Interview by Louise Coles
In his short recording career, Fantasy Rainbow (a.k.a. one man act Oliver Catt) has already drawn complimentary comparisons to the likes of Deerhunter, No Age and Wavves. His restless, mischievious lo-fi experimental tendencies belies a pop nous with a youthful vigour. The sunny, hazy melodic tone of his records are filled with a bittersweet pang of a young age coming to an end. Here Oliver chats to us about youth, new beginnings, and his choice of mayonnaise over ketchup…
For those out there who haven’t yet heard of you, how would you describe your sound and set up?
Well, for the most part, it’s just me on my own. There is a couple of different live versions depending on who I can get to come along and help, but it’s usually just. When I record I do everything with my friend Jonny (Coddington): he tells me when my ideas suck, so he’s handy to have around.
Where does the name Fantasy Rainbow come from?
It took me ages to come up with a name. I almost went with ‘Mondegreen’ but my overly critical friends talked me out of it. Then one day I just decided on Fantasy Rainbow and I’ve not started hating it yet so it’s probably going to stick.
Do you ever find it difficult being a solo artist?
There are times when being on your own sucks, like how you can’t make a live show sound like the record, but then you just find ways around it. Like I rely a lot on a loop pedal and use a lot of delay and stuff to bulk out the sound, but that does make the live version a lot different from the recorded version, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s pretty awesome though – I don’t have to organise anyone, it’s much quicker to record and it’s a lot easier to do stuff. I don’t know which I prefer.
How do you write your music?
Up until recently it was always music first, then lyrics to fit that. But a couple of weeks ago I had to fly back from France on my own and spent about 12 hours travelling. I wrote a ton of lyrics, and the music I’ve written for them is really cool, so now I don’t know how to write songs anymore really.
Not really, I just wrote the first and second records during the spring and summer respectively so I think they have a pretty positive, sort of ‘summery’ vibe. The newer stuff I’m writing is definitely darker, but it still sounds like the earlier stuff just not as nostalgic sounding… if that’s a thing. I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder when it comes to writing.
Your sound has been described as soaked in a youthful vigour, which focuses heavily on leaving childhood behind and moving out into the terrifying world. Does this sound right to you? Is your music a personal reaction to this intimidating time of our lives?
Yeah it’s definitely about moving out into the world. I’m at point now where I know in three weeks time, for the first time in my life I won’t live in a house with my family, nor in the same town I’ve always lived in, so yeah, it is very much about moving out or whatever, but when that’s over I’ll stop being so concerned with it I imagine.
Nothing describes the fear of growing old better than the refreshing track ‘Youth Forever’. It has a teen, summer haze pop ethos to it. Do you feel you’ve successfully captured the theme in the song?
I’m pretty happy with all of the songs on the record, and I feel like I said everything I set out to say on it. So yeah, I suppose it has captured the theme, but I don’t think that that is really up to me decide.
You’ve been compared to Deerhunter, No Age and Wavves – are these comparisons that you’re happy with?
I couldn’t be happier with these comparisons! Those are three awesome bands that I listen to regularly, so it obviously comes across in my music, Deerhunter especially – they’re such an acclaimed band I honestly feel quite honoured people consider me as similar to them.
I mostly get influenced just by the bands I’m listening to, but one of the things that has really had an impact on me is people who don’t just stick to one band but move around between projects, people like Josh Homme and Jack White, and even to an extent Alex Turner. I think it’s really cool when people guest on records and things. I’d love for a band to ask me to collaborate with them.
If you could have a dream collaboration, who would it be?
My dream collaboration would be Titus Andronicus, just because of the energy of the live shows. Fantasy Rainbow is pretty chilled out so it’s not often I get to rock out on stage or whatever, plus with the rate Titus go through band members one day I might end up playing guitar for them (that’s a joke).
Your new EP ‘Teens’ is just about to be released on Tiny Lights Recordings. Tell us about it.
I pretty much set out to make a record that dealt with what I was doing at the time, that’s why a lot of the songs are about summer and moving away and growing up etc. because that’s what I’m dealing with at the moment. I’m really happy with the record, but now I’m just excited to record again and release something new.
Where and how do you record best?
I record at my house. Basically my friend Jonny and I turn my house into a studio for a few weeks and spend all day everyday just thrashing it out. At the end we kind of see what we’ve done. I love recording, it’s the best thing about being in a band. I just like messing around with sounds and stuff.
The new EP ‘Teens’ was mixed by Jonathan Coddington, and mastered by Jack Laidlaw. What was it like collaborating?
Well with Jonny it wasn’t really collaborating because him and I have been recording and been in bands together since we were about 13 years old. With Jack I just sort of sent the songs away and then he sent them back when he was done, so it was pretty weird. It felt as though nothing actually happened which is a shame. I’d like to get all the people together in the studio to work on it together next time we do it.
You’re apparently working on the album – tell us a little about that.
I’ve just written tons and tons of songs since the EP came out and have to decide which I want on an album and then do it. Recording is going to get a lot harder though as we’re all moving away, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to do it. It should hopefully be out in the spring of next year.
When performing live, do you prefer a more intimate setting or something larger scale?
Intimate for sure. There’s nothing better than loads of people crammed in a tiny room, far better than playing in an arena and everything sounding like it’s being played inside a tin can. Unless it was The Sage in Gateshead, that place is a musical dream. That’s the only concert I’ve seen in a huge venue that didn’t have really terrible sound quality.
I really want to play on a boat, so I suppose it would have to be that. I think there’s something cool about playing music as you pelt down a river or something. Maybe I’ll organise that for an album launch party.
Do you have a favourite instrumental tool?
I love my pedals – guitar pedals are really what’s awesome about playing guitar. My loop pedal is just the best piece of equipment ever.
And finally, what’s next for Fantasy Rainbow?
Well, I’ve got a load of shows coming up and I’m recording a special release which I’m really excited about. Then I’m just spending the winter recording the album and readying it for release, then touring it. You’ve gotta stay busy, y’know.
And now it’s time for our Quick Fire Round!
Pop or rock?
London or New York?
Tea or coffee?
Electric or Acoustic guitar?
Ketchup or Mayonnaise?
Loud or quiet?
Beyonce or Rihanna?
Shirt or t-shirt?