CASHMERE CAT

Wednesday, February 14 2018

McDonald Theatre

1010 Willamette St, Eugene, OR

$28 Adv.
8pm; All Ages

TICKETS

There’s no rulebook for pop, that’s the beauty of it. At its heart is a universality and freedom that makes it all so joyous. Someone who understands that better than anyone is Danish pop polymath Karen Marie Ørsted, aka MØ. Having established herself with the raw, DIY- tinged agit-pop of 2014’s hugely influential debut album No Mythologies To Follow, she’s since expanded her sound and artistic vision via collaboration with a broad spectrum of some of music’s most interesting characters – from Diplo to Charli XCX to Cashmere Cat to SOPHIE. In 2015 she co-wrote and sang on one of the most streamed songs of all time in the shape of Major Lazer’s global smash, “Lean On” (she’d later repeat the trick with their 2016 Justin Bieber collaboration, “Cold Water”), while these features have been peppered with hits of her own, most notably last year’s MNEK-produced “Final Song,” which topped charts worldwide and garnered MØ’s first Gold record in the US as a solo artist. As work continues on her second album, due in 2018, she’s unveiled a surprise six-track EP, When I Was Young, which aims to complete the circle that started with No Mythologies To Follow and hints at where she’s headed next. “Putting out this EP is just something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I just felt it was right to put these songs out before I put out the album,” she says. “I’m a super nostalgic person and so these songs, and the meanings behind them, all fit into this personal journey I’ve been on.” It’s been quite the journey. Growing up in the sleepy village of Ejlstrup to a psychologist father and teacher mother, Ørsted always knew she wanted to sidestep academia and be creative. Her musical idols were typically polarized, with the Spice Girls dominating her pre-teen years before Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon took over as number one when she was a teenager. Early musical projects leant towards aggressive punk statements, with titles like “A Piece of Music To Fuck To” and “Pussy in Your Face,” before she started collaborating with Danish producer Ronni Vindahl in 2012 under the moniker MØ (Danish for virgin, by the way). From there, the seeds of No Mythologies To Follow were sewn via the critically adored early singles “Glass,” “Pilgrim” and “Waste Of Time.” After the album was released in March 2014, preceded by the Diplo-produced “XXX 88,” MØ launched into tour mode, traversing the globe and meeting a host of new friends and collaborators. That year saw her work with Swedish rapper Elliphant on the Joel Little-produced “One More” and then, in 2015, everything went interstellar. Having been asked by Diplo to write some lyrics over a beat he’d made for his Major Lazer project, MØ came up with “Lean On,” singing the song initially meant for Rihanna with such conviction she knew it could only be released with her voice on it. And it was. Over three billionstreams later and it’s now one of the biggest, most recognized songs of the last decade. Its success was swift and sudden, but the aftermath has been a little more prolonged. “It was a fantastic thing, but this is the first year where I can focus more on my own project,” she says. “Lean On”’s success brought with it more opportunities, including another collaboration with Major Lazer on “Cold Water,” “9 (After Coachella)” with producer Cashmere Cat, “Don’t Leave” with UK producers Snakehips and an appearance on fellow pop rebel Charli XCX’s Number 1 Angel mixtape. “It’s great that there aren’t as many rules as to what you’re supposed to do now,” she says of her varied few years. Which brings us to When I Was Young. Having released individual, almost standalone tracks for the last few years, this EP represents a proper body of work, covering songs written between 2014 and 2017 that pinpoint different moments in MØ’s career so far. “Making the EP has been such a nice flashback experience because I forgot about the little things; how you put the songs together, the lyrics, the song titles and the artwork,” she explains. “Just being in the bubble of that energy is so fucking awesome. It’s so amazing to be able to create a universe.” It’s a universe that opens with the gently pulsating “Roots,” a sonic throwback to No Mythologies to Follow that was actually written a month before that album came out and was musically inspired by an unfinished song she’d made as part of a trip-hop band in 2011. “I remember when I wrote that song in February 2014 I said to myself ‘this is going to be the first song from my new album’, and I know this isn’t my second album but in a way it felt so right,” she explains. Like the EP as a whole, it was executive produced by fellow Dane Vasco, who offered a unifying sound to the six tracks. “Roots’“ slow-burn build is in contrast to the title track’s cabaret-esque feel, the delicious horn breakdown drawing out the song’s playful nostalgia (“and the holidays went on and on”). “We tried a lot of different things for that instrumental break, but that was what the song called for,” she laughs of its unexpected exuberance. More sombre is “Turn My Heart To Stone,” which again utilizes brass but to create a sadder sonic soundscape. It also showcases MØ’s upper register on the melancholic chorus, which flutters elegantly over popping beats. The EP’s connection to MØ’s more recent output – created with the likes of Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder and Noonie Bao – is the vibrant dance-pop of “Linking With You,” which reflects the EP’s experimental practices in more ways than one. “That one was done with a UK producer called FTSE,” she says. “It was started by a group of songwriters I know who then forwarded it to me and I re- worked the lyrics so they properly fit into my world. I’ve never really done a song like that before.” Either way, whoever came up with the line “I can’t come out to play, I’ll be on my phone all day, scrolling all my time away” deserves a medal. Another older one is the clanking electronica of “BB,” which was written in late 2014. “I had just started seeing someone and I was so in love with him and scared he was going to leave me, so I did this song as a tribute to if he left me. But I’m still with him so it’s fine,” she laughs. Closing the EP is the beautiful “Runaway” which sounds like one of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s quieter moments and was inspired by a short film her childhood best friend was making (incidentally it’s the same friend who also inspired recent single “Nights With You,” a collaboration with Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat and SOPHIE). “It’s really personal to me because it reminds me of my best friend and our childhood,” she says of “Runaway.” “It made sense for it to close the EP, with me daydreaming about my childhood and trying to figure things out.” In a way that’s what When I Was Young represents. It’s an EP that needed to be made in order to move on from that first album and the “‘Lean On’ bubble” as she calls it, but it’s also a fully realized body of work in and of itself. “These years have been a learning process about what’s important, and that’s what this EP reflects,” she says. “These songs were chosen instinctively, and by a gut feeling really, but they’re all about both looking back and forward.” The future is very exciting indeed.

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CASHMERE CAT

The cat is finally about to be out of the bag. Not that Cashmere Cat has exactly kept a clandestine profile, working as he has with so many of the top names in pop, R&B, and hip-hop, from Kanye West to Ariana Grande -- a track record that's threatened to make him a household name just as a producer. But as a recording artist in his own right, he's taking off the wraps with the release of his first full-length album under his own nom de plume. The spring release sports guest appearances from a who's who of contemporary music, including The Weeknd, Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, 2 Chainz, Tory Lanez, Francis & the Lights, Starrah, and other Cat lovers dropping in to help usher him into the ranks of true marquee artists. When he was still on his first life, the plaudits came in just for his behind-the-scenes work. "The introverted producer is pop's new not-so-secret weapon," raved Fader. Not so very many years ago, the artist formerly known as Magnus August Høiberg was a fledgling DJ in his native Norway, doing ear-grabbing remixes for famous artists like Lana Del Rey and Drake... some of them authorized, some not. His skills attracted an American audience that eventually grew to include super-producer Benny Blanco, a mentor who encouraged him to come to New York. Their sensibilities meshed, with Blanco "bringing me in because he believed that the weirder shit I was doing could work in a more poppy sense." As an American immigrant, he quickly became recognized for his co-production work on records as diverse as Ludacris' "Party Girls," Ryn Weaver's "Octahate," Charli XCX's "Break the Rules," Britney Spears' "Just Luv Me," and Tinashe's "All Hands on Deck," earning his first Grammy nomination for Tory Lanez' "Luv." Ariana Grande not only used him on record but took him out on tour as her opening act. When the Weeknd's Starboy was finally unveiled in late 2016, four of its most wildly well-received songs had Cashmere Cat at the helm, so it's no surprise that the Weeknd has returned the favor by coming over as a featured artist on his producer pal's feature-length debut. Cashmere Cat traces a realization about his own style and potential to working with Kanye West on "Wolves," a song from The Life of Pablo. "The way that record came out set the standard for what I want my own music to sound like," he says. "It was a new sound for me, and it made me feel like I can do really beautiful, weird music that isn't just banging rap songs or big-feeling pop music. A lot of my old sound will still be in the new record," he promises, "but I think I'm influenced by a lot of different music that I wasn't before -- like, I've been listening to a lot of Arca (the forward-leaning Venezuelan producer/DJ who's worked with Bjork). I hope and believe that I'm doing something that's worthy of an album and not just something that will bang in the club." Of course, if it just so happens to be strange and gorgeous and make the floor explode, too, that'll be something to purr about.

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