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While pop singer Catey Shaw may have first gotten mixed attention for 2014’s “Brooklyn Girls,” but since then, she’s kept on moving (literally). The Brooklyn by way of Virginia singer recently made the move to LA. Since her song went viral, Catey has made a point of playing live shows to get fans to really experience her sound past “Brooklyn Girls.” Now, she’s finishing up her debut album, and if you’re expecting another “Brooklyn Girls,” don’t hold your breath: she’s more in control of her style than ever.
Premiering below is Catey’s newest song/video for “The Ransom,” which features a doll-like Catey dressed in silk lingerie that has some serious 80s vibes (and a fog machine). We also spoke with her about the aftermath of “Brooklyn Girls,” cyberbullying and setting the record straight on her music.
You had put out music before “Brooklyn Girls,” but this song is the one that got your name all over the Internet. Do you regret having that song come out at all? How has it been trying to separate yourself from that song?
I mean, it was the first single off of that EP. That whole thing was a completely new side of music for me. All that we had released before was the Clouds EP—it was acoustic and a little cuter. I was figuring out how to write and who I was, in that sense. When I went to put out “Brooklyn Girls,” it was the first to completely flip everything around and be so different from what we’d done before. Of course, there was a certain reaction to it, which I think was more to the video than the song itself. I’m not really in the space where I’m bothered by it anymore. I think press people care and have kind of held a grudge and there might be a few angry hipsters here and there that are still on about it, but for the most part, people that aren’t from Brooklyn or don’t live in Brooklyn or New York, don’t even understand why it was a problem. People like it, and I think there’s something interesting and exciting about it for people who have never been to New York to know that there are people who are like them. If I was a little girl in Virginia hearing it, it would make me feel okay that I didn’t fit in. I stand behind it, wholeheartedly. I think maybe the video could have represented things differently, but we learn. It was my first pop video. After that video, I started directing my videos with the people directing my videos because I learned that nobody is going to be able to show who I am without my input. I’ll say that maybe one mistake was letting someone else represent who I am.
After you released “Brooklyn Girls” there were a lot of opinionated people making assupmtions about you, and you experienced a lot of unwanted hate. Can you tell me a little bit about the cyberbullying you experienced?
There’s a lot that I learned from it, but once I got past that feeling of being assaulted by everyone, I was able to realize that the way that people react to things—especially on social media—is you read one thing, and instead of going and finding new information, you base your opinion off of someone else’s opinion that isn’t really based on facts. Then it snowballs and everyone’s freaking out about one person’s opinion on it. Then it kind of took off. At first, it was really hard to not take it seriously and not take it to heart and believe what people were saying. When it was happening, it really did feel like bullying. It felt like no one understood what I was trying to do. The original article was talking about me being a ‘trustfunder’ and how ‘my daddy pays for this and that’—literally nothing based on facts. It was one person who saw this video and they were going to create their own story about it. If you read my bio, it’s very obvious that none of that’s true. Once I was able to wrap my head around the fact that it’s based on bullshit, then I could allow myself to not be so hurt by it, because it’s just not true.
What was the worst thing someone said to you?
That stuff was kind of funny to me because you’re not going to fucking kill me because I have a song. When we played the Baby’s All Right show, we played “Brooklyn Girls” last, so if you came to make fun of me, you had to sit through all the other songs. It was very obvious that it wasn’t what you thought it was. I think what was most hurtful was people saying that I was given things-that I was some rich kid that paid for all this shit. I was working hard—I was busking, semi-homeless and working for change for so long. What was most hurtful was that it was beign made into something less, and I wasn’t able to feel the happienss of it because it was made to degrade my hard work.
Being a woman in music is obviously challenging. Could you have seen this backlash happening to a male musician?
Absolutely not. I’ve said it before, but I don’t think people realize that I’m talking about other people than myself. I’m queer—I’m attracted to these women. It’s not like I’m sitting there like, ‘hey, don’t you want to fuck me? I live in Brooklyn. Look at me I’m hot.’ I think if it was done by a man, it would be clear that he’s complimenting the people. It’s definitely amde into a whole different thing because they assume things because I’m a woman. If a man was singing that Brooklyn girls were hot, people would be like, ‘you know what, they are.’
So, tell me about your new music. “Walks All Over You” just came out and we’re premiering “The Ransom.”
I’m really excited about what’s happening. I started making music when I just turned 21, and I’m getting older now and understand what I’m trying to communicate. It’s became very clear to me the style and production choices I make. I understand why I like what I like and what sounds I’m attracted to. Finding these threads of disco and 80s synth stuff that’s happening, let go and not think so hard has helped me find what I love about performing and making new music. This music has a different energy to it—it just feels easier.
Who has been influencing your music the most?
When we started writing this group of songs, I was listening to a lot of HAIM and Hall and Oates. We were listening to music that we could make fun of and think is so corny, but is also so loveable.
Who would you love to share a stage with one day?
I really like Bruno Mars—I think he has a space in music that I’d like to emulate. He has a space int he pop world where he’s taken seriously, but he’s not wrapping things in metaphors to sound really cool. He just is cool. People just accept his music for what it is.
After all this, do you still think Brooklyn girls rule the world?
I still stand behind all of it. The actual Brooklyn girls that have been there forever, they hear the song, and it’s true shit. They are badass, and they have a true thing you don’t see in other places. Because I’m not from Brooklyn, I can see it. I’m from somewher where people aren’t like that. Seeing that kind of energy and confidence those women have, I definitely still think they rule the world.
What’s something people haven’t taken the time to get to know about you?
There’s a lot that can be said for seeing the live show. I think that it makes everything make a lot more sense—the kind of energy I have. when you hear pop, you think of a sparkly, shiny girl in a bustier with a sparkle in her eye. It’s just not what I’m trying to do. I want to whip my hair back and forth and sweat. If you can put yourself in that kind of mindset, it changes the music. I knwo it’s hard to take their heads out of what they already know about a female singer on a pop track, but I think it’s a good time to do so.