Betty Petty Interview: “A lot of the Betty Petty character is me rewriting younger versions of myself.”

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betty petty interview

Debut EP Desperately Seeking Satan Is Out Now Via Bandcamp.

There’s points in life when you feel like packing the whole thing in. You have a two options: flight or fight. Luckily for everyone with ears, Betty Petty’s Caitlin Danenhauer chose the latter when early last year found herself confronted with a very difficult time in her life. Instead of sinking deeper into the down music she had been crafting, she decided she would do the complete opposite. Even if it felt completely opposite to how she actually felt. The result is Betty Petty who, on the 10 January, released their debut EP titled Desperately Seeking Satan. It is a project that marries dreamy pop instincts with a more jarring harder edge. The results are fantastic.

Luckily for Overblown, Caitlin took a little time to talk to us about the conception of Betty Petty, her self identification as ‘mad pop’, and reaction to David Bowie’s death. Read all about it below!

Overblown: Thanks for taking the time to talk to Overblown! When my niece gets sweaty we call her a ‘sweaty betty’. Is that a better name than Betty Petty? 

Caitlin: Sweaty betty is a much better name and sounds much more cleansing.

O: Tell us a bit of background about the band? How long have you been playing together? How did you get together?

C: I started the band in the wake of a semi-solo project that was very sad music and a sad time for me and when that all started to fall apart early 2015 I decided to try writing much more upbeat music, even if it felt sort of fake to me, which is one sort of explanation for the name Betty Petty. I started playing with members of the LA garage punk band the Cigarette Bums, and they helped me keep performing as I started a new project and backed me while I opened for them on their West coast tour this past summer.

When we came home I found JJ and Toast who play lead guitar and bass, respectively, and kept playing with Austin from the Bums on drums and we recorded six songs within a few weeks or something like that. So the way the band is now we’ve just been playing together since August of last year.

O: What is up with your love/hate relationship with werewolves?

C: With respect to werewolves, they are equally scary and exciting with their powers of transformation.

O: What is ‘mad pop’?

C: Genre is always a hard thing for me to articulate with my own music because I have trouble being objective, but I guess I said ‘mad pop’ because some of the songs are really pop but then have kind of angry lyrics, but also it’s kind of also implying that it’s mentally unstable I guess. One of my favorite quotes is from Adventures of Alice in Wonderland when the Cheshire cat is telling Alice which paths she can take, and he’s saying to some effect, ‘well over there there’s a march hare, and down that way is the mad hatter — you can go either way you like, they’re both mad.’ That is not an exact quote.

O: Your upcoming EP Desperately Seeking Satan is quite varied. What is your favourite track on the record? Why?

C: ‘Wheels’ is one of the first songs I’ve written, one that’s been played by a lot of different people in a lot of different ways and it’s one that I’m still somehow not tired of playing or hearing through its different forms. It’s only two chords over and over but that makes it fun to play with new people because there’s a lot of space to add your own signature to it. It’s a song I wrote to comfort myself, so I guess that makes sense.

‘Rockets’ is one that I have a lot of fun playing live right now because it’s really light-hearted and I’m not just sinking into sad singer trance, I’m kind of sending a love letter from one imaginary character to another and the protagonist is a girl who is probably in high school and having much more fun than I was in high school. A lot of the Betty Petty character is me reconciling with and rewriting younger versions of myself.

O: Who designed the artwork for the EP? Where did the idea for the artwork come from?

C: The EP art was designed by a girl named Claudia Ramirez, her Instagram is @gothbby. Her art is very straightforward. She came up with that image actually for the flier of our EP release party, and I liked it for the EP artwork.

Betty Petty Interview
‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ EP artwork by Claudia Ramirez

O: What was your reaction to David Bowie’s death last week? Was he an influence?

C: I think it’s a shame that our culture has such a tragedy-oriented perspective on death, especially in the light of an artist who clearly saw himself as multi-dimensional. I can only cite him as an influence as a very creative and prolific artist with a lot of confidence who also seemed to be very kindhearted.

O: Do you have any upcoming touring plans?

C: No concrete tour plans at the moment. We’ve talked about it but we’ve been focused on writing new songs and working on our first full length album.

O: Right this second, what is your favourite song. Why?

C: One of my favorite songs ever is Fever Ray “When I Grow Up” and it has a really cool music video too. I even use it as an alarm but I can still listen to it without it being ruined. It’s really beautiful and the mood is like visiting a more tropical Avalon.

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