“I had a complete nervous breakdown – it was better to just eliminate it”

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“I’m really good at calling in sick and I have an incredible ability to go to a GP and get whatever I want. Every time I go to a GP I have a residual fear of knowing that I am there for something specific that I need to get, and if I don’t get it my whole life is going to fall apart. I can almost cry tears … I hate to do it, but I need it. “

Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, aka CMAT (an abbreviation that has stuck since it was first used on a bulletin board when she was a teenager), is locked in an Airbnb in order to write songs for her upcoming debut solo album.

For 45 minutes, however, the creative flow is interrupted as she reflects on her six-month stint as a student at Trinity College Dublin (“I probably had a complete mental breakdown … I wasn’t eating , I was, I was taking lots of painkillers, I didn’t sleep. ”); working full time at Supervalu in Finglas village (“All my problems, my mental health problems, were resolved very quickly.

I realized that what I was best at in music was headlining – coming up with melodies, lyrics, hooks, arrangements, structure; the skeletal shape of everything

I used all my free time and money to focus on music, it was the best thing I ever did ”); and using the medium of songwriting to better cope with her mental health issues (“From about 12 years old this was definitely my therapy and still is. If I need to get rid of a problem, or if something has been wrong for a while, annoying me, once I wrote about it the problem is gone or these are the first steps to get rid of it ”).

As a musical life draws near that began in 2016 with indie duo Bad Sea, the way Thompson puts it is that something had to break, and if that something was her, so be it. “There were also a lot of personal things in my life as I started college, and that could have speeded things up. I think I inevitably would have crashed at some point, so it was better to just eliminate it. “

In the fall of 2017, she left Dublin for Manchester and stayed there until December of the following year. She moved there, she recalls with barely stifled irritation, as she couldn’t afford to live in London, which was the perfect city for her to try and become a collaborative songwriter. “I realized that what I was best about music was headlining – coming up with melodies, lyrics, hooks, arrangements, structure; the skeletal shape of everything is what i know i can do.

Working in TK Maxx town center and occasionally taking the bus between Manchester and London for what she vaguely calls “musical stuff”, she admits she hasn’t had time to do much on the road. creative plan. An industry event in London, however, changed his life.

“It was a Spotify event where people were invited to listen to some never-before-seen Charlie XCX music and give their thoughts on what you heard. I felt like it was a bit like a co-writing session but it wasn’t. It was mostly a hall of teenage fans who loved everything they heard.

The main topic is always about an issue, but to get to where I feel comfortable talking about it, I have to make a joke of it.

“When it was my turn to say something, I just let it lasher -” Well I think the hook in the first part is really good, but then it loses its way, you have two different versions of the song, and I like the production on the first half of this version and the production on the second half of this version, so. . . ‘ I was really specific and critical because it’s not good for anyone if you just say you like everything. Detailed opinions are helpful.

After the event was over, Charlie spotted where Thompson was sitting (“I mean I was so f ** king strong!”), Walked over, crashed and walked through it. for a shortcut. The successful British singer-songwriter asked him what his contract was, heard the response (“I said I was trying to do this and I was trying to do that”) and, says Thompson, “a fully understood what was going on with me … she just knew I took the bus back to Manchester, then broke up with my boyfriend soon after and returned to Dublin later that year.

Spot the genesis of the CMAT we’ve known for about two years, which developed into a solid pop songwriter and performer without any ambiguity or ambiguity.


Hyperfemininity sharpened in a club

“When I was younger, and certainly still now, I was very loud and very talkative. Even as a kid, I was constantly in trouble at school because I couldn’t stop talking and people didn’t like me. This is fair enough because it can be boring, but the first place I felt I was accepted to be the exact person I am, and where I didn’t find myself self-driving edition, it was in gay clubs.

“I used to sneak in when I was about 15, and it was the first time in my life that I really felt that being loud was a good thing, that you were meant to have a personality, you were supposed to have specific niche interests, and people would love you for it all.

“Hyperfemininity in the context of the gay community is something that is seen as radical and against the norm. Even in Ireland, especially now, it’s so ridiculous that hyper-femininity is still edgy, but the gay scene encouraged me. I didn’t care if people hated me for it because I knew somewhere people would like it.


With a visual style that’s part of Bunty’s comics and pop culture saturation (just take a look at his sheer amount of Pinterest boards for the overarching, meticulous, and obsessive truth), the Thompson’s image / design aesthetic is “aggressively” hyper-feminine. Everything she does is so informed and does not come from books she may have read, but rather from the feminist / activist experiences of people whose lives she has devoured through magazine articles. The list goes on and on and includes Eartha Kitt, Dolly Parton, Bobby Gentry, Loretta Lynn. “It’s a decision I made to exaggerate my own femininity for the sake of the performance and the sake of the song.”

She notes incisively that “specifically in Ireland there is a very acceptable form of femininity when it comes to alternative music, even mainstream music. If you think of Irish musicians, you think of either Dolores O’Riordan or Sinéad O’Connor – there’s a bit of makeup but it’s specifically androgynous or blurring the lines. That’s all well and good, she adds, but “to get to a point where, as a woman, you manage to do alternative music in Ireland, that’s how you have to present yourself.”

It is this particular form of femininity, she continues, or “the one where she is very reserved, little or no makeup, with a simple t-shirt dress and flats. Everything is very clean, not in your face and very indifferent. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all, but if you present yourself in any other way, you get criticized. Most of the time when a woman – especially with female songwriters – does something by her own standards in a feminine way, it is seen as something new. The hyper-femininity of what I do is a direct result of my personality.

Which is, like you can’t tell now, as vivid as a rainbow and as choppy as the clouds before. Thompson’s songs, meanwhile, have shattering melodies, disposable witty lines, and an authentic vulnerability that could be emotionally disturbing if given too much thought. It’s quite howls of laughter through storms of tears and, also, quite self-protective, isn’t it?

Thompson nods. The origins of the songs are not in comedy but in pain. “The main topic is always a problem, whether it is mental or social health, or a serious problem. But to get to where I feel comfortable talking about it, I have to make a joke of it.

She says she doesn’t have time for shameless solemnity. “I can’t face it and I don’t care. I get people interested in personal issues by being entertaining. The more honest you can be about these issues, the more people you reach. “

CMAT press releases her debut EP, Diet Baby, which features the new song, I Don’t Really Care for You, on February 23


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