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Interview: Cate Le Bon

Interview: Cate Le Bon

Danielle Street / Wednesday 28th September, 2016 3:34PM

Welsh psych-folk songstress Cate Le Bon will be gracing the Tuning Fork stage on Saturday night with a full band in tow (which includes Kiwi drummer Daniel Ward), for her first ever New Zealand performance. The long overdue appearance from Le Bon comes on the heels of her gorgeous fourth studio album Crab Day, the recording of which she describes as one of "one of the most joyous times of my life". UnderTheRadar had the opportunity to chat with Cate while she was cat-stting in California and working on a new record, and we dug a little deeper into the magic behind Crab Day...

UTR: Hi Cate!

CLB: Hello!

How are you doing? Where are you?

I'm good. I'm in Los Angeles.

At your home?

No, I'm cat-sitting.


Oh nice! But you are living in California, right?

I have been for three years but currently I don't really have a fixed abode. I was touring and I came over here to work on a record... which is why I'm here now. And then I fly to New Zealand this weekend.


What took you from Wales to California initially?

It was a combination of things really. An opportunity presented itself to come out here and make a record, which is something that I'd wanted to do for awhile, and I guess have a change of scenery... and, ah, I guess it sounds like a weak excuse but I don't think we'd had a summer in Wales for a long time haha. And it gets gruelling, you know? So it was just that everything came together at the right time. And also having being issued a three year visa it made sense to just make the most of it really.


What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

I think probably the car scene, where nobody walks and it's kind of a claustrophobic feeling to begin with. But it's funny how a short a time it takes before you're driving half a mile and parking somewhere to go for coffee. It's kind of ridiculous.


So your latest album Crab Day was recorded at a place called Panoramic House, which I Googled and its in a pretty idyllic location called Stinson Beach in California. Can you tell me a little bit about the house and why you chose to do the record there?

Yeah, so I'd made Mug Museum in a studio in downtown LA in a warehouse-type space, which was really exciting and whilst I wanted to work with the same people and have Samur from the studio work on Crab Day, I thought it would be nice to go somewhere. And also fun to go somewhere residential, because everyone who worked on the record are all close friends, and some musicians were flying in from Wales and it just felt like we should make an occasion out of it. And Josiah found this studio that just fitted absolutely perfect into the vision for the record. And it was honestly one of the most joyous times of my life being there with these incredible people. Shutting everything out and just creating a bubble that we were all in.


I understand that after working with Tim Presley [of White Fence] on the Drinks project you had quite a refreshed approach to recording. What were the pivotal changes you made?

Um, well when Tim and I started on the Drinks record there were no parameters to the project. We were both so excited, firstly to be working with each other, but also about how easy and fun and rewarding it was - that we completely forgot about everything exterior. And I guess there was no expectations. So we employed complete abandonment, because that's how we felt. And it just made me realise that something was amiss. That I didn't fully have that anymore whilst I was making solo records. Something was was creeping in, and it was me mismanaging things. So I guess it was a reminder that you choose to make music, there are no rules. You shouldn't open the window to everyone, it's about something that you are making for the right reasons and you should be excited by it. Otherwise, what's the point? And it can be important to you, but you shouldn't expect it to be important to other people. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Once those things start creeping in then you've lost all chance of making anything authentic. So what we had making the Drinks record, it's what I wanted making Crab Day, and going away to the studio and making with people I've work with for years, trust implicitly and love - it all added up to making that possible.


I love the record, it's absolutely gorgeous. I read somewhere that Crab Day is the idea of an imaginary holiday... and I must admit when I first heard the title I envisioned some sort of seaside village crab eating festival...

No! It's not about that! Don't eat crabs, hahaha. Um, it was born from my niece, she thought April Fool's Day was a ridiculous day and she declared it Crab Day and she sat down and drew crustaceans with different hair-dos. So it was born from that, but also it's an ode to absurdity and how ridiculous it is that we try and appropriate something as elusive as time and how we try and comfort ourselves with these anchors of different days and anniversaries. And everything is absolute nonsense currently. Everything is a fabrication where once what was on the exterior of you mind was deemed reality, and what was inside you mind was the dream world - things seem to have switched nowadays. Everything on the outside is fabricated and we are going down smaller and smaller rabbit holes. You kinda have to hold on to what's inside your brains, because that seems to be the most solid version of life, I suppose.


Wow, yeah, that's a lot to think about. I'm going to keep that in mind when I next listen to the record. Before we go can you tell me your personal favourite song on the album?

Ummmm... it changes all the time. Especially playing them live, they take on a different life, I suppose. But I think my favourites are 'Wrong Day' and 'What's Not Mine'. When I was writing they seemed to be the kind of blueprints for the rest of the record.

Cool! We'll Im really looking forward to seeing you play them live! It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Oh thank you so much! You too! See you soon!



UnderTheRadar Proudly Presents...

Saturday 1st October, The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Head over here to enter the draw to win tickets to the show!!





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