Slayyyter is a fascinating pop star who wouldn’t make sense in any other era. This whip-smart singer/songwriter from suburban St. Louis created her “e-girl persona” on Twitter as a teenager – becoming something of a local celebrity in the process – before really cranking it up when she began posting music in 2018. “I wanted to embody this kind of Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton-Y2K-Pamela Anderson personality,” she says, describing her original image as “a trashy Barbie who made pop music”.
But like her heroines, the woman born Catherine Slater is no dumb blonde. Now based in LA, she’s built a loyal fanbase on “stan Twitter” with a string of brilliant hyper-pop bops like 2019’s ‘Daddy AF’, a filthy mission statement on which she owns her sexuality like a braggadocious male artist. “He wanna get in my guts, lickin’ my clit ’til I nut, daddy as fuck,” she spits over grinding trap-inspired beats.
Her totally engrossing debut album ‘Troubled Paradise’ has its share of filth – there’s a song called ‘Throatzillaaa’ which definitely isn’t about cough medicine – but also reveals a more vulnerable side. When she sings “sometimes, feels like I’d be better off dead” on the melancholy bop ‘Clouds’, it’s a heartbreaking insight into what it’s like to be a provocative and internet-savvy female artist with an image that flies over some people’s heads.
In a characteristically thoughtful and honest interview, the artist tells NME about the evolution of Slayyyter, her upcoming debut LP and how songwriting helped her to overcome imposter syndrome.
Her biggest inspiration was Gwen Stefani’s 2004 pop classic ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby.’
And not just because it contains era-defining bangers like ‘Hollaback Girl’ and ‘Rich Girl’. “Everything [Stefani did in that era] was very camp and the costumes were crazy,” Slayyyter says. “Like, the ‘What You Waiting For?’ video was so insane to me – it was like Alice in Wonderland.”
Slayyyter says she was also inspired by Stefani’s ability to bounce effortlessly between different genres. “That made me realise [my album] doesn’t all need to be one genre,” she says. “I can kind of play with different sounds and do what I want to do.”
She’s determined to prove she’s more than a “meme artist” and a “Stan Twitter niche”
“I wanted to show people that I’m not just a one-trick pony,” Slayyyter says, pointing out that the album’s shimmering closing track ‘Letters’ is her “first true ballad”. She admits that, for a time, she felt “locked in” by the “Y2K bimbo girl” persona she had created for herself. “I was afraid that if my songs weren’t about lip gloss and miniskirts, people were gonna be like: ‘We hate this,'” she says.
Happily, Slayyyter says she’s now confident enough to write about whatever she wants – whether that’s oral sex (‘Throatzillaaa’) or her mental health (‘Clouds’). “At the end of the day, no matter what you’re talking about in a song, as long as it’s truly a good song it will resonate with people,” she says.
Writing the song ‘Clouds’ was a breakthrough moment
At the time, Slayyyter was quarantining alone in an LA Airbnb and experiencing imposter syndrome that had been heightened by cruel comments online. When she sings “I’m unhappier than I’ve ever been / I never thought I’d know what it’s like to win,” it’s a pure encapsulation of how she was feeling. “I thought I would be in St. Louis [being a] receptionist for the rest of my life. I didn’t think I would ever get to do anything cool,” she says. “Writing that song really helped because I was, like, doubting if I was good at music. And then I wrote that song and I was like: ‘Oh, this is great.'”
Still, Slayyyter is all too aware that sexism fuels the negativity. “I feel like I see a lot of mediocre male artists who do a lot better than me [commercially] and don’t really face the same kind of criticism,” she says. Whereas she and her female peers put “so much effort” into making photoshoots special with creative hair, make-up and outfit choices, “a guy can kind of just roll out of bed, put on a tank top and call it a day. And then get no criticism at all, you know?”
She thinks pop stans have become “a little more entitled” in recent years
Slayyyter says comments along the lines of “you need to look like this” or “I don’t like your hair right now” have become more common. “There’s a lot of ownership over females and the female body,” she adds. “And you kind of lose a sense of humanness, if that makes any sense. It’s like you’re a Barbie doll trying to please a crowd.”
Slayyyter is convinced these comments are charged by an undercurrent of misogyny. “I also feel like it’s become a bit more normalised. It’s the only form of misogyny that’s allowed,” she says. “You see these kids on Twitter who are saying: ‘Oh my God, she looks so fat. Why did she get so fat?’ And no one bats an eyelid because it’s on a fan account of some pop star. If you were talking [like that] to a normal person in your life, it would be like: ‘Hey, that’s majorly not OK’.”
Slayyyter’s overtly sexual lyrics shouldn’t be taken at face value
“Being sexual in such a vulgar, ridiculous way is the best way to not take a song too seriously,” Slayyyter says, pointing to this couplet from her song ‘Self-Destruct’: “Bitch, I am the queen, white castle / Pussy real fat with a tight bleached asshole.” In this respect, she feels a kinship with Cardi B who also “writes really vulgar things” in a way that “almost is just tongue-in-cheek”.
Still, Slayyyter admits that not everyone appreciates her X-rated lyrics. “I feel like my mom definitely gets a lot of dirty looks from people from my hometown who are just like: ‘Her songs are so disgusting!,'” she says with a laugh.