By Onna Jaeger
Catalina and team entered the WHUS studio in parts, most band members arriving in Storrs from a variety of locations. Yet, you would have thought these individuals were childhood friends from the warm hugs and belly laughs that emerged within the first few minutes of reuniting. Between chatting in foreign accents about their love for coffee, to joking about Donald Trump and his radical deportation views; the four band members had a contagious spirit. And there was no denying it, I wanted to be in her band. They had a very casual yet spontaneous vibe, with their guitarist Ryan asking who’s going to fill in for the their set in New Haven that night, or “Do you remember what chords to play for this song?” Although they don’t see each other often (as two of the band members live up in Syracuse) they could share such a special connection. It was easy to tell that they are a very diverse crew, always up for trying new things.
Catalina had an extremely warm presence about her during her session. Living in Chile for most of her life, she decided to explore the United States for a better musical education and attended the University of New Haven, graduating in 2015. Although she labels her genre ‘blues & soul with a twist of pop’, her sound palette is colorful, as each song during the studio session varied from reggae, to indie, to funk. However she is usually a solo act with her acoustic guitar, as two of the band members reside in Syracuse, NY. Playing solo isn’t a problem for Catalina, as she can fill a room with the soul in her voice. Naturally, with a strong voice comes strong plans. Catalina is currently working on a new album and is applying to SXSW 2016. She also has intent for adding more live instruments to her band and to play at festivals next year as the season approaches. Her newest single “Lips Whisper” is available on bandcamp.com and for more information you can visit her website here.
Onna Jaeger: So, tell me a little about growing up in Chile. How did growing up there influence your music?
Catalina: Well, it really didn’t. I don’t connect with the music there as much because it’s very folky in a very specific way. My parents raised me on rhythm and blues and disco like Barry White, the Bee Gees, Ella Fitzgerald, so I grew up with that kind of music. And I obviously I listened to the Spice Girls & Backstreet Boys, and I was like “Yeah!!” but I think it was also a matter of me going to an international school, I went to school with kids from the US, Asia, Europe… so I definitely heard a bunch of different styles of music.
Onna: Tell me about some of your personal music influences.
Catalina: Adele, I would looove to meet Adele. Ella Fitzgerald, all of those great R&B singers from back in the day, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, really anyone who belts probably I’m such a big belter. But nowadays, ZZ Ward is a big one. She’s very R&B and Blues-y but with a hip hop mix which I am super into these days. Also Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Beyonce. I don’t know, I hear a lot of different music. That’s why each song we played had a different sound to it; reggae, funk, alternative. I’ve actually been starting to get into alternative and rock, by hanging out with my boyfriend so much… so it’s been fun.
Onna: It was very refreshing to hear your diverse songs, we’re getting a little taste of everything. You were talking about how you have a variety of instruments in your sets. Is that usually live?
Catalina: No, none of that has been live yet, only recorded on the album. Hopefully that will all come soon though! I would love a horns section with some sassy backup singers. This is honestly the third or fourth time that I’ve played with a full band. The area around Connecticut is usually just me. Evan & Justin are up in Syracuse, and Ben is entering our lives for the recording, I didn’t have a steady drummer either. So things are always fun when everyone can get together and jam.
Onna: If you could collaborate with any artist at all, who would you choose?
Catalina: Again, it would Adele. Or Grace Potter. On instruments.. I would definitely get Louie Armstrong to play the trumpet for us, and sing a little. Ella Fitzgerald, for sure. I would also really like to collaborate with Aerosmith for some reason, “Duuuude looks like a lady!”
Onna: What do you enjoy about being in the States vs. Chile?
Catalina: Ummm, I think musically at least it’s a lot better for me. There’s not really a market back home for what I do. Especially because I’m full on English and don’t sing in Spanish very much, I wouldn’t be able to get a gig as easily there as I can here. There’s somewhat more of an open mind here. I mean there’s always ifs and buts, but I think there is more of an open mind here than back at home. Regarding certain things like superficial things. I like it here but I do miss it back at home often. I’ve grown to love the surroundings here. For example, I’ve really grown to like bagels- there’s definitely no bagels in the market back there.
Onna: Do you see yourself living in Connecticut for the time being, or moving somewhere new?
Catalina: Well, I just signed a new lease so not anytime soon. Not to look down on Connecticut’s music scene, but I think it needs some growth. I feel like it’s more of a niche situation, where there’s more alternative rock and punk more than anything else. I struggle finding other people to play with or opening for people. I thought about moving to New York City but I really don’t think that the city life is for me, I have a dog now. I really like Connecticut, it will always be a home for me but I don’t think I’ll be here forever. I just want to travel, start touring, pack our bags and go across the US. That’s my main goal.
Onna: Are you on any label right now?
Catalina: No, I’m going to try to remain as independent as possible for the time being. I’d like to do as much myself as possible. Not saying that I won’t ever sign to label, but it would be more for the integrity of the label more than anything else. If they shared my morals, I would be up for signing a record label. But I feel like we’re in an era where you could do this yourself… I mean Macklemore did it! So I’m just trying to build up my team and my friends. Everyone I work with are friends or family with each other and it’s this nice group of collaboration that we’ve got going. So ultimately, I want to do it on my own. Not saying that if a good opportunity appears I wouldn’t take it, but I book everything myself right now.