Wonderland.

CAT BURNS

Urban Decay’s latest muse talks her freshly dropped EP “emotionally unavailable”, the importance of opening up and the underrated use of white eyeliner.

All photography taken from our Summer 2020 issue.

Top by ARMAND BASI, Earrings VINTAGE DIOR

Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil in shade ‘Perversion’, Lips using Vice Lipstick in shade ‘Horchata’

All photography taken from our Summer 2020 issue. Top by ARMAND BASI, Earrings VINTAGE DIOR Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil in shade ‘Perversion’, Lips using Vice Lipstick in shade ‘Horchata’

Taken from our Summer 2022 issue, pre-order the issue here

I walk into a room packed full of scurrying camera crews and stylists. Amidst it all, I find South-London artist and Urban Decay advocate Cat Burns. She’s lying back completely unfazed, her eyes shut at the hands of her makeup artist, quietly smiling to herself. She says hello to me without moving so much as an eyelid — a candid display of Burns’ tangible self-awareness and warming presence: within which I feel welcomed, comfortable and ironically enough, seen. Comprised of crisp production, harrowing lyricism and transparent storytelling, Burns’ latest EP “emotionally unavailable” undoubtedly has the same effect. Tearing through taboos from betrayal in “go” to the struggles of an introvert in “ghosting”, Burns embraces a kaleidoscopic range of mental health issues — offering comfort with her matter-of-fact approach to tune-crafting. While an intricate design is painted across her eyelids with Urban Decay’s latest products and a whole team of people buzz around her, Burns manages to give me her undivided attention. Though I may not have been able to look her directly in the eye, I felt as though I was ruminating with a close friend — a feeling I first experienced while listening to her EP for the first time. And with the same no-holding-back attitude and unfiltered cadence sampled across the six tracks, our interview finally began.

Earrings VINTAGE YSL, Shirt by ARMAND BASI, Necklace CAT’S OWN

Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using 24/7 Moondust Shadow in shade ‘Space Cowboy’, Lips using Vice Plumping Lipgloss in shade ‘Coconut Water’

Earrings VINTAGE YSL, Shirt by ARMAND BASI, Necklace CAT’S OWN Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using 24/7 Moondust Shadow in shade ‘Space Cowboy’, Lips using Vice Plumping Lipgloss in shade ‘Coconut Water’

ELLA WEST: Your EP is admirably frank, honest, and completely relatable! Touching on mental health, sexuality and the rollercoaster that is love… can you talk us through what inspired this body of work and your mindset when putting it together?
CAT BURNS: I wrote most of the songs in early 2020 when I was feeling very emotionally unavailable —hence the name of the EP. So I knew I wanted to call it “emotionally unavailable” for two plus years. I initially thought it would be cool for all of the songs to be about relationships and breakups — and all the ways in which you can be emotionally unavailable in that sense. And it was actually my team who said it might be even better to explore every type of relationship like friendships, the ones we have for ourselves. It opened a conversation about feeling emotionally unavailable even to yourself. I wanted to talk about all the different ways we feel emotionally unavailable, whether it’s anxiety, abandonment issues, or being a natural introvert — that’s why I wrote the songs I did and chose the specific order of them on the EP.

EW: Is there one song that you feel closest to? Or had the most emotional reaction to when writing it?
CB: “we’re not kids anymore” for sure. I feel like the topics covered are incredibly emotional. When you and a friend who you’ve had a friendship with for the longest time ever drift apart, and there’s no way to explain it other than life just happening and getting in the way. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that one. When you stop being friends with someone you were once close to, it’s a really difficult thing to deal with. After I wrote it, I was really emotional on my way back home. It brings me back to those times I had those experiences.

Shirt by OFF WHITE, Earrings by FERNANDO JORGE

Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using Perversion Waterproof Fine-point Eye Pen, Lips using Vice Lipstick in shade ‘1993’,

Shirt by OFF WHITE, Earrings by FERNANDO JORGE Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray Vitamin C, Eyes using Perversion Waterproof Fine-point Eye Pen, Lips using Vice Lipstick in shade ‘1993’,

EW: You are renowned for your diaristic, tangibly authentic lyrics. What is the most powerful lyric to you on this new EP?
CB: The most powerful one for me was again from “we’re not kids anymore”, and its “friendships can last a lifetime, but sometimes they just don’t”. It’s so blunt and to the point and also emotionally provoking.

EW: Who are you excited about in the music industry right now and who do you hope to collaborate with in the future?
CB: Myself — only joking [laughs]. There’s an artist in the US called Maddie Zahm, and she touches on a lot of vulnerable stuff in her songwriting, and her messages are so powerful so I’m really excited for people to hear her on a larger scale. And in terms of collaborations, I really want [to collaborate with] Ed Sheeran — or Tori Kelly.

EW: In the context of your career thus far, what do you want this EP to say about you as an artist?
CB: I am here to tell your stories and make you feel heard, seen and represented on a large scale.

EW: What beauty looks are you experimenting with at the moment? What are your favourite products?
CB: Every now and then I like to try and add in a bit of white eyeliner. When I’m feeling bold I give it a try. I think it’s cool when people try something other than the usual black liner. I usually like to stay in my comfort zone, but every now and then I like to try and add a little pop of colour. That’s why I love UD, you can always find a product to elevate your look!

EW: When do you feel the most beautiful?
CB: I feel the most beautiful when I’m in my tracksuit and flat cap. So when I’ve just done my skincare and I am all moisturised with a touch of mascara and lipgloss. My go-to at the moment is UD Vice lip gloss.

EW: Finally, how have you been celebrating the release?
CB: I didn’t celebrate, I went to bed [laughs.] I have such a busy schedule right now I haven’t really had the time. But I’ve got my birthday in a few weeks and am going to Santorini so will have a lovely break for some relaxation — that’s probably the perfect way to celebrate.

Vest by ALTAR, Earrings by LOUIS VUITTON, Rings and Necklaces CAT’S OWN

Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray in Vitamin C, Eyes using Naked Wild West Palette, Lips using Vice Plumping Lipgloss in shade ‘Coconut Water’

Vest by ALTAR, Earrings by LOUIS VUITTON, Rings and Necklaces CAT’S OWN Base using Stay Naked Foundation and All Nighter Setting Spray in Vitamin C, Eyes using Naked Wild West Palette, Lips using Vice Plumping Lipgloss in shade ‘Coconut Water’
Photography
Claire Harrison
Beauty
Daniela Alves using Urban Decay
Words
Ella West
Fashion
Ignacio De Tiedra
Hair
Chaniqwa Brown
Art Direction
Lily Pichon Flannery
Special Thanks to
Park Village Studios
CAT BURNS