DIVA gets to know the DIY pop duo who are no strangers to the queer London music scene

BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS

CATBEAR (formerly known as Cat Bear Tree) is a two-piece band, making their mark on the DIY music scene in London. 

The band is made up of Zoe Konez (lead guitar, vocals and production) and Sarah Smith (drums, vocals). 

Since beginning their musical project, the duo has gone through a number of different musical incarnations and they have pursued different musical projects, separately and together. 

They come at their music with a punk-rock ethos and channel raw riot grrrl energy. CAT BEAR’s latest music is less grungy and more electronic, but it’s a sound that suits them well.

Their dual vocals pair together perfectly. Although they are yet to play together just the two of them, there’s no denying the connection they share with one another as their friendship precedes their musical endeavours. We caught up with the pair to find out all about their friendship, their influences and their brand new single!

DIVA: How did you guys meet? 

Sarah: We met on Gaydar Girls. I guess it was kind of like a dating app, but this was before any online dating came about. You could message and chat and see people in your area, but not in the same way as you can now – nobody was close enough. 

Zoe: I was trying to find other musicians on there, not so much dating. I definitely had a line about the fact I played guitar on my profile. We did all genuinely meet up just to have a chat, but ended up all jamming together and releasing some music as Cat Bear Tree. The first music we made was really punky and scrappy.

What words would you use to describe your sound?

Sarah: Our recent work is influenced by the electronic side of indie like MUNA and The Japanese House. It sounds quite 80s as well. We want something that’s got a lot of guitars, but it’s still quite smooth, that kind of vibe.

What’s the creative process like? 

Zoe: We take it into the home studio now. I live near roads so we use wardrobes to sound-proof! We haven’t actually got enough limbs to perform all the stuff that’s on the record live. We need some volunteers. 

What are your thoughts queer representation in music?  

Sarah: We haven’t hidden, but we equally haven’t been as upfront and open as we could be. There’s so many musicians that we have to choose from now who are relatable, which we never had while we were growing up. 

Zoe: It’s important that we’re open to make people feel more comfortable about their own sexualities. It helps if you can just be yourself and treat it as a normal thing. It’s fine if you don’t know about your gender or sexuality. It’s also okay if you do. That’s good and everything, but also we live in London so we’re definitely in a little bubble. I do wonder how people feel if they’re not in London. We’re used to seeing so much diversity here. 

Do you write your music first and then lyrics? 

Zoe: Sometimes it’s just a concept. Sometimes it’s a totally random thing that starts out organically. Sometimes you just hear a song and you want to answer the song with your song. Sometimes it’s just an idea or a feeling. Whatever the lyrics are saying, I really connect with it and I’ve had that feeling.

What advice would you give to other musicians? 

Sarah: There’s an idea that music is a competition and it’s just not. It’s never about the money when you’re a musician. I would tell them that you have to put the love for it before the money.

Zoe: It’s important to have longevity and for people to like who you are because you’re being yourself. The most meaningful part is when people who love your song because they genuinely connect with it. As long as you have a passion and a drive for making music, you can do it!

Make sure you check out CATBEAR’s latest single, Unrequited Love. We all know what that feels like, but CATBEAR have transformed the feeling into an synth heavy 80s pop ballad which we can’t get enough of. 

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