Cat Power Details Her Brutal Breakup With Her Longtime Label, Matador Records

Eliot Lee Hazel

On October 5, Cat Power will release her latest album, Wanderer, which will be released on Domino Records. It will be her first album not released on her longtime label Matador Records in more than 20 years, since she offered up her 1996 record, What Would The Community Think. In a sprawling interview with The New York Times, the artist (real name: Chan Marshall) goes into details on what sounds like a brutal breakup between the two parties, with Marshall tossing around allegations that makes the indie label sound very different from their artist-friendly reputation.

Marshall begins by revealing that Matador rejected her new album and that they had similar issues with her previous album, 2012’s Sun. “They said, do it again, do it over,” Marshall said, with her manager, Andy Slater, saying that Matador felt the album wasn’t strong enough to release. She said she received a similar mandate for her 2012 offering: “It was like, ‘We need hits!’ And I did it — I got Top 10. I did the best I could to give them hits.”

“Looking back, I know they were using me,” she said. “I understood that I was a product and I always thought I was a person.”

Marshall also details someone at Matador Records playing her Adele’s latest album and telling her that’s what she should be sounding like. Later in the piece, she also likens indie-rock circles to a “fraternity” where being a solo woman made her something of an outcast. “Pavement’s going to the Bahamas or something with the label, Interpol is going to St. Lucia or wherever with the label,” she said. “I remember yelling: ‘Can you take me out to dinner? I’d love to go to a fancy place!’”

Matador Records did release a diplomatic statement to the Times for the piece:

“Chan Marshall is without question one of the most talented, brilliant artists we’ve been fortunate to know. Our working relationship with Chan has not been without difficult moments. We’ve had disagreements over matters both artistic and business, but none of that changes our respect for her as a person or performer.”

The Times article also notes that after the album was rejected, one change was made for the record, the notably more pop-friendly song “Woman,” which features Lana Del Rey on backing vocals, which includes the line “If I had a dime for every time / You tell me I’m not what you need,” Marshall gives a “no comment” when asked if it was a f*ck you to her ex-label. But she does add, “Thank you for asking.”

As the Times notes, “Woman” currently has over a million views on Youtube.