst Davey admits a love of the latter, "I love Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill. They're so abstract and atmospheric which is always good" she purposefully avoids soaking herself in too much music.

"I don't listen to a lot of music, because if I do, it goes in deep. I get very influenced. The only one really love is Tom Waits. He has these primal, tribal beats which get to the dark side, and his words are always beautifully put together", Aimee Mann and Badly Drawn Boy also get a nod. On the latter: "He's shambolic but personal. Noises and mistakes give character. They make your songs sound alive".

It's a good thing Davey kept the songs on Something Ilk raw. In doing so, she has created a debut album which is powered by spiky guitars, even spikier lyrics and a powerful exuberance. Strange noises hide underneath songs which are carried by both Davey"s pop hooks and her remarkable voice. April's EP Come Over contained songs which nodded at the breathtaking power of her album. Take EP highlight and fiercely strong title track, which sounded like a howling, 21st century Stone Roses song, if they were fronted by a fireball front woman. "I didn't want to flower up the words," she explains. "It's about just really fancying someone and I wanted it to be that simple." Something Ilk is crammed with atmospheric and memorable songs, like Hammerhead‚ which has the kind of creeping sonic and lyrical power that The Doors or Radiohead would be proud of. Or the narcotically optimistic future pop hit Go Make It, which she wrote as an exercise in mainlined pop perfection. Or the gorgeou! sly barbed love song, Mine For Keeps which bookends Davey's remarkable debut.

You might wonder where her songs come from. Perhaps it's her musician father or her sculptress mother, or the sleep paralysis hallucinations that Davey suffered from for years, or simply her commitment to writing. She never reads at night, instead filling book after book with lyrics and ideas. It's not just songs, though. Davey, who completed a fine art foundation course in County Kilkenny, is also working on a long-term art/book project called The Book Of Normality, which provided the images and ideas for the video to soaring single Clean And Neat and inspired both the photography and illustration that appear on the album artwork and website.

Most artists are signed after endless months or years of touring. Not Davey. She performed four gigs in Dublin before retiring to the country to write Something Ilk . "I literally stayed in my room and wrote," she says. Added to that, she refused to play live for the labels who courted her after hearing her compelling demos. Why? It's all down to Davey's wholesale rejection of that dreaded label, singer songwriter. "That whole thing is so po-faced. It gives me the willies," she says. "I'm not interested in being self-analytical or fey because it makes me feel like a knob. Yes, I write my own songs, but I write bitter, nasty, ballsy songs. I want them to come across as sinister because any of my songs that seem nice are usually about something nasty."

Something Ilk was recorded with Blur producer Ben Hillier at Rockfield Studio in Wales during the 2003 heat wave. Davey and her band stayed for seven weeks, experimenting with natural sounds, swimming, and making the most of Hillier's selection of pre-war Russian mics and old synths. Sometimes they would sit in a circle and record the sound of a Scalextric, an electric helicopter and a blender for background ambience on a track, other times would literally record with the doors open. "We'd put the mic in the middle of the courtyard and swing open the doors, so we got a lovely, deep, faraway sound," she says. "It was pretty unorthodox, but the result is a record that doesn't sound like anything else in your collection." You'd better believe it.