ABOVE: SKIP&DIE IN LISBON, PORTUGAL. PHOTO BY LAURA ANDALOU.
“Cosmic Serpents,” the titular track from SKIP&DIE’s forthcoming sophomore album, might best be described as a sonic tapestry, weaving together threads of melodies from around the world. Equal parts psychedelically rhythmic and tropically electronic with its pulsating hip-hop and synth beats, trans-continental coolness resonates throughout the album. “We fit a whole lot of things in—we have cumbia from Argentina and South America, we have Créole maloya from Réunion, there’s some Brazilian rasterinha, and some electro shaabi from Egypt,” says the band’s front woman, who goes by the name Cata.Pirata. “The main thing is that we’re non-purists. If we feel connected to something or a sound that resonates, we’ll make our own version of it.” We’re excited to stream “Cosmic Serpents” exclusively below.
Formed by South African-born Cata.Pirata (real name Catarina Aimée Dahms) and Dutch-born Jori Collington in 2010, the now-quartet released their first album, Riots in the Jungle, in 2012 and proceeded to tour the festival circuit for two consecutive years before recording the transient-themed Cosmic Serpents. Earlier this week we called Cata.Pirata while she was in Amsterdam to talk about the album, her inspirations, and ancestral pirate background.
DEVON IVIE: Where did the name SKIP&DIE originate?
CATA.PIRATA: When we started SKIP&DIE, me and Jori kind of wanted a name that presented a yin and yang kind of thing. The skipping was the positive vibrations—skipping and jumping around and being open to all kinds of new experiences—and the die would bring the darker layers to it.
IVIE: It’s clear that your international upbringing affected the way you approach music. What would you say has influenced you the most with your travels?
CATA.PIRATA: I’ve always been interested in connecting to people and really getting into certain cultures, so a lot of the music we make is like the sound of the people. If you look at music from South Africa, or the funk from Brazil, it really unites the people—it’s social and political at the same time. And it’s very uplifting, kind of like songs that you want to have a party to so you can forget your worries. I feel that I’ve been able to connect to a lot of different people over all the years and sucked in all of these different cultures. It has become my own personal culture, so I put that into the music.
IVIE: Is it important for you to have a home base while making music or can you easily adapt to any locale?
CATA.PIRATA: I feel very connected to a lot of places and a lot of people because of the way I grew up: a nomad life. I speak a few languages, so I can easily connect. It’s always nice to have a home base, but I think I can make my own place anywhere as long as I have people around me. But there are certain places…I have a constant wave of nostalgia going through my veins because I feel connected to so many different countries and I’ve left so many friends behind. A long distance romance kind of thing.
IVIE: What themes did you explore in Cosmic Serpents?
CATA.PIRATA: This album we’re looking into the future. It really feels a lot more spiritual and intertwined, like DNA. We feel like the only difference [between Cosmic Serpents and Riots in the Jungle] is life. These past two years we’ve been touring and meeting so many different people and keep falling into new universes and dimensions. We’ve really opened up our gaze. The previous album we were looking at extremes, and now we feel we really connected with those extremes. We’re really dragging into our own micro-cosmos that’s connecting with the whole macro-cosmos.
IVIE: You collaborated with a lot of [international] people on the album, like Réunion, Islam Chipsy, and Chancha Via Circuito…
CATA.PIRATA: We love collaborating. We have our way that we view things and talents and insights, and we love sharing different energies with other artists and musicians, so that’s why we always do collaborations. A lot of the time the collaborations are completely natural. We meet a lot of people during festivals—you’re a touring band, we’re a touring band, and you kind of become a family and connect to each other. Whenever we see another band that we’ve seen at a different festival and we like their music, we think, “These are our brothers and sisters.”
IVIE: Where did you record Cosmic Serpents?
CATA.PIRATA: We recorded it in so many places. We recorded in South Africa, Portugal, Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Brazil, and the Réunion Islands, where we also played a festival. The islands are actually part of my creole heritage. My ancestors there were pirates—that’s why my stage name is Cata.Pirata. That was really cool to be invited to play on the island. I also went to the town where my pirate ancestors lived, which was really, really special. We made a song there as well.
IVIE: What comes easier for you—writing lyrics or creating melodies?
CATA.PIRATA: I think they go hand in hand, but I love expressing myself through lyrics. I’ve always written; I used to be an editor in chief for a youth magazine [Spunk]. I really do enjoy music as a vehicle for self-expressing, but sometimes I’ll just feel a flow or a melody or something will just pop up and I’ll combine the two. They go hand in hand. It’s a natural process.
IVIE: What are you most looking forward to when you start touring in the spring?
CATA.PIRATA: These coming weeks we’ll be rehearsing for the new album, so it’ll be fun to take the songs out of the studio, give them new life, and show people the baby we’ve been working on. To share that and see what people’s reactions will be is really exciting.
IVIE: Do you still get stage fright?
CATA.PIRATA: It’s funny because I never really had stage fright. I get really nervous if I have to do a presentation—if I have to talk about something in front of people I’ll get really nervous. But playing my songs at a show doesn’t really freak me out because I enjoy it so much. It’s a great dynamic that we have on stage, because we really play around with each other. We give a lot of energy to each other on stage and we give a lot of energy to the audience as well. That circles back—all getting into the same wavelength of excitement. Other times I get a bit more nervous, though. The other day we had our very first show with four new songs. I was a bit nervous about that, because it was the very first time we played those. That was the first time that I really felt a little shaky. I’m sure I’ll get over that, though.
COSMIC SERPENTS WILL BE RELEASED ON APRIL 6 VIA CRAMMED DISCS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE BAND’S WEBSITE.