Cat Power on ‘Sun’, Her New Album, and the Power of Instagram

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Cat Power Stefano Giovannini

You wrote, recorded, and produced Sun over four years, even dipping into your retirement fund to finance it.

I cashed out something I’d been saving for years. And it was a risk and a big decision, especially having many five-year plans and then just lighting them on fire. All that money went into renting a house, buying gear, flying my old band out to record songs ... Sorry, I’m distracted. I can’t find my phone. It’s one of those fake phones that look like a vintage receiver, and it’s gold. I call it my direct line to Beyoncé because I love Beyoncé.

You also directed the video for “Cherokee.” Is this your first time directing?

Yeah. Before I would think, That’s impossible. What am I, crazy? I just wanted to direct my own video. I feel like [self-judgment] has been falling off me recently. [Making the video] was like not sleeping for four days—going over the wardrobe, going over the treatment with [director of photography] Greg Hunt, going over all the shots to make sure they were possible with a cherry picker since we didn’t have a crane, working with the costume lady who got a bunch of bulletproof vests. Everybody worked for free except for four people, and I still owe $5,000 because I had to use my credit card. The first few shows I play will hopefully help pay that off so I can shoot the next one. My goal is to shoot an art film with no dialogue and just release each part of the film with a song or as one chunk. I think it’s kind of magical, the way this all came together. It was right before Mercury went into retrograde. Everything was a “yes”; everybody was a good egg. Cosmically it was kind of cool.

You’re a prolific presence on Instagram.

I love it. It’s instant communication with a thousand people, maybe a hundred that I know. I think we’re attracted or stimulated by images that tell the news. Sometimes images just tell the truth.

cat-power-om02-album-cover ‘Sun’ by Cat Power. Matador Records. $9.99

You recently cut off your trademark long hair and bangs. Why the change?

When I moved to New York in 1992, I had a severe breakup and I cut my hair super-duper short. And that’s the album cover. At first, I just cut all of the damn length off. Four months ago I had a difficult time, not a midlife crisis, like a midlife awesomeness, and during whatever I was going through, I just kept going shorter and shorter. The “Cherokee” video is kind of apocalyptic. I had a mohawk the summer of seventh grade, but I had never dyed my hair before, so this time I did.

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