Artist Interview: “Hurt You” by Cate Tomlinson

Q: I’m loving the multi-dimensional aspects of “Hurt You”; the background vocals, addicting melody, your captivating voice, and the overall production is all amazing! Walk me through your creative process in making “Hurt You.”

Cate Tomlinson: Thank you so much! “hurt you” is about a comically bad experience I had with a guy. I got home from the bar after this interaction and I knew I needed to write about it, but I had so much I wanted to say that it took a couple days to process. I started by recording myself in my voice memos telling the story right when I got home, and two days later I woke up in the morning with the guitar melody in my head. I wrote the bridge first, which I never do, but it was easy for this track because of how specific it was. I wrote the verses next and the chorus last, so I kind of went in the opposite order of traditional pop writing. I feel kind of lucky that it fell into place the way it did, cause I’ve always preferred to start with the chorus being the main idea and going into specifics from there. And the whole process was cathartic. Like I was able to channel everything I felt into a product that I wanted other people to hear, which was gratifying. 

Q: I love your unique voice so much! “Hurt You” has a rock/pop element but your voice also has a country-rock feel to it. Who are your biggest musical influences?

Cate: For this song in particular, I’d say my biggest vocal influences were Kacey Musgraves, old Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, and Megan Moroney. I wanted it to sound emotional, and in trying to achieve that it ended up sounding kind of country which I ended up really liking. 


Q: From the sound of the lyrics, “Hurt You” is likely about someone who broke your heart; what was your inspiration behind this track?

Cate: I don’t know if heartbroken is the right word. Haha. But I was definitely really mad. The song pretty much explains what happened, and the bridge is basically a step-by-step of what happened that 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. 


Q: If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, who would it be and why?

Cate: Probably Lana Del Rey. I got super into her music about a year ago and I think it would be really interesting to write with her. She’s had a huge impact on the way I write and I’ve definitely focused on writing more descriptively because of her. 


Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?

Cate: I usually just say pop, but lately I’d say indie-pop, alt-pop, and pop-rock. I really wanna start experimenting with a more pop-rock sound. 


Q: What’s the music scene like in Boston?

Cate: It’s amazing, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. The basement show scene is really cool, and then obviously there’s Berklee and so many talented people there. Boston in general has a lot of layers and I’ve had a lot of fun getting more involved this year. 


Q: Being only 20, you already have such a distinct sound in “Hurt You” & your other music. Do you remember what first got you into music?

Cate: When I was in third grade I put a band together with a couple of my friends and wrote songs for us to perform together. I don’t think they were as into it as I was but that’s what started my writing. I continued to write through high school as a creative outlet, and senior year I wrote “Missing” and recorded the rest of my EP. 


Q: What’s next for you?

Cate: I’m headed to LA for most of May, and I’m playing at NextFest at LA County Fair on May 15th! My goal is to play out as much as possible this summer, and then I’ll be interning and working on music August-December, which I’m really looking forward to. I got a lot of content from this year at school

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano

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