Joni Mitchell once sang: "Blue, songs are like tattoos..." Chan Marshall, from Cat Power, used someone else's ink. She recently released 'The Covers Record', displaying her talent at making a song totally her own. Before she would take the stage at the Cactus Club in Bruges (Belgium), we sat down and had a chat.
Publicatiedatum: 14 mei 2001
A few years ago you supported Sophia at the Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium. You seemed extremely uncomfortable at the time...
"I remember Sophia, but I don't remember a particular show... Were there a lot of people? A big hall? Oh yeah, it was
the last show of my tour. I was very drunk, I didn't have any shoes on. I was actually crying the entire show. Somebody who
I had loved since I was 18, who was drumming with me... We were in a very masochistic relationship. That was so bad. But
anyway, that was the last day of the tour, and I didn't give a shit anymore. That is why I am not playing with the band
So it's just you now?
"On this tour? Yeah, just me tonight... on this tour."
What happens after this tour?
"Oh, I don't know who I am going to be back with. I don't know anything about what I am going to do later. I am just
touring with this record now. It's not important to me that Steve Shelley or anyone... I don't like that identification. I
don't like it at all."
It's just the music?
"Yeah, that's all it is. It makes me angry that this is the relationship people have with me. It makes me mad."
Is it easier now doing it on your own?
"It is harder now, psychologically, because more people come. They expect something out of you. It was easier back
then because nobody knew who you were, and they didn't expect anything. But it is easier now. I am more comfortable because
I have done it for eight years now."
Is it easier playing in smaller clubs?
"Actually, that's the people who control me, the record label and my booking agent. They whisper to each other: "Put
her in little places." They don't ask me where I want to play."
So you don't have any say in the matter?
"I could if I knew that they were gonna try to project me in a marketable way. I don't have a business mind, so I
don't know when people are trying to market me... I am being marketed, and I don't like being manipulated like that. They
think that it's fine because they like me, they care for me, and they wanna sell my records. I think they don't believe I
can stand up for myself. A lot of people think I need Steve Shelley."
Why did you decide to do a record with only covers? Because you have done covers in the past...
"Oh yeah, always did. I always love to do covers because I always love songs. I rarely listen to music. And sometimes
when I do listen to music or songs... It would be like these specific little songs... I knew I liked these little songs.
And then being on tour for 'Moonpix', I was so exhausted at playing the same songs over and over every night. So I changed
the songs so it would be more like rock songs. I craved for something that was more simple. I crave for a moment in time
when I would be there."
You mean, recapturing the moment when you were listening to that particular song?
"Yes! That is the reason why people listen, play or love music."
Why did you pick for example the Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'?
"Because I just liked the song. I would sit around and play it. So I wanted to put out this record of all these songs
I had been playing. People ask me: "Why did you choose that song?" I have no idea."
How did you change a song? By continuously playing it?
"[laughs] Oh no, not at all. I change it just by picking up my guitar and playing it. Thinking: "Oh, that's nice" and
not playing it again. And maybe a couple of weeks later playing it the same way. I never try to do anything. The way the
songs are, is the way they appear. A lot of people might say: "Oh, she's so depressed when she is on stage..." I am trying
to concentrate so hard on that first glimpse I ever had of that song."
Do you like touring?
"I like touring very much if I wasn't a person, if I was just like observing and didn't have to be in contact with
people, especially being a musician. It is weird because I love not speaking and just observing people."
'Myra Lee' was on Smells Like Records. Why did you change to Matador?
"The Italian people called me and said they wanted a record. I told them I had no band. Then I met Steve and he said:
"I wanna do a record." I said: "I don't have a band." He said: "I'll be in your band." Then I said I didn't want a band.
Then by getting to know him and Tim, I started trusting them... Then I was like: "Okay, I'll do a record." So I gave the
Italian people what they wanted, and I gave Steve what he wanted. And then Matador called and wanted a record. "Oh wow,
okay. I'll give you a record." Then I did 'What Would the Community Think' and 'Moonpix'."
Someone on the internet compared you with Beth Orton.
"PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Beth Orton... Any woman you can think of. There are two groups of people. They compare me with
Liz Phair, Beth Orton, and PJ Harvey. Or Bill [Callahan], Will [Oldham], and Bob Dylan."
Someone even said the singer of the Cowboy Junkies... What are your influences?
"Influences? Every type of music. The sixties, the seventies, the eighties. MTV, college radio... Mainly MTV. Music
that I liked when I was growing up. Like Madonna, X, Michael Jackson..."
You saw X on MTV?
"Oh yeah, 'Hungry Wolf'. [starts singing] "Oooh... I am a hungry wolf..." Yeah, they were like in a big warehouse, and
there was a motorcycle. And she is in a white wedding dress..."
You also did a show of 'The Passion of Joan of Arc'.
"When I got back from the 'Moonpix' tour, I was so much hating what I was doing... that I was so happy with all these
new songs that I been playing, all these covers. So I called this club in New York, and I said I wanted to play there.
"Can I play there on Sunday?" They said "No, 'cause it's our filmseries night". An old friend of mine from Atlanta, who was
in a band called Smoke but passed away last year, he told me that I should really play along with 'Passion of Joan Of Arc'.
He told me: "You would like it." Mostly, when people tell you that, you don't listen to them. But when people you care
about tell you something, you always remember what they said. So they said it was their filmseries night. "So what if you
got this movie 'Passion of Joan of Arc' by Dreyer, can you get that on reel to reel?" And they said they could do that. I
had never seen the movie. So I show up at soundcheck, I'm looking at the film, they are playing it to make sure they got
the angle right. So I just play all my songs, watching the movie, people are watching the movie. I felt really comfortable
because they weren't looking at me. It was really a great experience and the movie blew me away."
Meer Cat Power op KindaMuzik: http://www.kindamuzik.net/artiest/cat-power