Catriona Irving : Q&A

Ahead of the release of a new EP, Proper Songs talked DIY, athletics and cafés with Catriona Irving.

PS: Tell everyone a bit about yourself and what you're up to.
Yes, we should get that out the way to begin with! I would probably fit into your singer/songwriter category, with a love of folk, pop and lo-fi. I've been based in London for the last few years, getting involved in the DIY scene, and releasing my own and some other peoples records.

I have a new EP out in Nov called "Sitting on the Shelf", which I mostly co-wrote with my very talented friend Philippa Latimer, and features a brilliant remix of our song "Sitting on the Shelf Without Shelly" by Julian Plaisir de France! It's got a really lovely reception so far, especially in France, where the remix has been getting some attention, so I'll hopefully be touring there in the new year.

PS: Your design is very striking - hand made sleeves, colour in covers with free crayons, funny little monsters on the website. Who's responsible for the direction?
One of the reasons we started our own label (Need No Water) was because we loved beautifully packaged records. The design for my records is a combination of myself and Mark Whelan who I run the label with, and the overall look of the site mainly comes from Mark who is sickeningly talented! So he takes the lead creating the illustrations and the design of the site, badges and posters.

We also get a lot of inspiration from the people we meet along the way. When you have the advantage of working with people like Soy Un Caballo, who put so much work into making things look beautiful, it tends to help you up your game!

For my records I always want to try and create something that you'd want to keep or collect. There's something so nice about vinyl records as objects, as well as having a distinctive sound of their own. With the Stitch EP, where it was all hand made, we had my family working in a cottage industry / sweat shop scenario to get it done! With the new EP my friend Joey Ruthers has provided illustrations for the cover, which are also on a t-shirt if you go for the full package!

PS: Why did you decide to set up your own label Need No Water and whats the experience been like?
We started in 2006 as we'd both always loved 7" records and wanted to put out music/records that we'd want to buy ourselves. All in all it's been a great way of finding new music that we love and meeting other people who are doing a similar thing and who are really enthusiastic and supportive, especially through our live night Kick The Plug too. I think everyone who has a small label does it as a labour of love, it can be hard work, but the response from people who are interested, especially across Europe has been a really good experience.

PS: With your tribute to Goldie Sayers, javelin superstar, you've addressed a niche songwriting influence - athletics. Do you have any plans for more track & field based songs?
Indeed! Javelin is really my main muse in track & field based songs, and frankly probably only Goldie, I prefer to really hone that niche right down to the specifics. I will, of course, be re-visiting the genre for 2012 and I think the musical direction will be heavily influenced by whatever slogan the athletics team is headed up by at the time.

PS: Give us a top 5 of something.
My top 5 cafés
Milk Bar (Bateman Street, Soho)
Tina we salute you (Dalston/Newington Green)
Flat White (Berwick Street, Soho)
Belmondo (Green Street Green, Orpington - very new, very brilliant)
Brill (Exmouth Market, putting in a music reference just in the nick of time!)

Download Catnip for Girls (Chris Turner Remix).

Buy 'Sitting On The Shelf' EP at Pure Groove or direct from Need No Water.