Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo & VFX: Kitty Lee Schumacher
Catnapp is the project of the Argentinian music artist Amparo Battaglia, currently residing in Berlin.
The new EP “Damage” will be out on the 26th June on Monkeytown Records. Pre-order here.
What’s it like to be you?
It’s hard to describe my own life experience in comparison to others since I’ve ever only been myself. I could maybe start by saying that I’m an emotional rollercoaster: an extremely sensitive human walking a path that requires me to be strong and tough at the same time. I believe I am a bit of both, but a lot of times these two collide and fight over who is more appropriate to take control of that particular situation. My main “decision center” in constantly having to decide when it’s good to let go and allow my emotional self to hoard the moment, or when to call the serious and professional little person inside me and to manage it. Being my “job” to be an artist its sometimes hard to make this decision, because of course, I am an artist BECAUSE I am fucking emotional, so, if I have to step back and transform into this cold decision-making girl, does it make me less real? Less of an artist? Less free? Does being strict take away the nature of my personality? Anyways, having soaked in a nice amount of therapy work, I’m being able every time to balance a bit more these two and understand that the cold business Ampi is only there to help protect itself (myself), and that we all probably need one to be a bit more impermeable to external emotion attacks. Moving forward to the next ambivalence about me, I live with a foot on the ground and another one in space. If you leave me standing in the middle of a street 5 blocks away from my house, I will probably not know in which direction to walk. I never know where North or South are. If I visit a town with a beach, I will almost certainly not ever know in which direction the sea is. The only conclusion I found to this is that I am never really “here” or paying attention. My head will always be somewhere else. Maybe for a similar reason, I love science fiction so much. I really enjoy letting my mind travel to other realities, and other worlds. Like somehow this one is not mind-blowing enough. Tho I had a few times in which I could definitely find the beauty I feel when I read about Mars, right here on Earth.
When did you first experience the power music carries within itself?
My entire life I was accompanied by music. I lived in a house of musicians so to speak, where my grandfather was a renowned Jazz piano player and music composer. My mom and my dad met inside a band. She would sing, and he would play guitar and sing. The powerful force of music was always there for me. Of course later on I would experience this in different ways. The first time I bought my own CD and listened to the songs I especially liked. Every time one of my friends picks up a nylon strings guitar and sings a folk song. The first time I went to a club and heard music at an extremely loud volume and felt it not only in my ears but all over my body. The first time I went to a concert and with tears in my eyes, I stood face to face with the artist that had been making me feel so many things when I was alone in my room throughout numerous nights. And finally when I got on a stage myself.
The EP is said to explore the topic of seeking the self through one’s deconstruction, of damaging the self in order to heal. Do you think that contentment may be obtained only through a certain inner struggle? Why?
I’m not sure that seeking the self is the ultimate goal of this de-construction, and I wouldn’t call it too much as de-construction, but rather self-destruction. I think that we could be looking at this from many different angles, depending on the situation we are in. The two angles I am mainly focusing on this album are:
- If someone is “going out partying and smashing myself to death”, we could then say that in that we are looking for certain relief, a brief moment of intense happiness, or just to forget, to let go. I think this is in our nature.
Every person seeks a bit of self-destruction in different ways. Maybe they get too attached only to people that hurt them, or maybe they smoke, or they drink, etc.
- Then another quite different scenario I talk about in Damage is when we deform ourselves to fit other’s needs in an un-healthy toxic way, and this kind of mutes and silences who we really are, our true beliefs, to please someone else’s. This is also the destruction of the self.
I believe happiness can occur in many different ways. You don’t necessarily have to go through a deep inner struggle to achieve it. Every human is quite different and has different ways to achieve happiness.
Perhaps for some happiness is obtained in a more superficial and simple way, and for others, it requires a deeper journey or understanding of… things. I don’t think there is only “1 way” to anything that is emotion-related.
Are you afraid of underachieving with new projects? Does it become more difficult to create a new piece of work as you get more experienced?
Sure. There is more pressure with each release, because a bit more is expected every time. Because more new people will be listening to release after release. When I made my 1st album I had no pressure at all, no one knew who I was, no one was expecting anything from me. Anything I did would be totally okay, and if it sucked nobody would care. Now that is a bit harder to ignore because, even tho I don’t consider myself “super famous”, I have a group of people that follow what I do, like certain things about it, and expect something from the upcoming music I might make. And this is not a bad thing, I think it’s totally natural. I also expect something from the artists that I like. I always hope that what will come next from my favourite producer will make me feel as good as the previous album, and if it doesn’t, well maybe I won’t connect with it so much and won’t listen to it as often, if ever. It’s only natural. So also being on the other side as “the artist”, knowing how it works form “the audience’s” point of view, it definitely pressures a part of me to want to please that need that the others might also have about my music. And this brings me back to the previous question also, right?
How much should I bend in terms of what I truly want to express to satisfy what other people want to hear from me? I think it’s very rare that musicians want to make the same music for the rest of their lives… We are constantly exploring, new things are appearing, we are curious and of course, we wanna give “that new thing”, or “that other thing” or even “that really old thing” a try. But the public doesn’t necessarily know about everything that happens behind the scenes.
They usually might just think, ”That is Catnapp, and she makes that music, period.” If I make something different, just because I have the need to explore a bit further they might not understand where it’s coming from and just not like it anymore. Because what they liked was something else. They are not coming together with me on my inner journey. They are on their own. The music I did back then maybe was a good fit to what they were feeling, and what I might do in my next album might not be the same case anymore. That is a risk I have to take if I choose to be true to myself, and express only what I honestly feel like expressing.
What is the enemy of creativity and how do you personally fight it?
The enemy of creativity to me are thoughts and a workaholic lifestyle that I’ve had almost my entire life. If I think too much before I allow myself to feel and spill that feeling into a song, it’s very likely that I get blocked. This thought can definitely be linked to expectations, from others and from myself. I fought this in different ways throughout my life… Searching for “the magical solution”. I tried everything, from forcing myself to sit down in the studio failing and crying until I could finally go past that rollercoaster of emotions and find some light at the end of the tunnel (or not) (but at what cost), to just letting it be, and only try to make music when I feel like it. I think I still haven’t found the true “solution” to it (if there is any). At the moment I am trying a new technique that involves having 1 or 2 days a week in which I dedicate myself only to leisure. I draw, watch movies, go out, read. Basically what every normal human does during the weekend. I didn’t do that for years, because while everyone is enjoying their weekends, I am working the hardest, possibly touring and performing. And if some weekend I didn’t tour, I would probably try to find a productive work-related way to spend it. That is what I learned in life in some way – to work. Work is the most important thing and leisure is something to feel guilty about. Well, I followed that path until my whole system started to glitch, and send me signs telling me something was wrong. I started listening to my body and my emotions more and discovered that leisure is actually needed to be able to be creative, and consequently productive.
What is your definition of love and does your perception of love change over time?
Love for me is a feeling of deep connection and appreciation. I don’t think this meaning has changed for me.
Looking back at your music career, what are some of your favourite or craziest memories?
I had a performance in the city of La Plata, about an hour away from where I used to live in Buenos Aires. My friends joined me in that trip. We took a bus to go there, all together, and we actually filmed it and made a short video with hat material. [ed. note – watch the video here]. Traveling to a concert with friends is so rare for me. This is something that I usually do alone (and now with my DJing), but it’s not really a super fun social time where I am hanging with people and having the time of my life. It’s a nice time for sure, but it can get quite lonely. I am going through all these super good moments where I’m visiting amazing places when I tour, but alone. So if my friends are all coming with me to a concert, and I get to share some of these things with them, it all takes another colour. I also remember one time, when my album A Cliff in an Eyeblink was released in 2015. We did the release party at the Club Niceto also in Buenos Aires. My friends all left the party one by one when the concert was over, and my manager at the time Facu asked me to help him return some rented CDJS. So I went with him in his car, and when we arrived at the rental place it was actually a secret after party they had planned for me, where all my friends had secretly gone to, to surprise me. That was definitely one of the best moments I can remember.
What is your stance on imperfections, both in art and in life?
Nothing is perfect and I believe it’s not healthy that we are nevertheless constantly trying to achieve perfection. It’s like we are always aiming for something impossible. I think that is also a part of human nature – the desire for perfection. I think we might work better if we just let go of this unachievable goal, and focus on what we can actually handle.
How did you change over the recent years as an artist and as a person?
I believe that my base stays the same. My essence remains. As an artist, I use music as a means to express emotion, and this definitely is something I also need as a person. The topics I want to express may vary, but the need remains the same.
Do you think that truth is ultimate or is it open for interpretation?
100% open to interpretation. We think we know things until we don’t. That’s also a human need. We can’t live without knowing. We research until we reach what seems a satisfying result. And this result may remain the same for some years until something comes and changes that. I think we are satisfied with our results because, in the end, we need to find them. It’s the same as the need we have to put meaning into everything.