Feeling the pure joy of making music with Cate Le Bon

Monday 02nd, May 2016 / 12:29
By Sarah Bauer
Cate Le Bon doesn’t mind what you think of her new album, Crab Day. Photo: Ivana Klikovi

Cate Le Bon doesn’t mind what you think of her new album, Crab Day.
Photo: Ivana Klikovi

VANCOUVER — “Growing older is great for not caring about stuff, and I mean that in a positive way,” says 33-year-old Le Bon from her home in Los Angeles.

“[It’s about] realizing that things can be hugely important to yourself and you can never expect them to be important to other people. You’re not waiting for any kind of validation from somewhere else.”

It was a recent collaboration with White Fence mastermind Tim Presley as a psych rock duo named DRINKS which exposed Le Bon to free-wheeling, flirty as hell “music for the love of music,” a kind of fantastic reawakening which influenced the cacophonous, rabbit-hole sensibility on Crab Day.

This came two years after recording her sparse and cunning third studio album Mug Museum. Le Bon hit upon a revelation: “I realized that I loved making music. I wanted that feeling for the next solo record.”

That feeling of pure love and abandonment is, according to Le Bon, joyous.

Not to say Le Bon’s past albums including Mug Museum are completely morose, but she does know how to play at the edges of darkness and human absurdities. Joyousness on Crab Day comes across more like an inverted smiley face.

“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful,” sings Le Bon on the song duly titled “Wonderful.” Clanging guitars and goofy xylophone kick in and out like Molly Ringwald’s legs in The Breakfast Club’s dance scene. “My heart’s in my supper,” she croons in her cloudy and mountainous Welsh accent. Nothing is predictable on Crab Day.

“It was one of the best times of my life, making that record,” says Le Bon.

Le Bon and gang (producers Noah Georgson and Josiah Steinbrick, plus Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa, Stephen Black, and Huw Evans), recorded the ten tracks at a studio in Stinson Beach, Northern California, where everyone was feeling “really grateful and excited and joyous,” about the whole thing.

The group recently reunited (with the addition of Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer) for a pair of shows in L.A. and New York City to promote the release of Crab Day on Drag City as BANANA!, described as a semi-experimental, semi-improvisational ensemble.

“I was thrilled that we were able to get that band together,” Le Bon says. “It was a really nice re-entry into getting my head around the record again.”

Crab Day is certainly the kind of album you want to listen to a couple of times to get your head around. Her lyrics start and stop with oddball pairings of objects and human parts, clammy imagery and queasy suggestion (“I’m gonna cry in your mouth,” she asserts on “I Was Born on the Wrong Day”).

Within the storm of saxophone, electric piano, and clashy, gritting guitars, the full result is not so much discordance as it is highly observed chaos. Sounds jangle around in kooky mixtures, but the production is ultimately crisp and supremely delightful.

“Noah is incredible at putting everything in its right place,” notes Le Bon. The many, varied parts of Crab Day assemble in an interpretive form, much like the short film accompaniment to Crab Day, directed by Berlin director Phil Collins.

Seems as though an Eric Wareheim collaboration should be in order.

Having lived in Los Angeles for the past three years, Le Bon has found her community for making weird and sensational things come true.

“It’s a very generous and inclusive scene,” says Le Bon. “I’ve fallen in with wonderful, wonderful people.”

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Photo: Ivana Klikovi

Photo: Ivana Klikovi

Cate Le Bon performs at the Cobalt on May 12.

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