Psy’Aviah and Mari Kattman, well, we go a long way back… But it seems we both can’t remember how it all started! Other than I discovered her during her work with her then band “Day Twelve” – for which I did a remix of the song “The Basement”. The first song we think we worked on was an up-tempo synthpop tune called “Sacrifices” for the album “The Xenogamous Endeavour”. On that album she appears with two more tracks, someone most of you might know “Our Common End” (music video) and a lesser known trip-hop slow electro ballad “Last Of Us”.
But, things have moved on quite a bit since then, Mari started doing more solo work showing her skills as an incredible songwriter and producer – being picked up by COP International and is releasing her new EP “Is It Really That Bad” on May 13th. She also co-founded a band, I personally adore, called “Helix” with “Tom Shear of Assemblage 23″. And she has appeared on every Psy’Aviah album since 2014’s “The Xenogamous Endeavour” with one or more tracks…
Of course, we’re also here to promote & talk about our latest collaboration “Can We Make It Rhyme”, released as an EP with a bonus Soft Cell cover and remixes by 13th Angel, People Theatre, Assemblage 23, Karl Roque and Omniks. You can get hold of the via Bandcamp, or the original on the album “Bittersweet”.
“Can you give your perspective on ‘Can We Make It Rhyme’ when you first had the demo and lyrics in your hands? In what way did it convince you to say: ‘yes, I want to collaborate on this song’?”
Mari Kattman: I think the main thing that really made me want to participate in the track, was the meaning of the song that you provided to me. It’s always an honour to try to help make an artist’s vision come into focus, but even better when there is a great meaning behind the music. You also had a friend, Michael Evans (of MiXE1 and X-LR7), participating in the demo vocal reel, and I loved his vocal style and the way he was reaching for the notes. It was a little different than I was used to, but it really inspired me to want to take it to the next level, so I saw it as a challenge.
Yves Schelpe (Psy’Aviah): The meaning was important to me for sure, I know I always try to brief artists working with me on that. To see to it we’re on the same page and understand the story we are trying to tell in the song – as that makes the performance all the better mostly. Being in that same mindset, I feel things go a lot better and smoother. But needless to say, you always grasp that feeling very well and read very well into what I want to accomplish.
“I remember brainstorming about the music video for this one, and I thought, I need the emotions of Mari on screen for this one. Of course, budget wise, I can’t fly you over, or I can’t come to the US either… How do you feel the music video turned out with these ‘tritone’ colours? As it was inspired by your original recordings of performing the song that triggered me making the music video in this colour a lot more, and make it moody, atmospherical…”
Mari Kattman: I was really shocked that you were able to pull off an entire music video concept JUST from the red and blue lights I used to record my part. On top of having the lighting on hand, I thought maybe it was a cool analogy, red and blue together make one of the most beautiful colours of all. So “Can We Make It Rhyme” seemed like the blending of two different parts harmoniously. I think it was really clever that you moved my takes to the TV and smartphone shots. I also think it is insanely cool that you could hire a company to make a music video that was so on point and beautifully shot. It seemed like a lot of planning and work, so props to them and however many times they had to listen to the original track while filming.
Yves Schelpe (Psy’Aviah): When I saw those lights, I knew straight away we could pop you into screens like televisions and so forth… I always feel it gives it a moody effect, I can’t explain why exactly. Either way for the filming part I did indeed called for help, as I’m not good with lights on set, and Frank Rod filmed it & prepped the set nicely as well as made some cool props for use on set. Collaborating and giving some technical aspects out of my hands with people who know what they’re doing, be it vocalists, mixing engineers, or as in the case with the music video the directors of photography & camera man – it does help to have better results in teamwork.
“I knew you since the work of Day Twelve, which I even remixed for… I loved your voice instantly, and then I guess the first track we worked on was ‘Sacrifices’, ‘Last of Us’ and ‘Our Common End’. What are your memories on those, and what drew you in to collaborating with me on these tracks?”
Mari Kattman: Honestly, back during that time, 2012 or so, I was just learning to record myself properly. In my surrounding area, I worked with a lot of musicians growing up who ended up finding other paths in life and abandoned their music projects. I was really having a dry spell finding committed people to work with. I knew I had to build myself on my own, with no help, which was really intimidating. So I started building this portfolio of work and just reaching out to people that I admired to see if they would be interested in working with me. I can’t remember how we connected. I was working with [aesthetische] on a few tracks for their album “Hybridcore” and I think through the Alfa Matrix channels that’s how we started talking…
It was such a breath of fresh air to work with you on those songs and really feel what it’s like to work with other people who have committed their lives to their art and have a firm vision for the things they want to see culminate song by song. I never really had the privilege of that before in my life, and I look back fondly on those times and being able to hear my voice placed in a space where it was valued and produced appropriately.
“You’ve been growing every year, collaborating with a lot of people – up to the point you were producing your own songs which I so love (e.g. the ‘eat’ EP). Up to the point now that you are now signed on COP Internationl – a huge deal! Can you tell us how that went, and how this feels for you?”
Mari Kattman: Yeah, I mean, I think I have worked with nearly all of my heroes at this point (except for you Peter Heppner!). It is an incredible place to be when you have broken bread with people who you intensely respect and look up to as far as work ethic and artistry. I feel really honoured for the time I have been able to spend learning from those experiences. There is really something about stepping into another person’s world and having to fit to their working style. None of the collaborators I have ever worked with, work the same and to be versatile because of that is a gift for me.
Signing with COP International for my solo music is SUCH a new experience for me. I’ve worked with a lot of record labels in the past, but I have never officially been on one alone. I love the fact that these releases are all me, for good or bad, if you hate it there really isn’t anyone to blame but me, but if you LOVE it, well then I am doing my job. It is sort of strange to think that I would ever get to this point, it is a long way to come from 2012 in my room, figuring out how to connect an interface to a microphone and cueing up a DAW. It holds a lot of importance for me, and I am so happy to have the support backing this next release up.
Yves Schelpe (Psy’Aviah): Well I think I speak for everyone seeing you do the collaborations, but equally the solo work you have put out yourself, this is long overdue and I’m happy you’ve landed at COP and found a home there. I’m looking forward to your upcoming ep “Is It Really That Bad” coming out March 13th, judging from the snippet/preview alone I know this is going to be good!
“Diving a bit deeper into a song I like a lot ‘OBJECTIFIED’. The hypnotizing pad and arpeggio in the background, a very triphop / hiphop beat that evolves throughout the track. And behind it a very soulful voice telling a compelling story. What triggered you writing the lyrics, and how important is this one for you?”
Mari Kattman: Objectified has a pretty clear meaning. I wrote it one day when I was feeling pretty down about the state of how things are for women. Sometimes you don’t feel like you are anything but a piece of meat, and then a “better” piece of meat comes along, and it’s all a very shallow state of mind. Women are held to an unfair standard, we are pinned up against one another and compared. We are told “That’s just how it is.” and “That’s just guys being guys.” but it’s exhausting, to be sexualized for everything you do. Often times, the sexualization takes the seriousness out of anything you are trying to put meaning into. It is soul shattering when you are trying to use your brain and your passion, knowing that there will always be an element of judgement that has to do with your level of attractiveness.
“Can you tell us something about your production process on your solo work, how does your studio look like, and what are your favourite tools in songwriting (both software, and techniques)?
Mari Kattman: It’s funny I always feel like my creative process is evolving but often times these days it’s very organic, like, I’m driving in the car and I just hear this bassline or this melody, I pull out my phone and record myself humming along to whatever is happening in my brain. Then, when I get home I rush to my studio desk, take out my midi keyboard and try to hash it out in my DAW. Right now, I’m using Bitwig for all of my musical composition, but I also love Logic when it comes to recording vocals. I wish that Bitwig and Logic could come together and tighten the audio recording aspect on the Bitwig end. Vocally, I took a course from Berklee on vocal production, and now I’m all about panning my voice. It’s very normal for me to take about 5 vocal takes singing the same exact thing and panning them around the stereo field and one phantom centre. It makes for a much bigger vocal sound.
Synth wise, I’ve really been focusing on writing synth parts/choosing sounds that don’t overshadow each other and that play nice on top of each other, it’s a really delicate balance that takes a lot of skill and time to really hear what is going on. Drum wise, it’s all about selecting interesting snares for me right now and layering foley sounds into the snare hits. As far as software goes, I’m really loving Spire and Vital right now, I just love the user interface on that. Vital wins the award for me for easy usability and for ease in tweaking sounds. As far as Plugins goes, I’m always always ALWAYS loving FreshAir for vocals, MondoMod for modulation and Wider for finding places in the mix that instruments can sit where they don’t step on each other.
“On the single of ‘Can We Make It Rhyme’ we decided to do a b-side as well, ‘Monoculture’. I was triggered to do this song mainly because of the lyrics and how it reminde me to the ‘Can We Make It Rhyme’ lyrics in a sense. Everyone thinking in blind vision, not open to other views and therefore getting stuck in tunnel vision: black & white, left vs right, no nuance… I pulled the cover version into the EP in this context – how do you feel about that, has this world become too ‘monoculture’ in its thinking?”
Mari Kattman: You know, being a person who is starting a new full time career, sometimes I do feel like the world is just one big hamster wheel and there is a lot of pressure to stay in line. It’s tough for creative people to live in a world like that, I often think it is a curse not to be able to do what you love all the time. We are all expected to walk the path that was laid out for us (school, 40 hour a week job, marriage, kids, retire) and you are damned if you want to walk a little different. You get up for work, and you fall into bed at night with exhaustion, and the days just blend. It’s pretty gnarly! Keep us busy enough not to have the energy to care. I think Soft Cell was right on point, and I am glad to have been a part of the cover!
“Can you lift the veil, give a sneak peek, or tell us something about the upcoming work you will have out on COP International?”
Mari Kattman: My newest EP “Is It Really That Bad” is due out May 13th on COP. It’s a two song EP with some great remixes (check out the preview on facebook). It is truly exciting to be showcasing my solo work again. I can’t wait for you to hear it!
Follow MARI KATTMAN via these channels:
– Bandcamp: https://marikattman.bandcamp.com/
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MariKattman
– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themarikattman/
– Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2cx9xvvWgLn451vQqnGuPC?si=syB8z0JiRTa-BYaukWFuOw
– YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAQaOBVNebwee4ON-rCILpA
Lyrics “Can We Make It Rhyme”:
Picturing your eyes. I’m lost.
When we’re running out of time.
When I’m feeling like you want to, give up.
When did the “love yous” turn to dust?
How do you say “I love” again?
How do you sing this song, just to mean everything you meant?
Cause you and me
Whether it was true or not
It’s always been You and Me
I just wanna sing this song
Sing this song again
Can we make this right? I’m lost.
Are we slipping through the tides?
Can we just rewrite it all?
When did the “love yous” turn to dust?
How do I say “I love” again? Just a word, a rhyme?
I wanna sing this song, just to be everything again.
In love again.
Do you feel there’s something that you can hold again?
“Can We Make It Rhym” is part of Psy’Aviah’s “Bittersweet” album, and released as a maxi-single/ep with remixes by 13th Angel, People Theatre, Assemblage 23, Karl Roque and Omniks. You can get hold of the via Bandcamp, or the original on the album “Bittersweet”, which you can get a hold of via:
– 💿 CD: https://store.alfa-matrix-store.com/product/psyaviah-bittersweet-2cd/
– 💾 Bandcamp: https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/album/bittersweet-bonus-version