INTERVIEW: Cat & Calmell

Fuelled by unapologetic energy, Cat & Calmell have boldly introduced themselves to listeners over the past 10 moments with a whole lot of sass and an embedded vulnerability. From the moment they premiered their debut single ‘dumbshit’, it was clear that you needed to acquaint yourself immediately with these two Sydney based singer-songwriter’s. Quickly drawing comparisons between Chloe x Halle, Mallrat and Evie Irie, they brought together this unique blend of R&B, pop and pop-rock. 

Following up their explosive debut with a song that completely changed everything for them, ‘dumbshit’ became their first mega hit. Claiming a spot on some huge international playlists, and finding a way on the track listing for So Fresh: The Hits Of Autumn 2021, they really found a platform to share their message surrounding the importance of understanding climate change while giving a sassy punch of attitude.

Their debut EP ‘Life Of Mine’ (out now!) hears them really cementing their sound and vision as one of Australia’s most exciting new acts. The 8 track collection is a versatile and impressive coming-of-age exploration. From the punchy renforshort styled pop-rock anthems ‘therapist’ and ‘get old’ to the Jorja Smith R&B styling of ‘intentions’ and ‘wait around’, to the vulnerable closing title track ‘life of mine’, the EP really feels like a journey of self-discovery. 

I recently chatted with Cat & Calmell about oversharing, the creative process behind their songs ‘therapist’, ‘intentions’ and ‘jorge’, and discussed bringing their live show into the virtual festival world of Splendour XR. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your debut EP ‘Life Of Mine’ is a bold coming-of-age collection of tracks that are the perfect mix of playful and brutally honest. What do you think is the most surprising thing people are going to hear and learn about yourselves from listening to the EP in its entirety?

Cat: I don’t know if there would be anything necessarily surprising on this EP as we both tend to overshare online so I don’t think there’s much that can shock our listeners *laughs*. However, I think the track ‘Life Of Mine’ might be something our followers don’t usually see from us because even though we often at times talk about serious topics, we do it in a playful way. And ‘Life Of Mine’ is the first song that we really just sat down and were like, “we’re gonna tell it straight”, which I really love about it, clearly because we named the EP after it.

Calmell: Cat is definitely right, we are brutal oversharer’s online, but making ‘Life Of Mine’ was extremely personal and very fun to make. Writing it was like ripping out a page of my diary and bringing it to life, and it still baffles me that people get to hear it. 

We like to think of this EP as a time capsule of who we were while making it, and ending with ‘Life of Mine’ really rounds up our journey and experience with adulthood. ALSO huge shoutout to Cody Jon who co-wrote it with us, we couldn’t of done it without him. 

TB: ‘therapist’ is an anthem in its own right about being so in love with someone that you can’t seem to get over them in the aftermath of a break up. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?

Cat: Calmell was in a bit of a situationship when we were writing this song and she had been down about it for a hot minute so we just wanted to do something fun. We were in a week long session with one of the main producers of this EP Alex Wildwood. So far all the songs we had written were playful but all quite mellow, and we just wanted something explosive that would make us feel good about an otherwise shitty situation. It’s just such a relatable thing to be completely infatuated with someone where logically you know the relationship can’t go anywhere but for some reason your brain chemicals just have you hooked on this person. So this song was our way of blowing off some steam.

TB: ‘intentions’ sonically shows a bit of a different side to you both. So what was specifically inspiring you in the studio when you were working on this track?

Calmell: ANOTHER banger we wrote with Hauskey! We were doing heaps of late night sessions with Hauskey and this one night we just felt a lil cheeky. We were really into Jorja Smith and other female R&B artists at the time of writing this, so this track definitely has some R&B influences. We had so much fun body rolling at 2am making this one.

TB: ‘get old’ is an angsty track about the coming of age realisation of what it means to be a 20-something year old. What is your relationship now with your age and what that means to you after putting this song out and hearing people relate to that sentiment?

Cat: Honestly the steady marching of time is something that will never not terrify me. I can intellectualise the fact that the pressures I feel as a woman in the entertainment industry to be successful whilst your still young is bogus, and that it’s insane to say I feel old at 21, but I can’t help it. Knowing that so many other people feel the same way is comforting, and although its still terrifying, it would be a lot more terrifying if I was the only person going through it. 

TB: Now, you’ve said that ‘jorge’ is based on a real person you met. So what can you tell us about the real Jorge and what it was that inspired you so literally?

Calmell:Jorge = Legend! We crossed paths with Jorge on the way to a session. My car ran out of fuel in front of the train station, and we went on this wild goose chase to get our hands on some petrol and of course .. I forgot to buy a funnel. Jorge saw we were completely incompetent to fill up my car, so he gave us a hand and did everything, and then we were off to our session. He was engraved in our minds and we just couldn’t help but write a song about him, although we paint him to be a bit of a scumbag. Sorry Jorge! Not all heroes wear capes!

TB: What song on the EP took the longest to hone its sound and lyrical vision? 

Cat: I would say ‘dramatic’ was probably the most difficult to finish. I listened back to the first demo recently and completely forgot that we didn’t write a complete polished song immediately, which sounds stupid, but you really forget sometimes. I think because the subject matter of the song is something we take very seriously and we really wanted to word everything perfectly that it took us a couple tries to get there. We wrote ‘dramatic’ with Hauskey who is an icon and we sat together at 12am deliriously trying to perfect this song, and we couldn’t have done it without him. It’s a track we’re super proud of and climate change is a topic we’re passionate about and I think that’s reflected in the reception of it because it’s our most popular song, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

TB: ‘dramatic’ has struck over 1 million streams on Spotify alone, and even features on the So Fresh: Hits Of Autumn CD which is a bit of an Australian culture bucket list moment. So where has been one of the strangest or funniest places you’ve heard the song playing?

Calmell: Omg the fact it’s featured on So Fresh is insane to me as I’ve literally grown up listening to those albums. Having debuted in the middle of a pandemic, we haven’t had the chance to catch our song out in public. But a lot of our listeners hit us up and say they’ve heard ‘dramatic’ play in restaurants and stores. 

TB: You recently performed a KILLER set for Splendour XR. What was the most challenging part of putting that particular set together?

Cat: We were lucky enough to have headlined our first ever live show before the latest lockdown, so we had the set ready which was great. Debuting as artists in the middle of a pandemic has been a really strange experience, but getting to play Splendour XR was a definite silver lining. The most challenging part was trying to perform a set that would keep an online audience engaged because it’s very different to a live audience. So we experimented with switching up the set design and keeping things fun. We certainly are still figuring out the virtual landscape, but this was such a cool experience.

TB: From playing that set and from doing headline shows in Sydney earlier this year, what have you learnt about performing live and yourself as artists that you’re aware of as you head into more shows in the future?

Calmell: Playing our first headline show earlier this year was definitely one for the books. For years Cat and I have been performing other artists songs, so it was a real shift getting to play our own music in front of actual people. What i’ve learnt since playing with Cat is that she does nervous poo’s and I runaway to chill myself out so i don’t spew *laughs*. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready?


TB: The emoji that best describes our debut EP ‘Life Of Mine’ is…

Cat: Crying happy face.

Calmell: The titled tongue out face.

TB: If I could have any superpower it would be to…

Cat: Teleport

Calmell: Fly 

TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…

Cat: Translucent dark blue

Calmell: White and dark blue

TB: The weirdest hobby or obsession I picked up during lockdown has been..

Cat: Adam Driver

Calmell: ARK: Survival Evolved 

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

Cat: Mediocre

Calmell: Old news 

‘Life Of Mine’ is out now!