Behind The Voice: Cat MartinJanuary 26th, 2009
Though the biggest part of a track is made by a producer, it’s important not to underestimate the power of a good pair of vocals. A voice can make or break a production, strengthen or weaken it and add that little bit extra. A hidden meaning can be translated through touching lyrics and words can get stuck in the minds of numerous music lovers and eventually turn out to be eternal one-liners, as the track grows out to be a true classic. Time for Armada Music to look beyond the obvious beats, melodies and loops of it all. As we take a look Behind the Voice of Cat Martin.
Cat Martin; vivid red hair, bright blue eyes, and a tender voice that makes you wonder off to dreamland. ‘Love Always Fades’, the proggy vocal track with Dave Graham, was her beautiful introduction to trance. This first release, on the Soundpiercing imprint, has left quite an impression. And it didn’t only affect the listeners, but Cat herself too. Time to find out some more about this vocalist from Northern Ireland.
Armada Music: When did you first started singing?
Cat: ‘I was never one of those children who were singing as soon as they could talk, I was very shy and the thought of drawing that kind of attention to myself was terrifying. But I do remember round about age 9/10 singing along to the soundtrack of The Bodyguard in my bedroom! Like most kids, I dreamt of becoming a singer, but it seemed too far fetched. I wanted to be a doctor.’
Armada Music: When and how did you notice there was more than just a good ring to it?
Cat: ‘Embarrassingly for me, I got rejected at auditions for our school choir, haha! I was so nervous. I never thought my voice was anything special. But I do remember once singing along to a song in the car with my friends when my best friend said, ‘Wow, is that you singing?!’ I was taken aback but pleased as he meant it as a compliment! And I suppose when I started getting positive responses to my acoustic songs I started to think that maybe I had a good thing going.’
Armada Music: Could you tell us a bit about projects you’ve done so far? Are you doing some songwriting too?
Cat: ‘I write all my own lyrics and melodies. As I don’t think I have an amazing singing voice, I rely on my songwriting a lot to make the most of what I do have. I’ve been writing since I took up guitar, so it must be nearly 9 years now. For me, songwriting can be one of the most positive things you can do in a bad situation. When I wrote ‘Love Always Fades’, I never thought that it would be such a positive solution to such a negative situation.
Aside from my trance stuff, I’ve been making acoustic tracks for years now. But I found the process of working and performing as a soloist to be fairly limiting, so that’s why I looked to trance music. I thought working with someone, in a genre I love would be a fun challenge. Then I met Dave Graham by answering an ad he placed online’_and here we are!’
Armada Music: How did you end up in EDM?
Cat: ‘I can’t remember not being a fan of EDM. I got particularly into trance when I was 12 or 13. I bought the Trance Nation compilations and loved all the vocal tracks. When I took up guitar aged 14, I began listening to more piano and guitar driven music, so EDM took a backseat, although it was always there in the background. Then just last year I went through a breakup (the one ‘Love Always Fades’ is loosely based around) and wanted something new and uplifting that I could listen to when driving. So trance was the obvious choice!
When writing ‘Love Always Fades’, Dave had the idea ‘Save me from this nightmare’ so I used that as my inspiration and started writing from there. Once we had a final version I let my friend Adrian hear the track as he is a producer (called Hidden Agenda) and he immediately said to send it to Armin to play on A State Of Trance. So, I did! At that point Armin emailed back asking to sign the track. That was such a great day and I started to think we had stumbled upon something pretty special.’
Armada Music: What makes a vocal a good vocal in your eyes?
Cat: ‘I think a good vocal needs to make the listener think, ‘That vocal makes this track.’ People should never think ‘Oh, I prefer the instrumental’ or ‘The vocal ruins it.’ A vocal should draw you in, hypnotise you, make you shiver and of course have you singing along!’
Armada Music: Got any vocal heroes yourself?
Cat: ‘Jaren can do no wrong in my eyes. She really has everything; the melodies, a beautiful tone to her voice and her lyrics are always spectacular. With her music you never come away wondering what it was all about. Her songs aren’t like some vocal trance songs, they are proper, full songs, like you would find in pop or rock genres. Jaren is making trance a lot more accessible. Audrey Gallagher is doing really well too, she has such a unique voice and has offered me some good advice. We’re both from Northern Ireland so she is a great role model to me just starting out. Finally, I really love Justine Suissa’s work. ‘Burned With Desire’ is pretty much my favourite song. I use it to convert my friends to trance!’
Armada Music: What about singing live? Confident enough to do it?
Cat: ‘These days singing live doesn’t really bother me, which is strange! I’ve never sang in front of any huge crowds or anything like that but I have done a few gigs, just my acoustic and me! But ask me again in a few years as I might have finally performed in front of more than 60 people!’
Armada Music: ‘Love Always Fades’ had just been released. Received any feedback yet?
Cat: ‘This really has been the best experience of my life! I’ve had messages from people all over the world. My friends are pretty good at finding little articles online about it and usually if I see anything, I reply and say thank you. There was one guy from Pakistan who said it was the best trance track he had ever heard, and another guy who said it was the progressive track he’d been waiting 2 years for. Both those comments made me smile!’
Armada Music: Any more exciting vocal stuff coming up?
Cat: ‘Well, Dave and I work very well together so we have a few more projects in the pipeline. But I also have a great partnership with another Northern Irish trance duo called Tucandeo. We’ve just signed our first track and it should be out April/May time. I really am blown away by the response to ‘Love Always Fades’ and it’s led me to be working on tracks with producers in Poland, the Netherlands and Norway. I also do work with an up and coming N.Irish label called Stampgevaar. I’m quite busy at the minute but I wouldn’t want it any other way! Hopefully I’ll have a few more releases this year.’
Armada Music: Dreaming of any special collabs?
Cat: ‘Working with Armin van Buuren would be a dream come true. I just properly discovered him back in March and since then I’ve been hooked and listening to everything I can find to make up for lost time! I also love the vocal tracks that DJ Shah, Ronski Speed, Jonas Steur and The Thrillseekers make. Of course working with Dave Graham is brilliant too. He is the most humble, original and talented producer I have ever met. I really think he’s going to be a huge name in the years to come.’
Armada Music: A few choices:
Acoustic or Non-acoustic?
Cat: ‘At the minute, non-acoustic music; it really is true that trance can take you over. I don’t listen to anything else these days! But I promised myself that I wouldn’t listen to trance for a week. It’s so I can get the benefit of other genres in my writing, not just trance. So far it’s going OK, I’ve been listening to a U.K. band called Bloc Party a lot.’
Dry vocals or Filtered/reverbed vocals?
Cat: ‘It’s amazing what can be done with a vocal. I record all my stuff at home and send them dry to a producer. At that point it’s their time to be creative! I always love hearing a quick sample of a work in progress. So I would have to go with filtered and reverbed vocals!’
Natural talent or Singing Lessons?
Cat: ‘I have just started taking singing lessons actually! I don’t want to change my voice too much, and I hope I won’t start singing in some sort of theatrical accent but I do want to improve my range and iron out any bad habits I’ve picked up along the way. When I start doing ‘Jazz Hands’, it might be time to stop the lessons!’
Love Always Fades
Dave Graham feat. Cat Martin
1. Love Always Fades (Original Mix)
2. Love Always Fades (Michael de Kooker Remix)
3. Love Always Fades (Radio Edit)
For more info on Cat Martin, check out www.myspace.com/catmartin