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Four years ago the darkly glamorous music in Bianca Montalvo’s head seduced her away from a modern rock band with a promising career. Upon departing the band, she took a cocktail waitress job at one of the country's most notorious strip clubs to fund recording this new sensual music. Reborn as La Catrin, the Houston, Texas based artist emerged from her experiences a brilliant singer-songwriter with an emotional gothic tinged sound. Her stunning debut, Humans Are My Keyboards, is a soaring, leather-dipped album that is poetic, insightful, and full of sharp hooks.
La Catrin is a playful twist on the mythical El Catrin character in Mexican literary heritage. El Catrin is a 1930s dandy, and by swapping in the feminine “La” gender designator, she is referencing the feminine/masculine energy balance in her music. It’s a dynamic within her that she came to profoundly understand when she worked at the gentleman’s club and would watch the interaction between exotic dancers and their clientele. “You throw a bunch of money in a room full of girls and there is a real interesting power exchange. I watched ultra feminine and ultra masculine people go at war with each other. It was enthralling. I named the record after it, everyone was playing each other,” La Catrin explains.
While in the studio recording Humans Are My Keyboards La Catrin licensed the single “Break You” to the indie movie Hated, written by publicist turned screenwriter Maria Lorenzo. The film is loosely based on Lorenzo's experience working with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower. It stars Matthew Hutchinson, August Prew, Genevieve Cortese, Ellen Woglom, Ryan Donowho, Chris Riggi, John Doe from X, and Ari-Up from the Slits. “Break You” appears alongside such established acts as Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, Stereo Total, Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, and The Slits.
The gorgeously gloomy electro pop of “Break You” unfolds with the power play eroticism of the opening lines: OMG what you say on the screen stirs my brain/Let's see how far we go until we're forced to disconnect/Live the dream/Consent/No denies/No regrets/I'm a sickly girl you know, the one you love to love and hate/You don't work, I can't work/This won't work if I can't break you. La Catrin’s vocals lustfully tease the pining vocal melody; she is totally in control and mesmerizing.
The grandeur and gothic noir feel of “Break You” permeates the album. The standout “Reverse Citizens” is resplendent in dramatically luxurious strings, classical piano motifs, and an ominously sexy bassline. La Catrin’s singing manages to be both theatrical and intimate—it peaks with thunderous dynamics but also conveys a vulnerable tenderness.
The album totally self-financed and autonomously created by La Catrin with producer and indie hit maker Bob Hoag (The Ataris, The Format, Dear and the Headlights, etc..) at Flying Blanket Studios, an all analog studio in Phoenix, Arizona. Hoag who produced La Catrin’s previous band, Heist At Hand. While in Heist At Hand she opened for Portugal The Man, The Photo Atlas, Receiving End of Sirens, From First To Last, Chiodos, From Autumn to Ashes, and ....And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. She also did stints on the Warped Tour and the CMJ festival.
Currently La Catrin is expanding her profile. The Houston Press has done numerous pieces on her music and compelling story. In 2011, she was nominated for the New Music Seminar "Artists on the Verge" (AOV) project. Live she is wowing audiences with her selfless emotionality and flair for making each performance an event. For her maiden show she staged a wedding, marrying herself to the audience in a celebratory and seductive leather and lace ceremony. It’s been a powerfully intriguing voyage from the promising modern rock success of Heist at Hand to delving into an erotic underworld and emerging with a totally new aesthetic.
“When I quit Heist, I was at a crossroads. I felt stunted, I needed to just sit down, explore, and reconfigure,” she says recalling her journey. “I took that job as a cocktail waitress to my break personal boundaries, my limiting beliefs. I used to be shy and closed off, but that experience opened my eyes, inspired my record, and taught me to be confident and strong with boundaries.”