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As a teenager whose coming-of-age story had been confined to four walls during the pandemic, Cathy Jain’s imagination has always given her music a rich palette of colour to experiment with, mixing unorthodox shades of fantasy and the first, tentative steps of experience to dazzling effect.
Cathy Jain chooses to articulate her style by not articulating it – rather, she delights in subverting expectations, free to play with the parameters of pop, multi-instrumental folk rock and shimmering electronics however she pleases. In her lyrics, as she navigates the rocky terrain of adolescence, there will be flashes of recognition, but ultimately, her music is the getaway car you’ve been waiting for to escape the everyday rhythms of your mind.
Her debut EP 'artificial' released via YALA! Records in 2021, was a shout into the void, looking for signs of life and resonance: someone out there who felt the way she did. The sound, which was anchored much closer to the earth with gentle, meandering arrangements that invited you to daydream, would elevate Cathy to new heights when she was announced as a runner up in BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge Introducing competition. With judges Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice) and Arlo Parks counted among her admirers, their approval only underlined the fact that alongside juggling her A-levels and dealing with growing pains, Cathy Jain had defined a sound that was entirely her own – and it was a sound that demanded to be heard.
Lead single from artificial, ‘cool kid’ was crowned BBC Radio R1 Introducing’s ‘Track of The Week’, with follow-up single ‘green screen’ playlisted at 6Music. The music press also caught on to her promise: she has been tipped in The NME 100 and featuring in tastemaking publications including Clash, DIY, Dork, Notion, The Forty Five and The Line of Best Fit. This has been followed by regular festival gigs and tour support for the likes of Olivia Dean, Cassia and Yard Act. Appearances at Abbie McCarthy's Future Karma, DIY Magazine's Hello 2023 and DHP's Intro23, along with the release of her latest EP spacegirl, have seen Cathy Jain become one of the most talked about up-and-coming artists of 2023.
When Cathy Jain was born to the sound of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”, an artist that she counts among her favourites, it was almost written in the stars that she would gravitate towards music. It was a passion realised when she started guzheng lessons, a traditional Chinese instrument similar to a harp, at six-years-old. Playing to a professional level, it features prominently in her music (listen out for it on ‘Goddess’) and keeps her anchored artistically to her heritage. Growing up in China before living in Australia and later, Manchester, where she was originally born, Cathy Jain’s music is the sum of the different people, music and cultures that define her world. Asia, in particular, has left an indelible mark on her sound, having been exposed to influences such as Chinese opera, K-pop and Bollywood that broadened her scope beyond Western-centric limitations.
It was through mastering the guzheng that Cathy started making her first steps as a songwriter, graduating from the school of Taylor Swift and Lorde who expanded her pop horizons and triggered her ambitions as a performer. Writing her first proper song at nine-years-old (“It was terrible, obviously!”) she began writing songs in her diary instead of normal entries as a homework skill. As she matured and fell in love with the rose-tinted songwriting of Lana Del Rey, who weaves beautiful stories from ordinary, universal experience, Cathy Jain began to find ways of doing the same through her own unique lens.
Having finished her exams last summer, Cathy has now immersed herself entirely in her music. She spent the summer writing and recording an intimate, acoustic mixtape, ‘Gentle, Hot and Godless’, due to come out late September. The self-written, produced and mixed project is a detour to her singer-songwriter roots, inspired by her love for Elliot Smith, Hozier and Hans Anderson’s fairytales. The first single ‘Goddess’ gaining a spot on Spotify UK’s New Music Friday playlist.
“Success to nine-year-old me would be selling out stadium tours and being a superstar success. But I think now, it’s more about my music and my lyrics being acknowledged by people who can appreciate and relate to it - that would make me so happy. Success,” she believes, “is something that the artist feels themselves.”
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