Interview: "Hurt You" - Cate Tomlinson
Your new single "Hurt You" evokes deep emotions as you sing about a painful breakup experience. Can you tell us what inspired this song?
Cate: Yes. It was more the end of a situation than a relationship, but basically it’s about a comically bad experience I had with a guy I liked. I got home from the bar after this interaction and I knew I needed to write about it. The song pretty much explains what happened, and the bridge is basically a step-by-step itinerary of the night. Since it was so specific I made sure I didn’t exaggerate anything in the rest of the song. Everyone in both our friend groups know what it’s about, and until now I’ve never released anything with the intention of having the person it’s about hearing it, but I had a lot of fun with it.
You mention on your website that you're a Music Industry major at Northeastern University. What has that experience been like as you combine your passion with academics?
Cate: The Music Industry program at Northeastern is great. It’s really nice to be able to take classes I can apply to my life right now—on the creative side I’ve taken production and songwriting classes, and on the business side I’ve taken artist management and marketing classes. Both have been helpful with my music, and my experiences as an independent artist have been helpful with school. So it’s mutually beneficial.
What has been your experience with the Boston music scene? Do you plan on staying there after you graduate?
Cate: I am going straight back to California after graduation, haha. Boston is great and I wanted to live on the east coast for part of my life, but I feel like I belong on the west coast. The music scene is amazing though, Berklee is right by Northeastern and I’ve met some extremely talented kids and had some cool collaboration experiences. But I’m still going back to California.
You mention you got started a bit later in the music industry. What difficulties or challenges have you faced breaking into the industry? How have these shaped your path forward?
Cate: I’ve always had a strong sense of self-confidence, but I’d say holding onto that while entering a new industry with people who have been in it for a lot longer than I have has been one of the biggest challenges. But I have learned a ton from practicing that skill. Having confidence in my writing and performing and believing I should be in the room while being open with people that I still have a lot to learn has benefitted me the most so far.
Learning to play piano by ear, which you mention on your website, is impressive! What kind of songs did you like to write and listen to as a kid?
Cate: I grew up on Taylor Swift and that’s definitely been one of my biggest influences since I started writing. I used to strictly write pop, but I would listen to everything. My dad would always play rock in the car, and I think that’s starting to influence me more right now. I’ve been really into Lenny Kravitz lately, and I’ve started experimenting with adding rock into my own stuff.
What song has been your favorite to write and record?
Cate: Definitely “hurt you.” It was a weirdly cathartic experience and I love how it turned out. I recorded the demo in my apartment in Boston, and then my producer added live guitar, drums, and bass to replace some of the midi stuff. It came together pretty easily considering I never went into a studio for it. I’m really happy with it.
Interviewed By Hannah Conkin