Doja Cat left a string of apologies in Plini's DMs after MTV EMAs song theft

Doja Cat and Plini
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for MTV / Press)

Australian electric guitar virtuoso Plini recently released his new album, Impulse Voices. But the guitarist has been making headlines lately for an older song – the title track to his 2016 effort, Handmade Cities – after pop singer Doja Cat used a snippet of it in a nu-metal version of her dance hit Say So during a performance at the MTV European Music Awards.

After YouTube commentators pointed out the similarities, Plini himself issued a statement, praising the performance but also writing that “The lack of prior communication about it or proper credit upon release is disappointing but not particularly surprising in a sector of the industry that is usually more interested in clout than creativity (it’s being sorted now, but would have been cooler a million views ago).”

Now, Plini has commented further on the controversy in a new interview with MusicRadar. In response to an observation that after the initial surprise of Doja Cat’s performance, the Handmade Cities reference “must felt like quite a compliment,” Plini said: 

“I’m pretty much stoked with it on all levels. A few people sent over this link saying they’d seen Handmade Cities used in this performance and I listened to it and thought it did sound like that song… which was odd! It was a strange context to use something that sounded way too similar to be a coincidence.

“I made a comment on Twitter, not really accusing anyone of anything but just because I thought it was funny… and then it turned into this whole thing. I suppose the fans really did all the work, they had all the outrage on my behalf. I was just sitting back wondering what the fuck was happening and finding it hilarious.”

Plini then went on to clarify the backstory behind the incident.

“It turns out the Musical Director of that performance had been inspired by it and some of the band knew about it beforehand, thinking it was cool that the riff was getting used,” he said.

“Which must have been an honest mistake, not perhaps realizing it could have been an issue in some way, that’s what I like to think, because I like to assume the best. And then it eventually made its way to Doja Cat...

“The best part of all this is that I woke up one day with a string of voice messages from her in my DMs, saying sorry and that she wished she’d known about all of this and wished they could have credited me properly, and also praising my song and thanking me for being nice about it.

“I thought about that and realized it was the number one strangest thing that’s happened to me in my career. One of the biggest pop stars is messaging me an apology because someone kinda ripped my music for her live performance. Life is so fucking weird. As far as I’m concerned it’s a great story.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.