With a voice that recalls the R'n'B sirens of the '90s, a seductive sense of rhythm (and how to move), and a collected coven of inspiring women at her side, CD is an artist you need on your musical radar – stat. We spoke to the singer-songwriter about building safe creative spaces, loving your body, and just where the hell she got those ruched thigh-high boots.
One of your recent, big sets was with Jamaican-American R'n'B-funk artist Masego in Brisbane. Was that as mega as it looked on Instagram?
That show was huge! That was my biggest solo set. I’ve done some festivals with Mango before, and performed in front of massive crowds, but always as a backup singer. But Masego was insane, and I literally only got the gig two days before. It was my favourite show to date. It was pivotal for me.
Tell us about yours and PANIA’s outfits in the Catcha Grip clip, because they are off the planet – especially those boots. Are they custom boots?
My mother made them!
Oh, my God.
Yeah. When she was younger, she was always interested in fashion. She was making wedding dresses and engagement dresses for her sisters when she was in high school, but she didn't really stick with it.
Then last year she was like, ‘Y’know what? I'm gonna go back to this. I’m going to start making clothes, I’m going to go study.’ When I was planning Catcha Grip it was right when she was making that move, so she ended up making most of the outfits in the video, and she made those boots from scratch as well.
How did you plan it, did you give her a brief?
I just showed her some inspiration. I said, ‘I want boots like this, where can I get them from?’ And she said ‘We can make them!’
Seeing you dance in the clip makes us wonder if you think about the practicality of moving in an outfit when you’re putting it together – be it for a live show or a video?
For sure. There was something I really wanted to wear for that video: it’s this designer mesh bodysuit. And to this day, I haven’t worn it. I’ve had it for over a year now, but I can’t lift my arms in it! So I can’t perform in it. I’m saving that for a photoshoot. It’s such a big thing – I need to be able to move, and movement is such a big part of who I am, as an artist as well.
Did you study dance?
I didn’t study it, but when I grew up, as I was doing singing lessons, I was doing dancing lessons too. I was in a hip-hop crew and I competed overseas, in LA. Dancing was a massive, massive part of my life – probably more than singing. But I found my way back to dancing. I've always wanted it to be a part of my artistry so I was like, ‘Well, Catcha Grip is the perfect opportunity – it’s my first proper music video, so I’ll do some choreography.'
When I was dancing hip-hop, I was very much a Jordans girl. Now I’m into Nike, and I have a new-found love for Asics; I train in my Asics, and they’re just so comfortable.
Musically, Catcha Grip is a stunning track – its languid sense of rhythm is just captivating. How did it start?
I remember writing down, ‘I just want to love my body, won’t you let me love my body?’ And then, ‘Catcha grip’... it has many different meanings. There are so many undertones to it.
‘Catcha grip’ is not like 'You catch a grip'. It’s to me, to myself – ‘Catch a grip! Love yourself!’ And there’s the line about the hips [“I come with love handles/ perfect hips for you to catcha grip”]… so yeah, there's some wordplay.
I feel like a lot of people perceive it as a love song, and it’s really not that at all. For me, body image was such a big thing – learning to accept my body. And then, when you do love your body, other people want to say something about your body. It’s about that too: won’t you let me love my body? Like, I’m trying, but you’re not letting me!
Obviously everyone’s grown up differently, but the way I grew up, my family’s religion is so traditional.
You mention your family’s religion – were there any problems with your mum and the kinds of outfits she was making for you, in that they didn’t gel with the conservative values you grew up with?
My parents are from Egypt. My mum is like, so chill. It was more when I was younger, maybe [up to the age of] 14 or 15, when I was still going to church. They weren’t really strict on me, but there were rules. But after that… my mum’s pretty modern, so she didn’t care too much. But there was definitely the worry of her sisters. Her sisters know she made the Catcha Grip fit for me, so are they like, ‘Ohh, that’s a very short and see-through skirt that you made for your daughter!'
There’s so much to navigate! And that's the thing when you put yourself in a public space: it's not just you, it’s exposure to and for others.
Totally! That's a big thing. That's something that I feel like a lot of artists forget. It gets to a point where it's not just about you.
I teach music as well, so I'm always around young kids, and I feel like I'm mentoring them. Even when I was 17 or 16, and I’d talk about doing music, I would say that I want to be a role model but I want to do it in the right way. For me, being a role model is not fully covering up if you don’t feel that’s what you want to do. So I feel I do sometimes have to be careful about what I post and what I say, but I want to be as true to myself as possible while I’m doing that.
Your mum is just one in this excellent crew of creative women you’ve collected around yourself. You’ve got girlsthatmosh (Khushi, director and photographer), Lexi Matzouranis who styles as Grit, prawnkid (Natasha), who also styles, and so many more.
When you started, did you feel like you and other women in your orbit were creating your own space or were you trying to navigate your way into a space that was already existing but you wanted to re-mold it?
I wanted to build a team that was mainly females. Most of the artists and creatives around me were men, and I was like, ‘Y’know what, it's getting a little bit lonely out here! I'm gonna make sure for my videos, for my photoshoots, for my projects, I have as many women on board as possible.’ It feels so much more like a safe space. And obviously, women get overlooked. I wanted to create a platform for all of us, to really showcase our work. I wasn't really trying to fit in somewhere.
Tell us about your new music coming out – we're pumped to hear what's next!
I’ll have a couple tracks coming out starting early next year. I’m really excited about that music; I feel so, so confident in it. It’s hard to stay quiet for so long! I’m someone who, I can’t rush things. I can’t rush myself to do something if it’s not perfect – cos I’m a perfectionist – so I really want to take my time and make sure this whole project is put together properly.