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The women of Sónar Festival

Catnapp and KÁRYYN brought girl power on the stage of the Barcelona music festival

The women of Sónar Festival Catnapp and KÁRYYN brought girl power on the stage of the Barcelona music festival

Women producing their music, being super multi-cultural, networking across the internet, how to be an artist being respected in an electronic men-dominated environment or how to handle the struggle after moving to a new country? We had the chance to chat about this and other things with Catnapp and KÁRYYN right after their super energic performances at Sónar Festival

Now based in Berlin, Catnapp is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Having started in 2010, she combines several genres resulting in an intense and nostalgic atmosphere with heavy beats to broken experimental percussion with deep, huge pads and synths, resulting in a unique and original sound. In 2017 she founded her own label 'NAPP Records’, in 2018 she signed for Monkeytown, in 2019 she released the album BREAK, including the collaboration with Modeselektor for The Mover

#1 So tell us more about your background.

I am a quarter Italian, my last name is Battaglia. I’m also a quarter Irish, quarter Hungarian, quarter Spanish and I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as my grandparents moved there years ago. At home, I spoke Argentinian Spanish. I was raised in a house of musicians, my grandfather was a jazz player, my parents met in a band and music was a natural thing to do. When I was 18, I decided I wanted to learn electronic music and then it never stopped, I never had any other idea than this and this is what I'm gonna do forever, ever and ever. 

#2 How come you decided to move to Berlin?

In Argentina it was quite hard to make a living out of music, I mean, even if you are successful, you can only afford basic stuff, saving money is impossible, travelling abroad is barely impossible, if you don’t make pop trap or back in the days, rock, you are not considered as much. I knew I reached the most I could do in Argentina and I felt like I needed to meet people with different mentalities elsewhere, I really didn’t know what I was looking for back then, but what I found afterwards was so amazing. I thought I wanted to live in London and I spent 10 days there and I was like “No way”, and then I moved to Berlin and I was like “Yes, this is the place to be”. I feel people in Berlin are so nice, more friendly, the city is less expensive than London and I felt accepted since day one. 

#3 How did you end up meeting Modeselektor?

This is a crazy story. I used to work in a club in Berlin called OHM, and Modeselektor regularly throw their parties there. I was working in the cloakroom and I finished my shift early, so I went to check out the party on the dancefloor, and I met Leo, their tour manager, we started chatting and I said I made my music he said “Well then, you should send us your music!” and I sent them my music. They liked it and they wanted me to join the label and f**k yes! It’s too good to be true, they are such nice people I feel so blessed, touring with them is so fun, they are so chilled. They laugh all the time, even if there's a problem, they deal with it with a smile on their face.

#4 Do you feel the pressure to be in a male environment?

I guess I got used to it, I normally hang out with boys rather than girls. I actually cannot think of any specific bad experiences, I had to deal with assholes, not specifically with men, both men and women can be assholes. Maybe I was lucky, I don’t know, but I just had no need to justify the fact that I was a woman. 

#5 Do your fans get in touch with you and thank you for being an inspiration for them?

I get really nice messages, “This gave me strength exploring myself as a girl, make music, etc, etc” but why would you ever doubt it? Being a girl is not a limit, but I'm glad this gives inspiration to people to try and make their music, too!

#6 You were touring a lot, did you go to Asia?

I've been touring every single weekend since February! I went to Asia, the first gig I played for was for a massive crowd of teenagers when I said f**k the crowd went crazy and they repeated it and they felt so liberated. In China I had to sign a contract declaring I would have not cursed, I was at the German embassy in Beijing, and they waited for the ambassador to leave in order for me to start playing, pretty cool experience!

#7 It must be really great for you to realize you're making a living relying on your talent and you get to experience so different cultures?!

You have to remind yourself that it is so good, and you need to stop and enjoy it every now and then. It’s just so good, I'm learning to stop and appreciate what I have. 

#8 A star that you liked as a teenager?

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be Britney Spears and I also really liked Limp Bizkit, and their frontman, Fred Durst! I was 13 and I was listening to pop music and I saw her singing and dancing and being so athletic. When she had a breakdown, and she shaved her head, she proved to be the real popstar I knew she was, she lost her shit, she has to put up with people telling her what to do. 

#9 I can totally see you being a mashup of Britney Spears and Fred Durst. 

Here I am, Freddy Spears ehehe! I actually went to see Limp Bizkit last year and their show was great, they are still insane. It would be great to see a comeback of Limp Bizkit. After all this trap music! We definitely need Limp Bizkit!

 

The Syrian American producer KÁRYYN on her debut album The Quanta Series serves her voice not as a solitary character bracing against its environment. It is the environment. She composed music for the experimental opera Of Light while studying under performance artist Marina Abramović — she’s well-versed in the intricacies of narrative and the productive confusion that can arise when a story starts to blur. 

#1 Basically, I’m really curious to find out about your background. I didn’t know you before seeing your name in the line-up of Sónar. I read that you’re from Syria.

My parents are originally from Syria. I haven’t been there since 2010, my parents moved to the US, they had an arranged marriage. My father first came to the US thanks to the Red Cross and he studied medicine, later my mother joined him and I was born in the US.

#2 I can see multiple layers in your music, your voice is like an instrument just like the others. I can see a bit of your past and I think I can see where you are now and I would like to see where you are going.

This topic of identity is so complex. How do I identify? That’s a really big topic. We should be allowed to make the music we feel like. I’m only writing taking inspiration from what I know, not reaching anywhere beyond. I only use topics from the well of life I have experienced. 

#3 How did you come up thinking 'I want to be a musician'?

I come from a very musical family. My dad plays the guitar, my mom’s family are artists, puppeteers, we were always singing. We are all very musical, I design my own clothes. You have an idea, you have an imagination and you know how to make it. I contain multitudes, no matter where we are from, no matter who we are, it only depends on our level of consciousness, we are living and breathing. I just knew I wanted to share who I am to the rest of the world through the art I make.

 

#4 Everybody has a different inspiration, what’s yours?

I am a Buddhist. I, myself, I am a path, how am I affecting people, how people are intended to have a vision whilst listening to my music, that I cannot control, but the record I made is me and people cannot expect anything else from me, and it really starts with ourselves and we have to be compassionate. That’s what my music is about, going from “I” to “WE”. 

#5 How do you engage with your fanbase?

I haven’t figured it all out, but I have been sitting on the cushion for the past 10 years, meditating, attempting and wanting to be a better person, I try, I am on a path. The minute you want to find this perfection you fall off the path. You can be tacky and you can put my ideas into pop music and make it mainstream. As I continued to grow, I gave myself the freedom to say something universal with sounds and I’m sure I’ll manage to get my music sometime soon considered as pop. My fave song is the Katy Perry and Kanye West E.T. song, the amazing sounds contained in it just make me say wow. I don’t feel I have to do it, I know I’m just gonna do it, I’ll change the definition of pop you’ve all known so far. 

#6 Anything you’d like to say about being a female producer?

We don’t need to say we are female, but the significance of saying it makes the difference, there are a lot of inherited biases that we had so far. I’ve recently seen a list of composers on an article and there was only one woman and among others four dead men. People are not intentionally doing this, I will be guilty of being politically incorrect, I’m living and I’m trying to make an impact and I allow myself to make mistakes. I am a badass and I do what I do very well, I don’t need to prove it to anyone if not to myself, I have a vision of leading the project and then I made a song in binary code with a producer, we seat together and we do stuff which sounds great. I want to lift up people and if our insecurities lead us, we’ll be going towards pain and war, there’s room for all female musicians, there is no need to be Ariana Grande to be taken in consideration.

#7 Any artists you’d like to mention among your favourites?

I used to listen to Ani di Franco and Tori Amos. I got these two records, which I listened over and over, Ani was talking about her needs, when is it being about being called a diva or when it comes to something which is normal? I go to these photoshoots and they don’t have my size, well then go and get it, why should I adapt myself to the standards when these standards just make no sense? The Black Madonna tweeted: Being fat is, deep down inside, loving your own pleasure, feeding yourself first and per desire, not denying your needs and lastly taking up space that hasn’t been allotted to you by culture. Delicious. What a thrill to love yourself and get away with all that too. I wanna be my own inspiration just like the Black Madonna is for herself in order to inspire others.