Brixton's Coltana, led by Cat Mardindale, are a band making big noises around the UK. We found out more ...
The most striking thing about your music is the range of genres it spans – by your own description, ‘grunge, brit-pop, punk and heavy metal’! Is that due to different musical tastes/influences within the band? And if so, which of you brings each of these influences? Or are you all eclectic in your tastes?
Yes we play with a lot of different genres. I mean genres are a weird thing anyway right? I think they are useful to give people an idea of what something sounds like but they can also be restrictive. If you like something you like it. I think a lot of bands have multiple genres in their music but they just choose to describe themselves using only a few of them. We all have quite broad tastes. Very early on in the bands formation the guitarist Baj and I had a discussion about genres and he argued that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to one. I was arguing that not everyone has such broad taste in music like him and that we would only appeal to very open minded music fans. However once you’re in the studio and you’re writing and you’re listening to loads of different types of music and that’s all coming out in your work and the song about heartbreak feels right as a progressive song and the song about your dead cat feels right as a punk song you just do what is right for the song. We have had rejections because we mix genres. We’ve had people say we’re too hard to sell. And it makes it hard to get gigs sometimes because you need promoters who actually think about their nights and put effort into programming and who had an audience for their venue who trust their curation. Equally it makes us very unique. There are no other bands I have heard who sound like us. It makes our fans very loyal and it gives us quite a broad programming scope as we can play alongside loads of different types of bands which takes us to loads of different venues and festivals so we never get stuck in one scene.
Talk us through the writing process for Coltana – who does what?
Well there is a slight divide in the writing process right now. The songs you hear on the EP where written with my [Cat’s] words as a starting point and the music and vocal melodies in response. The songs we are about to record for our album were written with music first and my words and vocal melodies as a response to the music. We wrote the songs for the EP all together in a room. I presented poems and the band picked ones they liked and someone would come up with a guitar or bass melody and we all improvised a bit until we had a few parts and then we tried different structures. The next set of songs we will release were written by Baj presenting his ideas on guitar and the drums and bass writing parts to go with his songs and then me putting words and vocal melodies on top. Still all in a room for a week. We generally go to the countryside and stay somewhere for a week so we aren’t in the hussle of London and we can get creative. It’s one of my favourite parts of being in Coltana!
Your EP ‘Blighty’ came out 15 June and it’s a treat! Can you give us a quick summary of each of the 5 tracks, what each one is about, and anything you’d like to say about the recording of the EP?
Thank you! We have had a great response which is really very encouraging for us!
So Blighty the EP starts with the title track ‘Blighty’. I wrote the words for this one on a plane coming back into London from being in Mexico. I was listening to the Brits on the plane having a good moan and noticing how we behave with each other and the judgements we make of each other and comparing it with what looked like a more relaxed way of interacting in Mexico. I am sure if I was Mexican I would understand the intricacies of Mexican social interactions and perhaps they are just as judgmental as we are but it was having been away from the UK which made me see us Brits from the outside a little. So I wrote it in protest really. It was me making a commitment to myself not to become cold and distant and judgemental.
‘Waiting for the Storm’ is again a commitment to myself to not worry about things that haven’t happened. I sometimes feel as if I am waiting for a crisis and it is no way to live so its me saying I won’t do that. Better to roll with the punches.
‘Fuck Those Fuckers’ is written to a friend who was struggling with things in her past and how they were affecting her now and it’s me saying ‘fuck them…what’s the worst that can happen?’. The verses are about us two being hand in hand while she sticks two fingers up to people who may have made her feel bad about herself or told her she wasn’t good enough. I imagine we have our armour on and we are at the edge of a cliff and they are trying to rip us apart and we are strong together and showing them we won’t let them hold us down anymore. It’s a song about mental health really.
‘Break Her’ is about jealousy. It’s about feeling in competition with another woman. It is wrong that women get compared to each other and especially in regards to how they look and I guess it’s me admitting I am jealous of other women sometimes. As I get older it happens less and I do agree that it isn’t a useful feeling. But we are told not to feel jealousy yet some women get praised for how they look and others don’t. Some women get to be models and others don’t and I do see changes in their area, we are making great progress but we still aren’t there yet. The words in the final verse some it up ‘She’s so skinny and so funny and so carefree, she is so much better than me, I just want to break her’. I don’t think we can get change until we admit that these comparisons happen and those ideas get internalised and we get set up against each other. It is sexism.
‘Finally Bitter Sweet’. It’s about a relationship. It’s about wanting someone desperately and also wanting independence.
We recorded the EP in Kettering at Parlour Studios. We stayed in the room next door in bunk beds and played pool and cooked on a gas stove in the carpark. It was extremely glamourous. The rest of the band are all male so the shared toilet was a delight. Luckily one of them brought his girlfriend which helped! It was great. We recorded live first for the drummer and then bass, guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals. That was a lot of fun. We would sit around in the evening and make up vocal harmonies to record the next day. It was mixed by our main man Xaiver Stevenson in Brixton who we would be nothing without. He is one of the most hard working men in music and brutally honest which we find very important. It was mastered by Noel Summerville in Peckham and the artwork is by Joe Furlong in Deptford so we brought it home to South London for the finishing touches!
Any plans for more touring, or recording – a full album maybe?
Live dates coming up are:
07.09.18. THE UNICORN. CAMDEN.
12.09.18. THE VICTORIA. WALTHAMSTOW.
21.09.18. NOTTING HILL ARTS CLUB.
We’ll keep playing after that UK wide and our album is due at the end of the year! Very excited about that!