Catherine Maddin is the bassist for cosmic Brisbane band Dreamtime who have been said to “boast the kind of guitar meltdowns you might hear on old Ash Ra Tempel albums.” She is also co-owner/creator (along with pal Amy Wardrop) of Velvet Pins – a line of clothing and more that features “digital prints and fine silk garments that showcase the flowing easy fit and psychedelic look.” I cannot wait to rock some Velvet Puns creations. Catherine chats on style, becoming a musician, music, transcendental experience and more.
How did you first come to being a musician? Who or what inspired you to pick up an instrument?
I remember being a little terror at school until I went to my first singing class with a teacher called Mrs. Hancock. It seemed to calm me down and invigorate me all at once. I went home from school that day with a big smile and couldn’t stop singing! A huge fascination with Rage developed and I just loved to watch bands on TV on a Saturday morning, they seemed like the coolest people in the world to me, plus film clips in the 90s ruled! It continued on from there, I’ve luckily been drawn to some amazing musicians and like-minded people so far. The recent release of the Dreamtime LP actually make me feel so proud of what my friends and I had achieved and how far we have come together and I was finally able to comprehend that maybe it isn’t such a far-fetched idea that I might be an actual musician someday.
What does music mean to you?
Music enables a profound connection to others and the inner-self. It’s the one thing I rarely have to think about, it’s a totally transcendental experience.
Have you ever encountered sexism within the music community?
As a kid I was the only girl in this guitar class; some kid said I must be gay because of it. That’s about the extent of my negative experiences. I don’t really buy into the whole feminism thing with music. It is your own choice to take on board perhaps being pin pointed or gawked at for being a female on stage. The reality is that playing and watching music is an incredibly visceral experience on both the musician and the audience’s part, and it can have a great deal sexiness to it, it’s something that undeniably exists. If you’ve never seen Tamara Dawn of Hits (from Brisbane) all you need to do is look at her face when she plays, she is pure joy and guts. I find myself with a big grin watching her play, she is the most honest and talented women in music I’ve ever witnessed. She is one of few I’ve seen who has been able to transcend that awkward concentration-vibe so many of us have. A true inspiration.
Please tell us a little bit about your band Dreamtime (pictured below).
Dreamtime is just about my favourite thing in the whole world. Between the three of us we a vast taste in music genres, that influences the way our music turns out. We don’t talk about what we want to be or sound like, which I feel is important. It’s a great vessel for channelling energy; I think we all have times where we come to practice with various personal issues which we can use to our advantage. Sometimes it comes out surprisingly dark and evil. It’s a good way to vent and transform negative energy into something strong and gutsy. We are ultimately a jam band…It just feels right. Ha ha, so romantic!
What was the first band tee shirt you ever brought?
Hmmm… It was a red Kiss shirt… NERD!
What do you wear on stage?
I think dressing is all about being comfortable and I guess that also means being appropriate to your surrounds… Most of the time it’s just jeans because bending down and doing stuff with pedals is a total drag in a skirt. That being said it is fun getting all jazzed up in something real psych!
How important is your stage outfit to you?
Again, COMFORT. It’s enough having a bunch of people looking at you when you’re up there.. You don’t need to worry about your skirt being tucked into your undies and not realising. That being said, I like the look of a band when their aesthetic is unified in some way, I think the way we look is reflective of how we feel on the day… Style icon: Shellac.. Dad jeans and joggers
What are your offstage outfits like?
Pretty much just your regular 70s style Joe.
Who are your style icons/inspirations and what is it about them that you admire?
My absolute favourite style icon and bass girl goddess is Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Cirlce, The Entrance Band). She dresses like some kind of Argentinean dream-boat hippy and shes got the longest hair ever. She has the best onstage steeze… I think she figures if she’s not dancing why would anyone else… She’s totally cosmic!
What do you do creatively when you’re not creating/playing music? I know you also design clothes for the label Velvet Pins you co-own with Amy Wardrop.
Mostly doing Pins which is a lot of sewing and playing with fabric and colours… Amy and I love fossicking through op-shops and antique stores too, just to look at so many awesome things that have stood the test of time soothes the soul.
Tell me about the beginnings of Velvet Pins?
Velvet Pins has been kickin’ for quite some time now [since 2007].. Amy and I have known each other for well, forever – Amy is Tara(Dreamtime’s drummer)’s sister and Zac(Dreamtime’s guitarist)’s girlfriend and my sisters best friend). Needless to say we’ve always been pretty tight and shared a lot of the same interests. We decided to start it together for that reason I suppose.
I’ve noticed the clothes you create have a ‘cosmic’ and maybe occult kind of imagery/vibe to them; do you draw inspiration from these subjects? Where did your interest in them stem from?
Hmm, inspiration stems from being drawn to certain topics and taking interest in researching them, not dissimilar to listening to music and then jamming… I like the idea of not over-conceptualizing things. The inspiration just manifests over time through being curious about different happenings in the world. Amy and I are both interested in spirituality and health-something that eventually stems off to crazy religions and rituals and the general concept of psychedelia. But mostly I think we are inspired by each other, Amy is the most interesting and best dressed person I know. She’s totally unique in every aspect.
Do you have any ‘official’ qualifications? Do you think having formal training is important to what you do?
Yes, I have a degree in fine arts/fashion. Amy has a diploma in fashion. Studying is a good thing to do as it keeps your mind active which is something that you can’t truly appreciate until you stop studying.. Whether what is taught is comprehensive enough or that uni is the most nurturing environment to be in is another story. It’s a good platform but it isn’t something that (most of the time) you will leave being the best at and get the best job and make the most money. You need to work hard, long after leaving to make that happen. Studying can also be good to show you what you don’t want to do too..
What’s your greatest vision for both Dreamtime and Velvet Pins?
I am waiting for the day where the two shall meet and intertwine. Amy and I want to open a big collective space for music, vintage, velvet pins and more. Somewhere that people can come and comfortably hangout and look at and listen to cool things, eat food, drink beer and have a lovely oasis to come to. Somewhere that isn’t solely driven by sales would be a nice change of pace.
Tell me about your latest projects.
Latest projects include making a custom range for a woman in Paddington with a beautiful store called ‘Mood’ using custom vintage Marrimekko print fabrics which she has donated to Velvet Pins. We are also working on our own range for the end of summer. Dreamtime are writing a new album to be recorded by the awesome Steven from SCUL HAZZARDs and we are wanting to go to Austin next year for the Austin Psych Fest. My life seems pretty good on paper, so much fun to be had!
Peace & love,