‘Think Beth Orton meets Brandi Carlile, then throw in a dash of the rawness of Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams and you will find yourself thinking of Catherine Traicos. But she cannot be totally compared to other singers, as her own empyrean vocals are inimitable and captivating’ – COUNTRY HQ
I’m a Sydney based singer-songwriter who is lucky enough to be backed by my “all-star” band, the Starry Night, featuring Darren Nuttall (Tucker B’s), Kasper Kiely (Camden), and Tim Day (O). I play my own brand of blues with more than a touch of alt-country.
Currently on tour nationally supporting the Mountain Goats, I’ve just finished recording a new solo album that I’ll be releasing in August and touring around Australia and North America right through to the end of the year.
What’s your earliest memory of performing and who inspired you to start?
My earliest memory of performing is of sitting in front of an expectant audience at the Leederville hotel in Perth and being too frightened to sing my songs – my throat contracted in fear and my hands shook so uncontrollably that I got one song out and was thankfully ushered off the stage. The friend who had encouraged me to play live said “it always feels worse on stage, you were great.” I didn’t perform for two years after that. I still find live performing uncomfortable. I definitely am not a ‘look at me’ type. I’m more the ‘hey what’s that over there? Run for the exit,’ type.
You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What and where was the first gig you went to?
Well I love this question because the first gig I went to was Bruce Springsteen in Zimbabwe when I was 8. Yes, I win. Also Sting, Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman played. My parents snuck my sister and I into the venue as we were underage. Thanks Mum and Dad!
‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?
I did “borrow” their copy of Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumors’ for a while but then returned it and bought my own copy, as I felt guilty. They did take me to see Bruce… I tend to add to their collection rather than take away from it.
What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?
Mogwai – Come On Die Young
Augie March – Sunset Studies
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest and Hell Amongst The Yearlings
June Carter Cash — Everything she recorded
Tom Waits – Small Change
How do you find new music?
I have noticed a strange phenomenon with finding new music. For a long time I sought new music everywhere I could – my favourite independent record store, through friends, I even listened to the radio! (this is in the pre-blog days). And then one sunny (I lived in Perth) day, new music started finding me. It was weird and very awesome. Friends would lend me CDs or say, ‘you should listen to this’ or I’d hear something in a café or record store. I keep a list in my phone of new artists to listen to; it is constantly growing.
Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?
I would do a complicated series of cartwheels interspersed with some classical ballet inspired leaps and then take a lucky taxidermy cat named Montague on stage with me, but I’m a bit concerned that people might be intimidated by both my physical prowess and Montague’s disconcerting smile. So no, I don’t do those things I just mentioned, I generally just meditate for a few minutes.
If you could curate your own festival, where would it be, who would be on the bill, how many people would you let in and what features would it have (attractions/food/bars etc)?
A dream festival you say? It’s not real and it’s already giving me anxiety. I shy away from responsibility and also festivals really. I’m more of a listener and less of a party lady. But dream scenario: a smaller venue with good sound, maybe a cinema complex and each cinema could have a different band in. And the line-up would be:
The Boss (of course), Tom Waits, The Necks, Gillian Welch, The Dirty Three, Mogwai, Spiritualized, Lucinda Williams, Augie March, Sigur Ros, Fats Domino, and Neil Young.
And then there would be the special awesome undead cinema where the line-up would be:
Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, June Carter, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ludwig van Beethoven.
The food would all be delicious Greek mezze: kebabs and pastries like my Yaya used to make. Ringo Starr would be the general MC and introduce all the bands. It would all be run by magical elves who love administrative work and cleaning.
When you’re Rolling Stones Big, what are you going to request on your rider: don’t be shy. We want specifics!
I am pretty easy to please so I think for myself I would like a good bottle of whiskey or red wine. I would prefer to cater to my band-mate’s needs that would probably include: lots of delicious beer, more whiskey and wine, absinthe and the obligatory colour-sorted M and M’s.
For our vegan drummer Tim who is often left to forage for his food on the road, there would be a vegan banquet cooked especially for him by his own vegan chef.
Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?
That’s a tough question as I’ve already worked with Paul McKercher, Nick Huggins, Gareth Skinner, Jason Walker, and, one of my favourite guitarists ever (Darren Nuttall) is in my band. As a songwriter it’s more of a challenge to work with other songwriters so I would choose Paul Kelly or Tex Perkins who could teach me a bit about how to pen a good tune and then (hopefully) I could continue doing it for years.
What is your band’s music the best soundtrack for?
We’re the perfect accompaniment to red wine and a warm fire.
Where we can see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them?
I’m currently on tour with the Mountain Goats so you can catch me at:
Thursday May 3: The Great Northern, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday May 4: The Zoo, Fortitude Valley, QLD
Sunday May 6: Metro, Sydney NSW
Tuesday May 8: Clarendon Guest House, Katoomba, NSW
Wednesday May 9: The Toff in Town, Melbourne, Vic
Thursday May 10: The Corner, Richmond, Vic