Welsh psych-folk songstress Cate Le Bon is coming to New Zealand this month for a five-date tour in advance of the release of her fifth studio album.
She is playing the country’s four main centres and Oamaru at Donna Demente’s Grainstore Gallery.
“I’ve only ever been to Auckland in New Zealand, so I really fancy travelling around a little bit and it’s always nice doing that and playing music at the same time,” Le Bon told the Oamaru Mail
She knew very little about Oamaru, but the more she was told, the more excited she became to play at such an intimate venue in the Victorian precinct.
“I can’t wait – it’s going to be wonderful,” she said.
Born Cate Timothy, Le Bon grew up with music and said it had always been something joyful for her and her family.
As a teenager in Wales during the Britpop explosion, inspiration came from bands such as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals.
They had a a genuine, polite disregard towards any scene – and that gave her confidence in making her own music, she said.
Le Bon caught the attention of Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys in 2007 and he asked her to support him on a solo tour.
“It was one of those moments of ringing my best friend and going ‘oh my God’ – both of us screaming down the phone,” she said.
That threw her into the spotlight and she then collaborated with Rhys, whom she now calls a friend and mentor, providing guest vocals for his project, Neon Neon.
“I was lucky to be taken under his wing, somewhat, and I can’t think of a better person to show you the ropes,” she said.
After touring with her fourth studio album Crab Day in 2016, she took a year-long break from performing to do an intensive 12-month carpentry and furniture design course in the Welsh Lake District.
“It was getting to the point where I was in this cycle of making an album, touring an album. As soon as you’d finished the tour being asked about making your next album,” she said.
“I just didn’t really have a break and I started to feel quite run down by everything.”
She felt like she needed to fall in love with music again – and she had always been interested in the craftsmanship of furniture making.
“It was amazing – it was like the opposite of touring and making music,” she said.
As well as being a grounding experience, she also started listening to, and consuming, music in a completely different fashion.
“I started listening to all these really mainstream, huge artists, that I just hadn’t for years, and getting really excited about music,” she said.
Every day after her furniture-making course, she would come home and write, her efforts resulting in the fifth studio album she is due to release in April.
In Oamaru, Le Bon will play piano and will be joined by John Thomas on synth and sampler to play stripped back, intimate re-imaginings of material from her diverse and adventurous back catalogue, including last year’s Rock Pool EP and 2016 album Crab Day.
Demente said she was thrilled that “such great local and international acts” as Le Bon continued to find the Grainstore Gallery and included Oamaru in their touring schedules.
“Cate is an incredibly talented performer,” she said.
“It’s such a privilege to see these shows in such an intimate setting – our capacity limit being more of a blessing than a curse, provided people get in quickly to secure a seat.”