A former musical-theater kid, Caitlin Cobb-Vialet couldn’t be farther off-Broadway if she tried. With a voice that’s as malleable and conversational as it is riveting and unconventional, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter has invited comparisons to Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple with Endless Void (War Chant), a surprisingly poised, brutally honest debut that blows by in just 26 minutes.
“Me and my sister were obsessed with Broadway musicals growing up,” says Cobb-Vialet. “We went through an intense Wicked and Legally Blonde phase. But I don’t have that traditional theater voice. I really like rough voices and imperfect sounds.”
There’s very little that’s conventional about Cobb-Vialet, who was raised by four mothers in Oakland and wears her queer heart on her sleeve. “I write songs about the push-and-pull of being the first daughter of four lesbian mothers,” she says. “I was very protected and shielded as a young person, which makes me naive sometimes. Right now, I’m living in my mothers’ house and putting all my money into my music career. It’s not very glamorous, but I do feel really lucky.”
Cobb-Vialet acts. She dances. She’s a fluid pianist. She’s a playwright and a compelling visual artist. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when “singer/songwriter” may not have made that list. “I definitely write like an actor,” she says. “I started writing as a way to process my emotions, so often I’ll literally write a conversation between myself and another person.”
Things got a little more serious when Cobb-Vialet heard about Bay Area producer Jim Greer (Foster The People, Macy Gray) through a relative. “I came to Jim with 14 songs, and I had no idea what the recording process was going to be,” she says. “I didn’t even realize my songs were so short until Jim pointed it out to me.”
Greer helped Cobb-Vialet flesh out her original version of “Disco Ball” in the studio. “He saw it as an opportunity to fuse my weird, nonlinear theatrical vibes with a traditional pop hook for the chorus—and he helped me write the chorus,” she says. “I hadn’t seen the song that way. It was written about the biggest relationship of my life at the time. But when he produced it and I heard that chorus for the first time, I thought it was epic.”
For the video, Cobb-Vialet once again tapped friend Alex Bush, who directed clips for “I Confuse Us” and “Not A Child,” both singles from last year. “They’re into voyeurism and this creepy tone, and I’m into themes of queerness, heartbreak and codependency,” she says. “We made our dream piece of art and fused our styles together. There are so many shots—it’s closer to a short film than a music video.”
We’re proud to premiere “Disco Ball” today at MAGNET.