Great Dane: CALLmeKAT
PHOTO: KAT OTTOSEN; DAVID COGGINS
CALLmeKAT is difficult on spell check but easy on the ears. It’s the moniker of Katrine Ottosen, a 28-year old from Copenhagen who makes winning lo-fi synth pop. She released her first record, Fall Down (Playground Music), in 2008, and songs and EP’s have surfaced since then, including a deconstructed cover of The Cure’s “Lovecats.” Using stripped-down keyboards in a way that draws attention to her voice, she also manages to make the kazoo more effective than you could imagine—it’s downright bluesy. We spoke recently before her show at Rockwood Music Hall.
DAVID COGGINS: You live in Copenhagen. What’s it like when you play there as opposed to another city, like New York or Austin?
KATRINE OTTOSEN: It’s a total reality check. I played at the CMJ and I was so depressed. The bands before can’t keep the schedule and everything is late and the people who came to see you thought you were the band before you who was terrible.
COGGINS: Is there a music scene in Copenhagen that you’re part of?
OTTOSEN: I’m somewhere on the sideline, I tend to stick to myself. I think there is a lot of exciting stuff going on, it’s just that I tend to become a bit of a hermit. The town is so small to do the music I need to be in my own brain. Everyone knows everyone there.
COGGINS: Can you talk about the transition between writing music and performing? Is it a shift because you do everything yourself and it’s quite private and then you’re in a bar or club?
OTTOSEN: It’s not so different. Most of what I do onstage is just me playing. I keep it simple—I don’t have a lot of loops or samples. It’s not like I have a laboratory at home. For years I didn’t have a lot of money and I had these little keyboards and I didn’t even look into fancy digital instruments. I play around with these keyboards and try all these sounds like pieces of a puzzle that I spread around on the bed. I try this and I try that until I get thrilled about it.
COGGINS: Do you record at home?
OTTOSEN: I did my EP on my laptop. Actually upstate in New York, about 45 minutes from Woodstock, in East Jewett, in a barn that was falling apart. There was a weird vibe to the place and I thought it was good to work there. For the album we recorded it in Daniel Fridell’s studio. He played drums and bass and keys. I played keys and clapped. And a friend came in and played vibraphone.
COGGINS: You did a cover of “Lovecats.” You hear a different side of the song.
OTTOSEN: I think that’s one of the most interesting things about doing a cover song. You really like the song but you’re singing somebody else’s lyrics. The melody is there and the lyrics are there but it’s how you present it. I know it’s really tacky that it’s “Lovecats” and I’m Kat but that was just a coincidence. I didn’t even think of that. It was awarded the worst cover song of 2008. [Laughing.]
CALLmeKAT plays New York City’s Pianos on April 14th. Piano’s is located at 158 Ludlow Street.