InTheMusic: Cats on Trees, interview

Cats on Trees is a duo composed by Nina and Yohan. They are dreamers and sensitives. They enjoy looking for poetry in the most insignificant things. Their last song is called “Please Please Please” and deals with the issue of acceptance.

Duo: Cats on Trees
Members: Nina Goern, Yohan Hennequin
Age: 35, 37
City: Toulouse
Nationality: French
Released Tracks: Sirens Call, Jimmy, Keep on Dancing, Blue
Released Album: Cats On Trees, Neon
Activity period: from 2010
Genre: Pop
Digital Stores: YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music
ph: Catherine Louis

Who is behind Cats On Trees?

My name is Nina, his name is Yohan. I come from Cognac; he comes from Toulouse. I am 35 years old, he is 37 years Old. We both live in Toulouse. We are composers, singers and authors.  I love to playing and listening to music, spending my time with my children, cooking (pretty much), fooding (pretty much), watching movies, reading, walking in the mountain, laughing with my friends. He loves playing Ukulele, watching movies, cooking Home-made’s Humus, riding a bike.

We feel a lot of irony behind your stage name. How did you choose it?

Yohan and I are dreamers and sensitives. We enjoy looking for poetry in the most insignificant things. The cat perched on the top of the tree reminds this character trait which we have in common. But everybody knows that once the cat is on the tree, he is lost and has difficulties to come down. Younger, we weren’t able to manage reality stuffs.  We were totally lost, also like this cat. At the beginning we almost chose « Clumsy and Sensitive ». But that name wasn’t difficult to pronounce enough.

How was Cats on Trees born as a music project and, before that, how did you meet each other?

When we first met, I still was in High School in the countryside.  A friend of mine sang in a pop Band in Toulouse and asked me to replace the pianist during few rehearsals. I met Yohan who was the drummer, and something’s happened. We spent all the day to look each other while wondering which U.F.O was sitting here. We ‘ve just connected thanks our singularity. We created a very specific relation-ship in life and music since that day. 

You show two key features: strong melodies and different sounds. What are your musical references? 

We are two and also different. So twice as much chances to widen our references. When I was a child, a played and listen to lot of Classical and contemporary Music.  Mendelsohn, Chopin, Arvo-Part, Debussy and more. As many composers as opened my mind to. Later, I discovered pop and rock band like Radiohead, Simon and Garfunkel, JJ72, Pixies, Nirvana, Red Hot chili peppers, pop singer like Tori Amos, Bjork, composer like Michael Andrews. It was the beginning of a revolution inside. Because I was totally alone and withdrawn. So, I bought a synth and mixed up, in my first songs, all the kind of music I loved. It was for me a good way to express all my feelings and a large range of emotions without needing someone. Yohan experimented with music in a band very young, like a English learning. (I’m fascinated with this ability that English young people to play and sing together). Music is above all a living art. Yohan came to me with this very rock background while I was so shy and fearful. These differences of personality are the starting point of our music.

How would you define your music and what do you want to communicate to the listener? 

I would like to keep thinking that our songs would not need words. For our concern, the strength of a song is above all, a strength Melody whatever the arrangement. During the process of creation. I like to start out with nothing. I put my fingers on the piano and I play. Just a few notes.  Whatever they are beautiful or not. I just want my heart breaking, smiling or crying. Bet is won when I don’t think anymore. This is our definition of pop music.   So, to answer your question, we do pop music with sincerity and a bit of light, we allow all the possibilities as long as we can, and as long as we spend a great time.

You have already achieved excellent results. With the aim of a complete overview, which are the most important moments of your artistic career as a duo?

The first time we recorded a real strings orchestration on our music. It was a magical. The first time we shot a video Clip, in Bolivia. On the Uyuni’s Salar. I was an Out of time moment. The first time we heard our first single Sirens call on the radio. It was surprising. So much of « the first time »… I can’t list them all.

Your last song, called “Please Please Please”, deals with the issue of acceptance. How is this song born and what is it specifically about?

This song has known many adventures. She (like a human) is born before the «Neon» album. Unfortunately, we drowned it with too much arrangements. They were too lyrical and bombastic; you know like a bad love song. Furthemore, the lyrics was really dark and reflected a really traumatic part of my life. So, we let that song in a box. We opened it again this year with the felling of having composed one of our strongest melodies; Our collaboration with Liam Howe changed everything; We sent it to him and worked together to find the essence. Then, I decided to change all the lyrics expect the Chorus «please please please». We were confined so I had a lot of time to think about it. This year was a mess and an ordeal for everybody, every people lived together, whether they were in a relationship, brothers and sisters, parents and children. It’s not easy to be emphatic and caring with others when you’ re an adult. Around me, I see Lot of people who don’t accept themselves anymore. Outside, we live with a fighting spirit. We have to be strong, beautiful, powerful to be the best and a good person. But these rules didn’t exist inside your home anymore. And it was brutal. Because inaction brought to light our deepest flaws. Or, and especially, what people outside defined as a flaw. In this way, begin a long work of reconciliation with oneself and the others. That is what Please Please Please is about. 

How does this track anticipate your album?

It’s a difficult question because the answer is beyond the music. Each song is singular and we have made a point of honour that no songs sound like another. We just kept in mind to bring light and depth… a little bit of magic too. You know, I keep one picture in my mind by song. I already tell that that one makes me think about «Falkor» or Fuchur.  The dragon of « the Neverending story ». 

What are your plans for the future? 

We’re going to enjoy playing music again, have a talk with you, release our future album, live this new year like a gift.

Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers? 

We ‘re so impatient to visit Italy. Your country is a gold mine for culture, art, architecture, food. We discovered recently a fabulous artist that you probably know, Andrea Laszlo de Simone. Love him so much!

Cats on Trees for Siloud

Instagram: @catsontrees
Facebook: @catsontrees
YouTube: Cats On Trees

Credits: Astarte Agency


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