Catlips talks the power of an artist’s image

Katie Campbell may seem like a regular gal by day, but at night (and most days really) she dons the colourful identity of Catlips. The only thing trippier than her vibrant outfits is the futuristic electronica she creates. On a sunny morning in the Chinese Garden of Friendship Katie chatted about building her image, fashion and exploring her art through other mediums.

Catlips IV Sky

Photos by Liam Cameron

HAPPY: Were you a Rage gal back in the day?

KATIE: Yeah definitely. I remember waking up really early to get up and watch it. I remember times coming home from parties really late and watching it for a bit. I was pretty into it.

HAPPY: Don’t we all! Nice outfit by the way.

KATIE: Thanks. I was actually wearing the most boring outfit, like black pants and a shirt. When we got here I saw people wearing the costumes, at first I thought they worked here, but when they asked to take their picture I realised that wasn’t the case. So there’s a hut there where a lady will dress you in traditional clothing.

HAPPY: It’s pretty cool, especially considering your visually aesthetic as Catlips really pops.

KATIE: Yeah. I usually choose something crazy and colourful, or go with something super boring. I feel there’s no in between with me (laughs). I have phases of wearing all different colours and crazy stuff, and then there’s a day where I’m like “Cool. I’m wearing black”.

HAPPY: Have you always been so fashionably inclined?

KATIE: Yeah I guess so. I take most of my inspiration for fashion from artists and photographers I really like. Go with colours I like from that and different kinds of vibes. I don’t know a lot about fashion, it interests me but as an observing interest rather than researching brands. I go with whatever I like at the time.

HAPPY: What kind of artists have inspired you?

KATIE: A lot of new digital artists who I look to. There’s a guy called Dom Sebastian who does a lot of still life, really colourful photographs and, oh man there’s so many. Do you know Pitch Zine? It’s like a magazine, but they do tons of up and coming visual artists and they always post amazing, really cool stuff. I think one of my favourite things, which a lot of photographers are doing at the moment, is simple concepts. Like a still life, but there’s a twist on it, like colour switching or putting really familiar things in places where they are different. And Toilet Paper magazine is a really big inspiration for a lot of my vision stuff. I like really whacky, but big, bold colours.

HAPPY: I think bold colours is your jam. Especially the video for Fade

KATIE: Yeah it’s pretty whack hey! I feel like it wasn’t so weird, but since I’m creating it I’m close to it and I don’t notice. Everyone I’ve spoken to are like “Wow, so that was pretty weird”, and I’d be like “Oh, I guess it kind of is”. Didn’t really think about it but it is pretty whack. It started out being really simple but once we were running with it got more and more crazy.

Catlips IV glasses

HAPPY: Do you ever have a moment where you think something might be too strange?

KATIE: Sometimes. There are things that would happen and you’d ask “Does that even fit with what is going on?”, but then I’ll be like “Pffft, we’ll just sort it out later”. Another clip I did for an older track was pretty weird as well. All the best bits in it happened when we didn’t plan. There was a group of us around the camera being “Do this! Chuck that in!”. It’s weird how that happens but it’s for the best.

HAPPY: Well the visual is pretty important to accessing an artist. Like we were talking about Rage, we still remember the stuff we watched on the screen.

KATIE: Yeah, totally. I feel like there’s so many electronic musicians who keep really minimal on their visual presence. But for me, because it’s a big thing and influence to me I can’t ignore it. It would be stupid to push that away. I have so many musical and visual inspirations.

HAPPY: That’s something that’s interesting, how so many electronics artists hide. You’ve got the inside scoop in a way, why do you think that is?

KATIE: (laughs) I don’t know. I feel like it comes down to a personality thing. I know a lot of producers are quite introverted and work from the studio. That’s how their creativity flows; when they’re alone in the studio working on things. They’re not really, they not really into the sociable side of it.

HAPPY: Do you ever feel like that?

KATIE: Sometimes I do love performing live and doing the crazy side of it. Other times I’ll be by myself at home in the studio, wearing my pajamas and chilling out is when I can feel the most inspired in a way. When I’m just have everything to myself with my thoughts, got everything in a relaxed environment is really nice. I need to have that side of it or I’d lose my mind.

HAPPY: Wait, you’re not always wearing Chinese outfits all the time?!

KATIE: (laughs) Hmmm, nah. But I do do weird stuff all the time. It’s either all or nothing for me. It’s either 100% craziness or nothing.

HAPPY: How important is the visuals for young artists in your opinion?

KATIE: It is important, but I think it’s important to keep it authentic. I don’t think people should wear clothes they would never wear just coz they think it’s going to attract more attention rather than feeling that vibe. I think if you want it to play a part in what you’re doing it’s cool to hone in on what you like and what you want to say about it. It comes down to each person and what they want to achieve.

HAPPY: And what is that you want to achieve?

KATIE: My main thing is to not make too much of a division between music and photography and fashion. Music is my biggest passion but I feel they need to go hand in hand a little more. My goal is to have an output of stuff that can link up in different areas and be recognised in different areas and influence each other. Being able to do things in each field and not feel too wired about it, just have everything flow within the project.

Catlips IV Fan

HAPPY: That’d be really cool! Is that something you’re actively taking steps towards now?

KATIE: I guess so. I like to have a big say in it, like my videos. I’d love to do stuff for other people. I love thinking of ideas for photo shoots for my friends. I always try to have a big say in the artwork I use. I’m always looking for other projects. I like sound art installations, I did stuff like that at uni. Starting to try do more of it at the moment and go from there. I guess it’s to keep the excitement. I’m always excited by music but it can always be used in so many other ways. The music in a fashion show is so important to the vibe there. I never want to limit myself to just producing club music or radio music, because it is best used in so many other ways.

HAPPY: Well if you think about it electronic has become the foundation of pop music now. So do you think of your stuff as pop music or electronic music?

KATIE: It’s definitely electronic to me. It’s funny that we’ve slipped into a time where pop music is electronic. For future I’m working on might not be so accessible, but I’d never cross that out. For me it’s about what I’m enjoying what I’m doing and seeing where it falls. But I’d definitely say I’m more electronic than pop.

HAPPY: So you won’t be collabing with Black Eyed Peas anytime soon.

KATIE: Nah, but their old stuff is pretty cool. (laughs) But probably not.

HAPPY: Well on that note, we always talk about stuff that makes you happy, so Katie we want to know what makes you happy?

KATIE: Hmmm, I think lately what makes me happy is discovering new things. Learning. There’s so many things out there, and just looking for new things makes me happy.