Cat Jahnke (Mike Sanders)
When it comes to making music Winnipeg singer, songwriter, and composer Cat Jahnke is a consummate professional.
The past couple years have been a juggling act for the songstress, as literally hundreds of live gigs have been complemented with composing film scores, making a music video, writing little numbers for film trailers, and creating her latest album, 2010's The Stories Are Taking Their Toll.
SCENE approached Cat to ask her about some of the finer things in life, like gas station bathrooms and working with NBC.
You've played over 300 live shows in the past several years, covering at least 150,000 km of ground. What in your opinion are the essentials to surviving on the road?
Learn to accept the inevitability of gas station washrooms and their usual state of wetness and/or stickiness and/or tangy-ness.
Eat vegetables whenever you can find them. Pizza, coffee, french fries - these are all easily attainable at any hour of the day. Nutrition, on the other hand, is like a vampire that hasn't yet been invited in to your friendly 24 hour highway pitstop.
Any bed is your friend, whether it's a lumpy futon in the living room of your fan club president or a well-worn mattress covered by a stiff and itchy community blanket at your favorite hotel chain or even just the bucket seat of your own tour van.
Of those 300 shows, what has been your favourite venue to play?
Full Of Beans in Irricana, AB. I had played this venue several times to a boisterous crowd before I asked if I could play a quiet, acoustic, singalong for the Christmas holidays. Sure enough, this little town is full of energy and eagerness and by the end of the night I was told that my little solo concert had been rowdier than the stripper night they had hosted the weekend before!
Who has been your biggest influence?
I've studied with some amazing musicians, most notably my childhood piano teacher who patiently accepted my indolence and stealthily taught me to play the instrument despite myself. I sang in church every Sunday and always admired the adults around me who could unite and divide their voices at will to create a seemingly spontaneous chorus.
How did you first get involved in creating music for film and television?
I knew a guy who knew a guy. Isn't that a disheartening phrase...
My producer, Darren Johnston, was asked by his childhood friend, Robert Kirbyson, to create a score for a short film he was writing/directing. I managed to contribute a few ideas to a composition that would go on to garner a nomination for Best Original Score at a Hollywood film festival. And the following year, with a score I had written on my own, I won!
What comes first for you, the music or the lyrics?
Usually I start with a little snippet of a lyric and then I simultaneously build both the music and words of the first verse and chorus around this idea. After that, I tend to flesh out the rest of the musical arrangement and melody.
In your wildest dreams, if you could share the stage with another singer/songwriter, who would it be?
I think this is a dream that would likely cause me melancholy rather than joy. If I were to join Paul Simon on stage, for example, I would either be much too concerned with impressing him to relish our time together, or I would be utterly miserable because it would be such a fleeting moment and not nearly as significant for him.
What is the next project you will be working on?
In June I shot my first music video for the track Some May Say Love which is from my recently released album The Stories Are Taking Their Toll. It's dark and twisted, but hopefully funny as well. Watch for the video in August!
Cat will be touring Canada this fall with Clair Reilly Roe but if you can't wait that long to hear Cat perform live, here is her song Apple for you.