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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 indie and
shimmering electronics however she pleases. “I want my music to sound like a relaxing, out-
of-body experience,” smiles Cathy. “Kind of psychedelic.” 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.

Cathy Jain

artificial grappled with questions of authenticity in an age where the lines between truth and
manufactured reality are blurred. Rather than fearing this grey area, Cathy was unflinching
when it came to tackling complex questions of what it means to be a young woman of her
generation. “I think that people - especially those my age - stress a lot about their image and
how their life and feelings match up to what other people expect of them,” she says. But
despite reckoning with serious subjects, Cathy is here to reassure you, bringing light-hearted
observation over hazy, sun-kissed beats.
Lead single ‘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 Clash 22 for 22, featuring in
tastemaking publications from DIY to Dork, Notion, The Forty Five and The Line of Best
Now, she ascends in altitude with the latest chapter of her story: the four-track EP,
spacegirl. “It’s all about exploration and discovery,” she explains. “Lyrically, I wanted to
explore that journey from childhood to adulthood, because I feel like that journey can be
quite dark and heavy for some people. It can feel really scary, sometimes. It’s about finding
out who you are and learning about the imperfections and complexities of other people, and
of the world.” But in these four galaxies of her creation, there is always light - spacegirl is,
without a doubt, her most playful mission yet.

Toying with language and sci-fi analogies, Cathy Jain is like an astronaut transmitting
signals back to earth from the alien world of crushes, betrayal and friendships cast adrift in
‘gaslighting girlboss’ is a straight-up shot of serotonin. “Every time we perform it live, it just
makes people giggle,” smiles Cathy. “It’s more comedic – more sassy - than anything else.”
It’s an exercise in melodrama, about the amusement that comes with realising you’ve got a
not-so-secret admirer: “You must be so obsessed / You must be so impressed / Cuz every
time you always meet my eye in the halls / You make it so damn obvious I’m honestly
‘UFO’, on the other hand, is about the end of the world as we know it: the sky is falling, the
town is burning down in flames, and extra-terrestrial beings are taking over. “You know when
you’re with someone and you think they’re someone they’re not? And then, in the end, they
betray you, and you realise they’re not going to be there for you?” Cathy explains. “It’s made
into this big, apocalyptic alien invasion story. It’s quite dramatic, really,” she laughs. “It’s
supposed to be quite animated!”
‘PLAYFIGHT’, a fizzy, rosy-cheeked experiment in indie grooves and galactic synths, is
“Alice in Wonderland, if it was electronic”, says Cathy. Fantasies and topsy-turvy tales are
woven into the fabric of the EP; it’s something she says she envisions as a major motif in her
future projects, as well. The track is about the exhilaration of connection with someone, and
the terrifying prospect of asking for more, centred around a vignette of a water gun fight on a
hot summer’s day. ‘the death of cat’ follows in the same vein: a friendship that has been
lost in translation as you come to discover that everyone is struggling with their own
imperfections as they’re growing up.
The process of bringing spacegirl to life was worlds apart from how artificial was made.
Cathy’s first project was done remotely in the confines of her bedroom, which has become
the backdrop of her entire musical career so far since she recorded covers and uploaded
them to YouTube. She belongs to a generation of circumstantial bedroom pop artists who
had no other option in a global pandemic. But with spacegirl, during the summer break from
sixth form, Cathy had the opportunity to record and write tracks with a slew of producers in
London. Her closest collaborator, however, was Jack Hardman, better known as Good Dog,
who Cathy approached to work with her over Instagram DMs after stumbling upon his work
on Spotify. “Now we’ve been working together for a year, and we’re like, best friends,” says
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 ‘gaslighting girlboss’) and keeps her
anchored artistically to her heritage. Growing up there before living in the likes of 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. China, 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 Katy Perry 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 song
writing 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.
Now, Cathy Jain’s ambitions are greater than ever. After her first ‘proper’ live performance
at Latitude Festival in 2021, she’s looking to truly find her audience with a summer booked
to the brim with festivals and gigs. Once she has finished her exams, Cathy is going to
immerse herself entirely in her music. “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.”


Indie Pop