Upon first listen, it's surprising to hear such a soulful voice come out of Catey Shaw
. The New York by-way-of Virginia Beach singer-songwriter has graced New York City venues like Rockwood Music Hall, Pianos and toured different parts of the U.S. over the past few years with her music. Shaw stands out with her colorful hair (currently it's blonde and purple) and her gold nose ring—she has a badass attitude and talent to go along with it. She's not very shy about her love for food (her music video for "Run, Run, Run" basically captures her eating all of her favorite foods), and who doesn't deeply admire a girl who isn't afraid to tell the world she loves pizza.
Shaw released her EP Clouds
last year and plans to unleash a follow-up within the next few months. Until then, she will be playing a variety of shows, including opening for Andy Allo tonight at Mercury Lounge.
We spoke with Catey Shaw over brunch about her love for Harry Styles, covering "Fortunate Son" and making it as a young musician in New York City.
How did you end up in New York?
I went to community college in Virginia and then came to New York to go to art school. I was busking because I had no money. I was staying in the dorms. To eat, I was playing in the subways. I was doing little covers. My manager found me and started writing songs with me. I ended up getting a publishing deal a year later. It's been moving forward ever since I met my manager Jay Levine.
What's the biggest challenge of being a musician in New York?
You're one of so many. Everyone is a musician. It's funny because so many people say, "Oh yeah I have a show; I'm playing with my band." It's hard to get people to come out because there are so many shows going on on any given night. But two months later they're like, "I went on your Facebook and you're in an actual band. You have real songs!" Actually getting people to come out is really special and exciting. It makes me appreciate it so much more.
Was your "Fortunate Son" cover your idea or a pitch?
My manager gets pitches sometimes for songs they're looking for, for licensing. They were actually looking for something for a specific movie trailer about the end of the world. We were trying to make it apocalyptic for that. We didn't end up getting the cut for it, but it was used on the CBS show Hostages
. It was a sarcastic Americana theme. I think that's why it fits for me, like "Run, Run, Run" is sarcastic and has an Americana essence to it.
What was it like basically getting to eat your favorite junk food while making your music video for "Run, Run, Run?"
[Laughs.] That's the dream, isn't it? "Run, Run, Run" was kind of the first video of me showing my personality. It's part of who I am. I don't give a shit. I like food, I'm sorry.
Your sticker has pizza on it.
I really like pizza. I like eating. I survived on pizza my first year here. I lived on 10th Street and survived on 2 Brothers' dollar slices. I actually ate that every day because I would pay for pizza with quarters that I would earn on the subway. Pizza is my life.
When you were busking, were your days really anxiety-filled?
Of course! There would be days where I would have $2.50, it costs $2.25 to get into the subway, I have to make more than $2.50 and then I can eat. I have to stay long enough to get food. Standing there and being hungry you want to quit. It was a very stressful time, especially because I had just stopped going to school. I think things have evened out though. It's gotten better.
I feel like you've had a lot of good luck lately.
The stars are just aligning more and more every day. Every time something new happens, I'm like, "Holy shit!"
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I was raised by my dad on The Beatles and Bob Marley. I had a really big disco phase. I was also into Shania Twain as a kid.
Who would you love to tour with?
When Harry Styles breaks out of One Direction and goes on his solo tour, I'm going to open for him or he'll open for me.
You're a One Direction fan?
[Laughs.] I'm a Harry Styles fan. He looks like Mick Jagger: a sexy, young Mick Jagger. He has a nice gravely voice. He's the Beyonce of One Direction.
CATEY SHAW WILL PLAY TONIGHT IN NEW YORK CITY AT MERCURY LOUNGE