Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Cate Downey is an 18-year-old singer-songwriter. Having worked on projects in different genres ranging from urban to EDM and pop, it’s not surprising that this young girl is one of the more innovative pop artists of 2020. Cate’s debut single ‘Boulder’ has just been released and we had a chance to speak with her about it.
You have written music in all genres. Which is your favourite genre? Why?
It really depends! While I do spend time writing for myself in more of the indie-pop world, I spend the majority of my time writing for other artists! This means that I do get to experiment with a lot of different genres. I would say that pop/singer-songwriting is my go-to and will probably always be my songwriting home,
The storytelling aspect of acoustic pop is what originally made me want to write songs! That being said, I also love writing in different styles especially RnB and EDM! I love RnB because the lyrics are always very straightforward and I love EDM for all the killer melodies! One of my favourite things is being able to jump around genres. I think that if I only wrote in one I would get bored. *laughs*
‘Boulder’ was recorded in one day, but how long do you usually spend on songs? Why, do you think, was this track was easier to produce?
I’m currently studying songwriting at a new music production school, the Lillehammer Institute of Music Production and Industries in Lillehammer, Norway. Here we are put into groups every week and are given the task to write, record, produce and submit a song by the end of the week, so I am used to writing within that time frame. My friend and fellow classmate Alton and I made ‘Boulder’ as part of one of these assignments. When we first got the initial idea for the song on Monday of that week we both fell in love with it, which is a big part of why the song progressed so quickly. We also had a lot of the same ideas and visions for the song and both wanted it to be more out-of-the-box, so when it came to production it was a pretty easy process!
Can you tell us about the concept of ‘Boulder’?
I’ve been wanting to write a song about Colorado, my home state since I moved to Norway. Before going into the session with Alton I was sifting through some song ideas on my phone and found the line, “I heard you went back to Boulder.” I wrote that line after hearing that one of my friends from high school had moved back to our hometown after dropping out of college. It was something that I hadn’t expected to happen and I kept having the thought “is he happy now?” As soon as I wrote it down I knew it was something that I wanted to write a song about. Once we came up with the intro I started singing those lines over the loop and wrote the rest of the song shortly after.
What do you find more challenging – melody or lyrics?
For me, the two have always been more intertwined. I would say that in general if the melody of a lyric isn’t strong enough then I would rather change the lyric to fit a better melody than the other way around. At school, we are taught to prioritise the melody over the lyrics so I definitely do keep that in mind while writing, but I think the lyrics and the overall message of the song will always be more important to me.
Who would you say influences your sound?
Right now, I am heavily influenced by the artists Ashe and Alexander 23 in terms of lyrics and musical production. They both have music in the indie-pop world that are very experimental and borrow elements from several different genres and decades. I will also always be inspired by the bands like Queen, the Beatles and U2.
Why did you become a musician?
Music has been something that I’ve loved my whole life. I started singing when I was 5 and started writing songs when I was 11. My family is also very musical and my sisters and I love to sing and perform together! Throughout my time in school, I have made so many of my closest friends through music. Music has always been something that makes me happy, but I think what ultimately makes me want to work in music is the amazing community of people in music.
You’re still really young so do you think there is a back-up plan if your music career doesn’t take off?
My main goal is to be in the industry in whatever way I can. Writing songs for myself and for other artists will always be my favourite thing, but I do also love the business side of the industry and would love to work in the business world if the creative side doesn’t work out in the long-term.
Once again, you are very young, so do you think it’s easier to enter the music industry as a young person or doesn’t age matter?
Being young has definitely helped me promote myself and network, but it’s the music that keeps people engaged. The industry is looking for good music and good songs. Age doesn’t matter half as much as the quality of the content you’re releasing!
What can we expect from Cate Downey in the future?
I’m working on new songs with a similar soundscape as ‘Boulder’ with my producer and co-writer Alton Sato. My next single will be coming out next month!
Do you have any message for our readers, particularly since we are dealing with a rather trying time?
Use this time to reach out to those you love and appreciate them. These past few months have been incredibly crazy and scary. For me, the thing that has kept me sane through it all are the people in my life. I am currently living in Norway and am unable to go home to the U.S. because of the travel ban, but I have been calling my family and friends on a regular basis! It’s important that we encourage each other and stay positive during these times because we really are all in this together!