CMAT has been known around Dublin for years – both for her gigs in the city’s music venues as the lead vocalist in Bad Sea, and for her zany social media presence. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, she has released her debut single as a solo artist. Speaking to The University Times, CMAT describes herself as a “singer, dancer, social media maverick, country heure and bimbo troubadour”.
First and foremost, however, she describes herself as a songwriter. Her single, released earlier this month, encapsulates CMAT perfectly – it conveys her love of vintage pop music, her powerful sense of humour and her ability to turn the everyday into pop greatness. Most of all, however, it shows off her songwriting ability. The single is called “Another Day (KFC)”, and yes, she is referring to the American fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The song follows a narrative in which a girl sits in KFC, cries about a break up, gets embarrassed about crying in KFC, cries some more, buys more chicken and then can’t get home, because she’s spent all her money on fried food. As I’m sure you can tell, it’s not your average love song.
CMAT explains that it was inspired by the drunken young women of Manchester: “I wrote the song when I worked in a nightclub in Manchester – shit-hole, ceiling collapsed on it a few years ago. I used to have to walk home for ages because I made so little money, and when I was walking home I’d write songs on my phone. Every single night I came out of the club there were always just girls crying everywhere and they looked disgusting, and they were always in Dixy Chicken or KFC.” The image is familiar to all of us, and as CMAT says, we’ve all been that girl.
I definitely hold myself to a very high standard in terms of songwriting. It’s intense. I have to think: ‘This could go to number one’
CMAT’s career has developed since the days of working in that Manchester nightclub, and she’s now officially launching her life as a Dublin-based pop icon. After moving back to Dublin to live with her grandparents, CMAT committed to writing a song once a week and posting it on her YouTube channel.
This led to new management, and months later, in November 2019, the musician took the next step in beginning her career as a solo artist. This means that she lied to her boss about having a nervous breakdown, took a week and a half off work, and flew to New York to record five tracks.
Of course, “Another Day (KFC)” is one of these tracks, but it’s not a “lead single”, and the songs do not amount to an EP. Instead, CMAT decided to release each song as a standalone single. “I definitely hold myself to a very high standard in terms of songwriting. It’s intense. I have to think: ‘This could go to number one’, and if I don’t feel like that I don’t record it. So, I recorded five of those in New York, five standalone tracks, five singles.”
“Another Day (KFC)” was not originally intended to be the first of the five tracks to hit streaming platforms, but an equestrian mix-up altered plans unexpectedly. “This was not supposed to be the first single at all”, she laughs. “We had the music video idea prepped and ready to go for the other single, but … there were supposed to be horses available to us, and they weren’t available, and I didn’t want to release that song until I had that music video.”
This shortage of horses resulted in a serious change of plan, and CMAT says that she only had “two or three days to come up with an idea for a music video for KFC”. Though the video is the result of a last-minute brainstorm, the concept is, fortunately, genius. Inspired by Ann-Margaret in the 1963 classic Bye Bye Birdie, CMAT created a simple but dramatic video.
Every single night I came out of the club there were always just girls crying everywhere and they looked disgusting, and they were always in Dixy Chicken or KFC
The musician says that she has always identified with Ann-Margaret because “nothing that she ever does is really attractive or that sexy, but somehow it is. She’s completely unhinged, but she’s still hot somehow”. By channelling the energy of the “unhinged” 1960s icon, CMAT provides the perfect visual accompaniment to a song that is ultimately, she says, “from the perspective of a really pathetic, unhinged bitch”.
Her debut single might only have been released a week ago, but CMAT has more music dropping soon. “There is a single coming out very soon, we decided to just follow two of them up together. While we’re in the lockdown, I decided I should just make it work for me.” PR is impossible at this time, but the musician says she has loved the “organic reaction” to “Another Day (KFC)”.
“While everyone is held captive at home … let’s just give the people what they want.”
Upcoming single “Rodney” is inspired by Rodney Dangerfield, the American comedian, and the music video will be shot by CMAT in her home. Just because the video will be shot at home, however, doesn’t mean it’ll be underwhelming. When I hear CMAT say the words “I’m getting a smoke machine”, I know we’re in for another cracking music video moment.
The self-described “bimbo troubadour” might only be one single into her solo pop career, but by the sounds of things, CMAT’s pop journey will be keeping all of us entertained for the foreseeable future.