I saw Cayetana open for Waxahatchee (and fellow BTW All Dogs) on a cold, snowy night last January. I stood a few feet away from the stage, compulsively checking my phone and feeling awkward and left out because my friend who I was supposed to meet at the show had just ditched me. But the second the Philadelphia three-piece got up on stage, all of my pent-up anxiety disappeared — I was completely enamored by this band I had never heard of before that night. It’s the best kind of musical discovery, one that takes you completely by surprise and leaves you floored and wanting more. It’s hard to upstage the warm sonic rumblings of Katie Crutchfield, but upstage they did. And it’s easy to see why Crutchfield would be a fan: In addition to both acts being based in Philly, they both have a knack for the same brand of endearing and blisteringly honest songwriting.
In a frantic internet hunt post-show, I was bummed to find that the band only had a few songs to their name, mostly lo-fi demos. I needed more, something that could capture the magic of what I had seen on stage. It took a while but now we’re here — what I’ve heard so far from their upcoming debut album Nervous Like Me is absolutely astounding. It’s high-energy and unaffected pop punk that sounds like it’s ready for much bigger stages than they’ve been playing. This is music that demands to be shouted through a wall of festival speakers onto an unsuspecting and sun-beaten crowd and I’m sure it won’t take them long to get there. It’s too accessible and carefree not to. Cayetana is a band you’d want to hang out with and their outlook on life is simple enough: “serious things are stupid,” so says the opening track, but we have feelings so let’s sing about them anyway.
You can hear a new song from their debut and read vocalist Augusta Koch’s answers to our questions below.
STEREOGUM: How did everyone meet and start making music together?
AUGUSTA KOCH: Kelly and Allegra met at college in upstate New York, and then later both moved to Philly separately. I met them through a mutual friend and found out that all of us really wanted to start a band. So later that week we borrowed some instruments and started playing music.
STEREOGUM: You took your time putting out a debut, choosing to build up your fan base through touring instead. Was it a conscious decision to take your time and tour first before releasing a debut or was it sort of something that just happened?
KOCH: We take everything we do at the pace we feel comfortable with. When we formed the band was when we more or less started playing music so to us, there was no rush. We really wanted to make an album we were proud of instead of throwing together songs out of desperation. That being said, I’m glad we took our time. It helped us form a sound and dynamic we’re happy with.
STEREOGUM: What’s your creative process like? Do you all write together or is there one person that mostly handles lyrics or is it more collaborative?
KOCH: Our creative process is very fluid, it’s still developing and evolving all the time. I usually come up with lyrics first and a very simple idea on guitar. Then at practice, we all hash it out. Allegra’s bass playing is so unique and always adds a completely new dimension to the concept that I had in my head originally. When Kelly’s parts come in, she carries us and makes the songs boisterous and fresh, she’s saved us from writing a lot of slow depressing songs. The songs always go through a metamorphosis, and some come easier than others. Just like every aspect of our band, we take it as it comes and are always trying to incorporate new approaches to writing.
STEREOGUM: When did you really start to sit down and think about making an album?
KOCH: Writing an album was something we wanted to do from day one. I think we began to take it more seriously last summer and sort of honed in on a vibe and feeling that we wanted to get out of it.
STEREOGUM: What influenced you while you were writing and recording?
KOCH: I’d say that pretty much everything going on in our lives at the time influenced us in one way or another. Personally I think the chemistry that the three of us share is the most important thing that influences us. We all listen to different kinds of music, which allows us to really bounce off each other and inspire one another.
STEREOGUM: Where and with who did you record the album?
KOCH: Our extremely talented friend Matt Schimelfenig recorded and engineered the record at at Miner Street Recordings in Fishtown, and in his basement.
STEREOGUM: What’s “Dirty Laundry” about?
KOCH: The song is about sitting in a Laundro-mat and equating that dreadful experience with feelings of disappointment in yourself and others… but mostly it’s about being pissed off doing laundry.
STEREOGUM: How’d you get involved with Tiny Engines?
KOCH: We put a three song demo up on Bandcamp a while ago and Tiny Engines got in contact with us shortly after. They were extremely patient and supportive, and they completely share the ethics that we believe in so it’s been working out very well.
STEREOGUM:What’s your live show like and how different is it from what you record?
KOCH: I’d like to think that our live show and the record are a fairly similar experience. We try to put a lot of energy into our live shows. I feel like the only huge difference between them is you’re not going to hear a lot of awkward banter and bad jokes when you listen to the record.
STEREOGUM: In your press stuff, you talk about being “punk rock.” What does that mean to you and what do you think the state of punk rock is today?
KOCH: I think we all embrace the idea of a “punk rock” ethic. Picking something up and just doing it. We all grew up going to shows and being involved in our local scenes in whatever way we could. Going to shows as a kid in the Poconos was what I think saved my life. It was the only thing I ever felt part of. I think its an incredible scene to be part of. Its not only shaped our ideals as a people but given us the opportunity to meet all of our best friends and partners. The community it fosters is one that I just don’t see anywhere else in the world. As far as our music being “punk rock” well … our music is just what comes out.
STEREOGUM: What’s the scene in Philly like and what bands should we be on the lookout for?
KOCH: Philly is a very compelling place. I’m clearly biased but it is such an unbelievably supportive scene. There are so many talented people living here which really cultivates creativity. Its small enough so that everyone who goes to shows is at least a familiar face, and it seems like everyone shares the attitude that “we’re in this together.” If I listed all the incredible bands from Philly this interview would never end but lately I’ve been really digging Spirit Of The Beehive, Three Man Cannon, Radiator Hospital, Ghost Gum, Albondigas, Beach Slang, Nona, and Hound.