Handsome is the new project from Sydney singer-songwriter Caitlin Park and the colourful and vibrant affair hears her expressing her sexuality loudly and proudly. Her debut EP ‘No Hat No Play’ is a cohesive and experimental collection of tracks which perfectly introduces this DIY indie-pop sound. ‘No Cowards’ is one of the boldest and funkiest songs of the year with it’s experimental structure and slick hook. To celebrate the release of her debut EP she will be hitting the road with some exclusive headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne as well as a festival appearance in Brisbane. This follows her raving reviews from her showcases at BigSound last month that secured her as an act to keep an eye on.
I recently chatted to Caitlin Park aka Handsome about the creative process and vulnerabilities behind ‘No Hat No Play’, her upcoming Australian tour and the movements we have made as a society towards equality. Check it out HERE;
TB: Your new musical project Handsome is a very experimental and DIY affair. So what was inspiring you when you were writing and trying to figure out how you wanted this project to sound? And how did you try to make it different from previous thing you had worked on?
H: I wanted HANDSOME to delve into the electronic world wholeheartedly, exploring new production techniques and new software. The way I look at it is, if it’s on offer you may as well explore. I call the HANDSOME sound tomboy pop. And I feel like it sounds like that to me. Bold and detailed but with a backward cap and a cheeky grin.
TB: Your debut EP ‘No Hat No Play’ is out now, so reflecting on it now what would you say was the hardest thing about the creative process for you?
H: Finishing songs, that was definitely the hardest part of the creative process. ‘Save Some Love’ took me almost 1.5 years to finish. It all comes down to perfectionism. I feel compelled to throw my self in, all of myself. Why put something out if its not perfect, right? A major flaw of mine, but I am learning.
TB: ’No Hat No Play’ is an honest collection of tracks that hears you addressing so many different aspects of your life. So what would you say is the most vulnerable moment on the EP for you?
H: Really good question. I think there is two. In ‘Save Some Love’ there is a lyric that says, “Beware, don’t make your way down there”. This is about spiralling into a inner darkness, and I think for me the performance and the vocal harmony just haunts me. It gives me chills every time we perform it.
In ‘Late Night Ball Game’ there is a lyric that says, “When you gonna fess up, tell me you messed up, tell me you’re wrong”, which challenges a parent to admit their faults in ignoring their child’s ‘coming out’. Admitting that their lack of support was unfathomable and cruel. My parents were not like this at all but I have heard a million stories that are like this, and it makes me angry. So angry. Growling this lyric into a microphone on stage almost makes me cry.
TB: I said it in my review of your EP but ‘No Cowards’ is a bonafide banger. So how did this particular song come to life? And do you ever just blast it and dance around to it.. because I mean, it’s so ridiculously catchy and great.
H: Thank you! It’s a favourite child of mine, I mean I love them all but this one is particularly special. ‘No Cowards’ was a big challenge, I wrote it with Joyride and we probably produced 8 or 9 versions of it with about 20 different hooks haha. The song started as a recording on my phone with a piano part that never made the final cut but it sparked a monster.
TB: What is your favourite lyric from ‘No Cowards’?
H: “A busy womb, a year too soon”. It could also be my favourite lyric on the whole EP.
TB: Recently we have seen a massive growth in the music industry embracing LGBTQI+ artists and allowing them to be more honest with their identities in music and live shows. I still think we have a long way to go but with some mainstream artists leading the way with neutral pro-nouns in songs and true creative expression, do you think that we are growing and evolving as a society?
H: Definitely. This was a huge inspiration behind HANDSOME. I agree, I think we have a long way to go but queerness has always been a huge part of art making so it is so incredible to see its visibility rise. For those who are not queer and who have begun their journey into celebrating queerness in music, art and culture… I say, welcome to the party.
TB: With BigSound just passing, one of the most exciting things I noted was how many incredibly talented female and LGBTQI+ acts we have in the Australian scene. So who are some newcomers that you are personally loving at the moment that you think people should check out?
H: SO many! Imbi The Girl, Kid Heron, KAIIT, Emerson Snowe, CLYPSO, leftprojects, Eilish Gilligan, Geryon, Hachiku, Kota Banks, Asha Jefferies, MANE, Two People, Thando and heaps more *laughs*.
TB: BigSound was a big week for you as you introduced your new project Handsome to everyone. So how did these showcases go and what was the feedback you received from the crowds and industry people?
H: It was a very big week! We had amazing shows. Great energy with plenty of people in the rooms. We had great crowd engagement too, it was an incredible feeling. The feedback from the shows was all warm and positive. I think there was quite a few people that came to both of our showcases which is always a great sign.
TB: You’re about to play some massive headlining shows in support of your debut EP. So what can people expect from these live shows?
A lot of smiles and a lot of movement. There will be constant invitation to join in. The HANDSOME band’s main aim always with shows is to make sure that you leave feeling good about yourself.
TB: What new song are you most looking forward to play live? And is there an unreleased song that you’re really excited or nervous about performing?
H: A couple of unreleased songs will come to the surface at these shows, I’m very excited to play them and show a little of what’s to come. I’m so excited to play the tracks from the EP that weren’t singles too. Now that people have sat with the EP a little they will know the words and it will have a whole new meaning for them. Having that energy come back at you is so inspiring.
TB: This industry and world can be a little patronising at times so what would you like to stay to females and LGBTQI+ identifying people who are scared to be themselves or confused with the current state of the world?
H: I would say, be strong and be brave, but do it in your own time. There is whole world out there who are ready to embrace you with all their might. A family and community that will nurture your oddities and encourage eccentricities! If you are scared or worried or confused, talk to someone. Hit people up in their DMs and ask questions. You are not different, you are just a little bit more fabulous and there is nothing wrong with that.
TB: So, let’s play a little fun game to get to know you a little better where you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind…
TB: Pineapple of pizza is…
H: Boring. A sham.
TB: Most people think I…
H: am non-binary. I identify as she/her but don’t mind if I am misgendered.
TB: The emoji that best describes me is…
H: The laughing crying one. I love that one.
TB: My morning pump up song is…
H: ‘Tahlia’ by King Princess
TB: Most mornings I…
H: Wake up to my puppy’s footsteps down the hallway. They get faster as she gets closer to the door, and what follows is a heavy wake up call *laughs*.
‘No Hat, No Play’ Australian Tour
Friday October 12 – Red Ratler, Sydney
Thursday October 18 – The Old Bar, Melbourne
Saturday November 10 – The End Of The Line Festival, Brisbane *Free*