24 • WISCONSIN
I am mostly self-taught, musically. When I was in second grade I took piano lessons for a short period of time but quickly became frustrated with the structure of it. I wanted to play the songs that *I* wanted to play, a feeling I later realized was the catalyst for wanting to write and perform my own original music. I picked up a guitar around age 13 and (again after trying traditional lessons) began teaching myself songs from youtube videos and experimenting on my own. Learning guitar was a game changer for me. It made my music mobile and I was excitedly terrified to start playing in the world. I sang in several groups throughout high school and college, performed at a handful of showcases and benefits but it wasn’t until I moved to Eau Claire that I truly stepped out on my own. I started playing at local open-mics and met endlessly supportive artists and friends who encouraged me and helped me move forward. In 2016 I decided to take a leap and started my first campaign to create my first EP which I released in March 2017.
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND?
I want to foster connection to authentic emotion in a world that values repression and maintaining a consistent “image”. I want to be an artist to show people that it’s ok to be exactly who you are, to pay attention to the world around you, to feel your feelings but more importantly, to make something good out of them. Even if that thing is just a sad song that makes you feel seen for a moment. Nothing is meaningless if you make it mean something.
Why did you want to be an artist?
When I was younger I think I wanted to be an artist because I wanted to be seen. If not by an audience at least by myself. Writing and playing music helped me decode/ process what I was feeling and helped me understand myself. Music and poetry allowed me to express that in an authentic way. While that is all still true today, after growing into the “non-traditional” human I am, I want to be a representative for people like me in this industry.
A lot of my work weaves a narrative of my own life and feelings with commentary on society, about making something positive out of struggle. I am a Queer, gender-nonconforming “female” who struggles with mental illness in 2018 America. There’s a lot of feelings, they all come out through my writing in one way or another.
What are some of the main themes of your creative projects?
Who are your biggest influences?
I’ve always had a soft spot for the late-90’s/ early 2000’s bands like Matchbox Twenty, The Goo Goo Dolls and Dave Matthew’s Band however, my songwriting inspiration was really sparked by the early works of female songwriters like Ingrid Michaelson, Vanessa Carlton, Imogen Heap and Tegan and Sara. I’ve also been a lover of musical theatre for most of my life and participated in an a-cappella jazz group for several years which slips into my style of expression now and then. More and more I am inspired by pop artists (both new and old) and I am constantly motivated and inspired by the local artists within my own community in Eau Claire.
What is your greatest
accomplishment as an artist?
My greatest “measurable” accomplishment as an artist so far has been being voted “Best New Band in the Chippewa Valley 2018” this past year. I still feel incredibly honored to have been given that title by my community and I am very grateful for all of the support the valley has given me over the past few years. Personally my greatest accomplishment was creating and performing at the “Eau Claire Lifeline” Fundraiser in honor of my dear friend who lost their battle with depression this past year. Being able to honor them in that way and have the community show up for it is something I will never forget. (Honorable mention: Opening a sold out show for Chastity Brown in 2017)
What’s your favorite project/piece
that you’ve done and why?
I’m very proud of the evolution of my song “Keep Your Love”. Writing this particular song was one of my first concrete experiences in really letting myself go and allowing the song to say what is wanted to say. I have learned so much about myself through this particular song. Recording this track showed me how much potential I think I really have for musical expression. I also made my first music video for this song through collaborating with Ellison Arts and Ivy Boudreau. Putting this song completely in the hands of other artists and trusting them to do right by it was also an amazing experience, they exceeded all of my expectations and I am still so grateful for their willingness to create with me.
Some of my music comments on the complexities of living in this political climate as a queer person and as a person who struggles with mental illness. For example, my song “Borderline” talks about my experience as a person who suffers from mental illness who is also friends with a lot of others who have similar struggles and how important it is to lean on each other in whatever ways we can. My song “Fire” is a call-to-action anthem that I wrote after the tragedy in Charlottesville, encouraging everyone to take action and make change.
DOES YOUR WORK COMMENT ON CURRENT SOCIAL OR POLITICAL ISSUES?
I’m about to release a new single after which I hope to announce my next EP/Album campaign.
WHAT IS ONE THING NOT A LOT
OF PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
At this point not a lot of people know that I identify as a non-binary individual. This has been interesting for me to navigate as an artist who was introduced to the world as female but I have used my art to help me navigate this continuing journey and I appreciate all of the people who have been adaptable with me. I also have two younger sisters who are extremely talented and creative in their own rights. My lifelong dream is to collaborate with both of them someday and make something extra special.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
My biggest goals for the future are to continue on this journey and see where it takes me. I want to continue to challenge myself and elevate my art. I want to
write more in every possible
way. I want to make
What are you
currently working on?
So far I have worked as a check-out person at a small grocery store chain. I’ve been a cleaning person at a hospital. I’ve worked as a customer service manager at a Super Target and I’m currently working at a local bowling alley. Ah the journey ;)
would you give
your high-school self?
If I could tell high school Cait one thing I think it would be “your ability to feel as much as you do may seem like your biggest burden now, but someday you will learn to harness it and make magic”. Also “You’re so gay dude please don’t spend all the money you made from your first big gig on that dude who doesn’t even like you”.
Participating in other musical genres has helped develop the sound and scope of my music immensely. I have learned so much from musical theatre and jazz and classical choir. Most recently I collaborated with Miles Boulevard on his Hip Hop album last year and it was an amazingly inspiring learning experience for me. Choosing to step into the music scene in Eau Claire has changed my life forever and this community has fostered and shaped not only my sound and lyrics, but who I am as a whole and I am forever grateful to have ended up in Eau Claire when I did.
What jobs have you done
other than being an artist?
Can you talk about some events that have helped shape who you are as an artist?
WHAT ROLE DOES THE ARTIST HAVE IN SOCIETY?
Artists, especially musicians, have the unique opportunity to imbed themselves and their art into society and history, one individual at a time. Music has the power to bring things to light in a way thats not so intimidating. It’s a safe space to say and feel what you need in that moment and later on the meaning and feelings still linger to remind you of where you’ve been. It’s effective.It’s interactive. It’s alive and it is powerful. I believe the mark of a true artist is someone who sees that and accepts that it is their roll to capture the feelings of the time and to use their artistic voice to contribute positively to both the personal and political aspects of society.
HOW HAS YOUR WORK CHANGED OVER TIME?
While my sound is constantly evolving I would say the most significant change is that my writing has become more focused and authentic over the years. When I first started writing music I was just a kid trying to write what I thought I was supposed to be writing about. As a closeted queer kid I was writing about boys and scenarios that were completely made up and now I am learning every day how to be more vulnerable and write as authentically as I can, no matter what the risk.
What do you dislike about the music world?
The thing I dislike most about the music world, especially on a local level is that everyone wants music, everyone demands music but feel inconvenienced when asked to pay for it. I would love to throw myself into my music more and create more content and grow in my artistry but it’s extremely hard to take time off to do that and survive when the shows aren’t paying. Pay artists for their art please!
This is such a loaded question but I will say that right now, in this particular moment I am very impressed with Dermot Kennedy, specifically his song “Moments Passed”. I have been following him for the past few years and his lyricism always blows me away. To see the ways he has evolved musically from almost exclusively acoustic guitar to creating his own unique sound by incorporating more electronic elements has been very inspiring to me. Go listen NOW!