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WPGM Commentary: Catching Cairo Is No Longer Overthinking On Her New EP ‘When It’s Over’

My name is Catching Cairo and I used to think my music had to be categorised, that I had to know what it belonged to. Over time, I feel way more connected to knowing myself, exploring my style and doing it without restrictions.

Growing up in Edmonton, North London, I was surrounded by a blend of cultures. Home was with my 6 brothers and sisters, music, my mum and the places she’d take me throughout my childhood and early teenage life.

Although When It’s Over was born during lockdown 2020, I’d say the project itself was actually conceived just before the end of 2019 – when I was first introduced to its sole producers Poorhouse (Ess West and Els).

When we first started working together, I played my songs that I felt represented my stylistic sonic goals the most. I wanted to make an honest and effortless fusion of UK soundsystem, reggae, electronic music, alternative R&B and soul, with a dreamscape narrated by my lyrics using my voice in a variety of ways. This resonates strongly in “Common Ground” for me.

“Token” was the first tune I finished; making it the catalyst of the EP. I’d started a few ideas for the riddim but nothing felt sticky and right. It was only when I went back to it around February 2020 that I just freestyled an idea with words, and that was that. I was very happy and with that, we kept the ball rolling going back and forth on the house party app.

The title When It’s Over is ironic to me because it symbolises the origin of my story, which has become the ending of overthinking and waiting. My mind frustrates me sometimes and makes simple things really hard like communicating and expressing myself.

Over the years I have written so many tunes, met amazing producers and writers and as amazing as they are, they weren’t the right fit for me. I finished countless projects but they wouldn’t get out because I had reservations or too many opinions —- a lot of it being my confidence and inner knowing wasn’t where it needed to be. Right place wrong time.

I’ve studied music my whole life, Brit for college, university and to finish my masters. During this time I was also collaborating with many artists and producers in the house, drum & bass, jungle and rap music scenes — I did it cos I loved singing on it and I like writing music but it wasn’t my own root it always felt like adding my own flowers and leaves to someone else’s garden.

Creating the EP in the grand scheme of things happened very quickly. As much of a nightmare covid was, it gave me the time and patience I needed to tap into my influences but most importantly just create with no expectations. After I made “Token”, I felt the breakthrough.

These songs were written mostly from bed, on GarageBand and with my iPhone earphones. Door closed cozy. I don’t like writing around people, I feel very exposed and so isolating in covid justified me not wanting anyone around my writing process. I’d lock myself away for most hours in the day. My bf at the time didn’t like it but I did what I had to do.

Production wise, Els and Ess knew what I was after, and so they’d fire me over tunes, a lot of them more guided towards rappers (arguably) but it worked for me. Their production is so unique and knowing me they are able to capture an emotive, dreamy dynamic driven by glitchy drum patterns and bouncy bass lines which is what I know I wanted.

The EP is lyrically charged by my rejections and moods. In “Surface”, I channel my genre free inner healer and it’s a “note to self” about the things I need that make me feel good. I felt free writing that tune, I opened my mouth and let my range flow, I sing high, low, I talk, I yelp, I express and that in itself was and always will be an achievement for me.

As the EP developed, it took me through states of believing, not believing then believing again. It was a pivotal experience for me because I found myself wanting to share with my peers, musicians & non musician friends alike. “Juice” came about in freestyle mode, crouching on the bed, headphones in, singing to myself and that story manifested.

In COVID restrictions, the fomo was so real. Missing out on the sweetest parts of people we loved and missed. For me growing this body of work, I was aware of making music that I could vibe to live, which was crazy writing from one room in the house when we were only allowed out for an hour a day.

Still it motivated me and having just done my first headline show last week (11.11.21), I feel the growth of nostalgia even more — I don’t think it’s fully sunk in how far I have come.

On 20th April last year, I lost a great friend and that has easily been one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced in this life. Bailey was my DJ, my brother and I was so excited to share this with him and even play these tunes with him.

We spoke a lot about when it (lockdown pandemic life) was over and he easily was the influence in the imagery I created in the title track “When It’s Over”. I wrote this song when he was alive, the smino reference, we used to argue who put who on smino. It was def him putting me on, we lived together for years he showed me so much music.

The creation process of this EP has taught me many things. Not revising lyrics too much, not overthinking my story. Just being honest. My songs are built from places, real and fantasy. A mood, a scene in my own film. I’ve enjoyed allowing my visual and musical mind to align.

I’m big on making music that sounds UK. I know some people will want to categorise it but it isn’t genre specific nor is it meant to be. It’s the beginning of a journey I can’t wait to explore.

Listen to my EP When It’s Over here.

Words by Catching Cairo // Follow her on Facebook + Instagram

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