Interview by OUT LOUD Studio
Photos by Jordi Salanova
BAR BUKOWSKI, Amsterdam
You can find out a great deal about Cata.Pirata by just listening to her songs.
Mami Wata, La Cumbia Ditadura, Jungle Riot, Love Jihad.
As the front woman of SKIP&DIE, being an artist, activist, feminist and mother, South African Cata.Pirata strides to make her voice heard. It intrigued me, as she shows transparency by not only highlighting the highs but by also paying attention to the lows through social media. Sending pure and honest messages to the world. After just simply sending her an Instagram message, she was very excited to be part of our journey. Bar Bukowski was the chosen venue, as Bukowski is an author who inspires her and coincidentally, an author we both admire. We talked about ups and downs in life, motherhood, sexuality and why it is important to stand up for you sisters.
You are an incredibly badass performer, an activist and a mother rolled into one. Do you feel self-conscious or insecure juggling all these rolls?
I am very extreme in my being. A lot of the time I will just do something - while performing I don’t think about things too much. But if I start thinking about it or comparing myself to other people then I feel like a loser. Then I’m like 'FUCK, I can’t compete with that'. ‘How can I even sing? I can’t sing.’ Those insecurities can really get me down. But on the other hand I want to do fun things, go with my gut feeling. That gives me such an energy, doing something and not overthinking it too much. I kind of feel I have the devil and the angel on my shoulders, both telling me what to do or feel, and sometimes I just hit them both off like ‘fuck you guys’ I can do whatever I wanna do.
Do you feel that whilst performing you are in a safe place where you can put those insecurities aside? Is your stage performance an alter ego of yourself?
I feel very comfortable onstage. I am quite fearless while performing. Especially with SKIP&DIE because we have done so many shows these last couple of years. I feel very good about SKIP&DIE, I feel that there is an energy that we have that I’m so proud of. We have been on tour for 5 years straight, doing interviews, sleeping 3 hours, just constantly on the move. I didn’t have much time to reflect, I was living a rushed lifestyle. When I decided to have a baby, I could suddenly take it easy because people would respect my boundaries.
Would they not respect your boundaries before?
I have never been good at setting my own boundaries, everything would pile up. As soon as I got pregnant everyone was like ‘ohh she is pregnant’, so suddenly I was not just taking care of only me, but also my baby. I found this new way of respecting myself and taking time for me, that was so beautiful to experience. And now that the baby is here I feel so much calmer. I learned a new way of respecting myself and my boundaries, and it sucks that people only now respect my boundaries but that’s because I myself only respect my boundaries now, so that was a life lesson.
How is combining SKIP&DIE, touring, coming home late and having a kid?
The thing is that I was used to not sleeping much because of the tour, I would sleep 4 or 5 hours maximum. That’s kind of how it was when I had the baby, I wouldn't sleep much, I was exhausted. I would get home after a show, at three in the morning and the baby would wake up at six. And that was very intense, but now he sleeps all night and that is sooo nice. I really enjoy the combination of doing something I love and having a child, it makes me an all-round complete human being. I am living the life I should be. I feel that I enjoy what I’m doing and it's real. My light-engineer said to me the other day that I'm an open book, that when I have a good time I spread it all over the world, but when I'm not having a good time you can see it all over my face. He said he was so happy to see me having a good time and enjoying being a creative artist and a mother. There were periods in my life with so many ups and downs, so when I wasn’t happy with myself I couldn’t fake it and now I feel I have a new light in my life. When I decided to have a child it was a conscious decision, I wanted to be the best person I could be so that my son could have the best life. I’m so happy I went on this journey of self-discovery before and during my pregnancy because it really prepared me.
How did you mentally overcome the fact that you are a single mom?
It’s a trip, I’m still in that trip. But luckily I have seen the light now which is good. At that point in time I went to live with a woman who, at the time, was also a single mother with a three year old. She was my guardian angel: I feel like she is like my sister now. I had the baby at home in Buenos Aires. Having a natural birth was such an inspiring thing because at certain moments I felt like I was going to die, I had contractions for 24 hours, so painful. At times I was so scared but somehow I knew it would all be ok, I had so much faith. And then the baby came, Noa Amaru! I felt amazing, it was amazing. I had a new-found self-respect; my body is magic, I did this, my psyche is magic. I can do anything, everything I was scared to do before. I had a baby, I made a baby. I got through all of this so I can do anything. It gave me energy, strength and the insights that all the negativity and stress of doing this on my own, I didn’t need that because look at what I just did, look what I can do. And now that I am a single mom, I am stronger because I got through all of that. The end of the relationship with Noa Amaru's father was heartbreaking, but I am in a better place. Now my son has my father, my brother, his godfather and all my buddies as male role models.
How do you feel body wise? Are you afraid of intimacy now that you are a mom?
Before I had a baby, I was super sexual, sensual and loved being intimate with different people, I am very open. I have had open relationships, I’ve been with women and men. I’ve always had a high libido, also while I was pregnant. But now that I am a mother I am having to re-find my sexuality, it's taking a different route. I've noticed that people treat me very differently now that I am a mother, somehow it scares a lot of men away, which I sometimes find frustrating - but then again I suppose it's part of weeding out the people that aren't right for me. I think my focus for now is more on my child and my career. I think it's also a good thing because after years of being intimate with a lot of different people, which can be very liberating, it is nice to be in a different zone and establish relationships with people on a different level. It's a new adventure!
Besides performing you are also a writer. You have written several pieces that truly touched me, but this particular one was so powerful.
‘Life is a miracle, the birth of my baby taught me that my body is a spaceship of superpowers. Everything I’ve been through has lead to more self-discovery and me learning to love the person I am and the body I exist in. I am sexual, I am soft, I am powerful, I am playful, I am gentle, I am agile, I am fertile, I am complete. #selflove'
How important is it for you to fight for female rights and promote self love?
Very important, it feels like something I kind of felt for years. I have always felt very strongly about advocating equality. I grew up in South Africa and I was surrounded by inequality. It really hurt me, I could cry for days. Any kind of discrimination really fucks me up and living in different parts of the world you see how women are treated. I first moved to Argentina in 2005 and the level of machoism there is really real, so standing up for your sisters is really fucking important. In connection to the body, we are all different. There is such a stigma of how we should look, which is different in every culture, and that is fucked up because you are continuously thinking that something is not right with yourself and I want to break free from that for myself and others because we are not going to be happy if we're trying to fit the mold and I think that the art that I make and the music that I make, it doesn’t fit the mold. That’s tough because you are constantly struggling to get your voice heard, you are on a much harder route than if you follow the stigma route.
What is the one tip you would like to give all women?
Find yourself, be yourself. Finding yourself is an adventure because you are not one person your whole life, you are multiple layers. Recognize you don’t have to be just one thing, adapt yourself to whatever and however you are. There are different layers to you and embrace them. You will be happier, but also more empathetic, because if you understand your own layers you will also understand other people's layers better. Even if you are not on the same journey, there are always similarities. That is important to realize.