Slayyyter
Photo: @sphialiv / Courtesy of Motormouth Media

Slayyyter’s Inferno: In Conversation with the Logged-on and Laser-focused Pop Starlet

Following a chaotic and self-destructive year, laser-focused pop starlet Slayyyter prepares to ascend with her debut album of noisy pop bangers, Troubled Paradise. She tells us her story.

Troubled Paradise
Slayyyter
FADER Label
12 June 2021

A lot of your early music was anchored by the visuals that came out with it, which at the time was just hot MacBook Photo Booth pics. Between those and the sort of VHS-style videos for “Candy” and “Mine,” it almost made you seem like a hologram or a girl who only existed online. But now, the videos for “Troubled Paradise” and “Clouds” are so crystal clear and give a much better idea of not only your aesthetic vision but also what you literally look like. Were you nervous about stepping into that brighter spotlight or to putting more focus on yourself with this album?

Honestly, yeah. There’s this weird phenomenon where fans of music get so attached to the way someone does something for one project, and then when it’s not the same exact thing the next time around, they’re like, “I hate this, I hate it all, we miss the old you.” But all my visuals were that way, and all my press photos were MacBook photos because I quite literally did not have a budget to work with. My visuals looked that way because I had nothing to spare on anything music-related. I feel like it was nerve-wracking because I was like, “Oh god, people already call me ugly with a grainy VSCO filter, so we’ll see how they like my face in HD!”

I’m always going to be evolving and trying to beat the last thing that I did. I know I love the blossoming that happened with my visuals, and some people will not be happy unless I’m 35 years old in a Juicy Couture tracksuit and calling myself a slut. But that’s just not how my life is going to go! That’s not where we’re going! I just feel like I’ve really stepped my pussy up for this album rollout, so just appreciate that!

It’s especially crazy because the stuff on Troubled Paradise doesn’t come from a completely different universe or anything. It’s not a total 180, it’s still from the same world.

Yeah, it’s all still very pop and very feminine. But even in comments on my behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, people are like, “I hate hearing her speak. I preferred when she was more anonymous.” It’s like, oh my god. Fuck!

I feel like, with the anonymous persona I used to have when you come across someone that makes you think, “What is this? Who is this?”, and there’s no information about it, and my name is just Slayyyter with 3 Y’s, and you don’t know anything else about me, there’s a sort of magic and mystery to it. But I can only do that for so long– people are eventually going to find out my name’s Catherine. Nothing I can do about that.

It’s been a funny shift. I think fans just get attached to certain aspects of music. I see it with every artist I’m a fan of: “We miss this look, we miss this era, we miss this haircut.” Making art is about expressing yourself, and if no one were paying attention or streaming my music, I’d still be doing this on the side of whatever job I had. I make my music for myself, and I make my visuals to satisfy myself. People are either going to be on board or not.

Slayyyter
Photo: Courtesy of Motormouth Media

It’s crazy because these people know exactly how the industry works right now. Artists have to let people in on their personal lives and play the social media game, especially in pop music. How could people expect you to drop three Photo Booth pics per year and do music full time?

Yeah. It’s insane. The way that the music industry has shifted so much, seeing fans disagreeing with certain release styles– people get so mad when you release a ton of singles from an album rather than doing three. It’s so funny to see people who are just consumers of music be like, “Why is she dropping six singles from the album!?” It’s like, because, this isn’t 2008. You can’t get away with doing two lead singles and dropping an album. You can’t. It makes no sense.

In the world of streaming and how fast-paced everything is, even big artists have to release a bunch of singles to build momentum for a project. People get so angry about the smallest things, like over-releasing singles, which is just how things are going to go now. I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.

Right, suddenly every 17 year old little gay boy is an A&R representative just because they have a Twitter.

{Laughs} Oh my god. Yeah.

I think people who have respect for the pop machine and enjoy being a part of an artist’s come-up really do think that they know the inner workings because they think they’ve spent so much time and energy following along with what actual music marketing has done.

It’s crazy because I used not to know the inner workings until I signed with a label and started talking to people with experience in marketing music. I had no idea how this stuff really worked. Learning more about it, it’s interesting how much it takes to push an artist or an album or a single. But yeah, there’s a lot more to it than just what people online think.

It’s funny what you said about everyone being in A&R because– I think everyone knows I do this– I’ll go on forums to see what people are saying about my stuff. It’s so funny to see people not only discussing release strategy but also everyone is somehow a Grammy-nominated engineer. “The drums in the mix! The drums in the mix are too loud!”

God. Who do you think you are!?

I know, it’s crazy. I don’t even notice those things in mixes. It’s like, just dance to the song and shut up. It’s good intel, honestly. It’s funny to read.

Much of your image and your artistry is indebted to the Internet. In the lyrics of some of the big bangers on this album, there are some meme-y lines that I think are designed to snag the attention of some of the stan Twitter types we were just talking about. On “Venom”, you have “I’ve got the serve, bitch, let’s go!” and “Dog House” is already a minor gay Twitter meme–

Oh yeah. {Laughs}

So, with so much pressure on artists right now to deliver a constant stream of viral moments, do you feel any pressure to deliver on that front?

To be honest, not really. I feel pressure to make more TikToks and put out more social content than I used to. But in terms of what I say in my songs, it’s unfortunate, but I really do get my personality from Twitter jokes and memes. I’m just one of those annoying girls. When I put those lyrics in my songs, it’s literally because that’s the language I speak on a daily basis. Especially the “I got the serve!” line, I was saying that all the time when we were making that song. I would get Postmates and be like, “I got the serve, bitch, let’s go!” It’s just a part of me at this point.

And lastly: thinking back to the artist you thought you were going to be when you first started, are you looking like that artist you first envisioned, or have you surprised yourself in some way with the creation of this album?

I feel like I’ve gone above what I ever thought I could do or look like or achieve with my music or my visuals. I feel very proud of this project, more proud of it than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I feel like if I were just the fan of music that I was when I was a teenager, I would’ve bought tickets to a Slayyyter concert. I would’ve been a fan of my own music.

At the end of the day, the only reason artists want to make music is to make music they enjoy listening to. With this album and all these visuals and music videos, I feel proud of everything I’ve created and collaborated on. I never thought I’d be able to make music videos like I have, or be able to make a full debut album or have my own vinyl or my own merch. I’ve made what makes me happy.

Slayyyter

Troubled Paradise is due to release on 12 June via FADER Label.

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