Do you love music? I have written before about how powerful music can be for your wellbeing. Music and dancing are a language understood across countries, cultures and age groups. Music speaks to us in many ways and has the ability to alter the mood of any occasion and increase your health and wellbeing. Music is often used as a stress outlet and writing words to your own songs, or listening to others words that connect with you, can help you to make sense of the world. Music is used in therapy and can bring people together. There is also nothing like getting up and moving your body to music! Womadelaide 2016 is coming and today we are sharing a chat with one of the groups performing at Womadelaide in 2016 – The Cat Empire.
Womad is the ultimate feast of music, food and dance. Have you been to Womadelaide? The fabulous flags each year are a highlight to me and symbolise the festival, swaying in the wind across the park.
Starting as part of the Adelaide Festival many years ago in 1992, it is now an annual event that people from all over the world flock to attend. I have been to every single one except one year when I was heavily pregnant. My children have all grown up at Womad and it is an almost religious event for those of us who are die hard fans. Over the years more and more people have realised just how special the event is and fallen in love with the festival – once I posted on a photo on Instagram and my caption read:
[bctt tweet=”Womad – just like the world only better #Womad”]
The magic of being in the Botanic Park, under trees that are hundreds of years old, with people from all over the world and so much music you are bursting with the joy of it all, plus the amazing array of food options and activities for the kids, is just like coming home to the kind of world that many of us long for.
If you have never been, WOMAD stands for World of Music Arts and Dance. WOMAD events are a showcase of different sorts of music, arts and dance. They are all about encourage people to experience the music of cultures other than their own as a way of developing global connections and understanding. They are held across the world and as well as presenting and celebrating the huge array of art forms the planet has to offer, a central aim of WOMAD’s many festivals is to promote cross-cultural awareness and tolerance.
We are very excited about the 2016 festival even more so, because we will be featuring some of the artists and stories in the lead up and during the event.
Kicking off today we are very lucky to share a chat with Harry Angus from the fabulous band The Cat Empire! If you have not heard this Aussie band before you need to do yourself a favour (thanks Molly) and get some tracks. They are a favourite here.
1) For readers who do not know you, can you introduce the band members to us?
We are an eight-piece band from Melbourne – comprising drums, horns, piano, double bass, DJ and percussion. Our names are Felix, Harry, Ollie, Jumps, Will, Ryan, Ross, Kieran.
2) How did the name come about?
I believe it was named after a picture that Felix’s seven-year-old (at the time) brother drew. We played with Felix’s brother, Max, a few months ago in the Royal Albert Hall in London. He’s now a six-foot-two counter-tenor.
3) The Cat Empire are a fusion of sounds and energy and have said that in the past you have found yourselves, more often than not, being reduced to a series of slashes! Can you tell us about how this evolved, how did the band begin and bring all of these “slashie” components together? How was it that such diversity culminated in one band?
We were just following our interests, and also trying to make our slightly unusual instrumentation work. So, no guitars, a big problem there for a band. So we couldn’t look to AC/DC or Metallica or Nirvana for our blueprint. Brass and percussion just lends itself to certain sounds. But in many ways we’re not that different from any other band – just writing some chords and lyrics and then trying to make them sound good.
4) As a band that can “make the crowd lose themselves in a frenzy” – is the music about offering something to the audience, an experience of music? And is this how you begin when writing, with the end result of moving the audience to participate with your sounds?
There is a certain energy that we reach for. But we don’t always get there for one reason or another. The tension and the magic in our shows has always come from the improvisation. I’ve always tried to hold on to that feeling. Doesn’t matter how big the stage is, if I can push it to the moment where it might all fall apart, and nobody knows what’s going to happen next… an explosive musical situation… I think that’s what the audience respond to.
5) Why is it so important to you to make people move? To have them participate in the music rather than sit as passive recipients of the sounds as with some genres?
It’s not important to me. I like the people who just stand there, they are probably listening harder. That doesn’t make them passive. But the dancing people are more fun to look at from the stage… and we feed off their vibe for sure.
6) How important do you believe movement, dancing and music, are to our wellbeing as human beings?
Probably very. But each to their own.
7) Can you tell us about one of your favourite shows and why it stands out?
Last year, we returned to Barcelona after a seven-year absence… the crowd were deafening. Like how the Beatles stopped touring because they couldn’t hear themselves on stage. It felt good though. Maybe I wouldn’t want to do that every night, but for one night in Barcelona it felt good.
If you would like to know more about Womadelaide 2016, the Cat Empire performances there, and how to get tickets for the festival you can check all the details out here
I hope to see some of you there and stay tuned for more features!