Catherine McGrath is one of the real rising stars of country music, which has seen an incredible rise in the last twelve months. After reviewing her fantastic headline show in London just last week, we caught up with Catherine at C2C this afternoon for a chat!
Hi Catherine, first of all we’d like to congratulate you on an amazing year! It’s been incredible to see your rise. How do you look back on the last 12 months?
Well this time last year I was playing Country 2 Country for the first time and I remember looking out and there were a few people who knew my words and I was freaking out. And this year, I just did my headline show and the whole crowd knew the words. It’s just been crazy and so exciting that that many people have come on board with my music.
Do you feel like you’ve changed as an artist since you appeared at the C2C festival last year?
I don’t think so, but I feel that I’ve definitely learned more about songwriting. I think I’ve probably grown in ways that I haven’t noticed, but I still love the same music and I still want to write the same music. I feel like this album which is coming out in May is just the collection of music from the last two years.
You’ve been signed by Warner. How much has that made a difference in your development and your career in general? Did it give you an extra level of confidence?
I didn’t think it was going to happen, so the fact that a big record label actually believed in me enough to not only come on board, but to come on board and ask my opinion and do it my way and respect what I wanted to do and not just use me as something to change was so amazing to me, because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories where they just make you someone you’re not and I’ve been really lucky to have the team that I have – to me it’s just extra support.
You’ve built up a devoted fan base already, with many singing along to every word of songs such as ‘Talk of This Town’ and ‘Hell Would Have to Freeze Over’! How does that make you feel?
It’s amazing! It’s that thing that I sat in school and imagined in my head – ‘what if people knew the words to my songs?’. It still doesn’t feel real and still shocks me every time. ‘How do you know this, how have you listened to this enough to know that?’
We were also given a glimpse into some fantastic new songs from your upcoming album. The fantastic ‘Wild’ is an upcoming single? And what can you tell us about the album?
The upcoming album was part written in Nashville and part written here in the UK. It’s kind of a mix of songs that I’ve already released and that people might know, and some brand new stuff as well. All the songs are written by me and they’re all from the past two years.
You’ve opened for a number of fantastic artists, Kelsea Ballerini being a fine example. As well as playing in front of a bunch of new fans, what have you learnt from these support slots?
I think, the thing for me about all of these tours is that they’re all with people whose music I loved anyway. And what I’ve seen so far is that all of these people, not only are they really talented and great performers, but how they treat people and how they treated me – they’re just really nice people, they’re really welcoming and really supportive. It’s shown me that it is important to not only be good at what you do, but to appreciate when people like it, and to just treat other people around you really nicely. It makes such a difference in how far you go – it wasn’t that I was not going to be nice to anyone, but it’s nice to see that all of these other country artists have this same mindset.
Can you give us an insight into your song writing process? Do you have a set system, or is there a variety there?
It’s probably different every time. I think the most common way it happens is that I think of a lyric and I write it into my phone and the next time I’m in a studio I’ll go through whatever I have – ‘I have this lyric, I don’t know what it means, but what do you think?’ Or it could be that I don’t have a lyric at all and just have something I want to write about. Usually we sit and talk about what it is and what it could be and somebody starts playing guitar and we go from there.
Do you prefer solo or co-writes?
I definitely prefer co-writes. It gets so much easier having someone to bounce your ideas off and know when you get to the point when you should stop or start again. I think on my own, I kinda doubt myself a lot, I finish a chorus and I’m like ‘No, that was rubbish’ and then I give it up. When there is someone else there it’s good to have two different opinions.
Do you have any particular favourite people to write with?
Yeah, Jimmy Robbins is one of my favourites, he’s over in Nashville. Steve Robson in the UK is amazing. They both appear on the album a lot – they’re both really easy to work with and both nice guys.
I wanted to ask you about your move to London, what two years ago now? Was this something that you knew would be a defining moment in your career?
Well it kinda happened unexpectedly. My manager asked how I would feel about moving over to London and writing a few songs. He didn’t really know exactly where we were going to go with it, but he just said we’ll try and help you as much as we can if you move over here. It was 2 weeks after that call that I actually moved, so it wasn’t really a plan for me. I was like yes – don’t know where I’m gonna live, don’t know what’s gonna happen. I moved in November and I got signed in June the next year – it took a while, I was doing open mics and built up a lot of songs and took that into Warner Brothers and they just really loved it.
Do your family come over, are they staying with you in London?
No, they come over to visit sometimes, but I see them mostly at home.
How do you feel about being away from your family so much?
It was horrible at the start. I’m from a family of seven and we’re all really close and it’s the first time in 18 years that I’ve moved away from home, so that was really weird. Especially moving from such a small village into a huge city like London, it was crazy, but I sorta felt like, whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to have to leave home at some stage and I want to see more of the world than just where I’m from. I miss them, but this is what I want right now. I get to go back and visit them a lot, so that’s good.
You’re being launched in America soon, does this mean a move to Nashville?
I wish! I mean, if they told me I had to I wouldn’t object! I’ve met with Warner Nashville over there a few times and they’ve basically said that they’re gonna help us as much as they can with everything. We don’t know what the full plan is yet, but it’s good to know we have something organised.
Let’s finish with a fun question. If you could host a fantasy dinner party and invite 3 celebrities, alive or dead, who do you invite?
Judy Garland, because I grew up listening to her. Taylor Swift because I love her and country music.
That’s some combination already. You could form a trio?
Yes, and then we could be on Belles and Gals! Third one, I think it should be someone fun, so I think I’m going to say Jim Carrey, because he’s just so funny in all his movies. He’d be a fun guy to talk to and he would life the mood at a dinner party.