Test Card Girl was a teenager in the 90’s in Manchester and what a time that was to be alive. She soaked up a lot of the sounds of the time and you can hear that in her eclectic and brave music. From subtle folk sounding acoustic noodling to some comedy Casio synth musings, all accompanied by Catherine’s beautiful voice, it’s a confident start to her musical career. Already on cassette and published widely on streaming platforms there is an exciting possibility that we may see Test Card Girl on vinyl before too long. But before then, we’ve got two tracks from her, one of which is her current single.
Tobin brings quality rather than quantity today with two unusually musical tracks from him. Gone is the electronica and breathy vocals and in come the guitars and other real instruments. A refreshing change! “That Jamie” returns with quite possibly his best recommendation to date and Richard drops the needle on Lake Street Dive’s new single release. And speaking as we did earlier of cassettes, we have the dreamy vocals of The Suncharms with their latest release. A split tape with The Mirrorlakes, order it here if you’ve got deep pockets.
- Fade Out Test Card Girl
- A Rat Without A Tale Daniel Romano
- Morning After Half Decent
- Reflections The Suncharms
- Making Do Lake Street Dive
- Squealing Pigs Admiral Fallow
- Jolie Rouge The Dreadnoughts
- Holds Me Down Test Card Girl
Test Card Girl – new music from Manchester, the home of the world’s best music
Test Card Girl is a solo project by Manchester singer/songwriter Catherine (Caffs) Burgis. Having spent many hours listening to other people play and sing, Catherine decided to swap the pint glass for the guitar in early 2019 (or at least hold both concurrently). She set off on a songwriting journey into all corners of her mind. Simultaneously also becoming a stand up comedian and touring the country with a novelty miniature keyboard. Some would call it a cry for help, but, aged 35, she’d had more than enough of an admin-based existence.
She met her now-producer Dave Fidler after watching a John Bramwell (I Am Kloot) gig at the iconic Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. Catherine unexpectedly heard herself piping up that she had written some songs. He kindly agreed to listen to them and they have been working together ever since.
Having won and been a finalist in a number of national comedy competitions, Catherine decided to focus solely on music in 2020 and build up more live experience. A decision which immediately co-incided with the dawn of a global pandemic.
So what does ‘Caffs’ sound like?
Catherine’s music ranges from lo-fi bedroom pop to simple indiefolk songs. Influenced in equal parts by the standard-issue musical taste of a 90’s Manchester teenager. An obsession with the MIDI sounds from keyboards of childhood Christmases past; and the finger-picking guitar style of anyone who can play more than the one pattern she heavily relies on. Major recent influences include Marika Hackman, Susanne Sundfør, Big Thief, Bon Iver, Tallest Man on Earth, Chvrches, Slow Readers Club, Christine and the Queens, IDER, Kate Rusby, Jesca Hoop and Fontaines D.C. but it’s an endless daily list…
She is currently recording her debut album ‘Seven Dolls‘ in Manchester due for release April 2021. Following a National Lottery Arts Council Award in September 2020, she is to self fund recording, release and her first UK launch gigs. Her debut single Holds Me Down featured in the Fresh on the Net ‘Fresh Faves’ list (June 2020). It was released on all platforms on 18.09.2020 – buy limited edition cassette tape here!
Holds Me Down from Test Card Girl
Holds Me Down is an optimistic lo-fi Indiepop love song stacking folk harmonies over retro 80’s/90’s synthesizers. Test Card Girl draws on the musical giants of her Manchester heritage. Echoing the punchy synths of New Order and the confessional songwriting of Guy Garvey and John Bramwell. With her first single she’s swapped finger-picking guitar for intricate arpeggiator layers weaving in and out of interlocking ‘spine-tingling mutli-layered vocal harmonies’ (Trust the Doc Blog June 2020). The track is influenced by artists such Marika Hackman, Susanne Sundfør, Tallest Man on Earth, Chvrches, Jesca Hoop, Imogen Heap, Big Thief and Bon Iver as well as songwriting heroes Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman. The overall affect a passionate yet low key tale of loss, love and hope.
So, what did we ask Test Card Girl?
We realise that COVID is stifling musicians ability to perform but do you have any plans to perform live? Or do you have any promotional video of you performing live? I’d love to see you in a live setting, particularly to gauge audience reaction to your music.
So as I only started performing just before lockdown I have very little in this area other than:
– Little live lockdown video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAcu7iYnY4Q (the quality’s not the best!)
– A Sofa Sessions gig I did – this was my first one so it’s a but nervy: https://www.facebook.com/sofasessionslive/videos/933534833826305/
– And this is my own promotional video for Holds Me Down – obviously meant tongue in cheek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chArESrZlwE&t=72s
There’s another couple of little live vids on the same Youtube channel too. From my first gig back in February at an open mic nigh. You can see, it’s all a bit new! I actually spent 2019 as a musical stand up comedian so have played to much bigger audiences in that line. Furthermore, I won Northern Comedian of the Year at the Frog and Bucket and a gong show at the Stockton Arc last year. I was also a semi-finalist in the Funny Women competition. But decided to focus fully on music this year. I realise this all sounds like I had a massive breakdown in 2019! But actually just decided enough was enough in being too scared to try things!
So in the current state of the music industry, where does Test Card Girl sit?
In these times of Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube etc. with many artists self-publishing, do you feel that the “record deal” is still an attractive proposition for musicians and if so, would you have an appetite for a deal with an independent record label that specialises in vinyl releases should one present itself.
I was actually offered a single record deal for Holds Me Down but turned it down only because I wanted to see what I could do on my own first. I wanted to have a benchmark to compare it too. Also, I just got a big grant from the Arts Council to develop my first EP. I feel in the very lucky position to have funded time and space to work on this but maintain ownership of everything. I run my own childcare business in my day job so want to put that knowledge into running the ‘business’ side of things.
However, having said all that I’m excited and totally open to working with anyone who has more experience than me. I did a little cassette run of this release and absolutely LOVE vinyl so anything along those lines I would be so keen to hear. I like being independent but having knowledgeable people around me who I can ask and pay to do various things so that’s where I’m at at the moment. But I’m always so shocked and thrilled to hear if anyone likes the music and wants to work with me that anything that comes my way I listen to with great seriousness and appreciation!
Are you actually signed on to any label’s roster?
No – completely indie at the moment!