Cat Turner is an electronic alternative pop music artist, who creates most of her music from her house. She talks about the importance of not getting lost in other people’s perceptions, being authentic, and how social media influences her music.
Photos and Words: Julia Monard
Why do you make art?
I think I have to. There are so many reasons, but the main one is I feel I don’t have a choice. I think I’d go insane if I wasn’t doing this. It nearly feels like it’s just a part of my personality. The idea of relating to people through my music is also a big part of it.
When did you become interested in music?
It’s something I wanted to do since I was a kid. I always wrote lyrics; that was always my thing, a way of getting out my emotions. I just never thought I’d be able to do it for real, so I didn’t actually start playing an instrument until I was in my twenties. I had finished college and realised I didn’t want to do any of these things I had studied, so I started playing keyboard on stage for a long time. But I hated it. Hated it! There was a show that I was playing and in the middle of a set, I was like ‘Get me off the stage, I’m never doing it again’. I just wanted to be able to dance around a bit on stage – I’m a bit more there now.
What is your process of creating music?
It varies, but mostly it’s painful. I could start with lyrics or a song idea, sometimes by writing it on Ableton or on a keyboard. There are one or two tracks that I sat down and finished in one go, but the majority of them would be back and forth. There was one track that I released that I had started a year before. I have a little studio room at home, with nice lighting and I go into a little bubble there and make stuff.
What role does the visual element play in your music?
I just finished a new song that I’m releasing this month, but it didn’t feel finished until I had video, until I knew what the Instagram post was – until I had created the whole experience of the song. Some people will just listen to a song on Spotify, but I love a bit of lure, getting into the back story and knowing the reasons behind everything. The visuals change that a lot. There’s certain music you listen to and you have an idea of the emotions and what it means, but then you look at the music video and it completely changes your perception on it – even of the perception the bands, sometimes. I think it adds something deeper.
How would you feel if social media went away tomorrow?
I’d be devastated! Instagram is definitely my favourite. I don’t actively use social media in my personal life, but for music, I’d miss it. It would be like stripping my art from me.
How did you come to live in Galway?
I’m from Laois. I was born in Australia but only lived there ’til I was five. Then I lived in Laois until two years ago when I moved to Galway. After college, I came home for a while, started doing music and had a realisation one day that there was no way to progress unless I moved. I was in a throw between Dublin and Galway, but I just feel like I’m more of a Galway kind of person. Galway’s small and you get to meet people and see familiar faces, which I’m more used to. I guess it just felt a bit calmer, which is what I need for now. At the same time, I need to be in a creative space where there are opportunities, where I can walk across the road and play a gig in one of my favourite venues. So, it had to be Galway.
How would you describe Galway to someone who’s never been here before?
Friendly, artsy, eclectic, easy-going. It feels very homely, everybody’s very chill. You can very much be yourself here, walk down the street wearing or doing whatever you want. People don’t look like twice at you – so that’s nice.
What would you like to see happening in Galway in 2020?
I want to see underground go mainstream in Galway. There’s lots happening already, but I’d love to see it more open to everyone. Galway’s culture is diverse, and we have a great love for historical culture – I’d like to see more of a mixture of modern and historical culture.
Where do you feel most free?
At home in my house. Every aspect of my new single was created at home. From writing the song, to shooting the video and photography. It’s the most vulnerable I’ve been in a video. I’m most nervous to put this out because it’s not a place I’ve been before.
Three words to describe your art?
Angsty always comes to mind first, then aesthetic and fun.
“I hope [Galway 2020] puts a focus back on Galway and opens up some more opportunities for people here. I moved here for creative opportunities, so more of those would be great.”
What would you hope Galway 2020 will achieve for your generation?
I hope it puts a focus back on Galway and opens up some more opportunities for people here. I moved here for creative opportunities, so more of those would be great.
What legacy would you like Galway 2020 to leave behind for your generation?
A legacy to push Galway constantly. There are so many young creative minds here – although we’ve definitely got room to grow and shake things up here. Creative campuses in the likes of Limerick are really starting to push local culture – I’d love to see that happen more in Galway.
What is the one big challenge you’ve had to overcome in your life?
Confidence is probably the biggest thing. It’s extremely important when it comes to music, and of course in life. To not tear down everything you do. Or to not listen too much to the voice that says; ‘It’s not good enough’. That’s still my biggest struggle.
When did you develop your sense of self or direction?
I think I’ve always had a sense of self. I was always pretty comfortable standing out and being a bit odd. I was a goth when I was younger, I wore fishnets walking around the small town I lived in and had no problem standing out.
What is your life moto?
If you’re here, you only live once. I believe people should do whatever they want with their lives – whether that’s having a family and kids, or whether it’s focusing your life on creating art. I just think it’s so sad, that idea of people not trying things or even not wearing something or doing something because of how they’ll be perceived. I feel that when people get angrier when they get older, it’s usually those who didn’t do the things they wanted to do. I’m a firm believer in do what you love – you’re either gonna die trying or die anyway.
Generation 20 is a photo and interview series focusing on the new wave of artists in Galway. With each interview and portrait, we aim to uncover their motivations, aspirations and frustrations. To get the full authentic picture and find their common link, bring them all together and into the light. How does their journey relate to Galway and where would they like to see it in 2020? We want to see the people in the budding stages of their expression, those that are quietly grafting and doing wonderful things.
Open, bold and colourful, this is #generation20.
Photos and interviews by Julia Monard.